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Jones Hill
 Jones Hill

AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated April, 1995 and recorded by Edward W. Gordon.

[Note: this reproduction of the information in the Boston Landmarks Area Form may have typographical errors, and for technical matters, the reader may want to consult a copy of the original, which is available at the Boston Landmarks Commission or the Dorchester Historical Society]

For a pdf version of the map showing the boundaries of Jones Hill, Click here

Architectural Description

Jones Hill is circumscribed by a system of streets that date back to the 17th century, including Columbia Road (Boston St) and Stoughton Street on the north and northeast, Pleasant Street on the east and south east as well as Hancock Street on the west, southwest. The Jones Hill area contains an unusually rich concentration of substantial, architecturally significant residences dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The primary period for setting out new streets in this area was 1870-1890.The most desirable of this area's streets, in terms of stylish and substantial housing stock and views of Dorchester Bay was Cushing Avenue, originally called Thacher Street, which serves to link this hill-top residential enclave with the Uphams Corner commercial center to the north and Sawyer Avenue to the south. Everett Street, off Stoughton Street possesses relatively early residential development in the form of L-shaped Italianate/Mansards at #'s 15 and 18 Everett A venue. Scattered here and there are rather unique (to the area) housing forms and styles that tend to date from the early part of the 1870-90 Jones Hill development. For example, #15A Peverell Street, with its clipped gables, board and batten elements, bracing, wood panels in the form of crosses and a little balcony at attic level speak to the Stick Style's debt to Swiss country cottages for inspiration. The Carpenter Gothic house at #118 Cushing Avenue possesses an extremely complex form characterized by projecting wall segments and dormers enclosed by steeply pitched roofs. This free ranging form is visually tied together by a string course containing incised triangular forms between floors one and two. The Italianate does not appear with any great frequency in this area with the noteworthy example of 120 Cushing Avenue -- a very compact, boxy 3-bay x -bay , 2-story residence with well crafted front and side porches and a low hip roof with paired brackets. A rare representation of the Italianate Style on Jones Hill is the cross -shaped, P.B. Chamberlain House at 2 Wilbur Street.

More characteristic of Jones Hill area are the large Queen Anne, Shingle and Colonial Revival show places which reside over Cushing Avenue, Sawyer Avenue, Sa1combe Street and Windemere Road including a towered Queen Anne at 27 Cushing A venue, a Stick/Queen Anne at 35 Cushing Avenue with three levels of porches, distinctive arched porch bracing and 1-3 story polygonal bays, a stately Queen Anne / Colonial Revival house with three levels of porches at 30 Cushing Avenue presides over the Cushing/Upham Avenue intersection while a highly symmetrical, hip roofed Colonial Revival house at 36 Cushing Avenue completes this quartet of stylish and substantial houses. Perhaps the most exotic foray into the Queen Anne style occurs at 125 Cushing Avenue. Here, is a mansion scale residence with formal, center pavilion (with modified minaret-like roof form), and intersecting hip and gable roof components. A good example of a twin towered Queen Anne is 40/42 Sawyer Ave. with its large, very intact stable at the rear of the property. 22, 24, 26 Jerome Street constitute a memorable streetscape of towered Queen Annes. By far the most ornate Queen Anne house in this area is the rambling, towered house at 17/19 Cushing Avenue. Built in 1893 by and for New England builder Sylvester Parshly, 17/19 Cushing Avenue is part of a memorable streetscape of Queen Anne residences which includes 15 and 21 Cushing Avenue. The Hoadley House at 15 Cushing Avenue (1886) is characterized by typically Queen Anne symmetrical massing and a loggia-like front porch noteworthy for its short, turned posts which spring from plinths and support segmental arches. These arches are echoed in the porch atop the second floor of the east wall's square bay. Situated at the northwest corner of this house is a two-story round tower with distinctive "candle-snufter" roof cap. 15 Cushing Avenue is enclosed by a steeply pitched hip roof. Blending Queen Anne form with Colonial Revival detailing at 101 Sawyer Avenue is a handsome wood shingle covered house with full length Tuscan columned front porch, bowed and octagonal second floor oriels which, in turn, are surmounted by a broad, A-shaped gable with modified Palladian window. A particularly choice concentration of Queen Anne housing borders the Upham Avenue/Cushing Avenue intersection

Three deckers, exhibiting elements of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles are located on Rowell Street and Downer Avenue as well as scattered about most of this area. A well preserved, appropriately painted example survives at 94 Sawyer Avenue.

