The Columbia Road—Bellevue Street Historic District is located in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, just south of the commercial hub of Upham’s Corner at the intersection of Columbia Road and Dudley Street. The district extends just over 1,200 feet along Columbia Road from Wheelock Avenue at the northern end of the district to slightly south of its intersection with Bodwell Street at the southern end of the district. The district’s main street, Columbia Road, is a major thoroughfare that runs north-east through Dorchester from Franklin Park to the Dorchester Bay. This highly traveled road accommodates four lanes of traffic and street parking, and is divided by a concrete median. The district is composed of 28 residential buildings, one carriage house, four garages, and one commercial building constructed between 1840 and 1928. All are contributing to the district. While the district contains two buildings that date from them id 19th century, the vast majority of buildings with in the district were constructed between 1894 and 1914, with a second wave of development occurring in the mid-to-late 1920s. All but four of the buildings in the district reflect the Colonial Revival architectural style popular during the district’s most represented period of development. Characteristic features found throughout the district include bowed and symmetrical facades with accentuated entrances and classical detailing, including columns, entablatures, keystone lintels, and elaborate cornices.
On the east side of Columbia Road, the majority of the buildings in the district are three- and four-story red-brick apartment buildings, ranging in size from three to sixteen units; these buildings were constructed between 1906 and 1914. Predating these buildings, a cluster of three- and 3%-story frame three- and six-un it apartment houses constructed between 1899 and 1901 comprise the northern end of the district The one exception to this division is a four-story brick apartment building located at the northern tip of the district that was built concurrently with the apartment buildings further south. Four of the buildings on this side of Columbia Road are paired buildings with shared party walls and separate entrances. Despite the variety of materials and scale of the buildings and parcel sizes, the eastern side of Columbia Road is relatively cohesive in appearance with like buildings clustered together, creating groups of uniform cornice lines and architectural details, and reflecting the concurrent development of adjacent properties. The buildings on the eastern side of Columbia Road are built close together and have uniform setbacks from the street, and wide sidewalk frontage.
By contrast, within the district the buildings on the west side of Columbia Road represent a more lengthy and varied period of development resulting in a less cohesive street frontage. Lot sizes vary, as do the building types and architectural styles represented. While setbacks are generally consistent, the buildings are set further back from the sidewalk than their counterparts on the eastern side of the road. The oldest buildings in the district, two Greek Revival houses built as single-family residences on large lots ca. 1840, are located at the northern end of the district on the west side of Columbia Road. A bungalow was constructed between these older dwellings when the properties were subdivided. Evidence of the original large lot size of this early development remains in the parking lot adjacent to 478 Columbia Road. Moving south on the western side of Columbia Road, the development consists of a mix of large, red- and buff-colored brick apartment buildings of three to five stories constructed in the 1920s, three-story frame triple deckers constructed in 1909, single-family frame houses constructed ca. 1894, and a single-family Queen Anne house and carriage barn that date to the turn of the 20′1 century at the southern end of the district. A portion of the district on this side of Columbia Road between 460 Columbia Road and Glendale Street is discontiguous due to demolition and new construction.
Most buildings in the district have undergone some alteration. Most original window sash and original doors have been replaced, many of the frame houses are clad in synthetic siding, fire escapes and satellite dishes are affixed to some exteriors, storefront openings of the single commercial building have been reorganized with original glazed openings filled with brick, and the two oldest houses have received multiple small additions over time. This stretch of Columbia Road also suffered from demolition in the block between Sayward and Glendale streets, an area that is excluded from the district. Despite these alterations, the district as a whole con veys historic integrity in location, design, setting, materials, and workmanship. Most of the buildings retain character-defining features, such as Colonial Revival porches and corn ices on some of the frame single-family and mu lti-un it houses, decorative cast-stone and brickwork and elaborate metal cornices on the apartment buildings, and the retention of Greek Revival and Queen Anne massing and details of the district’s oldest buildings, including the highly intact, single-family house and carriage barn at 410 Columbia Road.
The Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District is located in Dorchester, Boston’s largest and one of its most diverse neighborhoods. Dorchester lies south of the city’s downtown and is bordered by South Boston to the north and Roxbury and Mattapan to the west; the Neponset River and Boston Harbor form its southern and eastern boundaries. Dorchester encompasses approximately six square miles and contains many smaller villages within its large boundaries. Its diverse population includes both long-time residents and more recent immigrants from Ireland, Vietnam, and Cape Verde. The Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District is located in northern Dorchester, just south of Upham’s Corner. A residential and commercial center that radiates from the intersection of Columbia Road and Dudley/Stoughton Street, Upham’s Corner features historic resources dating from the earliest settlement of Dorchester in the 1630s, but is characterized predominately by late 19′h and early 20′h century commercial and residential development.
