About ten years after the nearby Carlisle building (last post) was completed by owner Jonas Gerlusha Smith (1817-1893), he began construction on another large, apartment hotel next door. He again retained architect Arthur Vinal, who was acting City Architect for the City of Boston to furnish the plans on the building, which would be attached to the older portion which fronts Gray Street behind. The building is extremely well-preserved and has some stunning metal bays with decorative details which really pop!
The Carlisle // 1880
In 1880, Jonas Gerlusha Smith (1817-1893) received a permit to erect a multi-family apartment building on Warren Avenue in present-day South End. The lot was close to his personal residence at 13 Warren Avenue and would have been easy to maintain and oversee tenants in the building. Mr. Smith hired 26-year-old architect Arthur H. Vinal, who furnished the plans for the handsome Queen Anne building. Vinal would later become the City Architect of Boston from 1884 to 1887, designing the High Service Building at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just seven years after this building. By the late 1880s, the building was known as The Carlisle and it remained in the Smith family holdings under Walter Edward Clifton Smith until the 1930s. Walter attended the Cambridge Episcopal Theological School and later worked at various churches in the Boston area, serving as pastor in his later years. He lived on Follen Street in Cambridge while he held the Carlisle for additional income. Under new ownership in 1950, a retail storefront was added to the first floor which was occupied as a florist for some years. In 1979, after years of deferred maintenance, the property was purchased by Louis G. Manzo and his son David W. Manzo, who meticulously restored the building over time into the time-capsule that it is today!
Harrishof Houses // 1899 & 1900
I think I found it… My favorite street in Roxbury. Harrishof Street is a surviving streetscape that shows the beauty and potential of the Washington Park district of Roxbury, a surviving span of houses that dodged the wrecking ball during a period of Urban Renewal. This section of the street runs a stone’s throw from the ruins of the 1857 Horatio Harris Villa (featured previously) and was laid out by Horatio’s heirs who developed the former sprawling estate into multi-family housing, to cash in on suburbanization caused at the turn of the 20th century thanks to electric trolley lines in the neighborhood. The development is credited to Alexander Colin Chisholm (1868-1941), a Canadian-born architect and developer who grew up in Roxbury. He specialized in small residential enclaves of similar houses, including these houses on Harrishof Street, and later on Elm Hill Park. The two-family houses blend Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles in such a fun way that pushes the boundaries of academic architecture. The houses on the street are all slightly different and have had varied alterations over time, but this is a great candidate for a historic district!
Horatio Harris Villa // 1857
Not much remains of one of Roxbury’s once grand rural estates, but as there is some left, I want to feature it before it’s all gone, possibly any day now! Horatio Harris was born in Dorchester (present-day South Boston) in 1821 and ran a prominent auction house in Boston. He built his country estate in Roxbury beginning in 1857 in the Gothic Revival style, adding on and updating numerous times. During the Civil War, the firm of Horatio Harris & Co. obtained the contract to sell at auction all goods which were confiscated by the United States’ land or naval forces and brought to Boston. He made a lot of money and added to his land holdings and estate house in Roxbury. The mansion’s construction was timely as Roxbury was transitioning from a rural town, with farms and country estates of wealthy Boston merchants, to a streetcar suburb, increasing the land value of his holdings. The estate included nearly 30 acres of meandering paths, a lake with an island, outbuildings, and an observation tower – one of which remain today besides the ruin of the former mansion. Horatio died in 1876, in the decades following his death, his heirs began subdividing the estate, developing some and selling other plots off for houselots. By the early 1900s, Jewish people began moving into Roxbury, mixing with the predominantly Yankee population. By 1915, the Harris manor house was owned by the Hebrew Alliance of Roxbury, Inc. By the 1920s, they expanded facilities, adding a school building to the front of the former Harris Mansion, completely obscuring the facade of the old estate. In the 1940s, the upper stories were removed. Seemingly the death knell of the old Harris Villa was a fire in 2019, which gutted much of the remaining original fabric of the estate. All that remains is a bay window, some window trim details and a Gothic porte-cochere at the rear of the estate. See it before it’s too late!
