Carruth Street / Peabody Square
The following is from the AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated May, 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]
Carruth Street and vicinity is a fairly extensive area of upscale, late 19th / early 20th century residences on the east side of Dorchester Avenue in south central Dorchester. Included within this area, for the purposes of this survey is the small commercial area known as Peabody Square, the least extensive of Dorchester’s important commercial/residential crossroads. What this crossroads lacks in quantity of historic structures, it makes up for in the high quality of its few commercial, residential, municipal and ecclesiastical buildings. Its greatest glory is the Gothic Revival All Saints Ashmont Episcopal Church al 211 Ashmont Street, an early masterpiece by Ralph Adams Cram. In addition to commercial buildings at 1911-1913 Dorchester Avenue and 569-573 Talbot Avenue, Peabody Square contains the architecturally significant Peabody Apartments at 197 Ashmont Street and the fire station at 1884 Dorchester Avenue as well as the small triangular park at the center of the square. Peabody Square Park was created by the intersection of Ashmont Street, Talbot Avenue, and Dorchester Avenue.
Although tortuous to follow, this area’s boundaries can only be described in minute detail because its significant housing does not fall neatly within the parameters set by major thoroughfares as is the case in most of the areas included within this survey. In the case of the western boundary, the MBTA Red line tracks serve to clearly define this edge of the area. The northern boundary follows the back lot lines of Ashmont Street houses as far as Bruce Street.
Al of the above-mentioned streets west of Carruth and south of Ashmont Street run into Bushnell Street which is lined by primarily Queen Anne housing with irregular forms which run the gamut from run down to well- preserved in terms of states of preservation.
43 Bushnell Street is a fine example of Queen Anne house design at its most imaginative and creative; its corner tower presides over the intersection of Rowena and Bushnell. Projecting from an L-shaped main block clad with wood shingles overlaid with a band of diamond-shaped shingles, this tower culminates in windows with diamond panes separated by colonettes and capped by a bell-shaped copper roof cap. The front porch is noteworthy for the fan shaped motifs set within a broad pediment.
Turning to the section of this area east of Carruth Street are streets such as Barrington, Fossdale and Fairfax, which are lined with housing that, occasionally approaches and sometimes surpasses the large scale, fine design and high quality craftsmanship found along Carruth Street. For example, 15 Fairfax Street, corner of Westmoreland is an enormous Shingle/Queen Anne house characterized by a complex form consisting of hip -roofed and towered segment overlooking Westmoreland and broad gable with sweeping roof line on the Fairfax Street side. It rises 3-5 stories from a high rubble stone basement and is sheathed in wood shingles. At the center of the Fairfax facade is a two-story bow which culminates in a gabled porch which is set within a broad arch. The overall effect of 15 Fairfax Street is almost overwhelming in terms of size, complexity of form and exaggerated sense of rusticity . To the east of this house, along Westmoreland Street, the housing, with one or two exceptions is fairly straightforward Queen Anne, 2-family, gable end to street housing. 15 Fairfax serves as a “gateway” structure which announces the more elaborate housing of the Carruth Street area as one heads west along Westmoreland from Adams Street.
Beaumont Street has its share of upscale, well-rendered homes with 53 Beaumont Street representing the easternmost house on this street included in the Carruth Street/Peabody Square area. Built in 1877, this cupola-topped house is one of the oldest houses in this area. This Italianate/Stick style house has been attributed to Dorchester architect and surveyor, Luther Briggs, Jr. Composed of a two- story main block and west ell, this clapboard-sheathed house exhibits a wide band of closely spaced vertical wooden elements. Its edges are accented by narrow corner boards. Still intact are original multi-panel double doors which open onto a porch with paired and chamfered posts. Its windows are ornately enframed and it is enclosed by a slate covered hip roof. Its main facade’s center dormer exhibits Gothic Revival pointed arch windows. It is topped by a square cupola. 24 Beaumont Street is another Queen Anne house of considerable style and substance that depends on highly plastic surface treatments for interest with projecting open and enclosed porches, gable- and shed- roofed projections and end wall gables. Its first floor is covered with clapboards. Its upper floors are covered with scalloped shingles. Rising from its roof are tall corbelled chimneys, again displaying a distinctive Medievalized sensibility that is so characteristic of the Queen Anne and Shingle style houses of this area. Across the street, 17 and 11 Beaumont together with the rear wall of 30 Carruth Street form a memorable streetscape. 17 Beaumont Street is a Queen Anne house of regular form with a large, spectacular, arched and paneled stained glass window with a complex gable and hipped roof configuration. Modern siding materials have compromised some of the original charm of this house. 11 Beaumont Street ranks among the finest examples of the Tudor style in Dorchester. The ground level brick walls are surmounted by a second floor and attic level covered with stucco and closely-spaced vertical and horizontal half-timbering.
The eastern and southern boundaries, however bend and jog. As one moves eastward over Carruth’s Hill toward Adams Street, the extraordinary designs and high quality craftsmanship of the western section gradually gives way to solid, middle-class housing, which, while not without merit, pales in comparison to the architectural treasures of Carruth Street and vicinity. Similarly to the south of Westmoreland and Fairfax Streets is two-family and three-decker housing of fairly average design and craftsmanship quality that does not approach the consistently high quality residences further up the hill. More specifically, the main body of this area is circumscribed by the north side of Ashmont Street from 208 to 324 (including 3 Bruce Street). This northern boundary includes houses along the cul-de-sac called Adanac Terrace. The eastern boundary of this area follows the side lot line of 345 Ashmont Street and turns westward along the back lot lines of 311 to 345 Ashmont Street, turns to run southward along the side lot line of 40 Elmer Road and jogs south easterly along the back lot lines of 21 to 7 Fossdale Street, turns east along the back lot lines of 48 and 52 Beaumont Street, continues southward along the side lot line of 53 Beaumont Street, continues eastward along the back lot lines of 49 to 37 Westmoreland Street and is continued easterly along the south side of Westmoreland Street so as to include 14 Westmoreland Street. Another possibility is confining the eastern edge of this area to Fossdale and Fairfax Streets. The southern edge of this district follows the back lot lines of Westmoreland and Fairfax Streets (including 40 Carruth Street) and then turns westward to Van Winkle Street, including numbers 63 to 83 Van Winkle and then southward to include 25 and 28 Weyanoke Street, and 11, 9 and 10, 12 Shenandoah Street. The western boundary follows the subway retaining wall along Wessex Street and the back lot lines of Bushnell Street. Adjacent to this boundary are the MBTA red line tracks and Ashmont Station.
In terms of residential architecture, house after house along most of the streets in this area are characterized by houses with unusually memorable forms and imaginative designs, many with features like overhanging gables, sweeping roof lines and diamond shaped window panes that impart a Medieval sensibility via the American Shingle Style. In some cases fabric such as stone, brick, wooden clapboards and shingles are combined in ways that speak to late 19th century architects’ understanding of how to derive maximum visual impact from the contrasting colors and textures of a variety of building and sheathing materials. The Queen Anne, Shingle and Colonial Revival styles and combinations of these popular architectural modes are all well represented within this area. Since the majority of these houses were built within the time frame of c. 1880-1910, this area will be discussed street by street rather than as representatives of progression of historic architectural styles over time.
