Boston’s Oldest Remaining Fire House Gets a Facelift

The Eustis Street Firehouse in the Summer of 2010. Photo Credit: Anulfo Baez.

Boston’s oldest remaining fire house; the Eustis Street Fire House in Roxbury has been fully restored and is now the headquarters for Historic Boston Incorporated. Built in 1859, the 2 ½ story, brick Italianate Style building was designed by the Roxbury architect John Roulestone Hall. A wood addition was added to the rear in 1869.

The fire house remained vacant for more than 40 years, but thanks to the vision of Historic Boston Incorporated, a preservation organization in the city; the building was bought, restored and re-purposed as their headquarters. Not only has this important piece of Boston history been preserved, but it has also been breathing new life to Dudley Square. Let’s hope this is just the beginning in the revitalization efforts of the other “heart” of Boston.

Eustis Street Firehouse in 2011. Photo credit: Boston Fire Historical Society

The Cheney Building Stands Like a Tree in Downtown Hartford

Here’s a wonderful building in Hartford, CT by Henry Hobson Richardson, the genius behind masterpieces like Trinity Church on Copley Square and the Woburn Public Library among others. The Cheney Building (1875-76) stands like a tree in downtown Hartford, setting itself apart from its neighbors through the polychromatic stonework, rustication, and the floral motifs carved throughout its exterior. Richardson’s influence is felt throughout the United States, Canada and Northern European countries where local and nationally known architects admired his works, often incorporating many of Richardson’s signature elements into their architecture. If you visit Hartford, don’t miss the Cheney Building on Main Street, it’s a gem worth staring at for hour and hours.

All photos credit of The Evolving Critic.

Book Review: Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light

Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light
David Mathias
ISBN 978-1-4403-0299-2 $35.00 (Amazon)
Popular Woodworking Books 2010

Rarely do we get an opportunity to look at the details in the furniture and architecture of Charles and Henry Greene from the perspective of a hobbyist woodworker. David Mathias has given us that perspective. Mathias in Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light transports his readers to an era in America where the creation of objects crafted by hand played a major role in society, particularly in the lives of wealthy clients and their chosen designers.

Allowing for an intimate look into the exquisite furniture and interior woodwork details designed by the Greene Brothers, Mathias examines their work and places the brothers within the broader context of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The movement which emerges out of the English Gothic Revival placed emphasis on hand crafted ornamentation and details, which in turn, as its leaders championed, would create a moral and social change in the world.

The potential of good design in creating a better world (for those who could actually afford the expensive furniture and objects created by hand, because in this sense, the Arts and Crafts Movement was a complete failure) was the driving philosophy behind the Arts and Crafts Movement.

It was this philosophy that drove the work of architects Charles Greene and Henry Greene in Pasadena, California. Influenced by the work of Gustav Stickley and other designers and trends of the time including Japanese design, as well as the works of the critic John Ruskin and the artist William Morris, the furniture created by the Greene Brothers was designed to stand the test of time. Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood and Light is beautifully illustrated with photographs and architectural drawings, highlighting some of the most breathtaking details in the furniture. The lighting, stained glass, as well as interior and exterior architectural woodwork by Greene and Greene is also discussed in this monograph.

In 2009, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston hosted the exhibition “A New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene and Greene” which celebrated the artistic triumphs behind some of the most iconic houses designed by these two architects. The exhibition proved to be an exhilarating journey into the native beauty found in the works of Charles and Henry Greene and was a tremendous success in Boston (at least, I saw the exhibition eight times)! In his first book, David Mathias allows for a more intimate journey into the poems of wood and light “written” in the furniture and architectural woodwork of Charles and Henry Greene.

31 in 31 of your Favorite Buildings in Boston: #31 Grand Finale – with a Plea to Mayor Menino

I was inspired to highlight 31 buildings in Boston in 31 days after the architecture blog A Daily Dose of Architecture . Not only was I going to highlight 31 buildings, but 31 of Bostonian’s favorite buildings. This is the series.

Grand Finale – These two buildings were written in by people who visited my blog during the open poll. Because people feel an emotional connection with these buildings, it is only natural that I include them in the 31 in 31 of your Favorite Buildings in Boston Series.

About these two buildings: 

Ferdinand Building, Dudley Square, Roxbury, MA 02119

I’ve blogged about this building in Dudley Square before, and if you like you can read my post here.  The Ferdinand Building obviously means the world to the people of Roxbury and it is no surprise to see it in this list. Anyone who has taken a bus out of or into Dudley Square, has witnessed the sad state of decay that this sector of Roxbury has been going through. The last time I blogged about the state of decay in Downtown Crossing, I managed to upset some people, and to this day, that post is one of the most viewed on The Evolving Critic.

Mayor Menino, can we do something about the Ferdinand Building and Dudley Square in general? Can we revitalize the area and inject capital the same way you’re planning on doing with Downtown Crossing? Broken promises, always lead to broken dreams and I do hope that if you plan on getting re-elected, look back to your “Moving Boston Forward” slogan and reconsider the degree to which you have applied it, in particular to many of Boston’s decaying neighborhoods.

Stuff Magazine featured the Ferdinand Building on the cover of their “One Night in Boston” edition. You think that would have been enough to get the ball rolling with Dudley Square?

Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

Guy Lowell, 1907-1909, Additions: Hugh Stubbins and Associates, 1966-1970; The Architects Collaborative, 1976; I.M Pei, 1981, Foster & Partners with Childs Bertman Tseckares, 2008; Tenshin-En Japanese Garden: Kinsaku Nakane with Halvorson Design Group Partnership, 1988.

I think it’s safe to assume that people are referring to the main building of the Museum of Fine Arts, since I doubt that the Art of the Americas wing opening in a few weeks has already carved out a space among the most favorite or beloved buildings in Boston. I love the Museum of Fine Arts and do visit as much as I can, I’m excited for this new wing which promises to transform the way American art has been looked at for centuries.