The stretch of Columbia Road between Franklin Park and Upham’s Corner features a variety of building types that reflect a continuous development of a long-serving local road. These building types include single- and multifamily frame houses, frame and brick apartment houses, and one-story commercial buildings, as well as new construction. While some vestiges of mid 19′h-century development remain, the majority of buildings date from the late 19th century through the first quarter of the 20h century. The Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District is the northernmost of three proposed National Register historic districts that represent development along Columbia Road during this period. The pending Columbia Road-Devon Street Historic District lies about a half-mile south of the district, and the pending Columbia Road-Strathcona Road Historic District lies under three-quarters of a mile south of the district. The three areas are separated from one another due to swaths of demolition and new construction that interrupts the historic fabric. The Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District largely represents multifamily residential development along Columbia Road in the first quarter of the 20′h century, with vestiges of earlier suburban development. The district features several recently planted street trees along Columbia Road, as well as street planters along the median. A few flowerbeds and more mature plantings around the district’s oldest buildings add to the vegetation. As Columbia Road continues north out of the district towards Upham’s Corner, it transitions from predominantly residential to civic and commercial buildings, featuring banks, a theater, and commercial buildings ranging in height from one to four stories. Street planters continue along the median but street trees are sparse leading into Uph am’s Corner. Immediately south of the district, Columbia Road is largely characterized by new construction, parking lots, and one-story commercial buildings. Side streets extending east and west from Columbia Road are predominantly residential, characterized by a combination of single and multifamily frame houses and three deckers.
Individual Resource Descriptions
G. L. Davidson Apartments: 6-8 Bellevue Street (BOST 6501, Photo 2)
This twelve-unit brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1906 and is one of four apartment buildings with paired entrances in the district. (See also The Elmhurst and Glenwood: 475-477 Columbia Road [BOS.16511, Photo 11] Dorchester Associates Apartments: 487-489
Columbia Road [BOS.16779, Photo 13] and Dorchester Associates Apartments: 493-495 Columbia Road [BOS.16780, Photo 14]). The neighboring building, Hotel Bellevue: 435 Columbia Road (805.16502, Photo 3), was developed by the same owner. With separate entrances and a party wall, each half contains six units. The building rises three stories over a raised basement to a flat roof, and faces west onto Bellevue Street. The basement and first floor of the street elevation are clad in rock-faced masonry, while the upper floors are clad in red brick, with rock-faced splayed stone lintels with keystones ornamenting the windows. A grey-brick band, and a simple metal cornice cap the facade. The symmetrical facade is organized into four bays, comprised of bowed end bays flanking two flat-front central bays. The central bays contain separate entrances on the first floor, and two paired windows on the upper floors. The paired central entrances are reached by a flight of concrete steps divided by stone piers; they are flanked by engaged stone columns supporting round arches with accentuated keystones. Each of these entries features an oval cutout in the rock-faced facade. Decorative metal balconies adorn the second- and third-story windows in the central bays. The bowed end bays contain two regularly spaced windows on each floor. Bowed bays also en liven the side elevations. The historic floor plan remains intact with each entrance leading directly to a single-loaded corridor that accesses each unit. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1972, when the building underwent a substantial renovation. The building was rehabilitated once again in 2016, using historic tax credits. The rehabilitation addressed deferred maintenance and included repointing and repair of brick, repair of concrete stairs, slabs, and curbs, and the replacement of non-historic doors with metal-and-glass doors, as well as the replacement of non-historic windows with 1/1 metal sash. Interior rehabilitation included repair of existing drywall, replacement of rotted wood, repair and replacement of flooring, and installation of kitchen and bathroom fixtures in the residential units. All work met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Mary I. Abercrombie House: 410 Columbia Road (805.16793, Photo 30)
This 2E-story, wood-frame, single-family frame house faces east onto Columbia Road and was constructed between 1898 and 1904, located on the southeast corner of Columbia Road and Bodwell Street. It is the only building in the district representing the Queen Anne style of architecture, which was typically irregular, eclectic, and textured—quite different from the symmetrical, smooth regularity of the Colonial Revival buildings in the district. The house is in need of repair, but is highly intact. The building rests on a stone foundation and is clad in wood shingles with an asphalt shingle roof. Characteristic features of the Queen Anne style represented in this house include a cross-gable roofline with a steeply pitched and dominant front-facing gable, textured wood shingles in the gables and between the first and second floors on the side elevations, bay windows on the Columbia Road and Bodwell Street elevations, and a shed-roofed open front porch that runs the full width of the house, and features turned support columns, corner brackets adorned with knoblike beads, and an asymmetrically placed gabled entry. Decorative brackets also appear beneath the overhanging front gable and beneath the covered secondary entry on the southern elevation. Windows are paired on the Columbia Road elevation and single on the side elevations, and are trimmed with wood. Most windows appear to hold 1/1 metal sash.
Mary I. Abercrombie Carriage House: 410 Columbia Road (8OS.16794, Photo 31)
This 1E-story Queen Anne carriage house is a rare feature of the district. It may predate the house as an outbuilding in this location, appearing on the 1894 Bromley Atlas, while the current house appears between 1898 and 1904. The building is in disrepair but is highly intact and, together with its accompanying highly intact Queen Anne house, presents a rare glimpse of late 191Ecentury development on this stretch of Columbia Road. The structure is set back from Columbia Road at the southwestern
corner of the lot. It features a front-facing gabled roof with a gable-roof cupola centered on the roof ridgeline. Decorative, scalloped wood shingles adorn the gable of the building, while the lower story is clad in clapboards. The building has a large centered entry flanked by narrow window openings that have been boarded up. The wooden doors are in disrepair. A slightly smaller opening above the front door at the loft level holds wooden doors that appear to be original. The loft level also holds flanking narrow windows that have been boarded up.