Carruth Street is the premiere street in this neighborhood in terms of noteworthy residential architecture. Highlights of this street include the grouping of houses at 12 Lombard (corner of Carruth), 13 Carruth Street and 15 Carruth Street. 13 and 15 exhibit Medieval qualities as interpreted via the Shingle Style. These Medieval qualities are most evident in the overhanging gables, wood shingle materials and diamond shaped upper sash of 13 Carruth Street. Additionally, 13 Carruth Street features a sweeping roof line that is typical of Shingle Style residences as well as a side porch with multi-pane windows. Situated off the main entrance hall, a sun porch like this speaks to upper- middle class Americans’ discovery of a less formal way of living during the 1890’s. 13 and 15 Carruth Street are set back from each other in a way that showcases #12 Lombard Street, a substantial Queen Anne house with a main facade characterized by a recessed corner entrance porch, octagonal oriel and broad gable with two levels of overhangs. 25 and 27 Carruth Street are Queen Anne houses remarkable in their sculptural forms and confident juxtaposition of masonry and wood shingle materials.
25 Carruth Street stands with end wall gable facing Carruth Street. The Rowena Street wall features a side loggia with wood shingle clad arches. Rising from the center of this side wall is a three story tower composed of rusticated stone and Medieval half timbering with small rectangular windows exhibiting diamond panes. This towered segment is enclosed by a pyramidal roof cap. The tower and roof slates are intact and in good condition. Next door at 27 Carruth Street is a very fine example of a Queen Anne house of irregular form; the first story is distinguished by Romanesque arches on three sides of the off-center, projecting entrance pavilion. The upper floors are covered with shingles. Window treatments, in typically Queen Anne fashion vary in size, shape and sash configurations. Small multi pane upper sash are common throughout. The various components of this house are brilliantly integrated in a way that makes this house visually compelling from every conceivable angle. Intersecting gables and pyramidal roof configurations have a curious Japanese sensibility that stems in part from the jagged terra cotta edging. Chimneys are corbelled and the center chimney retains its chimney pots. 24 Carruth Street successfully blends boxy Colonial Revival form, symmetrical facades and Tuscan columned front porch with the Queen Anne tendency towards surface plasticity with a center, second floor oriel and broad pedimented dormer which projects from the hip roof. 30 Carruth Street is a major example of the Georgian Revival style. This house, with its Ionic columned front porch, flanking bow fronts, bays, oriels and deep, bracketed eaves speaks to the kind of energetic, imaginative designs employing Georgian / Federal forms and elements that were popular before practitioners of this style slavishly copied “real” 18th century Colonial homes during the first quarter of the 20th century. Douglas Shand Tucci notes that “Particularly fine is the way the commodious, swelling bays on each side of the principal facade are reflected in the curvature of the front porch, which is at one and the same time both imposing and gracious, an unusual accomplishment.” 33 Carruth Street is a Queen Anne residence noteworthy for the play of bowed forms at its northeast comer as well as at the center of its second floor’s main facade, in the form of an oriel on top of the front porch. Composed of a brick first floor, its front porch and upper floors have been compromised by the application of vinyl siding. Nevertheless, the form and brick work of this building are its great strengths, including tall, Medievalized corbelled chimneys.
Ashmont Street, at the northern end of this area, also possesses an unusually fine collection of Queen Anne, Shingle, Colonial Revival as well as Craftsman style housing. Constituting a focal point at the northern end of Carruth Street, 250 Ashmont Street is a handsome example of mansion-scale Colonial Revival housing. Its symmetrical facades retain clapboards and elements such as corner Ionic pilasters, open front porch with clustered Ionic columns, bowed wall segment above the front porch which is flanked by attenuated, free standing columns, dentillated entablature, modillion blocks and trio of dormers at the main facade. 240 Ashmont Street is one of the very few residences in this neighborhood constructed entirely of brick. This house looks to early 18th century English Georgian houses for inspiration. Its main facade’s center entrance is flanked by Ionic pilasters and surmounted by a segmental, modillion block-studded hood which enclosed delicate low relief swag and ribbon detailing. Its corners are accented by brickwork quoins, and raised brickwork courses appear at the junction of the first and second story and at the eaves. The roof is hipped and low and retains its original slate shingles. Tall corbelled chimneys appear at either end of the lateral walls. As Carruth Hill makes its eastward descent toward Adams Street, 307 Ashmont Street provides evidence that here and there in Dorchester Craftsman style homes are not always modest in scale and pedestrian in design. At 307 Ashmont Street Colonial Revival symmetry, window sash treatments and hipped roof are successfully blended with Craftsman style stucco-covered walls and exposed rafters at the roof’s eaves.
Peabody Square, at the northwestern corner of this district, is characterized by an architecturally significant cluster of commercial/residential, municipal and ecclesiastical buildings. Anchoring the southwest corner of Dorchester Avenue and Ashmont Street is 1911-1913 Dorchester Avenue. Built in 1884, this 2.5 story Queen Anne commercial/residential block has been sensitively restored in recent years. This Structure is composed of a brick first floor which is characterized by a series of arched openings. Its upper floors are covered with wood shingles. Its main (Dorchester Ave.) facade’s second floor exhibits an off center oriel. The Ashmont Street wall is treated as a wide octagonal component which culminates in a low polygonal towered segment capped by a pyramidal roof. Its main facade features an off-center gable containing a band of three small square windows; sand and pebble surface treatments cover portions of the gable. Small blackened stones set into the gable’s sandy surfaces provide the lettering for both the date of construction (“1884” ) as well as circular and swirling decorative forms. The intersecting gables’ ridges are accented by terra cotta elements.
Across Ashmont Street at #569-573 Talbot A venue stands a three-story rectangular building which features a brick commercial first floor and condominium apartments on its upper floor. Its Ashmont/Talbot/Dorchester Ave. corner is treated as an octagonal towered component with a pyramidal roof cap. Its upper floors are covered with wood shingles and its flat roof is enclosed by a low wood shingle-covered parapet. Continuing northeastward across Dorchester Avenue is the Renaissance Revival Ashmont Fire Sta1ion at 1890 Dorchester A venue. This boxy, 2-story municipal structure is constructed of yellow brick and is enclosed by a low hip roof which retains its original slate shingles. Its main facade exhibits two large garage openings with a recessed Corinthian columned loggia on the second floor. Its walls are pierced by standard size windows which are set deeply into the planar surfaces of the walls.
At the southeast corner of Peabody Square (211 Ashmont Street) stands this area’s most architecturally significant landmark: All Saints’ Ashmont Church (1891-1894). Designed by the great American Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram, All Saints’ was not an archaeologically correct rendition of the Gothic style, but an adaptation suited to modern conditions and representing his own unique approach to scale and massing. Douglass Shand Tucci in Built in Boston sheds light on why All Saints, Ashmont is such a seminal work within the annals of American architectural history. According to Tucci, “Though explicit in its reminiscence, All Saints’ is profoundly original. Inspired by English Perpendicular parish churches in its overall design and detailing, the Ashmont church also owes much to Trinity in its sense of disciplined picturesqueness. But the authority with which the great tower of All Saints leaves the ground, the dark grandeur of its tremendous volume, and the enormous, quiet majesty and striking simplicity of the whole church – all this was new in American architecture and very much at odds with ‘the gilded age.’” All Saints is composed of a thick, massive crenellated tower with a two story nave and one story flanking side aisles. It is constructed of dark gray ashlar granite and the overall sense of mass and masonry is extremely compelling, with the tower’s image verging on the totemic.
