Joshua Bennett Townhouse // 1834

Just steps from the iconic Louisburg Square in Boston’s exclusive Beacon Hill neighborhood, a man named Joshua Bennett in 1834, purchased two recently completed townhouses built by housewrights Samuel H. Mitchell and Loring Dunbar. Joshua Holden Bennett (1792-1865) was born in Billerica, Massachusetts and split his time between his hometown and Boston. Bennett and his family owned the two identical bowfront houses until about 1930, likely renting them out to middle-upper class families. The home on the right (pictured) was later purchased by Benjamin B. Gillette an organist at a local church. After WWII, property values in Beacon Hill began to falter and this property and its neighbor became lodging houses of rented rooms to a more wealthy clientele than those on the North Slope of the hill. The home last sold in 1989 for $753,000 and is estimated at a value today at over $4,000,000!

Pagoda Building // c.1850-1917

For the last on this series of Lost Boston buildings, I present this little-known landmark which was once neighbors to the Old State House. The Pagoda Building as it was named, was located on the corner of Washington and State Streets and was one of the tallest buildings on the street upon completion. The seven-story building of Quincy granite exhibited round arched windows and an interpretation of a belvedere at the roof which served as a penthouse. The building’s upper six stories were residential, including the spectacular Oriental penthouse at the top, with retail space at the ground floor. The architect was a recent immigrant from Britain named George Snell, who clearly made a name for himself, later entering a partnership with James R. Gregerson. The Pagoda Building, which was originally an early “skyscraper” in Boston was quickly surpassed in height and floor plate size and was deemed inadequate for such a prominent location. It was demolished by 1917.

Trinity Place Station // 1900-1964

Trinity Place Station was the Boston & Albany Railroad’s second depot for trains running outbound from its newly completed South Station. The depot was designed by Alexander Wadsworth “Waddy” Longfellow, Jr., who from Harvard University in 1876, later studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and then worked as senior draftsman in Henry Hobson Richardson‘s office upon his return to the United States. A. W. Longfellow was also the nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He designed the station of pink granite with a covered platform 375 feet in length. The building long served train commuters leaving the ever-changing Back Bay neighborhood. Consolidated lines led to the station being deemed obsolete, and it was scheduled for demolition. Much of the old line route would be cleared for the right-of-way for the Mass Pike Expansion into Boston. The demolition on Trinity Place was postponed until early 1964 to allow for scenes of the movie, “The Cardinal” to be filmed there.

United States Hotel, Boston // 1839-1930

On August 18, 1929, the United States Hotel in Downtown Boston closed its doors for good. Once housing and feeding over 700 guests per night, the hotel saw severely declining numbers by the time of the Great Depression. Construction on the hotel commenced in 1837, and it was completed two years later in 1839. The hotel was operated by the Messrs. Holman and Clark, who saw an immediate success due to the hotel’s location central to Boston’s major train stations. The hotel (which first contained 300 rooms) did so well that the building was expanded numerous times with undulating additions to maximize light and air into the many rooms. At the hotel, over 150 employees served the guests at their rooms, the dining halls, bathing facilities or the stables which had drivers ready at a moments notice. The United States Hotel was one of the finest establishments in Boston and was thought to be the largest in the country by the middle of the 19th century. The size and amenities however was the downfall of the iconic hotel as Boston’s train stations saw fewer passengers in the early decades of the 20th century. Owners of the hotel sought to squeeze out every last dollar from the complex before they locked her up for good, hosting an auction on everything from beds to a chair said to have been sat on by Charles Dickens during his stay. The hotel was razed in 1930.

Downe-Tremere House // c.1674-1896

Image c.1896 courtesy of Boston Public Library.

One of the finest First Period Houses to have been built in New England was this brick mansion, formerly on North Street in Boston’s North End. On December 29, 1674, John Paine conveyed his property including a dwelling house to William Downe his new son-in-law. It is unclear when the house was built, but it was completed by the time of sale to William. Luckily, the house was constructed of brick, which likely saved it from the Fire of 1676. In later centuries, the building was converted to commercial use, at times housing a feather store. After the Civil War, the property was owned by the Tremere Family, who rented out commercial space and held tenements in the floors above (the third floor was added, filling in the space between the two end chimneys which were added in the early-19th century. The property was razed in 1896 for the present tenement building on the site.

Bauckman House // 1915

The Arts & Crafts movement in architecture provided some of the most stunning and well-designed properties of the early 20th century but sadly, there are not too many examples here in New England. When I find some, I always get excited and pull over to snap a photo! This home on busy Beacon Street in Waban, Newton, was built in 1915 for Harry W. Bauckman a salesman in Boston. The designs are credited to architect James G. Hutchinson, who specialized in Arts & Crafts and Tudor style buildings in the area. The Bauckman House is Foursquare in form which basically segments the house into four, large rooms on each floor with a stairhall in the center. The home is clad with banded shingles which extend to the piers at the porch, a subtle nod to Shingle style architecture. SWOON! I was later informed by a follower that this was also the home of landscape historian and author Judith Tankard for some time.

New England Telephone Building, Providence // 1917

This towering Georgian Revival building in Providence is definitely one of my favorites downtown. The 8-story building was constructed in 1917 for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, who outgrew their other facility just blocks away. The design is credited to the firm of Clarke & Howe, local architects. The two-story arcaded marble base is surmounted by a six-story brick tower, which is an architectural landmark in Downtown Providence. The building appears to retain its original windows and looks much as it did when built over 100 years ago. At the rear, a larger 1970s wing was added and shares little in terms of architectural detailing with the original structure.

Burdett Building // 1928

In 1921, Stuart Street was widened and extended between Boston’s Back Bay and Bay Village neighborhoods, which necessitated razing of all buildings along the route. From this, new lots were platted along the street where once thriving businesses were. Some relocated and others rebuilt. In 1927, the Park Square Corporation purchased seven contiguous lots at the corner of Stuart and Charles Streets and began construction of a large office building with storefronts on the ground floor. The Burdett Building opened in 1928. The building was built for Burdett College, which was founded in 1879 and focused on business and shorthand courses for students as a junior college. Architect Thomas H. James wanted the building to be like the new buildings at Princeton and Yale. The design featured Gothic inspired entrances and stone carvings of books and lions. Burdett College occupied the building until the 1950s and it was subsequently sold. By 1980, the building was acquired by the New England School of Law, who occupy it to this day as a place of learning.