Priscilla Court: 414-418 Columbia Road (605.16792, Photo 29)
This 32-un it, three-story, red-brick apartment building was constructed in 1928 in the Colonial Revival style, and is located on th e northeast corner of Columbia Road and Bodwell Street. The building faces east onto Columbia Road. It is one of three buildings in the district constructed in a courtyard plan (See also the Columbia Manor: 466-468 Columbia Road [605.16509, Photo 22] and The Pilgrim: 481-485 Columbia Road [6OS.16512, Photo 12]), though Priscilla Court is H-shaped rather than U-shaped. The building rests on a concrete foundation, and is constructed of red brick and cast stone, and rises three stories over a raised basement to a flat roof. Cast-stone details high light floor levels, fenestration, entrances, rooflines, and bays. The building presents two blocks of three bays each to Columbia Road, with a recessed courtyard elevation that is also three bays wide. The street elevations feature a cast-stone watertable, quoin in g on the corners and marking the inner bays, sills, first-floor lintels, second-floor lintel keystones, cornice, and frieze panels. The innermost bays contain tr ipartite windows on all floor levels, the middle bays contain single windows, and the outer bays hold paired windows. The recessed courtyard facade facing Columbia Road is virtually identical to the street elevations, except that paired windows flank single windows in the center bay. Metal balconies adorn the second and third floors of th is courtyard elevation, and a cast-stone diamond and squares frame a brick panel below the cornice. Two entrances allow access to each side of the building on the interior courtyard elevations. Each entrance is marked by an elaborate cast-stone surround. The Bodwell Street elevation extends seven bays east. The cast-stone details on the Columbia Road elevation continue on this elevation. The basement level is scored to resemble stone. A four-bay recessed secondary facade holds a secondary entrance to the building. Cast-stone details continue onto this elevation as well. This building was substantially renovated in 1968, and again in 1998. All windows and doors have been replaced. All windows hold 1/1 metal sash.
The Alpine: 422-424 Columbia Road (605.16791, Photo 28)
This 35-unit, five-story, buff-colored brick and stone apartment building was constructed in 1928 in the Colonial Revival style, and faces east onto Columbia Road. The property was developed by a single owner concurrently with its southern neighbor, though the buildings were designed by different architects. The Alpine is one of just two apartment buildings constructed of the light buff-colored brick that Colonial Revival architects favored for its suggestion of the light-colored classical buildings they were emulating (see also Joseph Klein Apartments: 471 Columbia Road [6OS.16510, Photo 10]). This apartment building goes a step further towards suggesting classical stone buildings, by incorporating cast stone on the first two stories and polychromatic light brick on the upper stories of the Columbia Road facade. The building sits on a concrete foundation, is roughly I-sh aped in footprint, rises five stories to a flat roof, and presents eight bays to Columbia Road. In addition to the cladding of the first two stories, cast-stone details include sills, a fourth-story sill and lintel course, a cast-stone denticulated cornice, and a parapet cap. Regularly spaced fenestration is organized by flanking end bays featuring tripartite windows on each floor with single windows evenly spaced on all floors in the bays in-between. Two oriel-shaped metal brackets adorn the windows in the second and seventh bays of the fourth story. Each window on the third and fourth floors features splayed cast-stone and brick lintels, each with a cast-stone keystone embellished by a leaf motif. The central entry is distinguished by a round arch with a decorative keystone. The building was substantially renovated in 1967, and again in 1987, at which time original windows and doors were replaced. All windows currently hold 1/1 metal replacement sash.
Samuel Pierce House: 428 Columbia Road (805.16790, Photo 27)
This 2%-story, wood-frame house was constructed as a single-family house ca. 1894 in the Colonial Revival style and faces east onto Columbia Road. It is one of three adjacent houses that were constructed concurrently for one developer. (See also Samuel Pierce House: 432 Columbia Road [16788, Photo 25] and Samuel Pierce House: 430 Columbia Road [BOS.16789, photo 26]). Like its northern neighbor, this house was reconfigured for two-family occupancy by 1985. The house features a two-story angled bay with 6/1 double-hung sash lighting each of the three faces of the bay. The adjacent bay projects slightly and features an overhanging second story that shelters the entry porch. The roof is a steeply pitched hip roof, clad in asphalt shingles with a dormer above the angled bay. The entry porch is reached by a flight of stone steps and was rebuilt in the 1970s. It features metal support beams and a metal rail enclosing the space. A non-historic door and 6/1 window comprise the entry bay. The second story above the entry porch holds a pair of narrow 1/1 windows. The house is clad in vinyl and aluminum siding.
Samuel Pierce House Garage: 428 Columbia Road (Rear) ( Photo 35)
A two-car garage was constructed on the southwest corner of the Samuel Pierce House lot in 1922. The garage is constructed of concrete block and rises one story to a flat roof with a concrete false gable on the eastern elevation facing Columbia Road.
