Bernard Jenney House // 1908

This stunning home in Brookline’s Cottage Farm neighborhood was built in 1908 for Bernard Jenney, the assistant treasurer of the Jenney Oil Company. Stephen Jenney, had founded Jenney Oil Company in Boston in 1812, as a kerosene, coal and whale oil producer. By the 1860s, Bernard Sr. and his brother Francis took over the company which became known as the Jenney Manufacturing Company. The newly established company focused primarily on production and distribution of petroleum products for factories and businesses. The Jenney Manufacturing Company took off in the early 1900s due to the proliferation of personal automobiles in Boston and they expanded a new manufacturing center in City Point, South Boston, which had a capacity of 500 barrels of oil a day. Jenney auto oil and gasoline became a major supplier and after Bernard Sr.’s death in 1918, under Bernard Jr.’s leadership, the company began to develop gas stations in New England. The company continued into the 1960s when it was acquired by Cities Service, later rebranding as Citgo. Jenney resided here until his death in 1939. According to the 1935 Brookline street list, the occupants included his daughter’s family Mary & Francis Brewer, three maids and a laundress. The house was acquired by Boston University in 1963 and has long served as the home of former president John Silber.

The architectural firm of Kilham & Hopkins was hired to design the home, which is French Renaissance Revival in style. The home itself is an architectural landmark. When it was published in ‘The American Architect’ in 1910, the house was described as, “A Study in French design of the Louis XVI period”. Additionally, the home (of course) featured a vehicle garage as the family must have had some cars based on the line of work. The home is now listed for sale for a cool $4,888,000 price tag!

Fletcher Free Library // 1904

On July 14, 1873, Mrs. Mary L. Fletcher and her daughter, Miss Mary M. Fletcher, gave the city of Burlington, VT, $20,000 for the founding of the Fletcher Free Library. Half of this sum was to be spent on books; the other half was used to start an endowment for the library. By 1901, the library had outgrown its location in the old City Hall building. In the same year, Andrew Carnegie made a gift of $50,000 for the construction of a new library. In 1902, an architectural competition was created with entries from Boston, New York, Buffalo, Montpelier, Vermont, and Lowell, Massachusetts, but a young Burlington architect, Walter R. B. Willcox won the commission. Willcox designed the new ornate library that year and in August, 1904, the new library was dedicated and opened for business. In the early to mid-1970’s there was some pressure from the citizenry to demolish the Carnegie building and rebuild on the site, which coincided with Burlington’s large urban renewal policies in the downtown area. In response, a group of Burlington residents formed The Committee to Save the Fletcher Free Library Building. A petition was circulated, and as a result, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 1977, a grant of $234,000 made possible the stabilization and external repair of the building, and later an addition was constructed, to allow the historic library to meet the needs of the much larger city.

Chittenden County Superior Courthouse // 1906

The Chittenden County Superior Courthouse in Burlington, Vermont was built in 1906 and is one of the most bold architectural designs in the city. The building was actually constructed as the U.S. Post Office and Custom House for Burlington, but changed use in the 1980s after the Old County Courthouse was destroyed by fire. The building was the work of U.S. Treasury architect James Knox Taylor. Taylor designed, many major eastern federal buildings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He provided plans for this Beaux Arts structure with a well-appointed exterior finished in marble and dressed granite. Beaux-Arts architecture depended on sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, blossoming in the United States in the early 20th century after many American architects studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century.

Williams-Sears House // 1905

Why cant we all have siblings this generous??

Located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this home was actually constructed as two attached homes for Ralph Blake Williams and his sister, Ruth (Williams) Sears, the wife of Dr. George Gray Sears. In 1905, Ralph B. Williams hired architect Julius A. Schweinfurth, who trained in the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, to design a double-townhouse, for him and his sister. After completion, Williams lived in the larger side (right three bays) with his widowed mother, and Ruth lived in the smaller home (left two bays) with her husband. After successive ownership, the buildings were and turned into a lodging house, soon after purchased together in 1955 and turned into a school, the Chandler School for Women. The homes remained separate until 1959, when the school demolished the interior party wall, effectively combining the two properties into one, this is likely when the Sears’ front door was filled in, leaving one front door in the center bay. In 1971, the New England College of Optometry purchased the building and occupies it to this day for classrooms and offices.

Governor Draper Mansion // 1905

Adjacent to the Warren House (last post) on Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this massive mansion is one of my favorites on the street. Built in 1905, and designed by architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr. an amazing local architect, and nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The grand mansion was the home of Eben Sumner Draper and his wife, Nancy. Eben Draper was a manufacturer of cotton machinery in the Draper Corporation, founded by his father in Hopedale, MA. Draper graduated from MIT and entered his fathers business, which upon the time of his graduation, was the largest plant for manufacturing cotton machinery in the world. In 1905, Draper was nominated and elected as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, the same year he had this mansion constructed. In 1908, Draper was elected Governor, and served two terms under the Republican Party, pushing a pro-business, and anti-reform agenda, a bill legalizing the merger of the Boston and Maine Railroad with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, signaling approval of what was seen as monopolistic business practices, something the Draper Corporation was known for in Hopedale. The former single-family home was converted to six condominium units in 2000. Fun fact: the Draper Mansion replaced the 1860 home David Stewart, a merchant from New York, built as a wedding present for his daughter, Isabella Stewart, and John (Jack) Lowell Gardner. Isabella would later create the beloved and iconic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The couple purchased the adjacent townhome in 1880 to store their growing art collection.

