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.
Amory-Ticknor House // 1803
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.
Unitarian Church, Burlington // 1816
The building that gives Burlington’s iconic Church Street its name is this, the Unitarian Church of Burlington. One of the most stunning Federal style churches in New England, the church is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington, built in 1816. The church was designed by English architect Peter Banner (possibly with assistance of Charles Bulfinch), years after his crowning achievement, the Park Street Church in Boston was completed. From the head of Church Street, the church oversaw the growth of Burlington from a small lakefront town to the largest city in the state. In August 1954, the church steeple was struck by lightning, causing it to shift over two feet in a matter of months, unknown to the congregation and public. It was decided that due to concerns the steeple may collapse through the building, it was selectively demolished and reconstructed. The church remains an active part in the city and architectural landmark for Burlington.
Boylston Market // 1810-1887
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.
Kirstein Memorial Library // 1930
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.