Dr. Buckminster Brown House // ca.1860-1890

Originally located at 59 Bowdoin Street at the southern corner of Bowdoin Court, this narrow three-story home was the dwelling of Dr. Buckminster Brown, one of the most prominent Boston doctors at the time. Buckminster Brown (1819-1891) was born into one of Boston’s most illustrious families, with his ancestors traced back to John Warren, an original settler in Salem in 1630 on the ship Arbella. His great-grandfather, Joseph Warren, one of the founders of the Harvard Medical School known as the “Surgeon of the Revolution” who took part in the Boston Tea Party, Battles of Lexington and Concord and later died in the Battle of Bunker Hill. His father, John Bull Brown was credited as bringing the speciality of orthopedics to America.

1860 image of 59 Bowdoin Street, Josiah Johnson Hawes, Photographer.

Buckminster Brown was born with Pott’s Disease, a form of tuberculosis that occurs outside the lungs where the disease is seen in the vertebrae, often causing a “hunchback” appearance. Buckminster Brown attended Harvard Medical School and later travelled around Europe learning from the orthopedic specialists there who led the field before returning back to Boston to practice. In consequence of his disease, Dr. Brown lead a shut-in life, in spite of his deformity though, he practiced for fifty years. Dr. Brown married in 1864 to Sarah Alma Newcomb and they likely had this home built for them with close proximity to the hospital. Dr. Brown often stayed in his home allowing patients to stop by for appointments and tending to his studies as he did not like to leave the safety of his home. Sadly, due to an expansion of the Massachusetts State House in 1890, his house was acquired by the Commonwealth via a taking and he moved to Newton, where he died that same year.

1883 view of Dr. Buckingham Brown’s home on Bowdoin Street at corner of Bowdoin Court.

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