Hollis Hunnewell House // 1870

In 1870, when Boston’s new Back Bay neighborhood was being developed, Hollis Hunnewell and his wife Louisa, decided to erect a mansion to establish themselves in the burgeoning neighborhood. Hollis was the first son of Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, the businessman and railroad tycoon who made a fortune, eventually developing a family compound in nearby Wellesley. The couple hired esteemed architect Charles Brigham to design a home on the prominent corner lot that would live up to the Hunnewell name, and he did not disappoint. Just three years after the home was completed, they added a one-story addition, adjacent to the alley to quell a wind-tunnel effect that was occurring down the alley. In December, 1876, a fire broke out in the home, trapping maid Annie O’Hara at the top floor where she died. After the fire, the Hunnewell’s decided to renovate the home, adding the prominent corner tower with cresting. Hollis died in 1884, leaving his wife and two children alone in the home (along with the housekeepers, maids, and other help) until her death in 1890. The home is an excellent example of late Second Empire architecture in Boston, and it showcases the immense wealth some distinguished families had in the region in the 19th century. Today, the 13,000 square foot home is occupied as a single family home, assessed at over $17.5 million!

One thought on “Hollis Hunnewell House // 1870

  1. pam hc December 21, 2020 / 6:39 pm

    This has always been one of my favs!


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