Boston has many examples of adaptive reuse, likely none as frequent as converted horse stables and carriage houses from the 19th century. These one-story stables with a mansard roof on Stanhope Street in the Back Bay were constructed by 1868. The street once held other stable buildings, but those lots were either redeveloped or closed for the extension of Clarendon Street. The stables were used to store the horses and carriages of wealthy Back Bay residents including Jacob Pfaff, Dexter Follett, and Barney Corey. When automobiles replaced horses as a primary way of getting around, these buildings were converted to garages. As the land value raised here, they were adapted to commercial use eventually as restaurants. The building at the far left (now Red Lantern) was originally occupied by Gundlach’s Hofbrau German Restaurant, followed by the Red Coach Grill. A large fire occurred at the restaurant in 1955, likely destroying any historic fabric inside. The Stanhope Stables are threatened for redevelopment as the high-value land facilitates a higher and better use (presently proposed as a hotel). While the preservationist in me wants to see these stables remain intact, my stance is that the brick facades should be reconfigured into a new development in a lobby or restaurant.
The Charles Roberts Mansion in Beacon Hill maintains its architectural integrity and is an extremely rare example of the Egyptian Revival and Second Empire styles in Boston. The mansion was constructed in 1871 for Charles and MercyRoberts, likely as a boarding house for transient legislators working at the Massachusetts State House nearby and other middle-class citizens. The mansion was designed by William Washburn, a prolific architect who lived nearby and is credited with iconic early Boston buildings like the Revere and American Houses (early Boston hotels), the original Tremont Temple, and the old Charlestown City Hall, all since demolished. This mansion is the only extant building by Washburn to my knowledge. The brick and sandstone building features paired columns at the entrance with Egyptian Revival lotus leaf capitals, additionally, the triangular dormers at the mansard roof provide a slight Egyptian Revival note. The Egyptian Revival style was rarely used in American domestic architectural design. More frequently used in the design of cemetery entrance gates and memorials in the form of obelisks, the Egyptian Revival made sporadic appearances in the design of American buildings between the 1820s and the 1870s. Another period of the Egyptian Revival architectural style also occurred in the 1920s, with design of silent movie theaters, which coincided with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.
The Dutcher Temple Company was incorporated in 1867 and founded by Warren W. Dutcher in Hopedale, MA. Dutcher was an extremely ingenious inventor, taking out 20 patents, mainly on temples and machines by which to manufacture them. Temples are adjustable stretchers used on a loom to maintain the width and improve the edges of the woven fabric. The company merged with Draper later on, but after Dutcher built this stunning Second Empire home perched atop a hill. What is your favorite part of this house? The roof and dormers? The porch? The paint scheme?
Walter McQueen, a Scottish-born engineer, built this Second Empire style home with money he made in his role at the Schenectady Locomotive Works. The Schenectady Locomotive Works built trains from its founding in 1848 through its merger into American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1901. The company grew as railways connected the east coast to the west, coinciding with the California Gold Rush and westward expansion of the United States. The company manufactured trains for various railway companies all over the United States. The company grew so fast that they had hundreds of workers, with many children in their factories. Walter McQueen was master mechanic (the best master mechanic in the country on many accounts) at the Schenectady Locomotive Works, becoming superintendent in 1852 and subsequently a vice-president. It is likely that McQueen sought more expensive housing with his increased role and relocated from this brick mansard roof home. The home as of late has been adaptively reused into commercial use, most recently for Bier Abbey, a restaurant.
Founded in 1835, Paine’s Furniture Company was at one time the largest furniture manufacturer and dealer in New England and had a nationwide business. The company was founded by Leonard Baker Shearer, who was joined in business in 1845 by John S. Paine, his son-in-law. Upon the death of Shearer in 1864, the name of the firm was changed to Paine’s Furniture Company. The company occupied a couple wooden and metal buildings on this site in the Bulfinch Triangle until a fire destroyed the complex. The growing firm took this opportunity to hire one of the most successful architect Gridley J. F. Bryant who worked with a colleague, Louis P. Rogers, to design the fire-proof building. The Second Empire style building with mansard roof was split into three sections with the rear two rented out to other companies, while Paine’s occupied the south-facing (main) facade. When Paine’s moved to their new building in the Back Bay, they sold this building and later alterations severely diminished the original design of the building. The current hodgepodge of alterations creates a mess of what was once an undeniable architectural landmark.
In 1873 Elnathan Jones, Jr.(1829-1904) purchased house plans from a friend in Groton, adapted the plans, and built these two houses, in Acton. One home for himself, and one for his business partner Jonathan Wetherbee (1832 1926). Also near these two houses is the Tuttle House (featured last), in a different style. All three of these men were family by marriage, and ran businesses in the village of South Acton. The Jones and Wetherbee houses were built as sister houses, identical; but over the years, the Jones House has seen some unsympathetic alterations which diminish its architectural significance. The Wetherbee House (yellow) retains its original detailing and corner, towered mansard roof.
Located on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Hooper Mansion represents one of the most elegant examples of Second Empire architecture style in the city. This home was actually constructed as a double-house for Samuel Hooper and his wife Anne, with a separate, semi-detached home for his son and his own family. The double-mansion was designed by esteemed architect Arthur Gilman, who used pressed brick contrasted with the tan sandstone on the home. Additionally, he designed the dentillated cornice, lavish door and window surrounds, and octagonal bays, all capped with a mansard roof with many windows laid inset to the roof, a stunning feature. The house was designed symmetrically, with entrances on each side elevation. In the early 1890s, later owners extended the eastern half of the façade so that it would be on the same plane as the western half, with an entrance at street level (seen in the right of this photo). Today, the double house is broken up into four large condominium units. When the conversion was approved, the developer wrote into the deed that the open space at the corner, used as a garden, would remain open space in perpetuity.
Located on the flat of Beacon Hill, built on 19th century-made land along the Charles River, this stable stands out as one of the best preserved in the neighborhood. The Second Empire style stable was built for owner Elijah Williams, a shipping merchant, who lived in a massive townhome in Louisburg Square, up Beacon Hill. As part of the stable, Mr. Williams’ coachman, Andrew McCullough had an apartment where he and his family would live, while taking care of the horses and driving over Elijah’s carriage whenever he asked. The brick structure features granite stone trim, central carriage entry, and a horsehead above.
John Brown Herreshoff, a fully-blind ship-builder, and later Founder and President of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, built this house at the head of Burnside Street, overlooking his boat works (no pun intended). The home sits next to the stunning Codman Place mansion, featured previously, and takes architectural cues from its neighbor. The home is reported to have been built by J.B. Herreshoff, who despite being completely blind, developed his other senses to a high degree to overcome the handicap of sightlessness, and became renowned for his design skills in his ships. The home has a mansard roof with a central projecting entrance bay, capped with a steeply pitched roof, and a barrel-vaulted dormer and ocular window inset. While the house is now condo units, it retains its architectural integrity at the exterior.
In 1870, unmarried sisters of the esteemed and respected Codman Family of Boston, Catherine Elizabeth and Maria Potter, commissioned this house from the Newport Rhode Island architect George Champlin Mason. Like many who built in Bristol after the Civil War, the sisters seemed to view the location as a kind of suburb of fashionable Newport. In 1875 they were joined by their brother Henry Codman, who was given a large tower addition to dwell in, preserving the architectural significance to the Second Empire style home. Henry died in 1879, only four years after his tower was constructed, Catherine died in 1898, and Maria died in 1902 and the house was sold soon after her death. The home was converted to seven condominium units in the 1980s, yet retains its architectural grandeur from the delicate iron cresting at the roofs, down to the historic 2-over-2 windows.