About ten years after the nearby Carlisle building (last post) was completed by owner Jonas Gerlusha Smith (1817-1893), he began construction on another large, apartment hotel next door. He again retained architect Arthur Vinal, who was acting City Architect for the City of Boston to furnish the plans on the building, which would be attached to the older portion which fronts Gray Street behind. The building is extremely well-preserved and has some stunning metal bays with decorative details which really pop!
South End Boston Apartment Building
The Carlisle // 1880
In 1880, Jonas Gerlusha Smith (1817-1893) received a permit to erect a multi-family apartment building on Warren Avenue in present-day South End. The lot was close to his personal residence at 13 Warren Avenue and would have been easy to maintain and oversee tenants in the building. Mr. Smith hired 26-year-old architect Arthur H. Vinal, who furnished the plans for the handsome Queen Anne building. Vinal would later become the City Architect of Boston from 1884 to 1887, designing the High Service Building at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just seven years after this building. By the late 1880s, the building was known as The Carlisle and it remained in the Smith family holdings under Walter Edward Clifton Smith until the 1930s. Walter attended the Cambridge Episcopal Theological School and later worked at various churches in the Boston area, serving as pastor in his later years. He lived on Follen Street in Cambridge while he held the Carlisle for additional income. Under new ownership in 1950, a retail storefront was added to the first floor which was occupied as a florist for some years. In 1979, after years of deferred maintenance, the property was purchased by Louis G. Manzo and his son David W. Manzo, who meticulously restored the building over time into the time-capsule that it is today!
Langham Court // 1991
Appropriate infill construction can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, with some developments hitting the mark and others adversely impacting the historic neighborhoods where they were built. Boston is home to many examples of both occurrences, but I wanted to share a very successful infill project in the South End neighborhood, Langham Court. As the South End resurfaced as a desirable neighborhood, long-time residents were priced out, which led to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund projects to provide much-needed housing for the local community. This site which once housed over 20 townhouses, was razed by the 1960s in a period of urban renewal where existing housing was deemed unsafe and inadequate. The local design firm of Goody/Clancy was hired, and they masterfully designed a U-shaped complex of 84 mixed-income units that fits well within its surroundings. The design exhibits dormers, bays, arched and vaulted entries, a combination of mansard and flat roofs, stringer courses and textured brickwork, and a palette of well chosen materials all at a scale that blends in the 1990s building to its surroundings which came nearly 150 years prior. The complex remains as a testament to good-quality design even for affordable housing, which notoriously gets the short end of the stick design-wise.
424 Massachusetts Avenue // 2002
Modern architecture can often compliment and blend into the context of historic neighborhoods, and this example in Boston’s South End neighborhood is one of the best examples locally. In 2002, developers eyed a long-vacant lot on the busy Mass. Ave corridor through the South End and began designs of a contextual addition to the streetscape. Dolezal Architecture was tasked with designing a modern residential building that would comply with local historic district regulations, a balance that can be difficult to accomplish. Employing traditional masonry, solid-to-void ratios, massing, and bays, but in a modern context, the building blends in with its surroundings yet is architecturally interesting. The building contains ten condos in a single building which reads more like two distinct structures.
Hotel Bretagne // 1897
Located at the prominent corner of Mass Ave and Tremont Street in Boston’s South End neighborhood, this beautiful apartment building has long caught my eye, but I finally got around to looking up its history! The building was constructed in 1896-7 by Albert Geiger, a real estate developer who sold the completed building to a Josiah P. C. Marshall. The building is Classical Revival in style and had eleven suites for rental. The blond brick building with Indiana limestone trim are gorgeous, but the showstoppers are the metal bay windows with decorative wreaths and garlands.
Newcastle Court // c.1907
Newcastle Court in Boston’s South End/Lower Roxbury neighborhoods is one of the finest apartment buildings in the city built in the early 20th century. The complex is U-shaped with a central courtyard off Columbus Street, to provide air and natural light in all bedrooms and units of the building. Newcastle Court was built by builder/developer Israel Nesson, who was credited as building the first fireproof apartment building in the city. Nesson and his family built and owned apartment buildings all over Boston and Cambridge, and operated many of them as landlords with massive real estate holdings. Newcastle Court stands out for the garden courtyard set behind the gate. At the back of the courtyard, the building has a raised parapet at the roof, which encompasses a clock. Many of the units retain the original stained glass windows, which are AMAZING!