Mary King House // 1901

A lasting remnant of the grand homes which once dominated 5th Avenue in Manhattan in the Upper East Side, the Mary King House remains an architecturally and historically significant townhome in New York. Mary Augusta King was the granddaughter of late New York Governor John A. King, and widow of Edward King who had died in September 1875 leaving an estate of around $5 million–in the neighborhood of $113 million today. At the tail end of the Gilded Age of old New York, developers hired architectural firm Turner and Killian to design a new home across from the Met Museum at Central Park, away from the large hotels and towers being built in Midtown. Just before the home was completed, it was purchased by Ms. King for her new residence. She resided there a couple years before her death in 1905. The home was sold a couple more times and was eventually acquired by the American Irish Historical Society in 1939. The AIHS was founded in 1897 to ‘inform the world of the achievements of the Irish in America’, and is today a national center of scholarship and culture holding events and allowing researchers.

NYC Police Headquarters Building // 1909

Grand architecture in New York is not just limited to commercial buildings, churches and offices, even civic buildings here can go toe-to-toe architecturally with any in the world! On the border of the SoHo neighborhood, the former New York City Police Headquarters showcases the unity of the five boroughs into the City of New York in 1898, a city in need of a large and centrally located Police HQ. The firm of Hoppin & Koen was hired to design a large structure, fitting to represent the largest police force in the country and the five boroughs it represents. The grand Beaux-Arts building makes a statement with its perfect proportions, expanses of rusticated limestone and granite, and the massive central dome at the roof. The New York City Police Department relocated in 1973 to the larger One Police Plaza building, and the former headquarters was vacant for a decade until the early 1980s when the property was purchased by developers and converted to condominiums.

New York Appellate Courthouse // 1899

Distinguished for its classic beauty, this small marble courthouse expresses the best of Classical tradition, in its columned portico and fine sculptures adorning it. Located at the edge of Madison Square Park, the building was constructed between 1896 and 1899 to serve as a courthouse for the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. The marble Classically inspired Beaux-Arts courthouse, was designed by James Brown Lord and is considered to be an excellent example of the City Beautiful movement, which sought to introduce monuments and beautification to American cities. Of the nearly $650,000 spent on the building, 25 percent was spent on sculpture, a huge sum at the time. Sixteen sculptors – sponsored by the National Sculpture Society and among of the most esteemed of the day – worked on the thirty 12-foot marble statues on the facade, the most ever to work on a single building in the United States. Sculptures by Daniel Chester French, Charles Henry Niehaus, Karl Bitter, and more adorn the balustrade and entrance steps. Additionally, four caryatids sculpted by Thomas Shields Clarke on the Madison Avenue front, showcase a rare feature not typically seen in American architecture, representing the four seasons.

In 1953 a $1.2 million restoration of the facade was undertaken by the Department of Public Works during which the huge marble statues were removed and cleaned. It was at this time that the general public first realized one of the lawgivers was Mohammed. Representatives from Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia petitioned the State Department to destroy the statue rather than restore it, citing Islamic canon that forbids the depiction of human beings in painting or sculpture. When the statues were replaced in 1955, each was moved over one spot to fill in the void where Mohammed had stood. Today one empty pedestal remains.

Flatiron Building // 1902

The 22-story Flatiron Building in New York is easily one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings in the world. Built in 1902, the building replaced a collection of smaller commercial buildings on one of the most visible lots in this section of the city, thanks to the convergence of 5th Avenue and Broadway at Madison Square Park. The lot was developed by Harry S. Black, President of the Fuller Company, a general contracting company whose specialty was the construction of skyscrapers for their own offices. The company hired Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who was known throughout the world for his skyscraper designs. Upon completion after just 9 months of construction, the building was called the “Fuller Building”, which was quickly overtaken by the public who named the building the “Flatiron” thanks to its footprint resembling an old flat iron. The building was recently vacant and has been undergoing a complete update inside with sprinkler systems, new floorplans and HVAC.

141-147 5th Avenue // 1896 & 1900

This stunning Beaux-Arts store and loft structure, is located on a
prominent corner site at 5th Ave and 21st Street in Manhattan. The structure is faced in limestone and terra cotta and was constructed in two phases. The original three southern bays (on the right side of the image) on 5th Avenue were designed by prominent architect Robert Maynicke for real estate developer Henry Corn. In 1899, two years after its completion, architect Henry Edwards Ficken designed an addition to the north wrapping around and running along 21st Street. The addition continued the richly embellished facade and supplemented it with a twelve-story, curved corner bay which is crowned by a dome. The building appears to have been constructed without a major tenant, and many companies utilized the iconic space including: the Merchant Bank of New York, Park & Tilford’s, a fancy grocer, and lace companies. In the mid 20th century the building suffered from deferred maintenance until 2005 when the building was restored and converted to 38 apartments (including one utilizing the dome)!