St. Andrews-by-the-Sea // 1876

In the mid-to-late 1800’s, Rye Beach on the coast of New Hampshire was a popular summer residences for wealthy families from New York, St. Louis, Chicago, and other mid-western cities. Church services were important to these summer residents who united together to build this chapel, which before its construction, had to go to services at the casino in the colony (not ideal). Generally, wealthy summer residents here brought their household staffs, who lived in the many hotels and boarding houses along the beach. Some of these servants and employees of the hotels were African-Americans, who used St. Andrew’s for their own worship services and meetings. The summer chapel was built in 1876, completed that next year and is one of the most stunning chapels I have seen in New England. St. Andrew’s was designed by the architectural firm of Winslow and Wetherell. It is a unique example of a small rural stone chapel embellished by wooden trim and owes much to both the Stick and late Gothic styles. English country parish churches clearly inspired the chapel’s design and the use of rubblestone construction (likely of stones that were taken from the site) makes the building pop! Oh and that rose window at the facade!

Frank Sweetser House // 1896

Overlooking the Brookline Reservoir, this stunning eclectic Victorian home and matching carriage house showcase the wealth seen in the town lasting centuries. This home was built in 1896 for Frank Sweetser, then President of the Boylston Insurance Company in Boston. He previously lived in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and craved more space, moving to suburban Brookline. Sweetser hired the architectural firm of Winslow and Wetherell, who that same year designed the iconic Steinert Hall in Boston. This home is a glorious mix of Queen Anne and Shingle styles, with the irregular massing, projecting bays and dormers, massive chimneys and continuous shingled siding.

Hotel Touraine // 1897

The Hotel Touraine at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets in Boston was built in 1897 as one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Designed by the local firm of Winslow and Wetherell, the Jacobean Revival style building commands the well-trafficked corner opposite the Boston Common. Early articles described the hotel as “a large and sumptuously equipped house, with internal decorations in the style of the Chateau de Blois (a French chateau). Winslow and Wetherell appeared to have been inspired by the Louis XII wing of the Chateau, as many design elements of the hotel closely resemble it. The hotel was advertised as having 350 rooms valued at $2 a night up to $3 a night for a room with a private bath. Separate men and women’s parlors, a library, and elevator service made the hotel desirable for the upper-class Bostonians and visitors to the bustling Downtown area. The hotel’s rich clientele eventually began frequenting the larger hotels near Copley Square and the stature of the Touraine slipped with a changing Downtown character. By the 1960s, the hotel closed and was converted to apartments.

S.S. Pierce Store // 1898

If you have ever been to Coolidge Corner in Brookline, you have had the pleasure of gawking at one of the most beautiful buildings in the town, the S.S. Pierce Store at the corner of Beacon and Harvard Streets. This major Brookline landmark was built in 1898-99 for an S.S. Pierce Store. S. S. Pierce was originally founded in Downtown Boston before locating on Copley Square, to a building which is no longer standing. When it opened in 1898, the S.S. Pierce Store at Coolidge Corner sold imported goods from all over the world, as well as local provisions from Boston area farmers and artisans. The company, effectively a high-end grocery store, even provided free delivery to customers, way before Amazon provided that service!

Architects Winslow and Wetherell of Boston designed the Tudor Revival building with its iconic corner tower with clock, steep slate roof, and cross timbering with stucco siding. The original building featured an opening under the tower’s roof for people to stand and observe the street, sadly, it was damaged in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, and was rebuilt without that belvedere.

Circa 1910 image of SS Pierce Building courtesy of Historic New England. Note the balcony at the corner tower.