Harriswood Crescent // 1889
Harriswood Crescent was built in 1889-90 at the height of Roxbury’s development as a streetcar suburb which coincided with the electrification of the streetcar lines in Boston. The area of Roxbury in which the Crescent is located, known at the time as Boston Highlands due to its rocky terrain and steep grades, was an extremely desirable residential location. As land values raised, middle and upper-class families looked for varied housing types that fit their demands. Seen as a great investment of the family estate, the heirs of wealthy businessman Horatio Harris (1821-1876) redeveloped lots on one side of a rocky park for fine townhouses, which were named Harriswood Crescent. The name was probably chosen for its historical associations with Boston’s Tontine Crescent and the great Georgian crescents of London and Bath in England. Architect J. Williams Beal designed the row, which was one of his first commissions upon returning to Boston in 1888 after employment as a draftsman at McKim, Mead & White and a long study in England to view architecture. Built at 15 separate units, the row of Tudor style houses is among the only of such developments in Boston, and New England at large.
Peleg Eddy House // c.1895
Roxbury is not well-known for its Shingle style architecture, but this example might change that! This dwelling was built around 1895 by the heirs of Horatio Harris on family land that was subdivided for house lots at the end of the 19th century. The expansive Harris estate was developed, largely on speculation and included some amazing single family homes, rowhouses and multi-family dwellings. This Shingle style home appears to have also been built on speculation and was owned by the Harris heirs for some time. The property was occupied for some time by Peleg E. Eddy and his wife Caroline in the earliest years of the house’s existence. I could not locate the architect, but it could be estimated as a design by J. Williams Beal, a local architect who was commissioned to design the nearby Harriswood Crescent development for the Harris family. The design features a Roxbury puddingstone first floor and chimney which contrast elegantly with the shingle siding.
Henry A. Thomas House // 1870
People don’t explore Roxbury enough! The neighborhood is full of amazing architecture with buildings in a great state of preservation and some waiting for the overlapping vinyl siding to be removed. This restored beauty sits perched above the road and is one of the best examples of a Second Empire merchant’s home in Roxbury. The house was built around 1870, within a year of owner Henry A. Thomas purchasing the lot here for $4,800. Mr. Thomas owned a boot and shoe retail store in Downtown Boston for years. The lot was later subdivided and stucco apartments were built to the side, notable at the time when Roxbury began to really densify with housing construction in the early 1900s.
Dimock Center – Cheney Surgical Building // 1899
With funds for expansion at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Roxbury, the hospital’s board commissioned architect Willard T. Sears (also the architect of the earlier Cary Cottage and Zakrzewska Building) to design a new surgical building at the hospital’s growing campus. Construction began on the new Cheney Surgical building in 1899 on the birthday of its namesake, Edna Dow Cheney an original incorporator of the hospital and then President. The Cheney Surgical Building was designed in the Colonial Revival style in brick, with a four-story central block with three-story wings. The central entranceway is accentuated by a classical porte-cochere topped by a Palladian window, in keeping with the Georgian Revival tradition of symmetry and classical vocabulary. The building is one of the first you see when climbing the hill into the campus.
Dimock Center – Goddard Nurses Home // 1909
Located adjacent to the Zakrzewska Building and Cary Cottage at the former New England Hospital for Women and Children is the 1909 Goddard Nurses Home, designed by John A. Fox. This three story brick building typifies the Classical Revival style with its recessed central entranceway and symmetrical fenestration with flared brick keystone lintels. The slate hipped roof is perforated by three dormers on the front facade. The broad overhanging eaves have exposed rafters which is an element of Craftsman design, common at the time. The Goddard Nurses Home provided living accomodations for up to fifty nurses who worked at the hospital. It was named after Lucy Goddard, one of the original incorporators of the women’s hospital, she served as president for twenty-five years.
Dimock Center – Sewall Maternity Building // 1892
As the New England Hospital for Women and Children continued to grow in the decades following its founding in 1862, expanded facilities were needed to deal with increased patients along with new nurses and doctors to treat them. Land was acquired across from the Cary Cottage and Zakrzewska Building, and a second building campaign began to expand the facilities and grow the women’s hospital. The management of the hospital did not hire Cummings and Sears, but went with architect John A. Fox to furnish plans for a new maternity building. The Sewall Maternity Building was designed in the Colonial Revival style, a relatively modest example that features a unique broken pediment over the door housing a large window. In 1916, the building was expanded by an addition at the rear which enclosed a central courtyard, it was also designed by John Fox.