Photo: Museum of Fine Arts

31 in 31 of your Favorite Buildings in Boston: #30

Harrison Gray Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114

Charles Bulfinch, 1795-1796

I was inspired to highlight 31 buildings in Boston in 31 days after the architecture blog A Daily Dose of Architecture . Not only was I going to highlight 31 buildings, but 31 of Bostonian’s favorite buildings. This is the series.

About the Harrison Gray Otis House:

Designed by Charles Bulfinch for Harrison Gray Otis, a Massachusetts senator and third mayor of Boston, the first Harrison Gray Otis House is one of the finest and grandest Federalist houses in the city. The interior was restored to its original state using computer based paint analysis which revealed bright colors in the Adamesque tradition. The house is owned by Historic New England and is open to the public for viewing.

Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey

31 in 31 of your Favorite Buildings in Boston: #29

The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences, 32 Vassar Stree, Cambridge, MA

Gehry Partners LLP with Cannon Design, 2004, Landscape: Olin Partnership, 2004

I was inspired to highlight 31 buildings in Boston in 31 days after the architecture blog A Daily Dose of Architecture . Not only was I going to highlight 31 buildings, but 31 of Bostonian’s favorite buildings. This is the series.

About the Ray and Maria Stata Center:

The Stata Center was also considered by the Boston Herald as one of the buildings designed in the last decade that placed Boston on the architectural world map. Designed by Gehry Partners with Cannon Design, the building’s warped metallic surfaces, irregular angles and multicolored façade are all typical Frank Gehry traits.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stata Center

31 in 31 of Your Favorite Buildings in Boston: #15

First Church, Roxbury (John Eliot Square)

1803-1804

I was inspired to highlight 31 buildings in Boston in 31 days after the architecture blog A Daily Dose of Architecture . Not only was I going to highlight 31 buildings, but 31 of Bostonian’s favorite buildings. This is the series.

About  First Church in Roxbury:

To be honest with all of you, I know nothing about this building, but thanks to the latest volume of the Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of the United States Series: Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, I was able to read up on this beauty of a building.

The author of the entry on First Church considers this building to be an architecturally outstanding Federal-style church which was built according to church records by William Blaney, a carpenter and member of the Roxbury building committee. The church is based on one of Asher Benjamin’s pattern book designs.

First Church in Roxbury. Photo: Brian Corr

Happy Birthday to H.H. Richardson

H.H. Richardson was born on September 29, 1838 – April 27, 1886 in Lousiana. He lived a short life, but he managed to change the face of American architecture for a major part of the 20th century. 

Happy birthday H.H. Richardson!

You can learn more about H.H. Richardson here and here and here .

Books on H.H. Richardson include Living Architecture by James F. O’Gorman and Henry Hobson Richardson: A Genius for Architecture by Margaret Henderson Floyd. Both excellent books to enjoy and learn more about this American genius.

Here is a building by H.H. Richardson with landscape by Frederick Law Olmsted, this one is the “State Lunatic Asylum” in Buffalo, NY. The building is also known as the New York State Hospital.

Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey

In Harmony with the Architecture: The Furniture of H.H. Richardson

H. H. Richardson (1838-1886), by Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914. Oil on canvas, 1886. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. On extended loan from Mrs. Henry H. Richardson III. L/NPG.1.99

Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the most influential architects of the 19th century changed the course of American architecture with the introduction of an architectural vocabulary known today as the Richardsonian Romanesque. This new vocabulary was rapidly copied and imitated during the latter part of the Nineteenth and well into the first part of the Twentieth Century in America, Canada and Northern European countries. H.H Richardson as a designer did not limit his genius to creating architectural masterpieces, indeed “no feature was too small, no object too simple to engage his thought[i]” as his contemporary and biographer Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer notes.

Side chair for the Woburn Public Library, 1878, Designed by: Henry Hobson Richardson, American, 1838–1886 Manufactured by: A. H. Davenport & Company, active 1841–1973, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, Oak, leather. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Woburn Public Library, 1961. Accession number: 61.237

Richardson as an architect became intimately involved in every aspect of his buildings, from the interior detailing of the woodwork, to the built-in and free standing furniture. H.H. Richardson once said “I’ll plan anything a man wants from a cathedral to a chicken coop[ii].” Richardson was influenced by a variety of sources including medieval furniture, 17th and 18th century American furniture, the Queen Anne, William and Mary and Chippendale Style, also Eastlake Style furniture and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Richardson owned a copy of Talbert’s Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, one of the many pattern books highly popular with architects, designers, and craftsmen of his time[iii]. As an architect, Richardson had a collection of photographs which represented a wide range of styles, from the Gothic to the Renaissance, Baroque, Islamic, Asian, Egyptian, Mexican and Pre-Historic structures[iv].

The furniture of H.H. Richardson was “integral with the interior woodwork of the buildings.[v]” As an architect and furniture designer, H.H. Richardson collaborated with the best designers and craftsmen of his times including Francis H. Bacon, Charles Coolidge, and Stanford White, a partner in the firm of McKim, Mead and White, architects of the Boston Public Library. The prestigious furniture makers and carvers at A.H. Davenport and Company[vi] who later in 1916 merged with Irving and Casson executed most of Richardson’s furniture commissions including the Court of Appeals in Albany, New York, the Crane Library in Quincy, the Billings Library in Burlington, Vermont and the Converse Libraries in Malden[vii]. 

The Woburn Public Library, taken by John Michael Garcia.

Armchair for the Woburn Pubilc Library, 1878 Designed by: Henry Hobson Richardson, American, 1838–1886, Possibly manufactured by: A. H. Davenport & Company, active 1841–1973. Boston, Massachusetts, United States Overall: 85.4 x 74.9 x 71.1 cm (33 5/8 x 29 1/2 x 28 in.) Oak, leather. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Woburn Public Library, 1961. Accession number: 61.236

Richardson’s furniture designs follow the individualistic character of his buildings and at the Woburn Public Library, one of his most ornate, the furniture emphasizes the simplicity and unity of design, structural integrity and honesty expressed in the use of materials. The furniture is as massive and robust as the buildings. The structural integrity of both the chair and the building is emphasized in the chair through the joinery and in the building through the vertical and horizontal lines.  John Ruskin in his book Seven Lamps of Architecture[viii] advocated for a simplicity and unity of design which is expressed in both the architecture and furniture of the Woburn Library. With a desire to bring back the “craftsmanship of a bygone era,[ix]” the furniture of the Woburn Library is medieval in inspiration in the sense that their scale is massive like medieval furniture which was made out of stone. The spindles recall the turned furniture of seventeenth century New England and shows characteristics of William Morris earlier furniture designs as well anticipate the furniture designed in the American Arts and Crafts Movement[x].