Rounding out Peabody Square’s collection of architecturally significant structures are the Peabody Apartments at 197 Ashmont Street, corner of Dorchester Avenue. This Tudoresque, U-shaped 3.5 story brick apartment building was constructed in 1896-97 from designs provided by Edwin J. Lewis. According to Douglas Shand Tucci, this structure is composed of “four connected brick three-deckers with servants’ quarters under the roof. Two of the four entrance porches to each three-decker are visible in the courtyard. The ground-story apartments of the two three-deckers whose narrow ends face Ashmont Street were designed for doctors and incorporate waiting rooms and offices, features common to both in-town and streetcar-suburb apartment houses.”
#3 Bruce Street (corner of Ashmont Street), at the extreme eastern end of this area, is a towered Queen Anne residence which retains its wood shingles and serves as a kind of “gateway” structure to the even more sophisticated, robust examples of late 19th/early 20th century residence further to the west and “up and over” Carruth’s Hill.
Considering the streets of this area west of Carruth Street, one encounters Lombard Street which is noteworthy for a collection of Queen Anne houses that echo the fine design and quality craftsmanship of Carruth Street, but in a slightly more modest fashion. For example, #7 Lombard Street, is a Queen Anne house with a highly irregular form consisting of projecting structural components like a square corner tower with finial-topped pyramidal roof cap, front porch with closely spaced slatwork railings, turned posts and a porch roof gable exhibiting a variety of shingle shapes. Gables, both clipped and regular, project from its walls. Rising from the center of this house is a steeply pitched hip roof. The majority of the housing on this street speaks to some manifestation of the Queen Anne style, while vinyl siding has made inroads on housing on the north side of this street, the south side of Lombard presents a more intact streetscape of mostly Queen Anne houses with irregular forms and heights of 2.5 stories. At the corner of Lombard and Bushnell is the former Ashmont Nursery School, designed by Edmund J. Lewis, Jr. in 1888 and later adapted for use as a church in 1892 by Harrison Atwood; still later it was transformed into a private residence. Extremely rustic in appearance, this low, one story wood shingle covered structure is essentially L-shaped in form and rises from a rubble stone basement.
Moving southward, Rowena Street and Radford Lane slope westward to Bushnell Street. The latter street “dead ends” at a pedestrian entrance to Ashmont Station. The Shingle, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival houses of Rowena Street and Radford Lane are set back facing ample lawns. 22 and 28 Radford Lane represent the two stylistic sensibilities at work on this street and for that matter in the rest of the neighborhood. 22 Radford Lane with its “skin” of dark brown shingles, deep eaves and main facade’s broad overhanging gable speaks to the Medieval design undercurrents everywhere present in this area. 28 Radford Lane, on the other hand, ranks among the finest examples of housing exhibiting the Classicsm that is the basis for Colonial Revival form and elements. Here its well proportioned boxy form is set off by attenuated Doric Columns; its clapboard walls, interrupted only by crisply rendered baseboards, string course and cornice. The center entrance consists of a pedimented porch which is supported by Tuscan columns. The multi-panel front door is flanked by sidelights with elaborate leaded tracery. Above the front porch is a diminutive oriel. This house is enclosed by a hip roof.
Continuing southward, Van Winkle Street is characterized by a more diverse collection of housing with two robust, bow-fronted three-deckers at 79 and 83 Van Winkle Streets as well as the more typical Queen Anne / Colonial Revival housing found elsewhere in the area. Queen Anne housing with both irregular and compact forms bordering the extreme western ends of Weyanoke and Shenandoah Streets are included within this area. The towered Queen Anne at 25 Weyonoke Street and Queen Anne/Shingle style houses at 28 Weyonoke, 9, 10, 11and 12 Shenandoah are representative of this housing stock.
The Carruth Street/Peabody Square area is historically significant as a prime example of a “railroad suburb” or “garden suburb.” Professor Robert Fishman describes a “railroad suburb” as “an elite neighborhood with custom-built houses, the evolution of which establishes the taste for mass ‘fringe suburbanization’ accomplished by the streetcar.” This area was developed with “custom-built” houses between 1877 and 1915 on land that businessman and community activist Herbert C. Carruth inherited from his father, Nathan Carruth, a China Trade merchant and early railroad magnate. The street system in this area was surveyed by the Dorchester architect Luther Briggs, Jr. Represented within this area is the residential work of the leading architects of this period including Edwin J. Lewis Jr., W. Whitney Lewis, Joseph Greene, John A. Fox, Willard Bacon and A. Warren Gould. Above all, All Saints’ Episcopal Church at 211 Ashmont Street (1894) represents an early, major example of ecclesiastical design by the important Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram. Additionally, Carruth’s Hill was home to a uniformly affluent yet diverse community of businessmen and artists, including 30 Carruth Street’s Arthur J. Conner of Conner & Co., Medicines and 3 Fairfax Street’s William Grueby, the important Arts and Crafts movement architectural tile artisan.
The Carruth Street/Peabody Square area during the 17th century was part of the largely uninhabited Great Lots that occupied the vast section of Dorchester south of Meeting House Hill. Pierces, Minots and Tolmans were among the few families to settle in this area of pasture, forest and marsh land and their houses were located east of Adams Street in the Neponset section. The Carruth Street/Peabody Square area remained uninhabited until the mid 19th century. Although Dorchester Avenue was set out through this area as a toll road in 1804, this transportation improvement had a negligible effect on house construction activity in this area. Made a free street in 1854, horse-drawn streetcars began to serve this thoroughfare in 1857.
In 1824, Cheever Newhall, a well-to-do boot and shoe dealer purchased an estate on the north side of what would become Ashmont Street. Each summer, until 1878, Newhall and his family cultivated apples, pears, cherries grapes and plums. In 1844, the Old Colony Railroad was set out linking Boston with Plymouth. Its route through Dorchester was too far to the east of this area to have a significant impact on its residential development, although this railroad’s President, Nathan Carruth chose to build a hill-top, Luther Briggs-designed mansion (demolished) in this area in 1847. Carruth was born in North Brookfield, MA in 1810 and made a fortune in the in the West Indies Trade during the clipper-ship era. He was an early participant in the anti-slavery movement and was an ardent Congregationalist, active in Dorchester’s Second Church.
In addition to the Carruths, the 1850 map shows a second house on Carruth’s hill — name illegible. The Carruth estate, varriously referred to by local historians as “Ashmont”, “Beechmont” and “Beaumont” encompassed a large stable and barn, two greenhouses as well as a mansion-scale residence. Carruth’s estate extended from what is now Elmer Road to Beaumont Street (respectively Carruth’s front and back drives from Adams Street) and from today’s Carruth Street almost to Adams Street. It was Herbert Shaw Carruth, the son of the better known Nathan Carruth, who developed Carruth’s Hill in the 1880s and 90s. He was born in 1855, educated at Phillips Academy, Andover, and at Amherst Agricultural College (later the University of Massachusetts). 1877 was a watershed year in Herbert’s life, establishing his own retail book store called Clark and Carruth, marrying Annie French Pope of the Pope’s of Pope’s Hill, Dorchester, and building his own home at 30 Beaumont Street. Carruth hired family friend, the architect Luther Briggs, Jr., to survey the Carruth estate for streets and houselots.