Samuel Pierce House: 430 Columbia Road (6OS.16789, Photo 26)
This 2%-story, wood-frame house was constructed as a single-family house in 1894 in the Colonial Revival style and faces east onto Columbia Road. Though constructed as a single family, the building was reconfigured for occupancy as a two-family house by 1986. It is one of three adjacent houses that were constructed concurrently for one developer. This is the only house of the three with a surviving building permit; it dates construction to 1894. (See also Samuel Pierce House: 432 Columbia Road [6OS.16788, Photo 25] and Samuel Pierce House: 428 Columbia Road [1305.16790, Photo 27].) The house rises 2% stories over a stone foundation to a cross-gambrel roof clad in asphalt shingles, with a front-facing gambrel. The Columbia Road elevation features a pair of two-story angled bays, the northernmost of which is interrupted at the first floor by a projecting entry porch with a front gambrel roofline. Single 1/1 vinyl windows light each face of the angled bays, and two single windows light the half story with a small window at the peak of th e roof line. The original entrance porch was replaced in 1989, and vinyl and aluminum siding was added in 1997.
Samuel Pierce House: 432 Columbia Road (6OS.16788, Photo 25)
This 2%-story, single-family, wood-frame house was constructed ca. 1894 in the Colonial Revival style and is located on the southwest corner of Columbia Road and Glendale Street. The house faces east onto Columbia Road. It is one of three adjacent houses that were constructed concurrently for one developer for single-family occupancy ca. 1894. (See also Samuel Pierce House: 430 Columbia Road P305.16789, Photo 26] and Samuel Pierce House: 428 Columbia Road [605.16790, Photo 27]). Despite some exterior alterations, it is the best preserved of the three houses, and the only one that continues to function as a single-family house. The house rises 2% stories above a stone foundation to a hipped roof clad in asphalt shingles with front and side dormers. The Columbia Road facade features a projecting entry bay with a cross-hipped roofline, and a two-story angled bay. The entry bay is notable for its highly intact, Colonial Revival entry vestibule composed of four Doric columns supporting an entablature with scrolls beneath an elliptical arch embellished by a carved-wood panel. The door is fully glazed, divided by wood muntins into fifteen lights, and is flanked by glazed sidelights divided by wood muntins into ten panes. Painted, horizontal wood strips fill the spaces between the outer and inner columns. The vestibule is also lit by a glazed door on its northern elevation that leads to a piazza and a 6/6 window on its southern elevation. The entry is reached by a flight of stone steps. A single window lights the second floor above the entry. The adjacent, two-story angled bay holds a single window in each of its three faces; a dormer window lights the half story above this bay. The Glendale Street elevation features an angled first-floor bay window, with a single window directly above it on the second floor. Most windows hold 1/1 vinyl sash. A shed dormer was added to the northern elevation in 1915. The slate roof was replaced with asphalt shingles in 1932, and the house was clad in vinyl and aluminum siding in 1978.
Samuel Pierce House Garage: 432 Columbia Road (rear) (Photo 34)
A two-car garage was constructed in 1924 at the southwestern corner of the Samuel Pierce House lot. The garage is accessed from Glendale Street. The two-bay garage is constructed of concrete block, and rests on a stone foundation. It rises one story to a flat roof with a stepped concrete-block parapet with concrete trim. The garage features sixteen-panel wood doors in each bay.
Hotel Bellevue: 435 Columbia Road (BOS.16502, Photo 3)
|This sixteen-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1907, and sits on a corner lot facing northwest toward the intersection of Columbia Road, Glendale, and Bellevue streets. Though larger than its neighbor, G.L. Davidson Apartments at 6-8 Bellevue Street, the buildings share some common features, namely bowed fronts and cast-stone details, reflecting their common developer. The building rises four stories over a raised basement to a flat roof, and presents a curved facade with bowed elevations on Glendale and Bellevue streets. The building is constructed of red brick with cast-stone lintels, sills, watertable, second-story sill course, and entry surround, with an ogee-profiled copper cornice with decorative modillions. The facade is organized into three sections of three bays each. The elevations facing Glendale and Bellevue streets are identical: each features two bowed bays with two regularly spaced windows at each floor level, and a central bay with paired windows on each floor. The curved central section that joins the Glendale and Bellevue street elevations is recessed, with a central entry flanked by paired windows on the first floor. The upper floors of this section feature paired windows in the center bay, with single windows on the flanking bays. A metal fire escape is affixed to th e center bay of the central section of the facade. The arched entrance encloses a recessed flight of steps leading to replacement glass doors. The arch is adorned with a cast-stone surround that has been painted white. The surround features paired, engaged columns supporting an arch with a decoratively carved keystone. On all elevations, window openings feature cast-stone lug sills; single windows feature rusticated cast-stone lintels, and paired windows are adorned with splayed cast-stone lintels with keystones. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1968 when the building underwent a substantial renovation. Current windows hold 1/1 metal sash. The interior was also reorganized at this time, increasing the units from the original eight to the current sixteen apartments. Peter B. Seigel Stores: 445-451 Columbia Road (805.16503, Photo 4)|
This one-story, red-brick commercial building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1911, and faces south and west onto the intersection of Columbia Road and Glendale Street. The facade is divided into seven bays by brick piers with simple chevron ornaments at the top. The flat roof is screened by a parapet with a corbelled brick cornice and a simple, painted-metal cap. The building has two entrances: one in the northernmost bay on Columbia Road, and one at the corner of Glendale Street and Columbia Road. The entrance on Columbia Road features glass display windows and signage. The entrance at the intersection of Columbia Road and Glendale Street is recessed and flanked by windows. Two additional windows light the third bay on Columbia Road. The brick facade has been painted various shades of red and pink, and former openings have been bricked in. This building originally housed four stores. The interior was reorganized in the mid 1980s to accommodate two retail establishments and a restaurant. The building currently houses a grocery store and restaurant.