Detail of Woburn Public Library Table

Most of the furniture of the Woburn Library was put together without the use of nails or screws, mortise and tenon joints are not only used to construct the furniture, but also to serve as the ornaments themselves. The same could be said for other Richardson designed furniture.

H.H. Richardson sought inspiration in the past in order to design timeless pieces of furniture which took on the characteristics of his buildings. His chairs and benches are as massive as the architecture, and as inviting and comfortable as his interiors are. By the time of his premature death at the age of 48 (died in 1886) Richardson had fully developed a complete vocabulary in furniture which anticipated the Modern movement. In the words of Richard Randall, Jr. who organized the first and only exhibition of Richardson’s furniture at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1962, “the variety seen in the existing examples, the drawings and photographs reveal the sanity, power and urbanity of the designs, and place Richardson among the masters of 19th century furniture design.[xi]

*** If you’d like to see the sources of the citations, please send me an email.  While conducting research in 2008-2009, I came to the realization that most of the furniture Richardson designed remains with us today and in great condition. The same cannot be said of his contemporary, the Philadelphia architect Frank Furness who also designed furniture for his buildings, but very little of it remains (shame! shame! shame!).  For the sake of clarity and length, I’ve decided to limit this post to just a certain pieces at the Woburn Public Library.

Guest Blog Entry – A New and Native Architecture: Charles and Henry Greene and their Years in Boston

Robert Pitcairn house, 1906, Pasadena, CA. Charles & Henry Greene. Photo taken by David Mathias.

Modernism, specifically the International School, divorced architecture from regional identity.  Buildings should, proponents argued, be universal and primarily functional.  The movement was, and is, hugely successful, in theory and in practice.  And with modernism in its tenth decade, it can be easy to forget that not so long ago regional styles were vitally important.  The shingled homes of the New England coast.  The Spanish missions of California.  The agricultural manors of the South.

The Greene Brothers - Charles Sumner Greene (top) & Henry Mather Greene (bottom). Image source: The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Click on this image for an online version of the exhibition "A New and Native Beauty" which traveled to Boston (July 14 - October 19, 2009).

At the dawn of the 20th century, Pasadena architects Charles & Henry Greene developed a new regional style based on the climate and environment of their adopted home.  “A wooden style built woodenly,” that blurs the distinction between indoors and out, the California bungalow is certainly of that place.  A synthesis of Arts & Crafts and Asian influences with a casual California sensibility, it could not have developed anywhere else.

Thus, it may be surprising that Greene & Greene were not Californians.  Nor were they from a warm climate.  They were born in Cincinnati, raised in St. Louis and educated in Boston.  Yes, Boston.  America’s answer to Old World civilization.  The birthplace of the Revolution.  Home of the Brahmins.  It was in this world that Charles & Henry Greene acquired the skills that would enable them to develop the quintessential west-coast style.

In September 1888, Charles Greene, aged 19, and his brother Henry, aged 18, left their comfortable home in St. Louis for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they enrolled in the Partial Course in architecture.  The Partial Course, a two-year program, was significantly more popular, at that time, than the four-year course of study.  Both boys were well prepared due to their education at the Manual Training School of Washington University, a high school program offering traditional academic subjects in addition to shop training in wood and metal.

Trinity Church in Copley Square, 1872-1877, H.H. Richardson's first architectural masterpiece

Boston’s Copley Square was an imposing place in 1888.  In addition to the academic building in which Charles and Henry spent considerable time, the square boasted the Museum of Fine Arts, Trinity Church and the embryonic Boston Public Library.  Thus, the young Greenes had front row seats to observe a classic by H. H. Richardson and to witness the birth of a significant project by McKim, Mead and White.  That is quite an education exclusive of the classroom.

Henry Hobson Richardson was, prior to his death in 1886 at age 47, a prominent American architect.  He studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts though his own preferences tended toward the English Arts & Crafts and the Richardson Romanesque he created.  Due to the makeup of the faculty, MIT offered, at that time, a very traditional Beaux-Arts curriculum.  Charles Greene bristled at the highly formal, traditional coursework.  By contrast, the exquisite Arts & Crafts interior of Trinity Church must have seemed very refreshing.

MIT students had easy and free access to another Copley Square institution, the Museum of Fine Arts.  Significant among the museum’s collections was a substantial assortment of Japanese art and artifacts.  Additionally, Charles and Henry visited the East India Marine Society Museum in Salem, home to an impressive collection of Japanese objects.  Though the Greenes would subsequently be exposed to Japanese architecture at the 1893 and 1904 World’s Fairs, this early encounter no doubt opened their eyes to a new aesthetic, one that would be pivotal in their careers.

An excellent example of the Shingle Style is the Mary Fiske Stoughton House, 90 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Built 1883; architect H. H. Richardson. Expanded in 1900 by John Fiske. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Survey number HABS MA-1033.

Even wooden shingles and shakes, an element heavily identified with Greene & Greene houses, can be traced to the brothers’ time in Boston.  Charles and Henry frequented Nantucket during Summers, where surely they would have encountered the ubiquitous shingle style.  Later, during internships, both Greenes gained further experience with the style.  Charles worked at Andrews, Jaques and Rantoul while Roughwood, a large residential commission clad in shingles, was being constructed in Brookline.  Charles later worked for Herbert Langford Warren who sometimes employed the shingle style.  Henry worked for a time for Frederick W. Stickney, a master in the use of shingles, who is responsible for the Kennebunk River Club.

