Less than a dozen wood-frame buildings exist on Beacon Hill in Boston, and this curious building is one of them, and also happens to be one of the oldest structures in the neighborhood! Built by 1800, this structure was constructed as an ell/addition to the Glapion-Middleton House at 5 Pinckney Street in Boston. The Glapion-Middleton House (previously featured) was constructed in 1787 after two Black men, George Middleton and Louis Glapion and their wives, built a small double house in the abolitionist center of Boston, Beacon Hill. In recent years, some have speculated that due to this living arrangement and other accounts, that Glapion and Middleton were in-fact gay men, but this is unsubstantiated. After the home was constructed, a two-story, five-bay ell was constructed which connected the home to Joy Street at the corner. The ell served as additional space for the two families and they appear to have had a workshop or store in part of the building. In 1855, owners demolished the center bay of the ell and erected a brick townhouse, similar to others in the neighborhood. The ell in this building was occupied as a store for the majority of its life and became an Italian restaurant and soon after a “Boyer’s Creamery Luncheon”. The property has since been converted to a residence.
Located on Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Boston, you’ll find this charming Tudor style commercial building, which appears as if it was plucked from the England! The Studio Building was built in 1914, and replaced a livery stable on the site (not really necessary with the growing popularity of the automobile). The building was designed by the architectural firm of Loring & Leland for William Coombs Codman of the Brahmin Boston family as an investment. The building was constructed on a prominent corner lot with commercial/retail use at the ground floor and artist studios above. Just six years after the building was complete, Charles Street was widened, and the building was shaved back over 10′ with all new openings seen here.
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 Mercy Roberts, 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.
Unlike the historically more fashionable South Slope that has always defined Beacon Hill’s character, the steeper, less accessible North Slope began with a 19th-century free black population and an integrated working-class community, but the architecture still stands out! In the 1840s, before massive land-making projects resulting in the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods, Boston-area developers had to think of creative ways to develop housing in the dense blocks of Boston. One solution was to purchase a larger parcel and lay out smaller house lots bordering narrow, dead-end ways, similar to this little enclave in Beacon Hill. Sentry Hill Place (originally named May Street Place) was so named in the 1910s by the residents in honor to the wooden sentry post that stood atop Beacon Hill
prior to the 1780s. Sentry Hill Place is comprised of seven near-identical brick rowhouses, all built in 1844 when the alley was laid out. At the terminus of the alley is a wood-frame structure which encloses the block and provides access to the two end units, an addition from the 1880s, to obscure what was once the rear of a barn which was accessed off the street to the north. Today, the once working-class enclave of homes is one of the more desirable in the neighborhood, for obvious reasons!
This funky house in Beacon Hill was built in 1802 actually as a stable, for United States Senator Jonathan Mason (who lived on the next street). Set out around 1800, Pinckney Street was originally a glorified service alley lined with the stables for the larger homes on the South Slope of Beacon Hill, and served as a buffer street between the mansions of the Brahmins who lived closer to the Boston Common, and the working-class neighborhood of the North Slope. From the 1880s until 1920s, Thomas Bailey Aldrich and his heirs owned the old Mason stable. Aldrich was an author and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and rented this stable building. He eventually hired noted architect William Ralph Emerson to redesign the main facade of the old stable in the manner of a picturesque Queen Anne cottage. The house has windows of varying sizes and forms and creates a complex composition which surprisingly works. The deeply recessed panel doors and some inset windows give the house depth. It has been known locally as the “House of the Odd Windows”, a name that perfectly fits.
These two townhomes on the end of the iconic Louisburg Square in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood were built in 1846 and stand as excellent examples of the Greek Revival style of architecture. Louisburg Square is a private park, maintained by the owners which overlook it, and the enclave of homes has become the most exclusive in the already swank Beacon Hill neighborhood; with townhouses listing for over $15,000,000! No.1 Louisburg Square was built for George R. Russell, of Russell & Co., East India Merchants. The home stayed in the family for nearly 100 years and changed hands later to other well-connected Bostonians. The adjacent house was acquired in 1849 by Joseph Iasigi, an affluent Turkish-born merchant as well as the Turkish Consul in Boston. He donated the statues of Christopher Columbus and Aristedes that still grace the northern and southern ends of the Square. When the marble statue of Aristedes arrived in Boston, Iasigi announced his intentions to locate the statue in the park to his neighbors. The neighbors hemmed and hawed about placing a Greek statue in their revered Louisburg Square and appointed a committee of three to think it over. When Joseph added that he would also import a statue of Christopher Columbus, they wholeheartedly agreed to both. Iasigi later relocated to a larger Second Empire style house in the neighborhood a decade later (featured on here previously). When he moved, Elijah Williams occupied the house, later constructing a stunning horse stable in the Beacon Hill flats (featured previously). Together, the two homes provide a stunning entrance to a luxurious and well-preserved corner of Boston.
