One of the most stunning and monumental buildings in Providence is this building, a church which pretty closely resembles the Rhode Island State House! Christian Scientists in Providence began to hold informal services in 1889 and received a charter from the state legislature in 1895. Construction started on this church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in 1906 from plans by local architect Howard Hoppin who roughly modeled the building after the congregation’s Mother Church in Boston. The Classical Revival building is capped by a copper hemispherical dome supported by a colonnade of Corinthian columns. The main block of the structure at the street is fairly modest, possibly due to the residential character of its surroundings.
West Roxbury District Courthouse // 1922
Boston neighborhoods are very confusing, and how the West Roxbury District Courthouse came to be located in Jamaica Plain is just one example. The independent Town of West Roxbury was in existence from 1851 until 1874, a mere 23 years, bookended by its time as a section of the Town of Roxbury and being annexed into the City of Boston. West Roxbury originally included parts of the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale neighborhoods. Ultimately, West Roxbury became one of the city’s eight large districts and its municipal court division is served by this Neo-Classical style building. Built in 1922, the current West Roxbury Courthouse building on Arborway, was and still is, from a municipal court perspective as well as an historical perspective, in West Roxbury. The West Roxbury District Courthouse was designed by Timothy G. O’Connell and Richard Shaw of the firm O’Connell and Shaw who were best known for their ecclesiastical designs in New England, largely specializing in the Gothic and Arts and Crafts styles. Their design for the West Roxbury Courthouse remains one of their finest non-religious buildings and a departure from their traditional styles.
Suffolk Savings Bank // 1906-1967
The Suffolk Savings Bank for Seamen and Others was incorporated in 1833 as a banking institution catered to seamen and merchants who received their earnings after a trip in cash, and wanted a secure place to store their funds. At the time, these men were among the richest in the city, and the bank did very well. It later became a national bank in 1865 and membership boomed. The bank grew and grew until the early 20th century, and it needed a new banking house that showcased their stability, but also provide a visual embodiment of the security their institution provides. The bank’s board hired world-renowned architect Cass Gilbert to design a new building, which would be located on one of the busiest corners in Downtown Boston at the corner of Tremont Street and Pemberton Square. The Classical Revival building was constructed of Hallowell Granite and featured four monumental columns recessed into the Tremont Street facade. Minimal windows allowed for security, while a domed skylight covered in a cap provided light into the rounded banking room below. Inside, the walls and floors were of marble with a tile coffered ceiling. The building lasted until 1965 when Urban Renewal brought the wrecking ball. The bank was demolished by 1967 for the present Center Plaza building in Government Center.
Lancaster Center School // 1904
Situated on the iconic Town Green of Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous Colonial Revival school building elegantly fits into the surrounding context of stately civic buildings in the small town. The Center School, (now known as the Prescott Building), was designed by architect Herbert Dudley Hale of Boston, and built in 1904 for use as the Town of Lancaster’s first high school. The building committee formed to oversee proposals and funding of the school settled quickly on the desire to see it built in the Colonial Revival style to compliment the other Town Green buildings at the time, most importantly the Charles Bulfinch-designed church at the northern end (more on that tomorrow). The Center School had been used continuously as a public school until 2001, when it outlived its utility as a modern and codified school facility. The building stood vacant for a number of years until it was restored and re-utilized as town offices next to the town hall.
Schenectady City Hall // 1931
Buildings of New England travels! Welcome to Schenectady, a great city in upstate New York, with an hard to spell and pronounce name! The name “Schenectady” is derived from the Mohawk word skahnéhtati, meaning “beyond the pines”. Schenectady was founded on the south side of the Mohawk River by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, many of whom were from the Albany area. In 1664 the English seized the Dutch New Netherland colony and renamed it New York. They established a monopoly on the fur trade around Albany, and issued orders to prohibit Schenectady from the trade through 1670 and later. The town grew mostly as an inland agricultural town until the Erie Canal was built in 1825, creating a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, cutting through Schenectady. The town grew and became an industrial center, attracting a very diverse population of immigrants in the 19th century and African Americans as part of the Great Migration out of the rural South to northern cities for work. The community struggled (like many) in the mid 19th century but has seen a large resurgence as of late!