It is worth noting that in addition to direct influence, H. H. Richardson had a significant indirect impact on Greene & Greene.  Virtually every architect with whom they worked during their post-MIT time in and around Boston, had significant ties to Richardson.  Not surprising since his legacy figured large in the Boston architectural scene for quite some time.

In 1893, Charles and Henry Greene moved to Pasadena, California to be with their parents who had relocated there with the hope of improving Mrs. Greene’s health and the family’s financial prospects.  Greene & Greene, Architects was established in 1894.  Despite the fact that most of the groundwork had already been laid for the firm’s signature style, that style didn’t begin to emerge for nearly a decade.  During the interim, their designs were eclectic as they learned about the alien environment and searched for their own voice.  They, of course, had other exposure to the Arts & Crafts, Asian forms and the use of wooden shingles but their five years in Boston, when they were quite young, established the foundation for the “new and native architecture” that constitutes their legacy today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Mathias is an author and photographer with a background in computer science. He was educated at the University of Delaware (B.S.) and Washington University in St. Louis (M.S., D.Sc.). He was a college instructor for fourteen years before abandoning computer science, academia and a paycheck for the full-time pursuit of writing. David has published articles in Popular Woodworking, Woodwork, Style 1900 and American Bungalow.  His first book, Greene & Greene Furniture – Poems of Wood & Light is an examination of the houses and furniture of Charles and Henry Greene. You can learn more about David and his research on the furniture and houses of the Greene Brothers by visiting his website and blog. David’s book can be purchased through his website or through any bookstore or online dealers.

End of Summer Architectural Day Trip: The Architecture of the Piscataqua

The Architectural Heritage of the Piscataqua: Houses and Gardens of the Portsmouth District of Maine and New Hampshire by John Mead Howells is considered a classic book on the colonial architecture of the seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine. No longer in print, the architectural monograph is replete with black and white exterior and interior photographs and floor plans of some of the most influential houses in American architecture. Two years ago, while browsing through the art and architecture section at the Brattle Bookshop in Boston, I came across a gorgeous used copy of The Architectural Heritage of the Piscataqua. I knew I would study the images in the book for years to come and had no other option but to buy it. During my New Hampshire vacation two weeks ago, my friend and I headed to Portsmouth (a familiar territory) on a day trip to explore the architectural heritage of the Piscataqua region. 

Located a stone throws away from the campus of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Portsmouth offers an all-inclusive education in American colonial architecture. In fact, while a student at UNH, Portsmouth was my personal “on the field” classroom while I took a 17th and 18th century American Architecture course (we did not go on any fieldtrips considering Portsmouth is only about a ten minute drive from the UNH campus). This course not only introduced me to the colonial architecture of the East, South and Midwestern parts of the country, but also to the driving influences of pattern books and architectural treatises including Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria (1452, Ten Books on Architecture) Sebastiano Serlio’s Il Settimo Libro Archittetura del Serglio (1575), Andrea Palladio’s  I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture)  to Inigo Jones, the English architect who fell in love with Palladio and gave us the first English translation of The Four Books of Architecture.  

The following are just some of the houses you’ll encounter in Portsmouth.

The Jones House, part of the Strawbery Banke Museum was built around 1790. The Strawbery Banke museum is Portsmouth most popular destination, an outdoor history museum containing more than 40 restored buildings spanding the 17th through the 19th century. For more information, visit http://www.strawberybanke.org

Goodwin mansion. Built around 1811, the Goodwin Mansion served as the home of civil war governor Ichabod Goodwin from 1832-1896. The house has a beautiful recreated Victorian garden. For more information, visit http://www.strawberybanke.org

The Governor John Langdon House was built around 1784 by the Governor himself. This house is considered to be one of the best examples of the Georgian style fully developed in the colonies and according to Howells “both interior and exterior show the mastery which our builders, joiners and carvers had achieved over their materials.” The house is owned by Historic New England and is open to the public for viewing. For more information visit http://www.historicnewengland.org

The MacPheadris-Warner House is considered to be one of the earliest extant brick urban mansions in the country. It was built in 1716-1718 for Archibald MacPheadris, a Scottish Captain. According to Howells’ The Architectural Heritage of the Piscataqua, the gambrel roof of the house is not original, instead there was a double peaked roofs running the entire length of the house with deep valleys between them. This beautiful example of an early Georgian house in New Hampshire is 2 ½ stories tall with symmetrically placed equal number of rooms on each side. The exterior door with its segmental pediment acknowledges one’s arrival both physically and symbolically, it builds up the anticipation for its lavish interior. As you can see from this picture, the segmental arch above the door is missing, the house has been under restoration for a number of years, proof that preservation is not only costly, but also a lengthy process as well. For more information visit,www.warnerhouse.org.

The Moffatt-Ladd House built around 1763 is a full three story house signifying the progression of wealth in the colonies. It is a refined Georgian house with a free standing Greek portico and a grand asymmetric plan. The house is owned and maintained by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Hampshire (NSCDA-NH) and has been open to the public since 1912. For more information visit http://www.moffattladd.org. Although I have photographed this house myself in the past, I cannot locate such images therefore I am borrowing this image from Birdgal5 on Flickr.

One of my favorite houses in Portsmouth is the Larkin-Rice House. Built in 1815 by Samuel Larkin, this gorgeous, understated and highly refined Federal style house has been attributed to both Benjamin Latrobe for its similarities to the Burd House in Philadelphia (sadly demolished) and to Charles Bulfinch, architect of the Massachusetts State Capitol. This image was taken by “Dan,” for more images of other historical places in New England, click on the image. I will update the image when I visit Portsmouth again in the future.

If you are ready to indulge in 17th and 18th century architecture in New England, Portsmouth is one of two distinct coastal destinations (the other being Salem, MA) to spend a weekend day trip exploring the fascinating architecture and gardens  of Colonial America. Grab your copy of The Architectural Heritage of the Piscataqua (it’s a big book!) or any other 17th and 18th century American architecture guidebook and head to Portsmouth. This seacoast town in New Hampshire has many historic house museums, great restaurants and shops all within walking distance from one another! It is the perfect day trip for all those architectural history geeks like myself or those interested in naval American history or historic gardens.  The houses discussed in this post are only a handful of the historic treasures waiting to be re-discovered by you.   