The residential architecture of this area will be discussed first, followed by a consideration of the buildings around Peabody Square. The temptation remains to discuss the houses of this neighborhood by discrete time periods of development. For the purposes of a smoothly flowing text that can be easily “mined” for information on particular houses, this area is, for the most part, discussed alphabetically by street and in the numerical order of its houses street addresses. The primary source for information on this area is Douglass Shand Tucci’s Dorchester Historical Society publication entitled “Ashmont, An Historical Guide to Peabody Square, Carruth’s Hill, and Ashmont Hill and the Architecture of Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., and John A. Fox.” Tucci notes an interesting fact that should be kept in mind when considering the development of this area this area: “He (Herbert Carruth) seems to have favored using several architects at the same time, but not mixing them up on the same blocks. Instead, he tended to group their work: Edwin Lewis on Radford, Bradford Hamilton on Randolph, Whitney Lewis on Fairfax and John Fox and Joseph Greene on Beaumont. Similarly, he settled for Allen and Kenway for mid-Carruth.”
Ashmont Street, thanks to the political influence of Nathan Carruth, was set out in 1849, a year after the town fathers had dismissed a proposal from less influential citizens for a new street extending westward from Adams to Washington Streets. In 1870 a branch of the old Colony Railroad was set out through Peabody Square. Despite the proximity of the Peabody Square railroad station to Carruth’s Hill, house construction activity in the area lagged due to the nation-wide economic depression of 1873. It was not until the early 1880s that the construction of stylish and substantial houses was underway on Ashmont Street between Peabody Square and Bruce Street; house construction that continued virtually uninterrupted until the early 1910s. Constructed of brick in 1912 by the important Dorchester architect Edwin J. Lewis, 240 Ashmont is one of the grand houses of this street. It was built as the All Saints’ Rectory. Having lived most of his life at 597 Adams Street in Ashmont, Lewis was an MIT graduate. Serving a nine year apprenticeship with Peabody and Stearns, Lewis set up his own practice in 1887 and by the early 1900s had “a distinctive style that is quickly recognizable.” 240 Ashmont Street replaced the Augustus Meisel House which as extant by 1884 and demolished to accommodate the rectory.
250 Ashmont Street was built for Eben Denton, chief officer of the Reversible Collar Company of Boston in 1893. It was designed by South Shore architect Charles Haywood. By the early 1930s, Mary E. Burgess, an employee of the Massachusetts State House lived here. 256 Ashmont Street was built c. l888 for John Estabrook of Estabrook and Sibley, teamsters at several downtown locations. By the early 1900s, George M. Reed, a State Street lawyer owned this property. In 1907 Reed was named justice of the Dorchester District Court. His widow Emma, left a small fortune to the Dorchester Historical Society. 281 Ashmont Street was built in 1892 for General George Drake, the son of the noted Boston historian Samuel Gardner Drake. George Drake enlisted in the Union army in 1861. Rising to the rank of brigadier general, Drake saw action in several historic battles, including Antietam. After the Civil War, he founded the George B. Drake Company (commission merchants), 150 Federal Street. Interestingly the course of Drake and his wife Annie’s post-war housing followed a fairly standard route for an affluent late-19th century Boston family. Starting out in the South End in the 1870s, the Drakes lived at the Back Bay ‘s Hotel Victoria during the 1880s, finally setting up house keeping at 281 Ashmont Street in 1892. This house as built by developer Charles Kittredge (see below) from designs provided by Longfellow, Alden and Harlow, a firm best known for their Carnegie Institute in Chicago and the Cambridge, MA, City Hall (1888). A nephew of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow was educated at Harvard, MIT and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He trained in the office of H.H. Richardson and was later the principal designer for his firm. During the early 20th-century he won the competition to design several train stations (all demolished) on Boston’s elevated MBTA Orange subway line.
287 Ashmont Street, marks the entrance to Rundel Park, a cul-de-sac with an off-center, irregularly shaped park currently bordered by much-altered late-19th-century houses and 1950s suburban houses. 287 Ashmont Street was built for Lovell Snow by prominent lawyer / developer Charles Kittredge. This house has been attributed by Douglass Shand Tucci to Longfellow, Alden and Harlow. It was part of Kittredge’s 1884 “Ashmont Heights” subdivision in which Rundel Park was called Arundel Park. Built in 1889 from designs provided by Edmund J. Lewis,Jr., 3 Rundel Park was the home of President John F. Kennedy’s grandmother, Mary Josephine Hannon Fitzgerald from 1937 until the mid-1960’s. She was the wife of Boston mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald who lived here until his death in 1946. This was the second home in the Ashmont section of Dorchester for Mayor Fitzgerald, his first Ashmont abode was a great Italianate/Mansard mansion at 39 Welles Avenue (demolished). President Kennedy visited his grandmother at 3 Rundel Park in 1962. During the late 19th century the south side of Ashmont Street, between Rundel Park and Bruce Street, was part of the 203,200 square foot Charles H. Dodge parcel.
Continuing eastward “up and over” Ashmont Hill is 3 Bruce Street, corner of Ashmont Street which marks the northeast corner of this area. This towered Queen Anne house was built c. l890 for Helen D. Whittemore on land that had been part of the Cheever Newhall farm. By the early 1930s a Horton M. Hayward is listed at this address.
Barrington Road, off the south side of Elmer Road, was cut through the Carruth estate between 1885 and 1889 and was originally called Arundel Street. The stately Colonial Revival residence at 18 Barrington Road was built c. 1895-97 for Florence M. and Josiah Scott, president of the New England Electrotype Company. Active for many years in the affairs of All Saints’, Scott’s years of service are commemorated by the Scott Memorial window in the church’s Lady Chapel. By the 1920s, Herbert Thorndike, president of the Webb Manufacturing Company owned this house. It was designed by “the master of the center-hall Colonial” Joseph Greene.
25 Barrington Road was built in 1891 for Boston lawyer Sumner Myrick from designs provided by Loring and Phipps.
The section of Beaumont Street, between Fairfax and Carruth Street, represents an extension of the “back” entrance driveway to the Carruth estate from Adams Street. It was extended to Carruth Street during the late 1870s as part of the Luther Briggs’ plan for this area. Situated on high ground, Beaumont Street presents one of the great streetscapes in this area. Its commodious, architecturally sophisticated residences overlook ample lawns which extend 40 feet to the street which is also 40 feet in width. Tucci notes that “from house front to house front, across setback, street, and setback, the width of Beaumont is a marvelous tree-shaded 120 feet.” Carruth had the power to require certain deed restrictions such as uniform set backs, minimum construction costs and the upkeep of both streets and sidewalks. Carruth, through his political connections, kept Beaumont Street a private way for many years. It is fair to say that Beaumont Street is bordered by some of the oldest houses in this area with several dating to the late 1870s and early 80s.
