King’s Head Tavern // 1691-1870

Another of Boston’s Lost buildings is the King’s Head Tavern, an old establishment that was built in the early days of Boston and rebuilt following a fire in 1691. It stood on the corner of Lewis and North Streets, in the North End near Scarlett’s Wharf. Due to its proximity to the harbor and wharfs, it became the first place weary sailors stopped to get a drink on solid ground. The two-story, brick tavern was capped with a gambrel roof, which was later filled with wooden additions giving the structure a boxy look. The establishment was named the King’s Head Tavern after a popular London tavern of the same name. Like much of the North End, surging immigrant populations put immense strain on the built environment and many older buildings were demolished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for tenement housing. The old King’s Head Tavern was demolished in 1870, just two years after the photo was taken.

Downe-Tremere House // c.1674-1896

Image c.1896 courtesy of Boston Public Library.

One of the finest First Period Houses to have been built in New England was this brick mansion, formerly on North Street in Boston’s North End. On December 29, 1674, John Paine conveyed his property including a dwelling house to William Downe his new son-in-law. It is unclear when the house was built, but it was completed by the time of sale to William. Luckily, the house was constructed of brick, which likely saved it from the Fire of 1676. In later centuries, the building was converted to commercial use, at times housing a feather store. After the Civil War, the property was owned by the Tremere Family, who rented out commercial space and held tenements in the floors above (the third floor was added, filling in the space between the two end chimneys which were added in the early-19th century. The property was razed in 1896 for the present tenement building on the site.

Hull Street Medical Mission // 1901

Constructed for the Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church of New England, this building was associated with the Hull Street Medical Mission from the time of its construction, in 1901, to about 1950. The mission was one of a number of church-related social service programs established in the North End in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to address the needs of recent immigrants, namely the Russian Jews, Italians, and Portuguese residing in this area of the neighborhood. In 1909-1910 alone, 14,574 treatments were given in the clinic, providing a huge medical service to the widely low-income immigrant community of the North End [29th Annual Report, 154]. The Medical Mission closed in the early 1950s and the property was later sold and converted to apartments. It was designed by architect Walter Forbush, who utilized ogee arches and leaded glass windows, adding much flair to the building’s design.

Old North Church // 1723

One of the most visited buildings in New England is the stunning Old North Church in the North End of Boston. Old North Church (originally Christ Church in the City of Boston) was established when the cramped original King’s Chapel, then a small wooden structure near Boston Common, proved inadequate for the growing number of Anglicans in the former Puritan stronghold. Subscriptions for a new church were invited in 1722. The sea captains, merchants, and artisans who had settled in Boston’s North End contributed generously to the building fund, and construction began in April, 1723. The church was designed by William Price, though heavily influenced by Christopher Wren’s English churches.

Before the American Revolution, both Patriots and Tories were members of the church, and often sat near each-other in pews, clearly adding to bubbling tensions. The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, and Vestryman Capt. John Pulling, Jr. climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea across the Charles River and not by land. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution.

A full scale restoration of Old North was carried out in 1912-14 under the direction of architect R. Clipson Sturgis and a number of 19th century alterations were then eliminated. In this work, floor timbers and gallery stairs were replaced, the original arched window in the apse at the east end was replaced, and the old square box pews and raised pulpit were reconstructed. Additionally, the interior woodwork was incorrectly repainted white rather than the rich variety of original colors described in the early documents of the church, clearly submitting to Colonial Revival sensibilities. The iconic white steeple is also not original. The original steeple of the Old North Church was destroyed by the 1804 Snow hurricane. A replacement steeple, designed by Charles Bulfinch, was toppled by a hurricane in 1954. The current steeple uses design elements from the original and the Bulfinch version. Even with all these differences, Old North lives up to her name and stands proudly as a symbol of freedom and revolution.

Lebowich Tenement House // 1895

One of the most photographed buildings in North End is arguably this tenement block, built in 1895 at the corner of Prince and Salem Streets. As the North End continued to redevelop into a diverse immigrant community, tenement houses were constructed by those with the means, providing housing at low cost to those who arrived to Boston in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Max and Etta “Ethel” Lebowich, Russian Jews, immigrated to Boston, settling in the Jewish quarter of the North End and opened up a dry goods store at the corner. The business did well, and the couple redeveloped their land and hired Swedish-born architect Charles A. Halstrom, to design the prominent apartment house. The Renaissance Revival building features massive pressed metal oriels and brick and stone construction. I am unsure if the oriels are truly copper, which would have been fairly expensive for a tenement building, or if they are pressed tin. Any insight would be much appreciated.

Lincoln Wharf Power Station // 1901

Back in the day, even power stations were gorgeous!