Have you gone to Portsmouth, if so, do you have a favorite house?

H.H. Richardson and the Arts and Crafts Connection in New Hampshire

Ever since taking my first architectural history survey at the University of New Hampshire, I became fascinated with the Arts and Crafts Movement and the architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson.  I wrote my first paper ever, in any architectural history class on the libraries of H.H. Richardson and I am a docent at Trinity Church, one of Richardson’s masterpieces.  What’s the connection between the Arts and Crafts Movement, H.H. Richardson and New Hampshire, you might be wondering?

See, every summer I’ve made it a goal of mine to explore a historic house in the New England region and learn as much as I can from my visit. The past few summers, I’ve gone to Salem, MA, Newport, RI and most recently, New Canaan, CT to visit the Philip Johnson Glass House. This summer, I traveled to New Hampshire and visited Lucknow or “Castle in the Clouds,” a 16 room Arts and Crafts Mansion situated atop one of New Hampshire’s mountains overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.

Located a short driving distance from Wolfeboro, one of America’s oldest resort towns, to experience the architecture of “Castle in the Clouds” visitors must take a trolley from the Carriage House to the peak of the mountain.  At the sight of the Carriage House, I immediately started recalling certain characteristics of Richardson’s architecture and began drawing connections between the architecture of the Carriage House and Richardson’s buildings, most notably the estate for Robert Treat Paine in Waltham, MA.

Lucknow, completed in 1913-14 was the home of Thomas Plant (1859-1941), a businessman with very strong connections to Boston.  There is no doubt in my mind that Plant was exposed to the architecture of Richardson, not only those buildings in Boston, but in the suburbs as well. Thomas Plant made his fortune in the shoe manufacturing industry in Massachusetts and retired a millionaire at age fifty-one. Mr. Plant was allegedly the architect of Lucknow (one of the tour guides mentioned that his brother was the architect and that Thomas Plant himself had control over the drawings, but Thomas took the title of architect. Oh the gossip!) and the Richardsonian influences could not have any less visible. From the bold massing and the harmonious integration of  the building with its surrounding landscape to the “eyelid or eyebrow” windows made famous by Richardson and later architects, Mr. Thomas Plant was without a doubt influenced by Richardson as well as the ideas behind the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

The Arts and Crafts Movement (1830-1870) springs out of the Gothic Revival in England by emphasizing a strict design morality(1) and rebelling against the often uninspiring machine made objects by placing emphasis on hand crafted ornamentation and details. Spearheaded by artists and theorists like William Morris and John Ruskin, who collectively with their art and writings became the driving force that integrated social and moral ideologies into the art and architecture that was produced in America beginning in Richardson’s  time. To decorate his mansion, Mr. Thomas Plant commissioned the best artists and craftsmen working in the Arts and Crafts Movement in America. The glasswork found in the mansion was commissioned to Louis Comfort Tiffany, lighting by the Edward F. Caldwell Company of New York and custom woodwork and furnishings by A.H Davenport/Irving and Casson of Boston, Richardson’s furniture maker.

The prestigious furniture makers and carvers at A.H. Davenport and Company(2) who later in 1916 merged with Irving and Casson executed most of Richardson’s furniture commissions including the Court of Appeals in Albany, New York, the Crane Library in Quincy, Massachusetts, the Billings Library in Burlington, Vermont and the Converse Library in Malden (3).  A.H Davenport became one of the largest and most prosperous furniture makers of the time after purchasing The Boston Furniture Company in 1880. Albert Henry Davenport himself had been the bookkeeper at Boston Furniture Company until 1866 (4). Known for their exquisite craftsmanship and attention to the most inconspicuous details, Davenport and Company went on to make furniture for the mansions of the wealthy residents of the Back Bay, the White House under President Roosevelt and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (5). The woodwork and furnishings at Lucknow are impressive and harmonize beautifully with the exposed joints  of the architecture.

Richardson died prematurely at the age of 48 (died in 1886) and did not live to see the tremendous influence his architecture had in America, Canada and Northern European countries.  The breathtaking mansion of Lucknow or “Castle in the Clouds” is a testament to the power of Richardson’s architecture and the exquisite craftmanship of A.H. Davenport/Irving and Casson masters of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America.

H.H. Richardson's Stonehurst; The Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA

I’ve conducted an extensive research on Richardson’s furniture which culminated in a talk at one of his most ornate buildings. Perhaps, I can write a small post on the furniture of H.H. Richardson for all of you to enjoy. As long as you all want me of course!


1 Elizabeth Cumming and Wendy Kaplan, The Arts and Crafts Movement (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991) 14
2 Marian Page, Furniture Designed by Architects (New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1984) 68
3  Anne Farnam, “A.H. Davenport and Company, Boston Furniture Makers” Antiques 1055
4 Anne Farnam.  Antiques
5 Anne Farnam, “A.H. Davenport and Company, Boston Furniture Makers” Antiques 1048

Modernism and Recent Past in Providence: A Self Guided Walking Tour

When I lived in Providence, I spent countless hours working on my landscape architecture studio classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that I barely noticed the buildings around me. I ate, breathed and dreamed landscape architecture.  Although I dropped out of RISD for personal reasons, I cherished the short time I spent working with the excellent faculty and classmates in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Last weekend, I retraced my steps around the Brown University and RISD campuses to experience once again, the architecture I had almost forgotten. On this day trip to Providence I went on a self guided walking tour of Modernist and Recent Past architecture created by Sara Emmenecker, a Public Humanities Graduate student at Brown University. I’m fascinated with the study of Modernism and love learning about and exploring modern architectural resources in New England. To learn more about this wonderful project created by Sara click here and head to Providence and explore the city’s modern architectural resources.