The Commonwealth: 455-457 Columbia Road (805.16504, Photo 5)
This six-unit red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colon ial Revival style by 1914, and faces west onto Columbia Road. The building rises three stories over a raised basement to a flat roof and is constructed of red brick with a cast-stone watertable, first-floor sill course, lintels, sills, and door surround, with a copper ogee-profiled cornice with decorative modil lions. The facade is organized into four bays with angled, projecting end bays flanking the flat middle bays. The angled projecting bays feature a window in each face of the bay with cast-stone lintel courses on the first floors; windows on the upper floors are adorned with flat, cast-stone lintels and sills. The middle bays of the building hold a centrally located entrance reached by a flight of concrete steps. The large, rectangular entrance is adorned with cast-stone quoins along the sides, and an engaged cast-stone finial motif above. Below the finial, brackets support a denticulated cornice, and “Commonwealth” is carved into the cast-stone frieze. The entry holds non-historic glass doors. Narrow windows with cast-stone sills and splayed cast-stone lintels with keystones flank the entrance on the first floor. The upper floors feature pairs of tripartite windows joined by cast-stone lintel and sill courses. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1968, when the building underwent a substantial renovation. Current windows hold 1/1 metal sash.
Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments: 459 Columbia Road (805.16505, Photo 6)
This three-unit, tan brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1910 and 1918, and faces west onto Columbia Road. It is the smallest apartment building in the district and resembles a detached, single-family rowhouse in scale. The building is two bays wide, and rises three stories above a concrete basement to a flat rubber roof with a crenellated parapet. The building is constructed of tan brick laid in Flemish Bond with black headers, and features a cast-stone door surround, watertable, sill courses on the second and third stories, lintel course above the third-floor windows, and parapet caps. A bracketed metal corn ice adds to the embellishment. The recessed entrance behind a cast-ston e arch is located in the northernmost bay and reached by a flight of steps. The six-panel wood door appears to be original. The entry arch is adorned with a keystone and supported by pilasters. The second bay on the first floor features a paired window with a cast-stone sill and lintel with splayed keystones. The second and third stories feature tripartite windows in the northernmost bay, and paired windows in the southernmost bay. The second-floor windows are adorned by the same cast-stone lintels with splayed keystones that are found on the first floor. The original windows were replaced in 1985 when the building underwent a substantial renovation. Current windows hold 1/1 vinyl sash. The original interior was reorganized sometime before the 1950s when the building contained six units, but was returned to its original three-unit configuration with the 1985 renovation.
William Riley Apartments: 460 Columbia Road (BOS.16787, Photo 24)
This wood-frame three decker was constructed in 1909 in the Colonial Revival style, and faces east onto Columbia Road. It is one of two three deckers in the district (see also William Riley Apartments: 462 Columbia Road [BOS.16786, Photo 23]). Un like its northern neighbor, this building retains its original form with open porches on all three floor levels and a projecting wood cornice with modillions. It also retains its original glass-and-wood front door with sidelights and wood surround. The building sits on a stone foundation and features the same three-bay arrangement as its neighbor, with an angled, projecting southern bay with windows in each face of the bay, and a flat third bay with projecting porches that feature doors with sidelights and wood surrounds on each floor. The building is clad in vinyl siding, features 1/1 replacement vinyl sash, and a flat, rubber roof.
Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments: 461 Columbia Road (805.16506, Photo 7)
This four-unit tan brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style by 1914 and faces west onto Columbia Road. It shares some decorative elements with its neighbor Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments: 459 Columbia Road (8OS.16505, Photo 6). This reflects their joint ownership at the time of their construction, and likely design by the same developer. This apartment building is three bays wide and rises four stories above a raised basement. It is constructed of tan brick laid in Flemish bond with black headers, and incorporates cast-stone details, including a cast-stone watertable, first-floor sill course, a fourth-floor broken lintel course, lintels, sills, door surround, and decorative square tiles. The recessed entrance behind a cast-stone arch is located in the southernmost bay and is reached by a flight of steps leading to a glass replacement door. The cast-stone arch is identical to that of its southern neighbor. The fenestration on the upper floors is characterized by a single central window flanked by paired windows in the first and third bays. The first and second bays of the first floor reflect the same pattern with the exception of the entrance in the third bay. First-, second-, and third-floor lintels are cast stone. Cast-stone sills adorn the first-, th ird-, and fourth-floor windows. Decorative cast-stone square tiles are set between the third and fourth floors. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1968 when the building underwent a substantial renovation. Current windows hold 1/1 metal sash.
