Category Archives: Cambridge

Agassiz House, Radcliffe (1904)

The Elizabeth Cary Agassiz House, on the campus of Radcliffe College in Cambridge, was built in 1904 as the school’s student center. The building was named for the first president of Radcliffe, which is now part of Harvard University and is called the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. (more…)

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Greenleaf House (1859)

A Federal-style house, built in 1823, once stood at 76 Brattle Street, but was moved in 1858 to 19 Ash Street to make way for a new mansard-roofed mansion, completed in 1859. The new house was home to Mary Longfellow Greenleaf, sister of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and was purchased by Radcliffe College in 1905. At first used for music classes, after 1913 it became the residence of the president of Radcliffe College, and more recently of the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

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53 Dunster Street, Cambridge (1841)

At 53 Dunster Street in Cambridge is a former house, built in 1841 and now owned by Harvard University. The builders, William Saunders and Stephen S. Bunker, interestingly made the house three stories, unusual for Greek Revival-style houses of the period.

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54 Dunster Street, Cambridge (1900)

At 54 Dunster Street in Cambridge is a former Harvard clubhouse, built in 1900 and designed by A.J. Russell. It now houses the Harvard Office of Career Services.

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First Church in Cambridge (1871)

Merry Christmas from Historic Buildings of Massachusetts!!! Today, Let’s look at a church with a long history. The current church, or meeting house, of the First Church in Cambridge, is the congregation’s sixth and was built in 1871. The first meeting house was built in 1632 at Mount Auburn and Dunster Streets. This congregation eventually left for Hartford, Connecticut under Rev. Thomas Hooker and a new congregation was gathered in Cambridge in 1636. A second meeting house was built in 1650 in the center of Harvard Square and was replaced by the third, at the same location, in 1706. The fourth was built at the corner of Church Street and Massachusetts Avenue in 1757 and was used until 1829, when there was a split in the congregation between Congregationalists and Unitarians. The Congregationalists, taking the name of the Shepard Congregational Society, built their own separate fifth meeting house (the Shepard Memorial Church), at Mount Auburn and Holyoke Streets in 1831. Outgrowing this, they built the current church, at Garden and Mason Streets, in 1872. In 1899, the two churches agreed to be separately known as the First Church in Cambridge (Congregational) and the First Church in Cambridge (Unitarian), now called the First Parish Cambridge. In the 1920s, a Parish House with a chapel, offices, classrooms and meeting halls were added to the Congregational Church. The church has a brass cockerel weathervane, which was made by famed coppersmith Shem Drowne in 1821 for the New Brick Church, known as the Cockerel Church, on Hanover Street, Boston and was purchased for the Cambridge church in 1873. (more…)

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The Mary Fiske Stoughton House (1882)

At 90 Brattle Street in Cambridge is a house, built in 1882-1883, that is considered to be the masterpiece of the Shingle style of architecture. With little exterior ornament and covered with wood shingles, it was designed by H. H. Richardson for Mary Fiske Stoughton, the mother of John Fiske, a philosopher and historian who later lived in the house. Although additions were made to the house in 1900 and 1925, it remains an icon of American architecture.

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Fay House, Radcliffe (1806)

Radcliffe College in Cambridge was founded in 1879 to educate women, who were then not yet allowed at Harvard. The college bought its first building in 1885: Fay House, an 1806 Federal-style mansion. Built by Nathaniel Ireland, who made iron work for ships, the house was later owned by Joseph McKean, professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard. After McKean’s death in 1818, the house had several tenants, including Edward Everett in 1820-1821. The house was also home for a time to Francis Dana, Jr. His daughter, Sophia Willard Dana Ripley, kept a girls’ boarding school in the house and among her students was the first wife of Thomas Wentworth Higginson. For fifty years after 1835, the house was occupied by the family of Judge Samuel Phillips Prescott Fay.

After its acquisition by Radcliffe, Alice Longfellow, one of the College’s founders, donated funds for the remodeling of Fay House in the Colonial Revival mode, work completed in 1890 under the direction of her cousin, the architect Alexander W. Longfellow, Jr. He also oversaw the further expansion of the structure in 1892, with the addition of a third story, skylit library, porches, and more classroom and laboratory space. As additional buildings were constructed in the development of Radcliffe Yard, Fay House continued as an administration building for the College and now for its successor, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The building has recently been renovated (pdf).

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