107 -123 Stoughton Street is a group of apartments composed of yellow brick with rock faced brownstone trimmings which serves to define part of the eastern edge of the Jones Hill area.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 16 Cushing Avenue was built in 1888. It was the first and only parish church in the city designed by Henry Vaughan, one of the original architects of Washington Cathedral. Douglas Shand Tucci notes that "half-timbered and very domestic in feeling, St. Mary's established a superb anchor for Cushing Avenue, which sweeps down gently to the church from Upham's Avenue. The interior has been praised as having among the best examples of arched bracing in the country." The transepts were added in 1893 by Hartwell and Richardson.


Historical Narrative


Jones Hill was named for Thomas Jones, an original owner of the eastern slope of this hill. The Old Jones House of 1636 was located on the site of 65 Pleasant Street, corner of Whitby Terrace. Jones was a selectman of the town and a wealthy landowner; he is buried in the Dorchester North Burying Ground at Upham's Corner. The house presently occupying this site was built in 1804 after a fire destroyed the seventeenth century structure. Few houses were built on Jones Hill prior to 1775. The housing extant on Jones Hill today represents what historian Douglas Shand Tucci has called the "Second Settlement of Dorchester" which began about 1850. The 1850 Map of Dorchester and Milton shows 14 houses ringing the lower levels of Jones Hill. Unlike the houses that would be constructed on the upper slopes later on in the century, these mid 19th century Jones Hill houses were owned by old Dorchester families including Clapps, Trulls, Jones, Downers, Davenports and Gardners. The plain Federal cottage at 125 Stoughton Street, long associated with the Clapp family is one of the oldest houses in the study area, dating to at least 1830. By 1874, an A.C. Clapp owned this house and David Clapp, a printer at 334 Washington Street lived here during the late 19th century. Unfortunately the residences of the Downer and Thacher families represent "Lost Dorchester". Samuel Downer (1807-1881), inventor of Kerosene lived on a Jones Hill estate that was located at the southwest comer of Downer Avenue and Hancock Streets. The c.1830's Downer house faced east and his land rose directly behind the house to the summit of Jones Hill. Downer cut terraces into this hillside and experimented with horticultural pursuits. Downer served as director of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and in this capacity experimented with the hybridization of fruit trees. His horticultural triumph was "Downer's Late Cherry" which thrived on his terraced estate. His estate reflected his considerable wealth, complete with house, stable and many acres of land. Downer Street was cut through his estate c.1870.

During the 18405, the Thachers, a well to do Boston merchant family built a stately Greek Revival house called "Hillside" on the eastern slopes of Jones Hill. Cushing Street, the premiere street on the Hill was initially called Thacher Street in honor of this family.

The upper slopes of Jones Hill remained unspoiled pasture land until the 1860s when Everett Avenue was set out. Physical evidence of this early Civil War era development may be seen in the Italianate mansards developed and owned by Charles A. Green at 14, 15 and 18 Everett Street (#18 was owned by the lithographer Joseph Kranefuss during the first three decades of the 20th century. His business was located at 400 Newbury Street). Everett Street was originally a cul de sac which "dead ended" where it was later extended to the northwest. The noteworthy trio of Queen Anne houses at 22-26 Everett Street were built c.1890, probably by builder Henry B. Stratton who lived at 95 Sawyer Avenue and was the original owner of #26 Everett Street. By 1874, only eleven houses had been built on Jones Hill since mid-century: one on Downer Street and the others on Sawyer and the aforementioned Everett Street. The Italianate house at 55 Sawyer A venue illustrates this very early development on Jones Hill. Extant by 1874, it was built for a James C. Mills and after c. l880 was owned by Charlotte E. Littlefield, nurse. 50, 57, 59 and 65 Sawyer Avenue also date from the early 1870s. The Hancock Street side of Sawyer Avenue further to the north west was much slower to develop consisting of 14 vacant lots in 1874 (owned by N. and H.N. Sawyer) and as many as nine vacant lots by 1910. The 3-decker at 94 Sawyer A venue built in 1915-16 for William H. Hendrey illustrates the late development of this segment of Sawyer Avenue. During the 1870s and 80s Henry C. McDuffie owned most of the land north of Upham Street on Jones Hill. One of the earliest McDuffie houses developed in this area was 2 Wilbur Street (extant by 1884 with first known owner being a P.B. Chamberlain and later owned by builder Sylvester Parshley). Wilbur Street was named for Sylvester Parshley's son.