William Riley Apartments: 462 Columbia Road (BOS.16786, Photo 23)
This wood-frame three decker was constructed in 1909 in the Colonial Revival style, and faces east onto Columbia Road. This building and its southern neighbor the William Riley Apartments: 460 Columbia Road (BOS.16787, Photo 24), were developed by the same owner/architect and are the only two examples of three deckers in the district. These three-story buildings are extremely common throughout
Dorchester. Typically, this building type features a side-hall plan with one apartment that extends the full length of the building on each floor, with open front porches serving each apartment. This building conforms to the typical arrangement with the exception of th e th ird floor, which has an enclosed front porch. The building sits on a high stone foundation. It is three bays wide and rises three stories to a flat composition roof. An angled, projecting bay extends the full height of the building at its southern end, and open porches on the first two floors and an enclosed porch on the third floor at its northern end. A flight of steps leads to the first-floor porch, which provides the main entry to the building. Wood rails define the porch spaces on the first two floors. W ide wood pilasters frame the porches on the first two stories. The angled, projecting southern bay features windows in each face of the bay. The building is clad in vinyl and aluminum siding, and all windows hold 1/1 replacement vinyl sash.
Israel Sirk Apartments: 465 Columbia Road (805.16507, Photo 8)
This eleven-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1904 and 1910, and faces west onto Columbia Road. The building is four bays wide and rises three stories to a flat roof. The primary facade presents bowed outer bays with flat center bays. The building is constructed of red brick with cast-stone embellishment, including a cast-stone watertable, corbelled string course between the first and second floors, lintels, sills, and door surround. The entry is centrally located and encompasses both bays between the bowed fronts at then orthern and southern ends of the building. Cast-stone quoin ing marks the slight projection of the entry, around cast-stone arch with a bracketed keystone frames the door, and cast-stone medallions with a floral motif embellish the corners just below the cast-stone corbelled string course between the first and second floors. Two steps lead to the recessed six-panel wood door flanked by sidelights with a glass fanlight above. The door, its sidelights, and fanlight are not original. Two tripartite windows light the second floor above the entry. These are framed by cast-stone segmental arches that are painted green, with cast-stone keystones, and flanked by cast-stone capitals. The third floor of the central bays contains four regularly spaced, narrow windows with splayed cast-stone lintels with keystones and cast-stone sills. The bowed outer bays are identical with three windows in each bow, each with cast-stone sills and lintels. A paneled friezeboard with dentils and a large, ogee-profiled cornice with decorative modillions marks the roofline. All windows hold 1/1 metal sash installed in 2005. The interior configuration has been altered over the years, decreasing the original apartment size. The building originally contained six un its, which was changed to eight un its in 1940, and to twelve units in 1957. Its current configuration of eleven units dates to 2005.
Columbia Manor: 466-468 Columbia Road (305.16509, Photo 22)
This twelve-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in 1925 in the Colonial Revival style, and is located on the southwest corner of Columbia Road and Sayward Street. This apartment building is one of three buildings in the district designed in a courtyard plan. (See also The Pilgrim: 481-485 Columbia Road [805.16512, Photo 12] and Priscilla Court: 414-418 Columbia Road [805.16792, Photo 29]). The building rises three stories above a raised basement to a flat roof, and features cast-stone details high lighting fenestration, entrances, and the r oofline. The cast-stone details include a watertable, sills and lintels, door surrounds, architrave, frieze panels, and cornice. The building presents two street elevations and three courtyard elevations to Columbia Road. The street elevations are three bays wide on each floor, there is a narrow, recessed, central bay pierced by a single window, and wider flanking bays that hold paired windows. All windows on these elevations are ornamented with cast-stone sills and lintels; first-floor lintels feature splayed central and corner keystones, while the second- and first-floor lintels are flat. A cast-stone architrave, brick frieze, and cast-stone cap comprise the corn ice of the building. Carved cast-stone frieze panels adorn the wide bays of the street elevations. Entry to the courtyard is defined by brick piers with cast-stone caps and brick chevron panels flanking a central walkway. The building’s two entrances are located in the center bays of the courtyard elevations. Each entrance has an elaborated cast-ston e surround with engaged Ionic columns supporting the corn ice; a stylized pediment with urns is situated at each end with a cartouche in the center. The deeply recessed rear courtyard is two bays wide, with tripartite windows in each bay of all three floors. The decorative treatment of the courtyard fenestration and cornice mirrors that found on the street elevations. The Sayward Street elevation extends eight bays west. The facade is organized around a narrow central bay that holds a secondary
entrance to the first floor, and single windows between floors. Three bays of paired and tripartite windows light the eastern three bays, and four bays of paired and tripartite windows light the western four bays. The decorative treatment of the fenestration and cornice mirrors that on the Columbia Road street and courtyard elevations. Original windows and doors were replaced when the building underwent substantial renovations in the late 1960s and 1980s. All windows currently hold 1/1 metal replacement sash. Raised planting beds line the Columbia Road street and courtyard elevations.