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.
This brick Federal home was built in 1802 for John Callender (1772-1833). He attended Harvard and after graduation, was admitted to practice before the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas. Callender would go on to serve as clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court from 1815 until his death in 1833. When he was just a Clerk working at the Supreme Judicial Court, he purchased a small parcel of land from for $2,000. Callender subsequently built “a small house finished for little money $5,000-$7,000.” Callender lived here until at least the early 1820s. In the 1820s, the grade of Walnut Street was lowered and a basement facade with heavy granite blocks was added to the home, with a new front door, shifted from Mount Vernon Street. It is then that the home was likely added onto with the 3 1/2-story look we see today. The house is constructed of wood with brick end walls and flushboard siding on the Mount Vernon facade to replicate masonry.The home was acquired by members of the illustrious Lyman Family of Boston, who resided there until the early 20th century.
The home was purchased by Ellery Sedgwick, the long-time editor of the Atlantic Monthly (now The Atlantic), and he enjoyed celebrity status during his tenure in the 1920s. His first wife, Mabel Cabot Sedgwick, was a well-known horticulturist, writing the The Garden Month by Month, which still graces gardeners’ bookshelves today. Not long after they moved into this mansion on Beacon Hill, the Sedgwicks built a summer home called Long Hill in Beverly, MA, which is now owned by the Trustees (and was featured on here previously). The home was renovated in recent years and is listed for sale for a cool $12.7 million!
Did you know there was once a massive granite reservoir in Beacon Hill?
Long before the Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoirs that now supply water to Boston, the city’s original municipal water supply was Lake Cochituate, a reservoir in Metro-west. Due to Beacon Hill’s high elevation, the city selected the site behind the recently completed Massachusetts State House, to store and distribute water to the city. The site was too steep, so it had to be graded. Therefore, the top of Beacon Hill, where the beacon had long been standing, needed to be lowered to accommodate the reservoir. The soil was dug by hand and hauled by cart down to fill the old Mill Dam in the Bulfinch Triangle area. The reservoir, which opened in 1849, was unique in its approach. The design of the structure needed to minimize its footprint and reflect well on its surroundings in the prestigious location. In lieu of earthen bermed walls, as was the convention in most period distribution reservoirs, the design chose to create a watertight tank within a masonry structure. This made the structure the first elevated storage tank constructed in New England. Sheet lead was used to make the reservoir watertight (which likely led to a lot of health issues (hindsight is 20/20). By 1870, the poor water pressure made the Boston Waterworks build the Roxbury Standpipe, which relegated the Beacon Hill Reservoir to being an emergency water source for use only in case of fire or accident to the pumping-mains. In 1883, Boston Water Works sold the structure to the Commonwealth, who demolished it for the addition to the State House.
This house overlooking the Boston Common, was the first of several erected on Park St. from the plans of premier architect Charles Bulfinch, though the only one extant on the street today. Bulfinch is thought to be the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. The home was designed in 1803 for merchant Thomas Amory Jr. The new mansion was referred to as “Amory’s Folly” because of its unusually large size and pretentiousness. As Amory was completing the house, he suffered major losses at sea, and this plus other business setbacks and his extravagant building ruined him financially. The house was soon after rented to Catherine Carter as a fashionable boarding house popular among lawmakers, due to its location across the street from the State House. The home sold to George Ticknor in 1829, and he owned the home until 1871. Ticknor was an academic who worked for years as a professor at Harvard. He was a world traveller who acquired rare books for his own personal library, later gifting it to the newly established Boston Public Library in 1852, an organization he had a large part in creating. In the 1880s, the house was converted to commercial use due to the shifting demands for the neighborhood (many wealthy Bostonians moved to Back Bay). In 1884, the large oriel (bay) windows, dormers, and storefronts were added to give the house the look it retains today.