Number 10 and 16 Beaumont Street were designed by Milton architect Joseph Green. The former was built in 1895 for Frederick Wood, a Park Street jeweler, while the latter was built in 1899 for the Moseley family who traced their Dorchester ancestry back to the 17th century. The Moselys’ (see the Crescent Avenue area) purchase of 16 Beaumont signaled that “old money” was settling in Herbert Carruth’s new development. 11 and 17 Beaumont Street represent two houses by Whitney Lewis built ca. 1884. The former has the distinction of being one of the first half-timbered buildings in the country while the latter was built for Samuel Nightingale, a partner in Nightingale and Childs, railroad suppliers, of Pearl Street, Boston
Number 24 Beaumont Street was built for Smith Nichols in 1883. A graduate of Annapolis who saw duty in the South Atlantic, and in the Asiatic squadron as well as in the South Pacific, Nichols had a distinguished record during the Civil War. He served on the U.S.S. Shenandoah during the bombardment of Fort Fisher in 1865 and commanded the naval end of the successful assault on the fort. This house, as befitting the home of a Navy man, was and still is called “the Moorings”. The Nichols family lived here for almost fifty years followed by the McGills who continue to own this property. 24 Beaumont was designed by John A. Fox, a Victorian-era architect who was a gifted, imaginative designer of upscale suburban residences. Born in 1836, the son of Boston Transcript editor Thomas Fox, John Fox studied architecture under Ware and Van Brunt; after becoming an architect in 1870, Fox earned a regional practice, designing several Boston buildings as well as the Providence Opera House.
Number 30 Beaumont Street, as briefly noted earlier, was built for Herbert Carruth in 1877. In this Second Empire mansion Carruth and Luther Briggs, Jr., conceived the plans for the Carruth’s Hill subdivision. This house was a wedding gift to Carruth from his father Nathan Carruth and probably represents the work of Luther Briggs, Jr., with a library wing designed later by Whitney Lewis. During Carruth’s years in residence at 30 Beaumont (1877-1910) he was elected to the Board of Aldermen, served as president of the board and acting mayor of Boston. In 1889, he gave up his business and devoted all his time to public service and the development of his property. From 1893-1896 be served as first secretary of the permanent Metropolitan Park Commission. Together with landscape architect Charles Elliot, Carruth is credited with the creation of the Metropolitan Parks system. In 1910, Carruth backed the losing mayoral candidate, Boston’s leading Yankee banker James Storrow in an election won by Ashmont resident John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. Henceforth, Carruth’s political career went into eclipse and he retired to Amherst, Massachusetts, where he died in 1917.
Number 43 Beaumont Street was built c. l900 on land formerly owned by Samuel H.L. Pierce. It was built for a Mr. Tuttle who was a lawyer serving as a clerk of the Dorchester Municipal Court. The First Baptist church on Ashmont Street had its beginnings at a meeting held in the parlor of the Tuttle House in 1905.
Number 53 Beaumont Street ranks among the earliest houses in this area. It was built in 1877 in the Italianate/Stick style by and for Samuel H.L Pierce, a leading Boston builder. A descendant of Pierce’s who built the old Pierce House at 6 Pierce Street ca.1650. Pierce was related to S.S. Pierce the famous Boston grocer and Henry L. Pierce, the owner of Bakers Chocolate, the leading nineteenth-century benefactor of the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston’s first mayor after Dorchester’s annexation in 1870. The fact that someone of Pierce’s lineage and professional stature chose to build a house on Beaumont Street must have greatly advanced Carruth’s vision of a garden suburban development in this area.
Bushnell Street runs southward from Ashmont Street to Weyonoke Street. Set out as early as 1871, it originally ended in a cul-de-sac called Randolph Terrace, just beyond Rowena Street. Today, the c. early 1890s houses at 43, 47, 51 and 54 Bushnell Street represent the residences that bordered Randolph Terrace before it became a continuation of Bushnell Street during the early 1900s. All of these houses were designed by Bradford Hamilton, best known as the architect of Milton High School. Particularly noteworthy, from an architectural standpoint, is the towered Queen Anne at 43 Bushnell Street. It was built ca. 1890 for James L. Nesbitt, shipper. By 1898, Willis Bixby, an agent for the Boston and Albany Railroad lived here. During the early 1930s, Jason Di Stefano, barber owned this property. The back yards of the houses on the west side of Bushnell Street border Ashmont Station and the MBTA Red Line tracks. Bushnell’s houses between Rowena and Ashmont are for the most part middle class, gable front, Queen Anne residences.
Carruth Street, architecturally the premiere street in the area, was set out in 1869. Subdvisions between Carruth Street and Dorchester Avenue were set out in 1870. Carruth’s Hill, formerly Ashmont Hill, was built up between 1880 and 1900 with superbly designed Queen Anne, Shingle and Colonial Revival residences (the present Ashmont Hill on the west side of Dorchester Avenue was formerly called Welles Hill). It provides a glimpse of a late 19th century oasis of generous lawns and commodious houses with extensive verandahs. On streets such as Carruth one found the richest one percent of the population–upper middle class manufacturers, large storeowners, brokers, the top lawyers, doctors, clergy, educators and company presidents and treasurers. The architects of these show places were sophisticated practitioners of the latest trends in suburban residential design and included F.N. Reid, Joseph Green and Willard Bacon. Many of these upscale suburban estates were tended to by Italian gardeners and two or three Irish maids.
According to Douglass Shand Tucci, the first house on Carruth Street, as well as one of the oldest in this neighborhood was the Dix-Humphrey-Mitchell House of 1872-73 which stood at 41 Carruth Street and was moved to its present location at 80 Van Winkle Street where it was moved and remodeled in 1897.
Number 13 and 15 Carruth Street’s land was owned by the Newbury Five Cents Savings Bank in 1884 and by Susan H. Goodale in 1894. 13 Carruth Street was built in 1895 and has been attributed to Albert W. Cobb of Cobb and Stevens.
Originally owned by Frieda M. Bethmann, who lived here with her mother, Mrs Emilie F. Bethmann, both women’s occupations are listed as “kindergartners” in the 1890s Boston Directories. Frieda Bethmann was principal of the Thomas W. Hart Kindergarten and Emilie Bethmann was principal of the Julia Ward Howe School. Kindergarten Schools in Boston were started in 1888 and their teachers were sometimes called the first “social workers in Boston”. Kindergarten teachers, like the Bethmanns, enriched the lives of the City’s poor children. School committee reports of the kindergarten program in the 1890’s note in regard to its teachers that “children who come from homes where moral and intellectual development is almost an impossibility… are brought under the influence of highly cultivated teachers.” The Bethmanns, pioneers in their field, were said to have been admired within the school system as innovators. They lived at 13 Carruth Street for about 20 years. By 1933, Frank E.D. Talbot, manager at 99 Chauncy Street, Boston, lived here.
Number 10 and 15 Carruth Street were designed by Dorchester architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., for Susan and Thomas H. Goodale. The Goodale’s resided in the former while the latter was built as an investment property for immediate sale. Built in 1888, 10 Carruth Street represents one of Lewis’ earliest documented works. Thomas H. Goodale, Jr., was a partner in Doliber, Goodale and Co., Boston merchants and was for years the Junior Warden of All Saints’; he was a member of the committee that raised the funds to build the present church. Additionally, Goodale’s wife Susan was a leader in a number of All Saints’ organizations.
Number 15 Carruth Street was built c. 1893-94 and by 1895 was owned by George Walden, a United States Anny officer. Captain George William Boyd, a friend of the Waldens, spent his retirement at 15 Carruth Street. A native of Boston, Boyd made his fortune in Alabama as a member of the firm of L. Merchant and Company. Captain Boyd died at 15 Carruth Street in 1903, leaving a substantial fortune to All Saints’, said to have been worth two million dollars in today’s currency. By 1933, Mary R Quinn, a teacher at the Oliver Wendell Holmes School lived here.
Number 16 Carruth street was built in 1896 by William Eafie from designs provided by Frederick N. Reed, a little known Boston architect and some-time Ashmont resident who lived at 75 Ocean Street. The original owner of this house was Charles S. Kendall, Jr., vice president of Rice, Kendall and Company on Federal Street in the Boston. Kendall grew up in his father’s house at 261 Newbury Street in the Back Bay.