By 1885 only seven more houses had been constructed, five of these on Cushing Avenue. At that time there were only about 30 houses on the hill. By 1885 many more streets had been set out. In addition to Everett, Sawyer, Downer and DeWolfe, there were by 1885, Upham, Jerome and Wilbur. 118 Cushing A venue, the architecturally idiosyncratic house of many projecting bays and gables was a product of the early 80s with later additions after 1884. This house was later owned by Lewis Norton, inventor of the Norton-door-check that made him a wealthy man. The towered Queen Anne Hoadley House at 15 Cushing Avenue was built in 1885 by architect Henry J. Preston.

In 1888 St. Mary's Episcopal Church relocated from Bowdoin Street to Jones Hill. This church gave the neighborhood a sense of an "English village" and evidently served to attract prominent Episcopalian home owners to Jones Hill, like Robert Bampton, a partner in Boston's Chadwick Lead Works. Phillips Brooks had been confirmed at the old St Mary's. Governor Henry J. Gardner had also been a parishioner. Situated at 16 Cushing Avenue, the Church was designed by Henry Vaughan with the transepts added in 1893 by Hartwell and Richardson.

A major building boom on Jones Hill occurred during the 1890s. Between 1885 and 1900 more than 100 houses were built on the Hill. During that time, Windermere, Salcombe and Peverell Streets were set out. The 1890s was a time when both scions of old Dorchester families and prominent Bostonians built large, richly- detailed and well- crafted residences on Jones Hill and Cushing Avenue in particular. The name Cushing referred to Dr. Benjamin Cushing of Dorchester. He was a grandson of the Thacher family of Jones Hill and a founder of St. Margaret's Hospital which relocated to Jones Hill in the late 19th century.

James Humphreys Upham built 40 Cushing Avenue in 1895. He was the last chairman of the board of selectmen of the Town of Dorchester and a Trustee of the Boston City Hospital. He was descended from the merchant after whom Upham's corner had been named earlier in the century. The handsome Colonial Revival house at 20 Cushing Avenue was built in 1895 for Joseph Houghton Chadwick, the so called "Lead King of Boston". He was the President of the Chadwick Lead works in High Street, Boston and was a founding trustee of Boston University. Chadwick's partner, Robert Bampton, had 36 Cushing Avenue built at about the same time. Chadwick's house was designed by the important Boston architect William Gibbons Preston who probably designed Bampton's house as well. Preston is perhaps best remembered as the architect for the original segment of Boston's Hotel Vendome and the old Museum of Science building on Berkeley Street in the Back Bay. Harrison Atwood, another prominent Boston architect built the Colonial Revival house at 15 Salcombe Street for Benjamin A. Ham in 1895. Salcombe Street was set out across David Clapp's property in 1889 representing yet another reduction of Clapp family holdings in this area that stretched back to the early 1700's. Salcombe Street was named after the Clapp family's ancestral town of Salcombe- Regis in Dorset England from which David Clapp's ancestors emigrated in 1630. 60 Sawyer Avenue and its well preserved stable were built in 1895 for William A. Whittemore, an employee of the E.B. Horn and Company, jewelry store which is still in business on Washington Street in Boston. Whittemore's house was designed by an A.B. Fisher and built by a J.R Paine. Evidence that Jones Hill was no longer a Yankee stronghold by the 1890s is evident in the influx of well- to- do Irish families who built large houses on the Hill. John H. Costello, of the Costello and Co. liquors business at 122 South Street in Boston, lived at 42 Sawyer Street built by 1898. Around 1900, William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934) , the African - American newspaper publisher and champion of civil rights for people of color purchased #97 Sawyer Avenue (further research is needed on this house's date of construction). Born in Springfield Township, Ohio and educated at Harvard (B.A. and M.A., 1896), Trotter began to publish the influential newspaper "the Guardian" as early as 1906. In 1904 he and W.E.B. Du Bois helped found the Niagara Movement, an integrated group that later became the NAACP. He also wrote biographies of white abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner and John Greenleaf Whittier. Trotter's contributions to the early years of the Civil Rights movement are substantial and the Boston Landmarks Commission designated his home a landmark in 1979.