Cora B. White Apartments: 467 Columbia Road (6OS.16508, Photo 9)
This twelve-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1904 and 1910, and faces west onto Columbia Road. But for a couple of slight variations, the building is virtually identical to the neighboring Israel Sirk Apartments: 465 Columbia Road (BOS.16507, Photo 8), reflecting a shared developer at the time of construction. The entry configuration varies slightly from its neighbor in that the replacement doors are set within a cast-stone frame with dentils. The cornice is also slightly distinguished from 465 Columbia Road, with dentils appear ing below the friezeboard, rather than above it. The original six-unit building was subdivided in 1974, doubling its original occupancy to twelve units when the building underwent a substantial rehabilitation. Original windows and doors were replaced at this time. The building was rehabilitated once again in 2016, using historic tax credits. The rehabilitation addressed deferred maintenance and included exterior repointin g and repair of brick, repair of concrete stairs, slabs, and curbs, the replacement of non-historic doors with metal-and-glass doors, and replacement of non-historic windows with 1/1 metal sash. Interior rehabilitation included repairing existing drywall, replacement of rotted wood, repair and replacement of flooring, and replacement of kitchen and bathroom fixtures in residential units. All work met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Joseph Klein Apartments: 471 Columbia Road (BOS.16510, Photo 10)
This twelve-un it, buff-colored brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1904 and 1910, and faces west onto Columbia Road. This building shares a common form and many similar architectural details with the Israel Sirk Apartments: 465 Columbia Road (605.16507, Photo 8) and the Cora B. White Apartments: 467 Columbia Road (BOS.16508, Photo 9), suggesting concurrent development. Like its neighbors, the building rises three stories to a flat roof with an ornate corn ice and features a four-bay facade with bowed outer bays and a flat center bay with a central entry. Also like its neighbors, a cast-stone watertable, sills, and lintels and door surrounds embellish the facade. Likewise, each bowed bay is pierced by three regularly spaced windows, and tripartite windows light the central bays on the second floor. However, the building is differentiated from its neighbors in several ways, the most significant being its use of buff-colored brick. Within the district, th is building is the only example of a buff-colored brick apartment building on the eastern side of Columbia Road. Buff-colored brick is used in only one other building in the district The Alpine, at 422-424 Columbia Road. The light color of the brick is a characteristic of the Colonial Revival style as it suggests the stonework of the Classical buildings revivalist architects sought to emulate. Other distinctive features include a corbelled-brick stringcourse between the first and second floors, quoin ing on the first floor, splayed cast-stone lintels on all second-story windows, a smaller arched entry flanked by lancet windows, and tripartite windows on the third floor of the center bays. The entry is reached by a flight of three steps to recessed replacement wood-and-glass doors. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1972 when the building underwent a substantial renovation. The original six-un it building was subdivided by 1972, doubling its original occupancy to twelve units. The building was rehabilitated once again in 2016 using historic tax credits. The rehabilitation addressed deferred maintenance and included exterior repointing and repair of brick, repair of concrete stairs, slabs, and curbs, the replacement of non-historic doors with metal-and-glass doors, and replacement of non-historic windows with 1/1 metal sash. Interior rehabilitation included repairing existing drywall, replacement of rotted wood, repair and replacement of flooring, and replacement of kitchen and bathroom fixtures in residential un its. All work met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
The Elmhurst and Glenwood: 475-477 Columbia Road (305.16511, Photo 11)
This sixteen-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1906, and faces west onto Columbia Road. It is one of four paired apartment buildings in the district. (See also G.L. Davidson Apartments: 6-8 Bellevue Street [DOS.16501, Photo 2] Dorchester Associates Apartments: 487-489 Columbia Road [B05.16779, Photo 13] and Dorchester Associates Apartments: 493-495 Columbia Road [BOS.16780, Photo 14]). The building rises four stories above a raised basement to a flat roof. The facade is organized into four bays, with angled, projecting end bays and two flat central bays. The end bays are delineated by cast-stone quoin ing on each of the four corners of the projecting bays, extending the full height of the building. Additional cast-stone features include a watertable, corbelled str ingcourse between the first and second stories, a lintel course beneath the fourth-floor windows, lintels and sills, and door surround. Regularly spaced windows light each of the three faces of the angled bays; single windows light each of the two central bays on the second through the fourth floors. Metal balconies adorn the windows in the center bays. All windows feature cast-stone sills and lintels. Separate entrances are centrally located between the angled end bays. Each entry is reached by a flight of three steps and features replacement glass doors. The two entries are framed by cast-stone and brick quoin ing in the center and to either side, and a stone entablature inscribed with “Elmhurst” above the northernmost door and “Glenwood” above the adjacent door. A bold, galvanized-iron cornice devoid of ornament caps the facade. The original eight-unit building was subdivided by 1954, doubling its original occupancy to sixteen units. Original windows and doors were replaced in 1968 when the building underwent a substantial renovation. Current windows hold 1/1 metal sash.
William B. Callender House: 478 Columbia Road (BOS.16785, Photo 21)
The William B. Callender House was constructed ca. 1840 in the Greek Revival style, though due to heavy alterations its most distinguishing feature of the style is its side-gable roof, deeming “no style” a more appropriate stylistic categorization. It is one of two buildings representing mid 19′h-century development of the district. (See also William H. Sayward House: 490 Columbia Road [BOS.5798, Photo 19]). The 2E-story, wood-frame house is located at the northwest corner of Columbia Road and Sayward Street. The house was built as a single-family residence; it has undergone interior and exterior alterations to accommodate rental units beginning in the 1920s through the 1990s, and also its current use as a church with accompanying offices. The building was gutted by fire in 1981. The Columbia Road elevation best conveys the building’s original form. This elevation presents a side gable to the street, and is organized into four bays on the lower two stories with regularly spaced windows lighting each floor level of each bay. The gable is pierced by a tripartite window lighting the half story. A simple wood corn ice defines the gable, and an interior brick chimney extends from the southern slope of the roof. This elevation is clad in stucco. The Sayward Street elevation extends five bays west, and is clad in synthetic siding. The two westernmost bays are encompassed in a slightly projecting cross-gable. Entry to the building is roughly centrally located on this elevation, and reached by an accessibility ramp and a flight of stairs. All windows hold 1/1 replacement vinyl sash. A parking lot encompasses the southern half of the lot at the corner of Columbia Road and Sayward Street.
