One of the most grand apartment hotels in Boston, The Charlesgate, serves as one of many architectural anchors for the Back Bay neighborhood from Kenmore Square. The apartment hotel was constructed in 1891 and so named after the Charlesgate Park which was created by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of the glorious Emerald Necklace park system. The Back Bay Fens was the first park designed by Olmsted for the City of Boston. Creating the Back Bay Fens was as much a sanitary as an aesthetic project, because the water was heavily polluted and often stagnant; Olmsted envisioned Charlesgate as the meeting point of the Back Bay Fens with the Charles River. The apartment hotel was actually designed and was financed by the architect, John Pickering Putnam, and members of his family. The basement and first story are constructed of Indiana limestone with the remainder of brick, with limestone trimmings. A picturesque effect is obtained by grouping the bays in pairs, and surmounting each pair with gables in the Queen Anne style, and by relieving these features against a high roof of green slate. The building originally featured 30 apartments and has since been reconfigured into over 50. The architectural landmark is one of the best statement-pieces in the neighborhood, and shows that apartment design can be done very very well!
Boston’s Free Hospital for Women was founded in 1875 by Dr. William Henry Baker. Baker wanted a hospital dedicated to treating diseases that inflicted women, offering free medical care to poor women and serving as a teaching hospital to Harvard Medical School. In the beginning, the hospital sat on East Springfield Street in the South End and was home to one of the first cancer wards in the country. Due to increased demand, it moved to a larger facility in Brookline in 1895. It was designed by architects Shaw and Hunnewell. Trimmed in limestone, details include string coursing, arched windows, carved keystones are seen all over. The hospital campus was sited perched on a ledge overlooking the Muddy River and the Frederick Law Olmsted Emerald Necklace park system on the Brookline side. In 1980, the Boston Hospital for Women merged with Peter Bent Brigham Hospital to form Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The former site of the hospital in Brookline was converted into luxury condos in 1989, which it remains as to this day.
Funded by Amos A. Lawrence, the rowhouses at the end and along Monmouth Court in the Longwood area of Brookline, MA, stand out as Brookline’s version of the Back Bay. While much of Brookline in the 19th century was developed with single family homes, Amos Lawrence wanted to provide high-end apartment housing in a denser format for Civil War soldiers and their families. The four rows of five houses were designed by two architects who worked on projects together, George Tilden and John Pickering Putnam. All four buildings are unique, but together employ similar styles and features. The Victorian Gothic buildings have intricate brickwork, mansard roofs, brick parapets and gothic dormers. The buildings were sold off as individual units in the 1920s.