Minot-Herter House // c.1825

Set along Beacon Street, one of the finest streets in Boston, this townhouse has uninterrupted views of the Boston Common and Public Garden. The house was built around 1825 after a large fire destroyed nearly all the homes on the block. Build it and they will come, and the upper-class Boston elite did! Attorney William Minot (1783-1873) purchased the land here as early as 1817, and is said to have hired Peter Banner, the English architect who designed Park Street Church, to design the first house on this site, which stood less than 10 years. Minot had a new home built in the 1820s and lived there until his death in 1873. By the late 1920s, Christian Archibald Herter lived here. Herter held a number of important offices in state and national government, serving as the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Governor of Massachusetts, and President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State (1959 to 1961). It was Herter who likely added the Federal Revival features on the house, including the porch, dormers and updated door surround.

Unitarian Church, Burlington // 1816

The building that gives Burlington’s iconic Church Street its name is this, the Unitarian Church of Burlington. One of the most stunning Federal style churches in New England, the church is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington, built in 1816. The church was designed by English architect Peter Banner (possibly with assistance of Charles Bulfinch), years after his crowning achievement, the Park Street Church in Boston was completed. From the head of Church Street, the church oversaw the growth of Burlington from a small lakefront town to the largest city in the state. In August 1954, the church steeple was struck by lightning, causing it to shift over two feet in a matter of months, unknown to the congregation and public. It was decided that due to concerns the steeple may collapse through the building, it was selectively demolished and reconstructed. The church remains an active part in the city and architectural landmark for Burlington.

Park Street Church // 1809

One of my favorite religious buildings in New England has to be the Park Street Church. The church is the major work of English-born architect Peter Banner, who drew his inspiration from St. Brides Church in London by Christopher Wren. Banner was assisted by Solomon Willard, later the architect of the Bunker Hill monument, who served here as chief carpenter and carved the capitals of the steeple. The congregation of this evangelical Christian church was formed in 1809 in response to the so-called “Unitarian landslide,” a theological upheaval which resulted in 15 of 17 Boston Congregational churches succumbing to Unitarianism, with many members leaving the Old South Church. The church building was erected at a cost of $71,000 on the site of the old granary, which had served as a repository of grain for the poor. When it was completed, people arriving to Boston could see the steeple from anywhere (the Back Bay was not filled in yet), and British author Henry James called the church, “the most impressive mass of brick and mortar in the United States” when he visited Boston.

The steeple was recently restored by the congregation and looks phenomenal! Fun Fact: The church was the tallest building in the United States from 1810 to 1846 when the Trinity Church in New York was built!