* On a side note, since February of 2010 I have been following agingmodernism.wordpress.com, a project by U.C Berkeley student Melissa K. Smith which aims at documenting the way people adapt, shift and change the modern city experiments of the mid-century. Check her blog out on and be inspired!

Hospital Trust Tower (1973) 25 Westminster Street/One Financial Plaza. Designed by John Carl Warnecke & Associates in the International Style.

Fleet Center (1985) 50 Kennedy Plaza, designed by Helmut Obata Kassebaum Architects. Post Modern Style

Old Stone Tower (1969), 40 Westminster Street. Designed by Shreve Lamb & Harmon

Beneficient House (1969), 1 Chestnut Street. Designed by Paul Rudolph.

J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex (1981), One Dorrance Plaza. Designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta

Dexter Manor (1962), 100 Broad Street. Based on the ideas of Le Corbusier who proposed his "Contemporary City for Three Million Inhabitants." Many examples of high rise apartment buildings are seen in almost any city in the world.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

Cathedral Square Complex (1966-67, 1969, 1977, 1975). The Plaza was designed by I.M Pei and Zion & Breen. The Roman Catholic Chancery Office and Auditorium was designed by E.F. Kennedy, 4 and 5 Cathedral Square were designed by Robinson, Green & Beretta architects. Please consult the walking tour guide for more information on this complex of buildings.

The Providence Public Library Addition (1953), 150 Empire Street. The additon was designed by Howe, Prout & Ekman. The Providence Public Library is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Providence designed in the Italian Renaissance style with Baroque qualities. The addition is done in the Moderne style.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

John E. Fogarty Memorial Building (1968), 111 Fountain Street. Designed by Castellicci, Galli & Planka architects. Notice the influence of Boston City Hall in the forms of this building which is currently vacant and in a state of disrepair.

A Modern building on South Main Street, 1 block from the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at RISD. More information will be posted soon.

A Modern building on South Main Street, 1 block from the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at RISD. More information will be posted soon.

Reflections on Water

I can’t swim to save my life. As a matter of fact, I can’t even doggy paddle. I thought I’d tell you now before you read any further. I must also tell you that I’ve never experienced any life altering incidents involving water (in case you wanted to know). In fact, some of the fondest memories I have as a child have dealt with water has playing a prominent role. I’m just not a water type of person I guess.

The sight of water alone re-energizes my senses and brings back memories of places and people I’ve encountered along my path in life. Up until recently, I lived about a 10 minute walk from the ocean. Whenever I needed to clear my mind or fill my lungs with the cool sea breeze, I would engage in a conversation with the waves crashing upon the shore. I no longer have that “luxury.” Ever since my move to another neighborhood in Boston, it requires more planning than I thought it originally would using public transportation.

Lucky for me, Boston is home to Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace – a series of picturesque parks linked as the name suggests, like a necklace by parkways and waterways.  In a spur of the moment decision, I ventured out to Jamaica Pond in Jamaica Plain earlier this week to connect with the pond and its beautiful surroundings.

Bounded by the town of Brookline and located within walking distance from the home and studio of both Frederick Law Olmsted and the architect Henry Hobson Richardson, Jamaica Pond is a popular destination for city dwellers looking to go sailing, fishing, jogging or walking. Both Olmsted and Richardson were friends and collaborated on many outstanding projects in Massachusetts which integrated the architecture with its surrounding landscapes.  

The architecture at Jamaica Pond consists of a boat house and bandstand designed by the firm of Stickney and Austin and the now demolished Pinebank Mansion; the Queen Anne style house designed by John Hubbard Sturgis, of Sturgis and Brigham; designers of the Museum of Fine Arts that once stood on Copley Square.

I hadn’t been to Jamaica Pond since I was about 11 years old. As I approached the pond from Pond Street, memories of family picnics and bike rides started to flow. I briskly walked along the pond’s edges, calmly awaiting the sunset.  As the sun began to set and colors emerged from behind the clouds, the architecture of Stickney and Austin became so much more intense contrasting with the soft glow of the sun. This moment reminded me of how much we all intrinsically benefit from the natural and designed landscapes that surround us.  And although I cannot swim, I try to engage and interact as often as I can with landscapes and architecture where water plays a prominent role like Jamaica Pond.

To learn more about the Emerald Necklace and the work being done to preserve and restore this magnificent cultural resource, click here.

Learn more about the Olmstead Historic Site in Brookline and the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation.

To read about Stickney and Austin, see posts here and here.

Additions: The American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts

I try make it to the MFA as often as I can, there’s always something new to see and learn. For the last few years, the MFA has been undergoing an expansion and many works of art have been out of sight and in storage, some galleries have closed and others have opened in their places.  This November a new wing dedicated to the Art of North, Central and South America will open and I’m already counting down, it’s been too long without seeing some of the finest American art in any American collection. Below are some images of this new wing I snapped on Friday. Learn more by clicking this link.

Project Architects:  Foster and Partners

Trusting Modernism

20th century Modern buildings are not exactly what people think of when they think of New England, yet amidst its colonial architecture, the landscape of New England is dotted with spectacular architectural examples of regional Modernism. On Wednesday June 30, 2010, architects, preservationists, landscape and architectural historians, students and modernism enthusiasts convened at Paul Rudolph’s addition to the First Church in Boston’s Back Bay to engage in conversations focusing on Modernism in Greater Boston. Trust Modern, an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Modernism + Recent Past Program, selected  the City of Boston as one of four cities to be part of the Modern Module Program aimed at increasing public support for and engaging in discussions focused on the study and protection of America’s modern architectural resources.

 According to Susan MacDonald of The Getty Conservation Institute and a panelist at the Boston Modern: The Spirit of Reinvention module “modernism tells the story of change, a story with the goal of creating a better world with equal access to healthcare and education.”  Selling the story of modernism has proven to be one of the biggest challenges facing preservationists and architectural historians today, a challenge that becomes more difficult as more and more Modern buildings and landscapes fall to the wrecking ball. Engaging in conversations like the one at the modern module is key to taking a proactive role in preserving modernism.