The work of the talented builder, Sylvester Parshley is well represented on Jones Hill. He was one of three partners in the Mc Neil Brothers, one of Boston's major builders in the late 19th century. The Mc Neil firm is credited with a long list of Boston landmarks including the rebuilding of 46 Beacon Street for Eben Jordan, 199 Commonwealth Avenue (designed by Mc Kim Mead and White) as well as great houses in Newport, RI. and New York's Fifth Avenue. According to Douglas Shand Tucci, "Parshley's own chief work was the Senate Reading Room in the Library 0f Congress in Washington." #21 Cushing Avenue was built in 1900 by Sylvester Parshley for John Lyman Paine, the rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Sylvester Parshley's own home was # 17/19 Cushing A venue, constructed in 1893. Parshley's colleague in the local buildings trades, William Eadie, a carpenter about which little is known, lived at 35 Cushing Avenue during the early 1900s.

Masonry apartments in the Georgian Revival style were built at 107, 109, 111, 1l3, 115, 117, 1l9, 121, 123 Stoughton Street between 1894-1898 on the lawn of the former Thacher estate and today help to provide a defining edge to the eastern side of Jones Hill. During the first decade of the 20th century, a dramatic shift occurred in the type of housing constructed on Jones Hill. Three-deckers began to be built instead of the large one and two-family houses. Additionally a few smaller two-family houses were built on Mt. Cushing Terrace.

The next 20 years saw the construction of another 100 houses that today comprise 43% of the houses on the Hill. Of these 80% are three-deckers. Three-deckers are the predominant housing form on two streets: Rowell street which was set out in 1900 and Downer Avenue, which was established before 1875 but not developed to any great degree until after 1900.

Since the 1910s, the story of Jones Hill's evolution as a residential district has been one of increasing population density as the larger houses were carved up into apartments and the occasional infill housing was built on the remaining lots), particularly after World War II when a half dozen single -family houses were built on Sawyer and Downer Avenues.

Over the past forty years, the greatest amount of construction has been associated with St. Margaret's Hospital which started out on the Hill as an Infant Asylum in 1882. Later on in its history St. Margaret's became one of Boston's major maternity hospitals. St Margaret's complex occupies land formerly part of the Dexter Green estate. In recent years of the early 20th century St. Mary's Infant Asylum and Lying- in Hospital, from which St. Margaret's Hospital evolved, was torn down in order to protect the staff and patients from asbestos-related health problems. Today, the red brick St Margaret's buildings bordering Cushing Avenue date to the 1940s and 50s; none of the hospitals' buildings pre-date 1920.


Statement of Significance

Jones Hill

Considered eligible as hill-top enclave of commodious, well preserved Shingle, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival residences dating from c. 1870 to 1910. This area encompasses the work of architect/builder Sylvester Parshley (17/19 Cushing Avenue), Henry J. Preston (15 Cushing Avenue), and Henry Vaughan, architect of St. Mary?s Episcopal Church at 16 Cushing Avenue (1888). This area has significant historical associations with Samuel Downer, the inventor of Kerosene (house demolished but Downer Street perpetuates his name); Joseph Houghton Chadwick (20 Cushing Avenue), the ?Lead King,? of Boston?s Chadwick Lead Works; and William Monroe Trotter (97 Sawyer Avenue), early 20th century advocate for Afro-American civil rights, editor of the influential newspaper, The Guardian and co-founder, along with W.E.B. Dubois of the Niagara Movement, later the NAACP. This area satisfies criteria A and C of the National Register of Historic Places and might also be designated a Boston Landmarks district.


Bibliography and/or References

Boston and Dorchester Maps/Atlases-1794, 1830, 1850, 1874, 1884, 1894, 1898, 1910, 1918, 1933

Boston Directories: 1870-1945

Harris, Cyril M. Historic Architecture Source Book, 1977

Tucci, Douglass Shand,The Gothic Churches of Boston, 1972

Tucci, Douglass Shand, Built in Boston. City and Suburb, 1978

Sammarco, Anthony M., "The Evolution of Jones Hill", 1/11/1990

Warner. Built in Boston, City and Suburb, 1978 [possibly this entry was meant to be Sam Bass Warner?s work on Streetcar suburbs?]




Related Images: showing 8 of 10 (more results)
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 10 images.
St. Mary's Episcopal Church drawingHarley HospitalDyer HouseSamuel Downer Jr
St. Mary's Church, EpiscopalSamuel DownerLongest Wooden Stairway in Boston from Hancock Street to the top of Jones Hill6 Wilbur Street
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Created: July 18, 2005   Modified: March 14, 2012