Attributed to John A. Fox by Douglas Shand Tucci, 19 Carruth Street was built ca. 1886-87 for John and Mary Phillips. During the 1890s, it was owned by Charlotte H. Redfern. Early 20th-century owners included John Shapleigh, head of Cedar Grove Cemetery and Frederick Burleigh, a real estate agent active in the sale of Carruth’s Hill’s houses and for many years active as a lay leader at All Saints’.
Built in 1885, 21 Carruth Street is the oldest house now standing on the street. Designed by C.S. Clark, its original owner was Joseph Swan, an official of the City of Boston water board.
Number 22 Carruth Street was designed in 1895 for Frederick Mills, president of Mills and Company, investment bankers based on Congress Street. Its architect was Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. By the early 1930s, this house was owned by Thomas L. Ormsby of the T.L. Ormsby & Son Co., roofers, based in South Boston.
Number 24 Carruth Street was built on part of a two-lot tract owned by Ellen and Emma Carruth in 1884. Built in 1890, it was originally owned by Elizabeth A. and Greenleaf C. George. Born in 1826, George was a Newburyport native and blacksmith’s son. Mr. George entered the Eliot Insurance Company as a clerk in 1861 and rose to become its president in 1890. According to Douglass Shand Tucci, “the architect of this stately mansion was Frank L. Smith, who specialized in low-cost suburban housing.”
By the real estate prices of the 1890’s, the $8,000.00 purchase price of 24 Carruth was anything but low. This house’s design was published in the October, 1889, issue of Homes of Today. By 1933 it was owned by George J. O’Brien, president and treasurer of George O’Brien & Sons, grocers. O’Brien started in this business as a clerk when this store was owned by Frederick P. Jacques, the second owner of 30 Carruth Street.
Number 25 Carruth Street was built in 1888 for George G. Quincy, of Willard and Quincy, a Boston “fancy goods” store. Designed by Allen and Kenway, this firm’s work was called by Bainbridge Bunting in the Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, “the most consistent exponent of the Romanesque tradition in the Back Bay.” Allen and Kenway’s penchant for Syrian arches, a hallmark of The Richardsonian Romanesque style is apparent at 25 Carruth Street. During the early 20th century, this house was owned by G. Phillip Wardner who was a Harvard College graduate, State Street lawyer and teacher at the Boston University Law School. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Additionally, Wardner was president of the Ashmont Improvement Association and was the highest lay officer of All Saints’. The Wardners are said to have decorated 25 Carruth Street in a splendid manner with furnishings by A.H. Davenport. By 1933, Harold R. Bonoghue lived here.
Number 26 Carruth Street was built in 1894 for Frank Percival, a Boston investment manager whose family resided here for nearly half-a-century. This house represents the work of Willard M. Bacon who studied architecture in the office of Sturgis and Brigham and lived in Winthrop, MA, from 1887 until his death in 1947. He was responsible for all of Winthrop’s Municipal buildings including its Italian Renaissance Revival library (1898), Winthrop Center Fire Station (1898) and Winthrop Town Hall (1928). Bacon is said to have been a prolific designer of suburban residences in Jamaica Plain and Allston as well as Winthrop.
Number 27 Carruth Street’s land was part of the multi-lot tract owned by Robert Murray during the 1880s. Built between 1885 and 1888, its first owners were Sarah J. and Robert A. Barnet of Bates and Barnet, merchandise brokers of Central Wharf, Boston. In addition to being a businessman Barnet was also a talented composer and playwright. His work was much admired in the turn-of-the-century Boston theatre world. Like so many other Carruth’s Hill homeowners, Barnet was active in the affairs of All Saints’, serving on the finance committee for the erection of the present church. The second owners were Thomas and Mary Houghton who abandoned the deteriorating South End for the “garden suburb” charms of Carruth Street. By the 1930s, this house’s occupants included William A. Boudrot, mailing department employee and Mrs. Spencer Marie Houghton, vocal teacher. The Boudrots had the distinction of being the first Roman Catholic family to live on upper Carruth Street.
One of the great glories of Carruth Street in terms of sophisticated Colonial Revival design is 30 Carruth Street. In 1884, this house’s land was owned by the heirs of Nathan Carruth. By 1894, its lot was owned by Frank D. Fairbanks. Built in 1896 by W.J. Hatch from designs provided by Joseph Greene, its first owner was Arthur J. Conner of Conner and Company, Medicines, 24 India Wharf. It was completed at a cost of $10,000.00. During the early 20th century it was owned by Fred P. Jacques, owner of the Ashmont Market. By 1933, it was the residence of Robert H. Swan, accountant.
Number 33 Carruth Street was built in 1887 from designs provided by George Young. It was built for prosperous Boston businessman G.L.T. Stedman of Stedman and Kellog on Congress Street. During the Depression-era it was owned by Susan R. Hess, widow of Frederick Hess.
Number 34 Carruth Street was built ca. 1885 for banker and broker John B. Stowell. During the early 20th century it was owned by Joseph Rankin, treasurer of the International Leather Company. This house’s architect has not yet been identified.
The much-altered Fleming House at 39 Carruth Street was designed by A. Warren Gould in 1893. A Boston architect, Gould was responsible for the design of the Dorchester Woman’s Club at 40 Centre Street (1892) in the Codman Square area. Later on in the 1890s, he settled in the Pacific Northwest and is said to have been the first architect in the United States to extensively use reinforced concrete.
Number 41 Carruth Street, as noted earlier was the site of the Dix-Humphrey-Mitchell House of 1872-1873. The current house was built after the first house was moved to 80 Van Winkle Street in 1897. 41 Carruth Street was built the following year from designs provided by B.A. Black. Its original owner, Alexander Stromache, followed the well- fom path from residing in the South End to relocating in Ashmont. He was the superintendent of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Fairfax Street is one of Carruth’s Hill’s streets that benefited directly from the planning involvement and aesthetic sensibilities of Herbert Carruth. This street is said to have been named by Carruth for the George Washington-associated Fairfax family of Virginia. Fairfax Street was originally composed of two segments. The first “leg” of this Street extended only as far as 9 Fairfax Street and then turned northward one short block, terminating at Beaumont Street. During the 1930s, Westmoreland Street was cut through from Adams Street directly connecting with Fairfax Street. Carruth’s original intention for Fairfax was evidently to create a “near cul-de-sac” with a distinct “British village-like” sensibility. Douglas Shand Tucci compares Fairfax Street to Bedford Park in England, which he calls an apparition of a little red town made up of the quaintest Queen Anne houses.” Indeed, Fairfax Street is lined with Queen Anne brick and wooden houses designed by British-born architect W. Whitney Lewis. Trained at M.I.T. and the Boston office of Cummings and Sears in the 1870s, Lewis set up his own practice in 1875. Although he developed a national following, Lewis, according to Richard Herndon in Boston of Today is best known for his “elaborate houses in Boston, Lowell, Long Beach, Philadelphia and Manchester-by-the-Sea.” According to Douglass Shand Tucci, Lewis designed no less than twenty-three houses Back Bay houses, including nine on Commonwealth Avenue.
