Harvard Medical School – Vanderbilt Hall // 1928

When Harvard Medical School opened its doors in 1906 at its new Longwood campus in Boston, students were forced to live in private dormitories or travel long distances to the sparsely developed neighborhood near the Fens. Hospitals at the time had private dormitories for nurses and other employees, but Harvard did not fill this need until 1928 when Vanderbilt Hall opened. The building is Renaissance Revival in style, which mimics the style of the Boston Lying-In Hospital which was built in 1922 across from Vanderbilt, and the famous Gardner Museum. Vanderbilt Hall is unique in the neighborhood as a dormitory, recreation, and athletic center built to house 250 students of the Medical School. As part of its funding campaign, subscriptions from 1,519 doctors and 618 “non-medical friends” were obtained, along with a gift of $100,000 from New York Central Railroad President Harold S. Vanderbilt, for whom the building was named. The stunning building has a curved concave corner which mimics the Boston Lying-In Hospital and elegantly frames the small circular park in the street.

Harvard Medical School – Laboratory Building // 1905

The buildings which make up the majority of the “Great White Quad” of Harvard Medical School in Boston, are the four laboratory buildings which frame two sides of the lawn. The four lab buildings add to the composition of the campus which historically terminated at the Administration Building (last post). All five buildings of the Longwood campus’ initial building campaign were built between 1903-05 and were designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, who continued the architectural practice of the famed H.H. Richardson. The four lab buildings were designed U-shaped with two disciplines in each building, one on each wing, with a central auditorium space in the central wing upstairs. Large grassy courtyards were located in the enclosed sections to provide natural light and fresh air into the laboratories. Many of the Classical Revival lab buildings have been enclosed and added onto in the 20th century as the campus grew exponentially, a testament to its success.

Harvard Medical School – Administration Building // 1905

Founded in 1782, the Harvard Medical School is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States. Lectures were first held in the basement of Harvard Hall and then later in Holden Chapel. Since then, they were located at five other locations in Cambridge and Boston, before Harvard purchased land in the sparsely developed Longwood section of Boston. Planning was underway by 1900 for the design and construction of the “Great White Quadrangle”, of five interconnected Medical School buildings of marble framing three sides of a quadrangle to emulate the plan of a modern German medical school. At the end of the quad would be an administration building, with laboratory buildings housing the various departments of the medical school running down the sides. The Administration Building, designed by the Boston architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, is Neo-Classical in design with monumental Ionic columns and a high, dentilated entablature with prominent cornice molding, all in a white marble shell. For you architecture nerds, I suggest you check out this campus, its a hidden, yet stunning composition of buildings!

Turner Art Publishing Company Building // 1908

In 1907, the 86-acre Bigelow Estate (featured yesterday), was purchased by Horace K. Turner, owner of an art publishing company founded in Boston about 1904. Turner moved his workshops to the estate so the artists could work in healthy country surroundings. The firm required the long wings contoured into the hillside to provide ample natural light and views to the distance for the workers. In 1920, the entire property, including the Bigelow House and the bungalow workshops, were acquired by the New England Peabody Home, which had been located in Hyde Park for 25 years. It was set up as a school and hospital for “crippled children” and this brick building was added to the center section. Architects for this addition were Coolidge and Shattuck, successors to the firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. The Peabody Home was among the first to use sun treatment as a cure for physical ills and the extensive porches were well suited to this purpose. The Peabody Home became obsolete and the property was sold off in the mid-20th century. In 1979, the Peabody Home was sold to Edward Leventhal, who converted the buildings into 22 condominiums. Architects for the project were Jung/Brannen.

Flour and Grain Exchange Building // 1892

One of my favorite buildings in Boston (and always dressed up with a big red ribbon for the holidays) is the Flour and Grain Exchange Building in Downtown Boston. The third Boston Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in 1884 to promote just and equitable principles of trade, solve disputes between members and acquire and disseminate information related to mercantile interests. There was, however, a feeling among the members that the organization could not attain its full stature until it had a building of its own, one that would be both an ornament to the city and a credit to itself. In 1889, a triangular site was donated to the organization by members, who then hired prominent Boston architectural firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the successor to Henry Hobson Richardson‘s practice. It appears the firm was inspired by H.H. Richardson’s F. L. Ames Wholesale Store which was built nearby just years before. The steel-frame building is constructed of rough hewn Milford granite pierced with engaged columns and arched openings, both common in Richardsonian Romanesque buildings. The prominent corner at Milk and India Streets features a rounded corner tower with conical roof, surrounded by a crown of dormers. The building was restored by owners Beal Properties in the late 1980s who own it to this day.

First Parish Church of Brookline // 1893

Dedicated in 1893, the First Parish Church of Brookline is the fourth to house the congregation that began as The Church of Christ here in 1717. Earlier iterations of the church were located here, at the geographic center of the new town which separated from Boston. Before this handsome stone church was constructed, the third home to the congregation was constructed in 1848 in the Gothic Revival style designed by architect Edward C. Cabot. The church purchased the former Brookline Town Hall in 1890, and sought to enlarge their church building, deciding to construct a new house of worship and expand, later connecting to the former Town Hall. The congregation hired the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the successors to H. H. Richardson, whose architectural influence is readily apparent in the Romanesque arches and heavy massing of the building. The church has a collection of some of the most stunning stained glass windows in the region, many of which are designed and signed by Louis C. Tiffany.

North Easton Savings Bank and Post Office // 1904

Located across the street from the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall and the Ames Free Library, the North Easton Savings Bank and Post Office building perfectly compliments the Romanesque Revival motif seen in the village. The building was constructed in 1904 in a Richardsonian Romanesque design with rough-faced granite ashlar walls with brownstone trim. The three-bay front façade contains centered entrances recessed behind a wide brownstone arch in the signature Richardsonian manner. The building was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, a Boston-based architectural firm which grew out of Henry Hobson Richardson’s office, where they completed many of Richardson’s unfinished works after his death.

Charles Perkins House // 1891

The residential neighborhood of Fisher Hill in Brookline was laid out in 1884 by Frederick Law Olmsted, – who lived nearby – and is considered a masterpiece of curvilinear planning. The neighborhood was made up of successful Boston area businessmen, including lawyers, doctors, and bankers. It was expected that the new owners would build their homes to conform to the affluent character of the neighborhood. This house built in 1891 was no different.

Located at 73 Seaver Street, this Queen Anne mansion was designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston, which operated from 1886 to 1915, growing out of the practice of Henry Hobson Richardson after his death in 1886. The house was built for Charles Perkins, a lawyer in Boston at the law firm of Perkins and Lyman. The home at the time of the photo (June 2020), is undergoing a renovation which includes yet another boring gray paint scheme… Bleh. Hopefully the interior, exterior trim, and historic windows will be restored.

George Wightman Mansion // c.1902

One of the grandest mansions in Brookline’s Longwood neighborhood has to be the Wightman Mansion at the corner of Hawes and Monmouth Streets. George Henry Wightman (1855-1937) was a businessman who worked under Andrew Carnegie and was known in Boston as a “steel magnate”. He hired the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge of Boston to design this Beaux-Arts style home, which looks more institutional than residential. The home featured a large back yard with private tennis courts as Wightman was a tennis aficionado. His son George William Wightman played tennis and married Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, an icon in women’s tennis who won 45 U.S. titles in her life.

The home was sold after Wightman’s death in 1937 and eventually became home to the Hebrew Teacher’s College (now Hebrew College), which relocated in 2002 to Newton. Wheelock College then took over the building, which merged with Boston University as the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development in 2018.

Image of the Wightman Mansion from “The Brick Builder” 06-1903.