Jamaica Plain District 13 Police Station // 1873

The District 13 Police Station was built in 1873 in response to the needs of a growing community. Located in what is now Jamaica Plain, it was originally intended to serve the town of West Roxbury, which was itself annexed into Boston within the year it took to construct this building! The town of West Roxbury appropriated funds for a larger police station in the dense core of their town, but only acquired land in Sumner Hill, which was a rapidly developing neighborhood with large, upper-class mansions on large lots. To appease the neighbors, the town hired architect George Ropes to design this brick Victorian Gothic building with slate roof, punctured by a number of dormers. The building is one of the best-designed civic buildings in the present city of Boston and appears much as it would have when built 150 years ago. After West Roxbury was annexed, the City of Boston constructed an addition at the rear, designed in 1892 by Edmund M. Wheelwright, architect for the City of Boston, to serve as a municipal court building. The ornate building continued its use as a police station until the early 1980s until it was deaccessioned by the City of Boston and sold, subsequently converted to condominiums. I wonder if they kept the jail cells!

Laura Richards House // 1810

This stunning Federal style house in Gardiner, Maine, was built about 1810 by Ebenezer Byram, who had purchased the land from Robert Hallowell Gardiner, a descendant of Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, the “founder” of the town. Dr. Gardiner was a resourceful Boston druggist, who was one of the principal owners of the Kennebec Purchase, known as the Plymouth Company, who purchased land on the west side of the Kennebec River in Maine. Dr. Sylvester Gardiner had been attracted to the Gardiner area for a number of reasons, primarily because of the depth of the water of the river to the point of Gardiner as the head of navigation for ships here. This house overlooking that river was purchased in 1878, by Henry and Laura E. Richards. Laura Richards (1850-1943) was the daughter of Samuel Gridley Howe, an abolitionist and the founder of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind. Her mother, Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, a tune that I am sure most of you have heard of, but never knew the name. Henry and Laura moved to Gardiner in 1876 after suffering financial reverses in Boston, where Henry worked at his family’s paper mill, and it was about that time that Laura Richards began her writing career. At this house in Gardiner, Laura wrote more than 90 books including biographies (including one on her mother), poetry, and several children’s books. Even more impressive, Laura was awarded one of the first four ever Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for her biography on her mother, years before women were even afforded the right to vote!

Lewis-Zukowski Farm // 1781

On the rural back roads of Suffield, CT, it is amazing how many historic farmhouses you can stumble upon. This is the Lewis-Zukowski Farmhouse, built in 1781, as one of the earliest brick homes built in this part of the state. When Hezekiah Lewis (?-1805) built his house in 1781, he was a farmer of modest prosperity. By the time of his death in 1805, he was somewhat wealthier, perhaps because of his second marriage in 1794 to widow Ruth Phelps, as his 91-acre farm. His estate indicates he was a traditional farmer of the period: he had a yoke of oxen, 2 horses, 2 cows, and 2 pigs, suggesting that he was primarily raising sustenance for his family, not products for market. Michael Zukowski arrived in Suffield in 1888 with his family as an immigrant from Poland. Zukowski worked on a farm in town for $8.00 a month plus board for local tobacco farmer Calvin Spencer. He had saved enough by 1905 to pay Hiram Knox (then the owner of the former Lewis Farm) $2,800 in cash, purchasing the property. Zukowski worked the farm until the 1920s, when his son took it over and he moved to another farm nearby. The house remained in the family one more generation until it was sold out of the family. It remains as an architecturally and culturally significant farm in Suffield.

The Arcade // 1870

Prior to 1866 the area now called Oak Bluffs was largely undeveloped with the exception of the famed Methodist meeting camp at Wesleyan Grove that had been established in 1835. By the 1860s the meeting camp was attracting large numbers of middle class visitors from Boston and surrounding towns who came for summer retreats; in 1868 approximately 600 tent and cottage lots were being leased in the Methodist compound. The Land & Wharf Company catalyzed this success into profit, by developing a more commercial presence on Circuit Avenue and developed housing on large lots to the east.

The first major structure built by the Land & Wharf Company was the Arcade Building. In it, they established their office from which they directed development of the resort. The central open arcade provided access to the campground from the heart of Oak Bluffs’ commercial area. The Arcade was designed by Boston carpenter/architect/inventor Samuel Pratt (1824-1920) who was also responsible for many of the cottages in Oak Bluffs. The Arcade remains a historically significant and well-preserved commercial building in town. My bad photo doesn’t do it justice! 😦

Providence Arcade // 1828

One of the most unique buildings in Downtown Providence is the Providence Arcade (sometimes referred to as the Westminster Arcade), built in 1828. Thought to be the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States, the Greek Revival structure runs the full length between Westminster and Weybosset Streets. Designed by Russell Warren, who was one of the premier architects at the time, the two street-facing sides of the building consist of Greek temple fronts, with six massive Ionic columns. The columns on the Westminster Street side are topped by a triangular pediment; the Weybosset Street side has a block-and-panel railing above a simple entablature.

Westminster facade, 01-2020

The interior consists of a main avenue on the ground floor, above which the second and third floor lanes are protected by richly decorated cast iron railings capped in mahogany. Emphasis in all of the building’s construction was on the use of fireproof materials; granite, brick, and cast iron are all used, and the roof was made of tin. A gabled skylight extends the length of the space to provide ample natural light for the multi-level interior spaces.

Weybosset Street facade, Detroit Publishing Co., circa 1900.
Interior arcade, 01-2020.

As with many traditional shopping centers (no matter how well designed), the complex saw financial difficulties and diminishing patrons. The Arcade closed a number of times in the 20th century, most recently in 2008 to reconfigure the third floor spaces as micro-apartments, an innovative way to bring mixed-use principals to a historic mall.