It should also be noted that at the end of Fairfax Street’s first segment was a path that led through a wooded area to the Fairfax Club Stables (demolished). Designed by W. Whitney Lewis, the carriage entrance opened onto Minot Street. These stables represented Carruth’s then-radical solution to keep this practical, but odiferous necessity of suburban living out of the range of upscale housing. Also situated in the stable’s area were green houses which supplied the lawns of Carruth ‘s development with exotic flowers and palms that appear in photographs of these properties in the 1890s.
Number 1 Fairfax Street is one of several houses on this street designed by W. Whitney Lewis. It was built for Mabel K. and Frank Fairbanks of Collins and Fairbanks, Boston hatters. During the early 20th century, this house was owned by C.O.L Dillaway, president of the Mechanics Trust Company of Boston. By the early 1930s, Frederick M. Drisko, “coml trav.” owned this house.
Built ca. 1887, 3 Fairfax Street, the William Grueby House was built as an investment property for Herbert Carruth who retained ownership of this house until the late 1890s. This house was the residence of William Grueby, a dominant figure in the history of the American Arts and Crafts movement and a designer of international stature. Especially well known for his architectural tile work, examples of his work are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Grueby lived here from the late 1890s until he sold it to George W. Boland, lawyer, during the mid 1920s. Within 3 Fairfax, Grueby tiles are said to cover a bathroom floor, while a border of his famous matte green glazed tiles are reported to encircle a copper bath tub. Grueby tiles were also utilized as the pavement for the Lady chapel at All Saints’ Ashmont Church.
Number 4 Fairfax Street is another W. Whitney-Lewis-designed house which was built in 1889. Its first owner was Charles Hight Conant, vice president of Curtis, Hatch and Conant, State Street insurance brokers.
Number 5 Fairfax Street was built ca. late 1880s for Emelyn W. and Frederick Pope, Boston jeweler. Together with 26 Carruth Street, this is the only example of Willard M Bacon’s work on Carruth’s Hill. The Pope’s owned this property for over forty years; a fairly typical ownership time-frame by one family, reflecting the stability of the area over time.
Number 6 Fairfax Street dates to ca. 1885 and may represent a W. Whitney Lewis design. Its original owner was B. F. Lamb of the State Street-based B.F. Lamb Lumber Company.
Number 7 Fairfax Street was built ca. late 1880’s for Lizzie M. and H. Dana Hutchinson of the William and Stearns Co., Boston. By the early 1930s, the Hutchinson’s are listed as living at Portage Lake, Maine, in addition to living at this address.
Number 13 Fairfax Street, the Shingle Style residence described by Tucci as “this mountainous house” marks the southeastern corner of this area. Looming over the intersection of Fairfax, Westmoreland and “Little Fairfax Street,” this house was also designed by W. Whitney Lewis. Built in 1888, its original owner was George Andrew of Andrew and Sons, Boston wood engravers. By 1894, this house was owned by Anna and August C. Davies, a well known Boston clothier. By the early 1930s, John W. Donahue, mariner, lived here.
Lombard Street was originally part of Bushnell Street. It was built up with residences that although almost as ornate as those of Carruth, Beaumont and Fairfax were of a smaller scale. Built in 1888 as a kind of clubhouse for the residents of Ashmont, 1 Lombard Street’s design has been attributed to Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. Known as Ashmont Hall this bungalow-type building housed “elegant social evenings,” children’s dancing classes, a neighborhood kindergarten and a private school program. Beginning c. 1894, it was utilized as the Ashmont Universalist Church (further research is needed to determine when it became a private residence). 7 Lombard Street was built in 1886 for Abraham T. Smith, teacher at the Hugh O’Brien School. He lived here until at least 1933. 12 Lombard Street was built ca. early 1890s for businessman Abijah Woodward. By the early 1930s, Edward P. Comins, accountant, owned this property.
Bui1t ca. 1885-93, 11 Shenandoah Street illustrates the geographic extent of Herbert S. Carruth’s investment properties. Carruth’s houses were not all concentrated along Carruth, Beaumont and Fairfax Streets but extended into the southwestern corner of this area. In 1884, its lot was part of a 220,000 square foot tract owned by Mozart A. King, late 19th century King Square, Dorchester, stable owner. This tract was bounded by Weyanoke, Wessex, both sides of Shenandoah and Carruth Streets. During the 1880s, the only structure on this tract was a small wooden building adjacent to Carruth Street labeled “ice house”. The 1894 Atlas shows a small park with an X -shaped path configuration at the center of this tract, extending between Weyanoke and Shenadoah. Unfortunately, this park was later built-up with modern houses and represents another alteration to Carruth’s original plan. By 1894, Herbert S. Carruth owned 11 Shenandoah Street. Charles J. Taylor owned this property in 1898. By the early 1930s, Joseph E. O’Brien, bookkeeper owned this house.
Having considered the residential development of the western slope of Carruth’s Hill, it is time to turn to the history of the adjacent Peabody Square. Peabody Square is the intersection of Dorchester Avenue, Talbot Avenue and Ashmont Street. It was laid out and named by the Boston City Council on November 20, 1893 in honor of Colonel Oliver W. Peabody, a founder in the investment firm of Kidder, Peabody and Company and a major benefactor of All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Over time it became the village center for the residential developments on Carruth’s Hill and Ashmont or Welles Hill as it was called in the 19th century. In addition to commuter rail road stations dating from 1870-1894 and 1894-1928 (both demolished), the nucleus of the square consisted of a market, hotel, hall and stable.
The oldest building at Peabody Square is the O’Brien’s Market Building at 1913-1911 Dorchester Avenue. Built in 1884, it originally housed the provisions dealership of Messrs. Jacques and Griffin. The original proprietors lived above their market in two 4-room suites. Jacques later moved to 30 Carruth Street. George Brien started out as a clerk in this store in 1895, later succeeding to the ownership of this business. This red brick and clapboard Queen Anne building was designed by the noted Boston architect W. Whitney Lewis. Douglas Shand Tucci notes that O’Brien’s Market is “worthy of comparison with the better-known S.S. Pierce block at Coolidge Corner in Brookline, Greater Boston’s other splendid late 19th century market building.”
Situated on Peabody Square, at the northwest comer of Dorchester Avenue and Ashmont Street is a condominium complex comprised of the Hotel Argyle, the Ashmont Block and a stable in between. The Hotel Argyle at 4 Ashmont Street and 569-573 Talbot Avenue was built in 1888-1892. Attributed to W. Whitney Lewis, the Hotel Argyle, this apartment hotel was erected by prominent Boston lawyer and Ashmont resident Charles Kittredge.
During the 1890s, the commercial first floor of the Hotel Argyle contained Greene’s Pharmacy, Miss C.E. Weymouth Dry and Fancy Goods, the consulting rooms of C. Herman Miller, M.D. and the office of real estate and insurance agent Frederick Burleigh. For many years, the pharmicist, W.F. Greene and Dr. Miller, lived in the Argyle’s apartments.
The Argyle also had a red brick stable adjoining and behind this apartment hotel that was remodeled into a car barn n 1910 by the Boston architects Gay and Proctor.
The Ashmont Block at 164 Ashmont Street which is part of the present condominium complex was designed by a local architect, H.M. Wallis. This building originally contained club rooms and a large second floor hall that was the meeting place of groups such as the Dorchester United Improvement Council and the Ladies Social Club of Ashmont. Still extant from this building’s club house years is a wide oak interior staircase.