The city has taken a proactive step in the preservation of modern architecture. The Boston Landmarks Commission has been conducting an inventory of 20th century buildings and local preservation organizations have been leading tours of modern buildings in Downtown further introducing modernism to the general public.

Boston is home to some mighty and heroic modern buildings which speak to the legacy of notable architects like Walter Gropius, Eero Saarinen, Jose Luis Sert, Le Corbusier, Eleanor Raymond and many others who have all left their mark on this grand city. The opportunity for young people to become more involved in the preservation of modern architecture is wide open and ready to be explored in depth!  

The module on Boston’s modernist architecture proved to be intellectually stimulating thought provoking and inspiring. With over 300 attendees, my hope is that each one of us present on Wednesday night will in turn educate others on the value and significance of the city’s modern architectural resources before it’s too late to save our recent past.

Carpenters Center, Dorchester

The Carpenters Center, Home of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters is the latest building in Boston to be praised by critics, architects and residents alike for its design sensitivity and carefully thought out details. The Carpenters Center building has once again placed Dorchester on the architectural map of Boston! The craftmanship of the building has been characterized as exquisite and nothing short of the fine work executed by those affiliated with the NERCC.

Designed by ADD Inc, the building opened in March of 2010. For more on this building, check out their blog.

Rendering by ADD Inc. of Boston, the architect on the project taken from http://www.bostonglobe.com, May 29, 2009

 

Contemplating Modernism

The Glass House, Philip Johnson. Completed in 1949.

Recently, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City organized an exhibition titled “Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum” which exhibited the works of nearly two hundred invited artists, architects, and designers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modernist masterpiece. Most importantly, these artists were celebrating the void which has influenced countless of site specific art installations at the Guggenheim.

Like the artists, architects and designers who contemplated the void at the Guggenheim, a year ago I boarded a bus from Boston to Stamford, CT where I would catch a train to New Canaan, CT to contemplate  one of the most important icons of Modern architecture: the Philip Johnson Glass House.  After the long and exhausting bus ride (which was late to Stamford by the way), I missed my train to New Canaan and with less than 40 minutes until the beginning of my two hour tour of the House, I hopped on a 30 minute taxi ride to New Canaan (the next train to New Canaan did not leave until 2:45PM and my tour was scheduled for 2:00PM). I made it to the visitor center in downtown New Canaan with just ten minutes to spare! Phew! What a relief!

The Painting Gallery, completed in 1965.

Visiting the Philip Johnson Glass House proved to be an exhilarating experience in my exploration of Modern architecture. The tour was well organized and the guide was very knowledgeable on modernism, in particular on Modern Art as she was an artist herself.  At a cost of $45 for a two hour tour with photography allowed, I not only got to see the Glass House, but Johnson’s other architectural experiments in the 47 acre property surrounding the house. One of my favorites was the Painting Gallery which recalls the Treasury of Atreus (Mycenae) in its entrance, but nothing quite like it in the interior (judging from what the interior of the Treasury of Atreus looks like today as it may have been completely different around 1250BCE when it was constructed). Its soft and “sexy” interior and floor plan are visually stunning in contrast to the fortress like exterior of the Gallery.

Inside the Painting Gallery. Works by Frank Stella.

The connection between this blog on Boston, the Glass House in New Canaan and Philip Johnson is that Johnson had attended Harvard University graduating with a Bachelor’s in Architecture in 1943. While a student at Harvard he designed his own house now located in Cambridge, MA and his presence as an architect in the city of Boston is seen in the addition to the Boston Public Library and at 500 Boylston Street (the Post-Modern Palladian inspired skyscraper) which was featured on the television drama series Boston Legal.

As a student of life, art and architecture, a preservationist and a lover of Modern architecture, visiting the Glass House was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Being in New Canaan was all I needed to take my breath away last summer let alone visiting the Philip Johnson Glass House.

(If someone knows or has a connection to the current owners of the Johnson house in Cambridge, please let me know! I’d love to see it up close instead of climbing up the stairs of the building across from it to get a peek).

The Lake Pavillion completed in 1962.

New York City vs. Boston

The Macallen Building, South Boston, Architect: Office dA

Recently, the Boston Herald published a list of the top ten best new buildings of the decade in the city. These buildings break away from the typical brick and brownstone architecture that canvas most of Boston. Architecturally speaking, Boston has yet to distance itself from the puritanical and conservative ideals deeply rooted in its history. Looking at the past for architectural inspiration has allowed Boston to achieve limited freedom in creativity.  The buildings on the list have been praised for pushing Boston out of its conservative architectural envelope and redefined the world class city that it is!

The Macallen Building, South Boston. Architect: Office dA

Boston has never been able to get out of the shadows of New York City and the list proves that the rivalry between these two world class cities is alive and stronger than ever. It is not a secret how much Yankee fans and Red Sox fans love each other. They can barely wait for baseball season to begin to call each other names and brag about which team has won the most World Series. Wait, what am I talking about?! These fans will harrass each other regardless whether is baseball season or not. If you ask me to chose a team, I prefer the Red Sox, but if you ask my brother, he prefers the Yankees! One can never win. This love hate relationship between these two cities is captured in the list of the top ten best new buildings in Boston. By my count, Boston wins with 5 Boston/Cambridge architectural firms making a name for themselves, while placing the city at the forefront of the architecture world.

The WGBH Headquarter Building, Brighton. Architect: Polshek Partnership

Office dA, one of my favorite Boston firms makes the list with the Macallen Building in South Boston. Considered one of the first LEED-certified, environmentally conscious multi-housing buildings in the state of Massachusetts, the Macallen Building stands out for all the right reasons and the city is a much better place because of it.  The building was recently honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects with a 2009 Professional Design Award. The partners at Office dA, Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani proved that Boston possesses the talent and genius to award architectural commissions to local firms, instead of inviting architects from Los Angeles, New York City or from abroad to leave their imprint on the city.