The Boston Elevated Railway Company, and its successor, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), operated Lincoln Wharf Power Station from 1901 to 1972. The Boston-based engineering firm of Sheaff & Jaastad, specialists in electric power and lighting plants, designed this 1901 power station to serve the Atlantic Avenue Line and provide supplementary
power for the Downtown Boston elevated and surface lines. Due to increased demand in 1907, a massive addition was constructed at the rear, facing Commercial Street, which now is the main orientation of the large structure. By 1971, all elevated tracks powered by this station were removed and the power station was sold by the MBTA to a private developer for housing. Eventually, San Marco Housing Corporation, hired the Boston Architectural Team, Inc., to renovate the power station in 1987 for low- to moderate-income housing. The result is an innovative and stunning example of adaptive reuse providing much-needed housing, while retaining historic fabric of old Boston.

1901 Power Station viewed from waterfront.

McLaughlin Tenements // c.1875

After the American Civil War, the North End of Boston saw a massive phase of redevelopment, replacing the dilapidated wooden dwellings with larger brick tenements to house the neighborhood’s growing immigrant population. Nearly all of the North End was replaced with these dwellings, which has now added so much to the appeal of the neighborhood. One of the earliest and notable examples is this building on Endicott Street. Built around 1875, the tenements were owned by George T. McLauthlin (also spelled McLaughlin), who owned the engineering and machinery company on Fulton Street, housed in one of the last remaining cast-iron facades in Boston. The tenement house was later owned by George’s son Daniel, likely providing housing for the company’s employees and/or providing additional income for the family. The building also appears to have always had commercial use on the ground floor, allowing merchants to also rent the space. The late-Italianate panel brick block is modest in design, but contributes to the diverse population and worker’s housing in the North End.

Eliot School // 1931

The Eliot School is a descendant of the first Eliot School in the North End, which opened in 1713 on the present North Bennet Street. Aside from Boston Latin, Eliot School is the oldest public school in Boston. Originally known as the North Latin School, it was renamed in 1821 likely after the former pastor of New North Congregational Church, Rev. Andrew Eliot. Constructed as an elementary school in 1931, this building occupies the site of the former Freeman School, one of the smaller 19th-century school buildings in the North End. This school building was designed in the Art Deco style by Cambridge-based architect Charles Greco. The building features decorative use of brick with stone incised pilasters and highly ornamental lintels over each entry, incorporating the name of the school,
carved foliate designs and shields, and the 1931 construction date.

Edmund Hartt House // c.1740

This gambrel-roofed home was likely built before the American Revolution by Alexander Baker, a caulker who worked on ships in the harbor just blocks from his home. His home would be located at 24 Hull Street in the North End neighborhood of Boston, adjacent to the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. The home was eventually bought by Edmund Hartt (1744-1824), a master carpenter who’s story is heavily overshadowed by his neighbor Paul Revere.

Ca. 1895 image of Hartt House courtesy of Boston Public Library. Note: Copp’s Hill Burying Ground fence in foreground.

Captain Edmund Hartt built a shipyard in the North End (there were no Government-owned navy yards at the time). At his shipyard, the USS Constitution was constructed in 1797, he later went on to build the USS Boston (1799), USS Argus (1803), and USS Independence (1814). Hartt died in 1824 and was buried across Hull Street in the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. His family continued to own the home until the 1890s, adding the lean-to addition on the side in the mid-1800s, and the home was demolished (as with many historic wood-frame homes in the neighborhood) for a larger, brick apartment building to house the growing immigrant population in the city.

Ebenezer Clough House // 1711

One of the oldest residential buildings in the historic city of Boston, the Clough House at 22 Unity Street in the North End stands just behind the Old North Church. Built by and for Ebenezer Clough (1690-1723), a prominent mason who later laid the brick foundation of the Old North Church next-door. Clough died at just 32 years old, and the home was deeded to his family.

Until 1806, the home was lived in by individual families, the first two generations of the Clough family, and then Joseph and Sarah Pierce and their families.  The home was inherited by their daughters and their politically active husbands, including Moses Grant, a participant in the Boston Tea Party.  The two daughters moved out of the house and a third story was added before the Clough House was converted into apartments in 1806.  For the next century and a half, more than 150 individuals, predominantly European immigrants, passed through the home.

Ca. 1940 image of the Clough House before its restoration. Library of Congress HABS.

Before the current configuration, the home was a 2 1/2-story gambrel roof home. The additional floor and the raising of the roof was done to add additional residential units into the home. The home was barely saved by the creation of the Paul Revere Mall in the 1930s. In 1962, Reverend
Howard P. Kellett, vicar of Old North Church, raised money to save the house from urban renewal plans. Since that time, the Ebenezer Clough House has received appropriate exterior and interior restorative treatments, and served as a rectory for the vicar of Old North Church. The home has since been converted to interpretive spaces on the history of Boston, run by the Old North Founcdation.