The First Church of Christ in Lancaster, Massachusetts, (also known as the Bulfinch Church) is one of the finest Federal style religious buildings in America. The history of First Church goes back to the beginnings of the town of Lancaster in 1653. By Massachusetts law, a town could not be established without a church and a minister. First Church was founded as the official town church. The current building is the fifth of the congregation and was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who is regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. The church building is rectangular in plan with a projecting front section supporting a two-stage tower. At the facade, an arcaded and pedimented portico with three high openings with round-arch tops, frame three entry doors. The arches are separated by pilasters, which rise to an entablature and a fully enclosed gable pediment. The church is so pleasing to look at! To the side, the old horsesheds remain, where members would keep their horses during church services.
Founded in 1835, Paine’s Furniture Company was at one time the largest furniture manufacturer and dealer in New England and had a nationwide business. The company was founded by Leonard Baker Shearer, who was joined in business in 1845 by John S. Paine, his son-in-law. Upon the death of Shearer in 1864, the name of the firm was changed to Paine’s Furniture Company. The company occupied a couple wooden and metal buildings on this site in the Bulfinch Triangle until a fire destroyed the complex. The growing firm took this opportunity to hire one of the most successful architect Gridley J. F. Bryant who worked with a colleague, Louis P. Rogers, to design the fire-proof building. The Second Empire style building with mansard roof was split into three sections with the rear two rented out to other companies, while Paine’s occupied the south-facing (main) facade. When Paine’s moved to their new building in the Back Bay, they sold this building and later alterations severely diminished the original design of the building. The current hodgepodge of alterations creates a mess of what was once an undeniable architectural landmark.
One of the biggest architectural losses in Boston has to be the demolition of the Boylston Market formerly at the corner of Boylston and Washington Streets. A new market house in Boston was desired by many of the city’s elite, and when John Quincy Adams (who lived on Boylston Street and was elected President of the United States 15 years later) gathered capital for the new structure it was so built. The group hired Charles Bulfinch, who at the time was THE architect of Boston, to design the new brick market. When opened to the public in 1810, the market was considered far out of town, but the neighborhood quickly developed around it with new Federal and Greek Revival homes popping up all around it, with commercial buildings soon after. The market featured stalls for the “sale of provisions” on the first and second floors, and Boylston Hall on the third floor, which featured musical and theatrical productions. The market building was sadly demolished in 1887 for a larger and more modern market of the same name. The belfry atop the former market was disassembled and given to a church in Arlington, MA, who now displays it on their own church building.
The Kirstein Library is architecturally notable as one of the city’s best examples of the Federal Revival style. The design, inspired (mostly copied) by the central arch of Charles Bulfinch’s 1793 “Tontine Crescent” on Franklin Street, reflects the architects’ academic interest and study of the Federal aesthetic. The Federal Revival building features many Federal features including the Palladian window on the second story, the Ionic pilasters, central lunette window, and a triangular gable pediment.
The Kirstein Memorial Library is historically significant as the sixth “business” library in the United States and was operated as part of the Boston Public Library system. Louis E. Kirstein, the Vice-President of Filene’s Department Store, donated $200,000 for the cost of the building and its furnishings in memory of his father, Edward Kirstein. The main purpose of the library was to provide convenient access to information needed by the business and community. The first and second floors were devoted to magazines, bulletins, government reports, and books dealing with business and economics. The library was later moved to the BPL Main Branch at Copley Square and the building is still owned by the City of Boston.