Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, MA was established in 1850 as a rural, private cemetery in the tradition of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. The story of Woodlawn Cemetery began in 1850 when a group of ten prominent Bostonians petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to organize a corporation “for the purpose of procuring, establishing and preparing a cemetery or burial place for the dead in Malden” (present-day Everett was established in 1870 from Malden). Adjacent to the Cemetery Gate and Tower (last post), the Woodlawn Cemetery Lodge replaced an 1850s lodge and office constructed of wood, in the Gothic-style, that was deemed unsatisfactory for later boards managing the cemetery. The group hired Boston architect William Hart Taylor to design the gate and lodge, the latter in the Classical Revival style. The buff brick building features terra-cotta trim and a red tile roof with dentil cornices and copper cresting along the ridges and eaves. The square entry tower has a columned belfry and incorporates additional Classically-inspired features including Ionic columns, moldings, swags, and wreaths, which looks like a Greek Temple plopped onto the top. Gorgeous!
Sumner Hill in Jamaica Plain, Boston, is home to the most amazing Victorian-era homes in Boston. This elaborate house was built in 1884 for Walter Herbert Miller, a piano dealer and his wife, Mary Alice. The home exhibits asymmetry, porches with turned posts, a brick chimney facing the street, and the use of wood clapboards and shingle siding, adding intrigue. Starting around 1919, the home was rented by Judith Winsor Smith (1821-1921) a women’s suffrage activist, social reformer, and abolitionist until her death two years later. She was involved in the suffrage movement until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, when she voted for the first time at 99. Judith’s daughter Zilpha Smith also lived at the home with her mother until her own death in 1926. In her twenties, Zilpha volunteered alongside her mother, in relief efforts to care for victims of the Great Boston Fire of 1872; the experience led her towards a career in social work. Smith joined the Associated Charities of Boston as Head of the Office Staff in 1879 and later became its General Secretary. At that organization, she applied new theories about “charity organization.” The charity organization movement aimed to coordinate private agencies in order to use their resources efficiently to ameliorate urban poverty.
Built in Sumner Hill’s first period of development, this Italianate home sits away from the street as any suburban retreat should. The house was built in 1854 for Luther Gilbert, a grocer who co-owned stores around Boston under the firm Gilbert & Knight. The home is possibly the first true Italianate style home in the neighborhood, a deviation from the popular Greek Revival style common for merchants in the decades before. The home was eventually purchased in 1877 by Elias Hook of Hook & Hastings a major organ manufacturer. The company did very well, supplying organs to churches all over the county and was said to be the largest organ manufactory in the world at the time. The home is so well preserved, and even has a historically appropriate paint scheme!!
In 1896, architectural sculptor Charles Emmel purchased land in the rapidly developing Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain, Boston. He hired local architect George Zimmer, to design a massive double-house which would serve as an income-producing investment, and could also be a sort of advertisement for his sculpture work. The result is this massive Colonial Revival style property, perched atop a puddingstone foundation. Architectural ornament has been lovingly preserved, a testament to the owners of the building today and the amazing work of the original owner, Mr. Emmel. I found myself staring at the building for a while when walking by, looking at all the hidden detail and architectural ornament which adds so much to the building.
While the demolition of the 1909 Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain (last post) was a huge architectural and historic loss for the city of Boston, the present building is a landmark in its own right. The present building was built in 1987 as a pivotal project in the MBTA’s Southwest Corridor Improvement Program, which was largely unfinished (thanks to neighborhood pushback and protests against the proposed highway to cut through the neighborhoods). The existing station, designed by local firm Cambridge Seven, is situated between two important points in Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” park system, and thus was given the appearance of a greenhouse by the architects. The distinctive clock tower, rising 120 feet above the station, signals the station location and is a nod to the days when stations once had prominent clocks to help passengers keep tabs on the time, before the days of cellphones!
