Boston’s iconic Hood Milk Bottle has been an iconic fixture in the city’s built environment for decades, but do you know about the history behind it? The architectural oddity was born in 1933-4 in Taunton, Massachusetts, the brainchild of Arthur Gagner who created it as roadside attraction in which he could sell his homemade ice cream. The Milk Bottle beckoned to local families with its impressive size (the structure is 40 feet tall, 18 feet wide, weighs 15,000 pounds, and would hold 58,620 gallons of milk, if it were a real milk bottle)! As car ownership became commonplace, giant donuts, coffee pots, hot dogs, and other surreal shapes rose up on roadsides across the country, enticing motorists to pull over from the busy, new freeways. Gagner peddled sweet treats from his whimsical wooden stand for a decade before selling the building to the Sankey family, who also used it to sell ice cream. But by 1967, the bottle had been abandoned. In 1974, photographer Walker Evans took a Polaroid of the forlorn building, which brought Hood Milk, native to Charlestown, to the table. With a quote of $25,000 to repair it, Hood agreed to cover that cost if the Bottle could be renamed The Hood Milk Bottle, and the structure was to be located on City Hall Plaza, until the architect of the plaza called the Mayor’s Office stating their displeasure with that idea. They then contacted the newly relocated Boston Children’s Museum, who agreed to locate the bottle on their property. The Hood Milk Bottle was delivered to the Museum in 1977 from Quincy (where the repairs were made) on a barge with two fire boats steaming alongside, on a voyage the Hood Company dubbed the “Great Bottle Sail”, where it has remained to this day. It recently underwent a $350,000 renovation, restoring it to its former glory. So no crying over spilled milk!
Located on West Broadway in a section of South Boston that has almost been stripped of all of its architectural character and history, sits this historic commercial building, which soon may face the wrecking ball. This building was constructed in 1896 for Thomas Casey, an Irish liquor dealer. He hired Irish-born architect Charles Donagh Maginnis who emigrated to Boston at age 18 and got his first job apprenticing for architect Edmund M. Wheelwright, the city architect of Boston, as a draftsman. The result was a four-story Colonial Revival commercial building, significant for the series of rounded copper bays and cornice. Of special note, there are wreath inlays designed into the bays between the third and fourth floors with the letters “T” and “C” within, representing Thomas Casey. Years after the building was constructed, it was purchased by Emma A. Amrhein, and has – until recently – been home to Amrhein’s Restaurant and Bar. The local landmark had two (unconfirmed) claims to fame; the oldest hand carved bar in America and the first draft beer pump in Boston. The large property was sold, and the developers proposed a large housing development on the site, retaining the Casey-Amrhein building. However, some have recently pushed for the demolition of this building to make the project slightly larger than would be with the historic building.