Many of the buildings along Byron Street in Boston were built in the mid-19th century as stables for wealthy residents of the Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Three similar private stables were constructed in 1865 for owners, but all three were purchased by George Gardner Hall, a wealthy hotelier and developer in Boston. Gardner demolished the three stables in 1895 and hired Boston architect William Whitney Lewis to furnish plans for a more stately stable building. The Romanesque Revival stable featured an entrance and exit set within the large Syrian arches on the facade. The building featured stalls for horses, a carriage room, harness room, and office on the ground floor, with storage space for hay, sleeping chambers for stable-hands, and living room with kitchen. The building allowed for wealthy residents to rent space for their horses if they didn’t have a stable of their own. The stable also likely provided carriages to Hall’s hotel downtown. A developer purchased the building after attempts were made in the 20th century to convert the building into a private auto garage. In the 1960s, he hired local architect Goody & Clancy Associates, who renovated the building, restoring the exterior and converted it into three housing units. There are three stone medallions on the facade that read “G.G.H” “No. 13” and “1895” which keep the stable’s history alive.
There is something so charming about old stable buildings in Boston! This stable (like the Garcelon-Sears Stable of the last post) is located on Byron Street in Beacon Hill Flat. This stable building is older, and originally was two stories, similar to the others on the street. The stable was constructed in the mid-1860s for Margaret Barker Sigourney, a wealthy widow who lived nearby in Back Bay. After other owners, by 1922, a coachman named James F. Burke owned and lived in the stable. The painted sign on the lintel over the vehicle door reading “Burke’s Hack & Livery Stable” apparently remains from this period. Burke also added the mansard roof at this time, evident from historic maps. The stable was eventually converted to a single-family home. Could you live in an old stable?
Located in what historian Samuel Eliot Morison dubbed the “horsey end of town”, this stable in the Flat of Beacon Hill is built on 19th century-made land along the Charles River. The sub-area of Beacon Hill is best-known for the prevalence of old stables and carriage houses, converted to residential use. This stable dates to around 1860, when many of the Boston Brahmins of Beacon Hill either built their own private stables or rented space in a livery stable. By 1870, Alsom Garcelon was listed in city directories as a stablekeeper here, and he managed a number of others in the vicinity. After Garcelon’s death, the stable was owned by the wealthy Sears Family, who boarded some of their horses here. By the 1920s, the building was converted to a clubhouse, known as the Byron Street House. The clubhouse was largely rebuilt by architects Putnam & Cox, who also re-designed the interior space to a more social atmosphere. The former stable was later occupied as the Bishop-Lee School of Theater, run by Paul and Emily (Perry) Bishop. By 1970, it was converted again, but to a single-family home, which it remains to this day.
Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood is a dream, no matter what time of year, though I am a huge fan of it in the winter so the leaves don’t obscure the architectural details! This home just steps from the Public Garden was built in 1903 for Walter Baylies (1862-1936) and his wife, Charlotte. The couple had purchased a c.1860 Second Empire mansion (basically a sister house or twin to the adjacent at 3 Commonwealth Ave), and demolished it for a more “modern” residence. Baylies was extremely wealthy with investments in nearly everything, and he wanted his city residence to stand out amongst the earlier, brick and brownstone townhouses on the eastern edge of the neighborhood. Architect Arthur Rice designed the house in the Renaissance Revival style, and it is finished with Indiana Limestone. Of particular note is the one-story ballroom, which was built to the side of the home, set back behind a small garden. An empty house lot, formerly occupied by a stable, was used simply for the Baylies’ ballroom, constructed in 1909 for their daughter. Talk about a status symbol! The home was purchased by Walter’s heirs in 1941 by the Boston Center for Adult Education. The home was again purchased in 2020, and is back to a single-family home! I can’t even imagine how stunning the interior is!
