Exeter Chambers // 1889

One of the lesser-known historic hotels in Boston can be found at the corner of Exeter and Blagden Streets in the Back Bay neighborhood, tucked behind the Boston Public Library’s Johnson addition. Exeter Chambers (now Courtyard by Marriott Boston Copley Square), was built between 1889 and 1890 from plans by architect Theodore Minot Clark. Clark was a professor at MIT and the understudy of Boston’s famed Trinity Church architect, H. H. Richardson. Clark oversaw much of the construction of Trinity Church and his name is even engraved on the building. Exeter Chambers was constructed by the Guastavino Company, a very prominent contractor during the period noted for style and quality, known for the Guastavino tile. Cutting edge techniques such as compression arches and terracotta accents were featured throughout the structure. The hotel was vacant for many years and a renovation in 2004, which added three stories to the building, restored the ornate exterior to its former glory.

Hotel Boylston // 1870-1894

C.1875 image of Hotel Boylston, BPL image.

Standing just 24 years, the Hotel Boylston at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets, evoked the Victorian-era grandeur of Boston. Built in 1870, the Victorian Gothic hotel (what we consider apartment building today) was designed by the architectural team of Cummings and Sears, who were very busy at the time in Boston and beyond. The 5 1/2-story building was constructed of sandstone and featured Gothic arches, dormers of varied sizes and shapes, and a mansard roof with iron cresting. The building (and the three others on Tremont Street) was razed in 1894 and replaced with the Hotel Touraine a few years later.

Emile Coulon House // 1923

Built in 1923, this striking French Eclectic home is by far one of my favorites in Brookline! The home was built for Emile Coulon, a hotelier. Coulon was born in Le Mans, France and worked in several European hotels before moving to America, first settling in New York in 1901. Fluent in four languages, Coulon was also well-read and catered to the luxurious clientele many of the hotels he worked at. After one year in New York, he moved to Boston and started as a waiter at the Hotel Touraine. By 1912, he leased the Hotel Westminster and five years later, the Hotel Victoria. He later leased the Hotels Touraine, Lafayette and Vendome in the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression. Coulon was elected president of the Massachusetts Hotel Association. Emile and his wife lived in this French style home, likely designed with his French roots in mind, for just five years before they moved to a unit in the Vendome to be closer to his 24/7 job. He died in 1947 in his beloved Vendome apartment.

Hotel Touraine // 1897

The Hotel Touraine at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets in Boston was built in 1897 as one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Designed by the local firm of Winslow and Wetherell, the Jacobean Revival style building commands the well-trafficked corner opposite the Boston Common. Early articles described the hotel as “a large and sumptuously equipped house, with internal decorations in the style of the Chateau de Blois (a French chateau). Winslow and Wetherell appeared to have been inspired by the Louis XII wing of the Chateau, as many design elements of the hotel closely resemble it. The hotel was advertised as having 350 rooms valued at $2 a night up to $3 a night for a room with a private bath. Separate men and women’s parlors, a library, and elevator service made the hotel desirable for the upper-class Bostonians and visitors to the bustling Downtown area. The hotel’s rich clientele eventually began frequenting the larger hotels near Copley Square and the stature of the Touraine slipped with a changing Downtown character. By the 1960s, the hotel closed and was converted to apartments.