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.
Gridley J. Fox Bryant
Kneeland Street Station // 1847-1918
All Aboard!! The Kneeland Street Station was built at the southern edge of Downtown Boston in 1847 for the newly established Old Colony Railroad Company. By the early 1840s, the city of Boston had six major rail lines connecting it with other places including Lowell, Maine, Fitchburg, and Salem to the north, Worcester to the west and Providence to the southwest. The southeastern part of Massachusetts had yet to be served by a rail link to Boston. On March 16, 1844 the Old Colony Railroad Corporation was formed to provide a rail connection between Boston and Plymouth. Construction of the line began in South Boston in 1844 and the line opened to Plymouth in 1845. The company needed a more accessible station to the residents and businessmen of Downtown Boston, so they acquired a large parcel of land on Kneeland Street to extend the line. The corporation hired architect Gridley James Fox Bryant, who designed this stunning railroad station constructed of brick with strong stone trimmings. As was common, a large clock was affixed to the building to allow waiting passengers to know how long they would be waiting. From 1845 to 1893, the Old Colony railroad network grew extensively through a series of mergers and acquisitions with other established railroads, serving lines to Providence, Newport, Fall River, New Bedford and down the Cape. The railroad was acquired in 1893 by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and sought to consolidate the many local stations into a larger building. They soon after began construction on Boston’s South Station, re-routing lines to that new building. They sold off the excess stations, including this one on Kneeland Street, and it was eventually demolished in 1918.
Jeremiah Hill House // 1843
This house was built in 1843 for Jeremiah Hill, a commission merchant and partner in Hill, Chamberlin & Co. at 11 Central Wharf, Boston. The architect for the home was Gridley J. Fox Bryant, as one of his earlier commission, and it is the only known design by him in Brookline. Bryant went on to become one of the most influential architects in New England, designing the Charles Street Jail, Old Boston City Hall, and a number of buildings on the Bates College campus in Maine. Jeremiah Hill died in 1862, and his daughters, in distressed circumstances, were forced to sell the family home in 1869. It soon after bought by Martin P. Kennard, a partner in the firm of Bigelow & Kennard, jewelers and silversmiths, located for many years on Boylston Street in Boston. Kennard subdivided the property, laying out Hedge and Kennard Streets adjacent to the home, selling building lots while he lived there. By 1927, the grounds were purchased by the Park School, who sought to expand from their smaller property nearby (they later built a massive school a short drive away). The Hill Estate was given to the Town of Brookline for use as a school, and it now houses the Brookline Music School.