The Ashmont Fire Station at 1890 Dorchester Avenue, an important landmark on the east side of Peabody Square, was built in 1895 from designs provided by Edmund Marsh Wheelwright. He was the architect of such buildings as the Boston Opera House, Horticultural Hall, the Longfellow Bridge and the Harvard Lampoon building. In Cambridge. Prior to its construction, its land had been part of the Augustus Meisel house lot. By the early 1930s it was called Fire Engine 46.
On the south side of Peabody Square is All Saints’ Episcopal Church (1891-94) at 211 Ashmont Street. All Saints’ began in 1867 on Dorchester Avenue at Dorchester Lower Mills. In 1871, a larger wooden structure was built on Dorchester A venue opposite Bailey Street, just south of Peabody Square. In 1879, a chance visit to this chapel by the wealthy Mary and Colonel Oliver Peabody marked the beginning of their extraordinary patronage of All Saints’. After exemplary service in the Union Army during the Civil War, Colonel Peabody (1834-1896) became one of the leading investment bankers in the United States. A founder of Kidder Peabody, a major American investment bank in 1865, Colonel Peabody married Mary Lothrop, daughter of Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, Boston’s leading Unitarian minister.
Devastated by the death of their only child, Amelia, in 1866, the Peabodys found in the Reverend George Bennit of All Saints’ someone who had suffered a loss similar to their own. The Peabodys helped the church become debt free with a gift of $20,000 in 1893 and financed a significant percentage of the construction costs of the magnificent stone All Saints’ Episcopal Church when it was built in 1891-94. Mary Peabody later bequeathed a fortune to the church estimated at five million dollars in today’s money. All Saints’ became the ideal centerpiece not only for Peabody Square but for the nearby English village-like residential quarters of Carruth’s Hill and Ashmont Hill as well.
All Saints’ was the first church designed by America’s preeminent church architect Ralph Adams Cram, and by his then partner, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, a nationally important architect in his own right. Douglass Shand Tucci notes that “Cram’s work nurtured a school of architects and artist collaborators, often called the Boston Gothicists, work now seen increasingly by scholars as marking the more traditional end of the spectrum of the Arts and Crafts movement of that era.” By the late 1890s the design of All Saints’ was attracting attention throughout the country and after 1900 even abroad. Tucci has declared All Saints’ comparable to Pugin’s House of Lords in London as a Gothic Revival landmark and has pronounced its chancel “one of the finest Gothic Revival interiors in the world.” All Saints’ remains a leading center of the conservative High Church tradition in America and is historically one of only two parishes of this persuasion in the distinctly Low Church Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts.
Ralph Adams Cram, newspaper art critic, essayist, lecturer, although disdained by proponents of Classicism espoused by the Ecole des Beaux Arts, nevertheless, had a profound impact on the architecture of the first half of the 20th century. Cram and Goodhue’s reputation was greatly elevated by their winning the competition to design the American Military Academy at West Point in 1903. After All Saints’, Cram went on to design well over fifty churches and numerous collegiate buildings and in some instances the design of whole campuses. His designs may be seen at Princeton, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Rollins College and Rice University. He was also a scholar in Japanese art and a member of the visiting committee of the Japanese collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Also on the south side of Peabody Square at 197 Ashmont Street is The Peabody. Built in 1896-97 from designs provided by Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., this apartment consists of four connected brick three-deckers with servants’ quarters under the roof. This apartment building was originally owned by Colonel Oliver Peabody, the great benefactor of All Saints’. The Peabody has the unique distinction of being the prototype for the Tudor apartment building with recessed court yard that was popular during the first two decades of the 20th-century. The first floor was designed to accommodate doctors offices. Dr. Miller, for example, a tenant of the Hotel Argyle across the street, moved into The Peabody in 1899. By 1933, The Peabody contained the offices of Joseph H. Kelly, physician as well as three dentists: Drs. William F. Donahue, Robert M. Miller and Benjamin P. Claffey. Each apartment had a working fireplace and fine woodwork. The Peabody’s architect, Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., was M.I.T.-educated and started out in the office of Peabody and Stearns. Lewis’ important work within the Commonwealth includes The Dearborn School, Roxbury, The Danielson Library in Brimfield, the Dedham Historical Society and All Souls’, Braintree. Lewis was also responsible for several substantial suburban houses on Ashmont and Carruth’s Hills. He eventually acquired a national following, designing upwards of thirty five churches.
Finally, Peabody Park, the triangular green space in the center of Peabody Square, was a gift from Colonel Oliver Peabody to the City of Boston in 1893. In 1911, the City of Boston, endowed Peabody Park with a Howard Clock designed by the well known architect William D. Austin and made by the E. Howard Clock Company. Originally. this open green was graced by a large granite horse trough.
In 1928, the railroad stopped running through Peabody Square and the present MBTA Ashmont Red Line was erected on the site of the 1870 and 1894 stations. The 1894 Ashmont Railway Station is said to have been built from H.H. Richardson’s designs (although Richardson died in 1886 a number of his works were brought to fruition by his successor firm, Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Coolidge). The Red Line is an electrification of the historic Old Colony Railroad line. In 1946, “The Englewood”, a late Art Deco diner constructed in 1938 was moved to the north side of Peabody Square from parts unknown, enlivening this architecturally undistinguished edge of the Square. This diner disappeared in the 1980s to make way for the modern red brick Englewood Apartments.
Statement of Significance
Carruth Street/Peabody Square
Considered eligible as architecturally / historically significant residential district with buildings dating from c. 1875 to 1915. Much of this area was carved from the estate of mid 19th century Old colony Railroad president Nathan Carruth. Covering the western slope of Carruth’s Hill, this area was developed as an upscale “rail road suburb” during the late 19th century by Nathan’s son Herbert S. Carruth, a Metropolitan Parks Commissioner. This neighborhood is a showcase for the work of the leading Boston architects of the period, including Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., (22 Carruth Street), W. Whitney Lewis (4 and 6 Fairfax Street), A. Warren Gould (39 Carruth Street), Joseph Green (10 and 16 Beaumont Street) and others. Additionally, William Grueby, a dominant figure in the hsitory of the American Arts and Carfts movement lived at 3 Fairfax Street during the 1890s. The architectural masterpiece of this area is Ralph Adams Cram’s Gothic Revival All Saints’ Church, an Episcopal church at 211 Ashmont Street built during the mid 1890s from designs provided by Ralph Adams Cram. In addition to the church, this area includes the small node of architecturally distinguished buildings at Peabody Square including O’Brien’s Market (1884), the Queen Anne commercial block gem at 1911-1913 Dorchester Avenue, the Edward Marsh Wheelwright-designed Ashmont Fire Station (1890) at 1890 Dorchester Avenue and the Edwin J. Lewis, Jr.-designed Peabody Apartments (1896-97) at 197 Ashmont Street. 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
Maps/Atlases-1830, 1850, 1874, 1884, 1894, 1898, 1910, 1918 and 1933
Boston Business Directories-1874-1945
Tucci, Douglass Shand, The Gothic Churches of Dorchester
Tucci, Douglass Shand, Built in Boston, City and Suburb, 1978
Tucci, Douglass Shand, Ashmont, An Historical Guide to Peabody Square, Carruth’s Hill and Ashmont Hill and the Architecture of Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., and John A. Fox, The Dorchester Historical Society
Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, “Celebration: Peabody Square is 100 Years Old”; 11/19/93
“The Peabody: Historic landmark, DCN’s home”, 6/14/1991, Dorch. Comm. News