Monthly Archives: May 2010

The David Ames, Jr. House (1826)

David Ames, Jr., a Springfield paper manufacturer, was the son of Col. David Ames, first superintendent of the Springfield Armory. The David Ames Jr. House, at 241 Maple Street, on Ames Hill in Springfield, was built in 1826-7 and was the work of Chauncey Shepard, a prominent local architect and builder. In 1867, Solomon J. Gordon, a New York City lawyer, purchased the property and Shepard was hired to remodel the house he had built forty-one years earlier. Gordon lived in the house until his death in 1891. Today the house is known as Young House and is part of the campus of the MacDuffie School.

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The Tudor, Boston (1887)

The Tudor Apartments, designed by S.J.F. Thayer and built in 1885-1887, are at 34½ Beacon Street at Joy Street in Boston. Construction of the nine-story building so close to the Massachusetts capitol led to a height restriction law for the area. The Queen Anne-style building combines a variety of architectural styles. The design makes particular advantage of natural light on the Joy Street side of the building. Built as an apartment hotel, for much of the twentieth century the Tudor housed both apartments and offices. In 1999, it was renovated and converted into seventeen exclusive luxury condominiums.

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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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Church of St. John the Evangelist (1831)

The Church of St. John the Evangelist, on Bowdoin Street in Boston, was built in 1831 for the congregation of Rev. Lyman Beecher, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe. The congregation began at a church on Hanover Street, called the Hanover Church, built in 1826. After the church burned in 1830, the congregation built and consecrated the Bowdoin Street Church. Typical of early New England Gothic Revival churches, the design of the building has been attributed to Solomon Willard, architect of the Bunker Hill Monument. In 1831, Lowell Mason, famous composer of hymns, became choirmaster at the church. Rev. Beecher left his church in Boston in 1832, to become the first president of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. The church became the Church of the Advent (from 1863 to 1883) and then the Mission Church of St. John the Evangelist under the auspices of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Anglican monastic order. The church has been a Parish Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts since 1985.

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African Meeting House, Boston (1806)

The African Meeting House on Beacon Hill in Boston was built in 1806 to house the first African Baptist Church of Boston, known as the First Independent Baptist Church. A commemorative inscription above the front door reads, “Cato Gardner, first Promoter of this Building 1806.” Cato Gardner, born in Africa, raised more than $1,500 toward the total $7,700 needed to construct the Meeting House. The building, which was constructed almost entirely with black labor, served as the cultural, educational and political center of Boston’s black community for many decades. In 1808, Primus Hall‘s school relocated from the adjacent carpenter’s shop to the Meeting House, using a schoolroom funded by Abiel Smith. It later moved to the Abiel Smith School next door. William Lloyd Garrison held the founding meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in the Meeting House on January 6, 1832. The building, which has a facade adapted from the design for a townhouse published by Boston architect Asher Benjamin, was remodeled in the 1850s, with the windows being elongated and converted to having arched tops.

The Baptist congregation moved to Boston’s South End in 1898 and the Meeting House became the African Methodist Episcopal Church. By the late nineteenth century, many African Americans had moved to other neighborhoods and new immigrants occupied the neighborhood around the African Meeting House, which was sold in 1904 to the Hassidic Jewish Congregation Anshe Lebawitz. In 1972, the building was acquired by the Museum of African American History. The first phase of restoration work on the Meeting House was completed in 1987 and the building was opened to the public as a museum. The African Meeting House, the oldest surviving black church building in America, is also the last stop on the Black Heritage Trail.

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The First Harrison Gray Otis House (1796)

The first of three houses designed by Charles Bulfinch for Harrison Gray Otis is located on Cambridge Street in Boston. Otis was a Federalist lawyer and politician who became one of the wealthiest men in Boston in the early nineteenth century, developing the area of Beacon Hill. His brick house, with brownstone stringcourses, displays distinctive traits of the Federal style, including the semicircular window and side lights of the entryway on the first floor (added after 1801), the Palladian window on the second floor and the semicircular, or lunette, window on the shorter third floor. The Otis House‘s design was based on a house that Bulfinch saw in Philadelphia in 1789, the William Bingham House, which in turn was based on a house in London. By the 1830s, the Otis House had been subdivided and rented out and later became a boarding house. In 1916, restoration of the house was begun by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (Historic New England), which moved the house about 40 feet from its original location in 1926, to save it from a widening of Cambridge Street. Today the house is attached to additional buildings to the rear and serves as a museum and headquarters of Historic New England. (more…)

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Junior Officers’ Quarters, Springfield Armory (1870)

Both civilians and military personnel worked at the Springfield Armory, with the military presence increasing during the Civil War and in the following years. Requiring more housing for junior officers, a duplex house was built for the purpose on Armory Square in 1870. The house is unlike other Armory buildings, having been designed in the Second Empire style with a Mansard roof.

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