Hotel Vendome (1871)

hotel-vendome.jpg

Built in 1871, the Mansard-roofed French Second Empire style corner building of the Hotel Vendome, on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, was designed by William G. Preston, who had studied in Paris. The western section, designed by J.F. Ober and R. Rand, followed in 1881. Hotel Vendome was for many years the city’s premier hotel, but by the late 1960s attempts were made to demolish the outmoded building. Renovations were almost complete in 1972, when a fire destroyed the southeast section of the original structure. Nine firefighters died when part of the building collapsed after the fire was out. There is a memorial to the nine firefighters on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Dartmouth Street. A 1970s addition to the Vendome by Stahl/Bennett in the Brutalist style replaced the destroyed section. The building today houses apartments, offices and stores.

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3 Responses to Hotel Vendome (1871)

  1. Thanks for this.. read about the ’72 disaster and was amazed that the building still stands. Nice to see a picture.

  2. Al M. says:

    My class trip in June 1968 was a weekend in Boston and we stayed on about the 5th Floor of what had become the Vendump! We were only 13-14 years old and were the students rewarded for relatively good behavior and grades from Nassau Lutheran School, Mineola, New York (no longer there).

    Even as young kids we could not believe how old the furniture was. It looked like it was 100 years old. We had a suite with a living room and two bedrooms with 4 boys in my room. It was such a fire trap! I can not believe that our principal did not check the place out before making reservations. We vandalized the room to a certain extent. I guess on some level we knew that the place deserved no respect at that point. We laughed our asses off as we ripped the drapes down. It was like being in a time warp of old Victorian furniture. There was even a fireplace in the suite. WHAT A DUMP! Then 4 years later, I read about the terrible fire and loss of life. It was no surprise and was so tragic. I guess even back then it was money first, then things, then people. SICK!

  3. PCL says:

    Al M: It’s too bad that being only 13, you were too young to appreciate the historic significance of the building in which you were staying. In its day it had hosted presidents, foreign leaders, authors and all sorts of other dignitaries. Its electric lighting was the first to be installed in any American hotel and was personally inspected by Thomas Edison. Too bad that 9 brave lives were ended due to its neglect. I’m glad that they preserved what was left of it, though it must be strange living in what is now a desirable, expensive building with such a checkered past. There must be buildings with similar tragic histories all over the world; Framingham’s Amsden building, just a few towns west of Boston, is a good example. 10 workers were killed when it partially collapsed in 1906, but it was ultimately completed after its initial weaknesses were (permanently, one would hope) fixed and still stands today.

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