This historic rowhouse in the South End of Boston was home to the Women’s Service Club, a social and volunteer organization made up of Black women to uplift Black Bostonians of varied backgrounds, including soldiers, students, migrants and mothers. “464,” as some locals admiringly called it, was formed in the early 20th century as Boston. The city, once known as “Freedom’s Birthplace” and the “Athens of America” as a hub of abolitionist activity leading up to the Civil War, saw extreme segregation in housing and education for its Black residents by the early 20th century. From this, local activist Mary Evans Wilson organized a knitting group in 1917 to support soldiers of color fighting in World War I. An estimated 350 women joined the group, donating their talents to produce scarves and gloves for servicemen. Humanitarianism guided the activity of the Women’s Service Club’s over the next half century. This building was purchased in 1919 and operated as part-meeting space and part-settlement house. “A Home Away from Home,” as some described it, the building offered affordable shelter to female workers, migrants, and college students barred from on-campus housing due to racist policies. One of the club’s most prominent members was Melnea Cass (1896–1978), who served as its President for more than fifteen years. Cass initiated the Homemakers Training Program which certified domestic workers so they would be assured a liveable minimum wage, social security and other benefits. The club continues to do great work, but could use funding to restore the landmark building!
In 1921, Stuart Street was widened and extended between Boston’s Back Bay and Bay Village neighborhoods, which necessitated razing of all buildings along the route. From this, new lots were platted along the street where once thriving businesses were. Some relocated and others rebuilt. In 1927, the Park Square Corporation purchased seven contiguous lots at the corner of Stuart and Charles Streets and began construction of a large office building with storefronts on the ground floor. The Burdett Building opened in 1928. The building was built for Burdett College, which was founded in 1879 and focused on business and shorthand courses for students as a junior college. Architect Thomas H. James wanted the building to be like the new buildings at Princeton and Yale. The design featured Gothic inspired entrances and stone carvings of books and lions. Burdett College occupied the building until the 1950s and it was subsequently sold. By 1980, the building was acquired by the New England School of Law, who occupy it to this day as a place of learning.
One of my favorite houses in Boston is this absolutely perfect townhouse on Pinckney Street in Beacon Hill. This house was built on speculation in 1829-1830 for Hollis Chapin by architect John Kutts. Kutts was active as a Boston architect between 1828 and 1838, but he is much less well-known compared to his peers today. I hope someone who is a better researcher than me stumbles upon this article because I would love to learn more about this architect! Kutts (possibly also Kutz) is a unique name for Boston, so it is likely he was a German immigrant who settled in Pennsylvania before moving up here. Back to the house. It was finished and sold in 1830 to Ebenezer T. Pope for four thousand dollars. The home was quickly bought and sold a couple more times as the values on Beacon Hill continued to grow. The property was purchased in the 1870s by Noah Bodge, as a rental property and it remained in the family through the 1920s. The home retains all the original details and provides a needed pop of color with the door and shutters.
Many of the buildings along Byron Street in Boston were built in the mid-19th century as stables for wealthy residents of the Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Three similar private stables were constructed in 1865 for owners, but all three were purchased by George Gardner Hall, a wealthy hotelier and developer in Boston. Gardner demolished the three stables in 1895 and hired Boston architect William Whitney Lewis to furnish plans for a more stately stable building. The Romanesque Revival stable featured an entrance and exit set within the large Syrian arches on the facade. The building featured stalls for horses, a carriage room, harness room, and office on the ground floor, with storage space for hay, sleeping chambers for stable-hands, and living room with kitchen. The building allowed for wealthy residents to rent space for their horses if they didn’t have a stable of their own. The stable also likely provided carriages to Hall’s hotel downtown. A developer purchased the building after attempts were made in the 20th century to convert the building into a private auto garage. In the 1960s, he hired local architect Goody & Clancy Associates, who renovated the building, restoring the exterior and converted it into three housing units. There are three stone medallions on the facade that read “G.G.H” “No. 13” and “1895” which keep the stable’s history alive.
There is something so charming about old stable buildings in Boston! This stable (like the Garcelon-Sears Stable of the last post) is located on Byron Street in Beacon Hill Flat. This stable building is older, and originally was two stories, similar to the others on the street. The stable was constructed in the mid-1860s for Margaret Barker Sigourney, a wealthy widow who lived nearby in Back Bay. After other owners, by 1922, a coachman named James F. Burke owned and lived in the stable. The painted sign on the lintel over the vehicle door reading “Burke’s Hack & Livery Stable” apparently remains from this period. Burke also added the mansard roof at this time, evident from historic maps. The stable was eventually converted to a single-family home. Could you live in an old stable?