In 1824, prosperous gunsmith Asa Waters II set out to build the stateliest residence in the country. It took two full years to amass the necessary materials for what is now known as the Asa Waters Mansion and Mr. Waters spared no expense. Asa Waters II (1769-1841) was born in Millbury in 1813 to Asa Sr. and Sarah Waters. Asa earned the art of gunsmithing from his father, and in 1808 the junior Asa and his brother Elijah opened the Waters & Co. Armory along the banks of the Blackstone River, in what is now Millbury Center. Following the untimely death of his brother in 1814, Asa Waters carried on the business solo and secured lucrative arms contracts with the United States government. His invention of a lathe to turn gun barrels into the first seamless barrels revolutionized the manufacture of guns throughout the world, and provided his company a stockpile of cash. As a result, he hired Boston-based architect Asher Benjamin, to design a country house suitable of his stature. The mansion features two prominent facades with the primary distinguished by a colonnade of fluted two-story columns with composite capitals. The mansion remained in the Waters Family until 1929, when it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, as a rectory of a local church. In 1977 the Town of Millbury acquired the Asa Waters Mansion, and with little funding to maintain the property; in 1994, the Asa Waters Mansion had fallen into quite a bit of disrepair. The town proposed to demolish the mansion for a parking lot, but a group of locals worked together as the Asa Waters Task Force and petitioned to save the house: funds were raised, tradesmen in the community donated materials and labor. Saving the architectural landmark for generations to come.
Located in downtown Millbury, MA, the town’s local post office stands as a great example of Art Deco and Colonial Revival architecture styles, showing how well different styles can be incorporated into a single, complimentary design. The Millbury Post Office building was constructed in 1940 from plans by Louis Adolph Simon, who served as Supervising Architect in the Office of the Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury from 1933 until 1939, when the office was moved to the Public Works Administration / Works Progress Administration. The post office was designed at the tail end of the New Deal programs to help stimulate local economies by building infrastructure and providing jobs to locals. Inside, a mural “An Incident in the King Philip’s War, 1670” was painted by Joe Lasker and installed in 1941 and was “revivified” in 1991.
Elijah Waters (1773-1846), a hardscrabble farmer in West Millbury inherited his father’s large farm and resided there for over thirty years before wanting something more his style. Unmarried and without children, Elijah (who was 72 at the time), had this impressive Greek Revival farmhouse constructed near his old family homestead. He was possibly looking to spend money saved up and without a wife or heirs to will it to. The massive temple-front Greek Revival mansion has a stunning doorway and six columns supporting a projecting pediment. Within a year after the home was built, Elijah died. The home was willed to his nephew, Jonathan Waters. The house is for sale for $384,000 which is a STEAL!
The Cunningham Block in Millbury was constructed by, and named for Winthrop P. Cunningham (1820-1895), and his son and business partner, Russell Clark Cunningham (1845-1907). Winthrop Cunningham had come to Millbury in about 1837 and worked for Waters, Flagg & Harrington prominent gun manufacturers in town. His foundry work there brought him into a partnership with Matthias Felton in the Millbury Foundry Company. The Cunningham Block is sited on a prominent corner lot and built into the slope of the hill which drops down toward the river. I am especially fond of the curved corner facade and repetition of the paired round-arched windows on the second floor.
William “Willie” Winfred Windle (yes that is a real name) was born in Millbury at the height of the town’s industrial growth and prosperity. He ran the W.W. Windle Mill just west of downtown and with his wealth, was able to buy a house lot on one of the most fashionable residential streets in town. His home was built in the early 20th century and is a stunning example of Tudor Revival architecture. In 1911, Windle traveled to England to inspect mills there and was likely inspired by some of the residential architecture he viewed on the trip. The house elegantly blends stone walls with half-timbered wood, with a prominent entry. The timber and stone entrance porch which has decorative bargeboard and corbels, has been enclosed. The home remained in the Windle family at least into the 1940s, when it was occupied by William Winfred Windle’s son, Winfred Woodward Windle. By the 1970s, the home was occupied as the Millbury Society of District Nursing.
One of the many large brick mills in Millbury, the S&D Spinning Mill (originally Singletary Mill) sits on Singletary Brook, which historically provided power for the facility. The four-story mill building was constructed in 1846 and is believed to be the oldest extant mill structure in town. Beginning in the late 1820s, successive textile mills used the waterpower here, including the companies: Singletary Manufacturing Company, the Boston & Millbury Company, and Farnum & Jenks. Fires destroyed all mills on this site, sometimes within just a couple years of each other. The last mill was destroyed in 1846, and Mowry Farnum, who owned the site, rebuilt a brick mill here, which is what we see today. After a couple companies occupied the building, the Mayo Woolen Company (which was featured on here previously) purchased this mill in 1910, and renamed the structure Mayo Mill No. 2. In 1961 a newly formed company, S&D Spinning Mill Inc. occupied the building. They are best-known today as the sole-manufacturer of the yarn which fills Major League Baseballs! Manufacturing is not dead in New England!