This building is the Schenectady City Hall, a massive architectural landmark which made my jaw drop when I saw it! The City of Schenectedy outgrew their old City Hall, and in the late 1920s, held a nationwide contest to select designs for a new City Hall. The contest was won by the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White. It appears that the designs were furnished by James Kellum Smith of the firm, the often overlooked genius of the MMW practice. The exorbitant cost of the project, which was undertaken during the Great Depression, caused the building to be dubbed “Fagal’s Folly” after Mayor Henry C. Fagal, who allowed all the cost increases while the city’s future was uncertain. He was not re-elected after this building was completed. The building is a pleasing mixture of Colonial and Classical Revival styles and features bold pilasters and a towering cupola
Paine Furniture Building // 1914
Located on Arlington Street between St. James and Stuart streets in Boston’s Back Bay, this gorgeous masonry commercial block stands as a testament to the amazing architecture built in Boston in the early 20th century. The Paine Furniture Building was constructed in 1914 to house the extensive showroom, offices, and manufacturing operations of the Paine Furniture Company. Founded in 1835, the 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. Upon the death of Shearer in 1864, the name of the firm was changed to Paine’s Furniture Company, a name which stuck until the company closed in 2000. The architects for the building, Densmore & LeClear, were very busy in the early decades of the 20th century and designed many iconic buildings nearby and in towns surrounding Boston through the 1940s.
Harvard Medical School – Laboratory Building // 1905
The buildings which make up the majority of the “Great White Quad” of Harvard Medical School in Boston, are the four laboratory buildings which frame two sides of the lawn. The four lab buildings add to the composition of the campus which historically terminated at the Administration Building (last post). All five buildings of the Longwood campus’ initial building campaign were built between 1903-05 and were designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, who continued the architectural practice of the famed H.H. Richardson. The four lab buildings were designed U-shaped with two disciplines in each building, one on each wing, with a central auditorium space in the central wing upstairs. Large grassy courtyards were located in the enclosed sections to provide natural light and fresh air into the laboratories. Many of the Classical Revival lab buildings have been enclosed and added onto in the 20th century as the campus grew exponentially, a testament to its success.
Boston Consolidated Gas Company Building // 1927
The Boston Gas Light Company was incorporated in 1823 and for thirty years was the sole company producing coal gas in the City of Boston. In the second half of the 19th century, several additional gas light companies were formed in and around Boston to make loads of money with the booming industrial growth seen there. They continued until it was determined that with the proximity of competing pipelines and the overlap of service areas it would be more efficient to consolidate into a single company. The Boston Consolidated Gas Company was chartered in 1903 to to combine numerous smaller corporations operating in the City of Boston under one conglomerate. The organization had a small building in Downtown, which was outgrown decades later. The company hired the local firm of Parker, Thomas & Rice, to design the new mid-rise office building on the outskirts of the fashionable Back Bay neighborhood. The base of the Classical Revival building follows the base, shaft and capital form. The base is traditional with three stories of rustication, ornamental capitals, carved detail at the arches and the elegant bronze window frames. The central stories are clad in dressed limestone, streamlined with punched openings, emphasizing verticality. Stories 12 and 13 are framed by colossal engaged columns with arched windows and bas reliefs. The ground floor today is home to a recently opened restaurant, Nusr-Et Boston, which was created by the famous chef, Salt Bae.
Burlington City Hall // 1928
One of the largest, most grand buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont is its City Hall building, constructed in 1928, just before the Great Depression. The brick facade with extensive carved marble trim is Neo-classical in style, with virtually all the finish materials – brick, marble, roofing slate, and granite produced in Vermont. The building replaced the 1850s City Hall, which was poorly constructed and suffered from deterioration, exacerbated by an earthquake in 1925. Architect William M. Kendall was hired to complete the designs of the large, bold Classical building. Kendall spent his career with the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, the leading American architectural practice at the turn of the century, and showcased the best of that firm with the design of this building.
Beverly Public Library // 1913
The Beverly Public Library was established in 1855 as one of the earliest public libraries in Massachusetts, succeeding a private subscription library that was organized in town in 1802. Between 1855 and 1913, the town’s library was housed in the Town Hall building. When it was determined the cramped library space was insufficient, a new site was acquired nearby and funding was received for a new impressive structure. Cass Gilbert of New York, one of the premier architects of the time was hired to complete designs, he was paid a total of $651.81 for his work. Charles Greeley Loring (1881-1966) of Gilbert’s office (and a Beverly native) apparently worked out much of the details on the project and likely had a large part in the designs, probably because Cass Gilbert was working on designs for his iconic Woolworth Building in Manhattan at that same time. The walls of the library are clad in brick with a Flemish bond pattern and are trimmed with marble. At the main entry, double doors are framed by a classical surround, which is set within a concave curved recess/apse with a half-dome ceiling. The dome is embellished with terracotta moldings in a diamond pattern in which are centered small bas-reliefs in classical motifs. I can’t get over how gorgeous this library is!