The Boston Convention and Visitor Center, South Boston. Architect: Rafael Viñoly

Among the New York City firms on the  Herald’s list include Rafael Viñoly for his design of the Boston Convention and Visitor Center in South Boston, Diller Scofidio + Renfro for the boxy Institute of Contemporary Art also in South Boston and Polshek Partnership for the WGBH Building in Brighton. And yes, I do prefer the Boston architects over New York because they are excellent examples of what our local talent is capable of producing, but the New York architects (and I hate to say this), placed Boston on the international map this past decade with buildings like the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Boston Convention and Visitor Center.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, South Boston. Architect: diller scofidio + renfro

Although New York pushed the architectural envelope in Boston, the building that always captivates me is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Stata Center by the Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry. To borrow a word used recently by the Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert in his critique of Broken Embraces by Pedro Almodovar,  Gehry’s 2004 Stata Center is a “voluptuary” of a building. Its textures, materials, colors, and soft sexy curves punctuated by geometric shapes and hard edges are a reflection of yours truly. No, not in the soft sexy curves (in case you wanted to know), but in the multitude of colors and textures that make up my daily wardrobe! The Stata Center is a building that keeps me engage, it makes me feel like a kid in a candy store, excited and hyper, waiting to indulge my senses in all the sugar. It makes me want to hug every one of its shiny surfaces and scream to the world the audacious and bold step Boston has taken forward with this building.

In all fairness, New York architects have been dramatically influencing the architectural fabric of Boston for decades. The prestigious firm of Carrere and Hastings, McKim, Mead and White and even H.H. Richardson have all left their mark in Boston, designing buildings like the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church, which have served as sources for countless other buildings around the country. The New York architectural firms who left their mark in Boston this past decade have broken the barriers of creativity in Boston!

As groundbreaking as any of these buildings were during the last decade, there were two other notable buildings that did not make the list, but which deserved to be mentioned in this post. So here I go, take note.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stata Center, Cambridge. Architect: Frank Gehry

Simmons Hall at MIT by Steven Holl, one of my favorite New York firms, stands out for being a building that belongs in New York or Los Angeles and not in Boston.  It breaks away from the puritanical and conservative ideals associated with Boston architecture, adding a funky, cool sophisticated feeling to the fabric of Massachusetts.

The other building that deserved to be listed is the Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library, designed by the Boston architects of Machado and Silvetti. Distancing themselves from the brick so typical of Boston architecture, Machado and Silvetti incorporate slate sculpings and slate shingles with glass and various other rich textures creating a visually enticing building in one of Boston’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods.

To see other buildings on the list, click on the link above and let me know which ones you think deserved to be listed and which ones were omitted!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Simmons Hall, Cambridge. Architect: Steven Holl

The Architecture of Stickney and Austin – Part 2

Nahant Beach Reservation

Nahant Beach Bathhouse, Courtesy of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation Archives

If Revere Beach Reservation became the playing ground for Boston’s working class during the early 20th century, Nahant Beach was Revere’s direct opposite. The increasing patronage at the bathhouse at Revere Beach led to the acquisition of Nahant Beach by the Metropolitan Park Commission. Unlike Revere Beach, the architecture of Nahant Beach Reservation is ostentatious and highly sophisticated, reflecting the social classes of the beach’s surrounding towns.

 Located in Essex County, Nahant Beach catered to the upper class residents of Boston’s distinguished North Shore who were building their lavish estates in Beverly, Manchester by the Sea and other coastal communities. The architecture of Nahant Beach reflects the influential wealth associated with these people as well as the influence of New York masters like McKim, Mead and White and Carrere and Hastings on Stickney and Austin.

Refreshment and Waiting Room, Courtesy of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation Archives

When the Metropolitan Park Commission took possession of the Nahant Beach Reservation, it contained a high number of privately owned properties which sacrificed the beauty of the beach. These proprietors were notified to vacate their buildings in order to demolish or removed them and “convert the land into a public park.” Nahant “was the most popular resort on the coast, and was the home of so many distinguished men that visitors to the [Nahant] hotel were attracted from all parts of this country as well as from foreign lands.”

William Austin designed “an attractive building for the Lynn-Nahant Beach Bathhouse” which was completed “in time for use during the summer of 1905.” It opened “as a branch of the Revere Beach Bathhouse” and “excellent service was maintained…and the patronage was generally satisfactory, considering the coolness of the month of August [of 1905].” The scale of the Bathhouse is grand and its importance and opulence is emphasized in the Beaux Arts tradition of Carrere and Hastings. The building’s core activities are organized around two hipped roofed towers each flanked by an arcaded loggia following in the footsteps of Carrere and Hastings’ 1887 Ponce de Leon Hotel and 1888 The Alcazar Hotel, both in St. Augustine, Florida.

Nahant Beach Police Station, Courtesy of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation Archives

Other buildings in Nahant Beach include the Refreshment and Waiting Room, the Men’s and Women’s Sanitary and the Police Station. The Police Station at Nahant Beach recalls McKim, Mead and White’s Naugatuck National Bank of 1892-1893, in its brick and limestone trim, both a simple rectangle with bold decorative details at the windows and cornice. The scale these buildings in contrast to the Bathhouse for Nahant Beach is significantly reduced to emphasize the grandness and importance of the Bathhouse which like Revere Beach, must have been the focal point of the Reservation.

Nahant Beach Women's Sanitary, Courtesy of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation Archives

The architecture of Stickney and Austin for the Metropolitan Park Commission played an important role in reflecting the ideals and social classes of the time in Boston. It remained democratic in the sense that the poor and working class could relate to the surroundings and the architecture as is the case of Revere Beach. By examining the driving influences behind the work of Stickney and Austin for Nahant Beach Reservation, the case speaks in favor of Boston’s upper class for whom the architecture reflected the opulence, pomposity and grandiosity present in the works of McKim, Mead and White and Carrere and Hastings. Stickney and Austin proved with their work for the Metropolitan Park Commission that they could design in a variety of architectural styles capturing the vision of Charles Eliot of designing buildings and their surroundings as one harmonious composition.