H. K. Helmsdorf House: 480 Columbia Road (HOS.16784, Photo 20)
The H. K. Helmsdorf House was constructed in 1925 in the Colonial Revival style, and faces east onto Columbia Road. This 1S-story, wood-frame bungalow is the only example of its kind in the district, and is a relatively rare form in Massachusetts overall. Typical of the bungalow form, the steeply pitched, asphalt-shingle roof is pierced by a hipped dormer lighting the half story, and extends over the first-floor wall to create a deep front porch that runs the length of the house. The porch features four short Doric columns supporting a wide, plain entablature, resting on stone piers that extend to the stone foundation. Shingled wood spandrels enclose the space between the piers on the front and sides of the house. The house is two bays wide. A flight of steps in the northernmost bay leads to the porch and the front door, which features a wide, painted-wood surround. Paired 6/1 windows encased in wood surrounds comprise the second bay of the first floor, as well as the dormer. The front elevation is clad in painted-wood shingles, while the side elevations are clad in aluminum and v inyl siding. The house features an internal brick chimney to the rear.
H. K. Helmsdorf Garage: 480 Columbia Road (rear) (Photo 33)
A two-car garage was constructed in 1925 at the northwestern corner of the H. K. Helmsdof House lot. The garage is one story, two bays wide, constructed of concrete block on a stone foundation, and has a flat roof. Remnants of a brick parapet remain on its eastern elevation. The two-bay garage faces Columbia Road, and features a 24-panel wood door with a glazed second row in each bay.
The Pilgrim: 481-485 Columbia Road (HOS.16512, Photo 12)
This sixteen-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1904 and 1910, and faces west onto Columbia Road. The building rises four stories to a flat roof, and is U-shaped in plan; it is one of three apartment buildings in the district with a courtyard plan. (See also Columbia Manor: 466-468 Columbia Road [1305.16509, Photo 22] and Priscilla Court: 414-418 Columbia Road [HOS.16]92, Photo 29] ). The U-shaped plan allowed more light and air into individual units. The street elevation presents two blocks of two bays each, with regularly spaced paired windows, a cast-stone watertable, and a broken cast-stone sillcour se on the fourth floor. The main entrances are located on each of the courtyard elevations, and feature cast-stone quoins and decorative metal canopies with chain stanchions. The courtyard elevations have four bowed bays. Single and paired windows throughout the building feature cast-stone sills and splayed cast-stone lintels with keystones. A decorative copper cornice with ogee profile and modil lions caps the street and courtyard elevations. Original windows were replaced in 1972. Current windows hold 1/1 metal sash.
Dorchester Associates Apartments: 487-489 Columbia Road (305.16779, Photo 13)
This six-un it, wood-frame apartment house was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1899, and faces west onto Columbia Road. This building and its northern neighbors the Dorchester Associates Apartments: 493-495 Columbia Road (H05.16780, Photo 14) and the Dorchester Associates Apartments: 497 Columbia Road (1305.16781, Photo 15) were designed by the same architect for a shared owner. This building and its immediate neighbors to the north are paired dwellings with a party wall and separate entrances; each side of the apartment house contains three un its. The building rises 3% stories over a stone foundation to a hipped, asphalt-shingle roof, with a gabled dormer, and paired windows lighting the attic story of each house. The street elevation is bow fronted with bowed end bays and two flat, central bays, which contain the paired entries. The facade is symmetrically organized with regularly spaced windows lighting each of the three floors in the end bays, and two windows lighting each floor in the central bays. The entrances are centrally located between the end bays and are connected by a projecting classical porch reached by separate flights of stairs. Three paired columns support an entablature and corn ice, which have been covered with synthetic siding. One Ionic capital remains, while the others have been removed. Original wood-panel doors flanked by sidelights remain intact and are set within classical wood surrounds. Pilasters on either side of the entry surrounds mark the rear corners of the entry porch and brace the wood rails that join the front columns in marking the boundaries of each porch. The building’s exterior, including its corn ice, is clad in aluminum and vinyl siding, replacement windows hold 1/1 metal sash, and multiple satellite dishes are affixed to the facade.
William H. Sayward House: 490 Columbia Road (BOS.5798, Photo 19)
The William H. Sayward House was constructed ca. 1840 in the Greek Revival style. The 2%-story, wood-frame house is located at the southwest corner of Columbia Road and Bird Street. Indicative of its age, which predates the regular subdivision that characterizes the neighboring lots, the building is set back from the sidewalk, with various small shrubbery planted along its base. One of two buildings representing m id 19th-century development of the district (see also William B. Callender House: 478 Columbia Road [805.16785, Photo 21]), the Sayward House is the only one that retains character-defin ing features of the Greek Revival style. These details in dude wide corner pilasters and a wide band of trim at the cornice line on the Columbia Road elevation, as well as its low-pitch gabled roof, 6/6 double-hung sash, and bands of transom lights over entrances on both Columbia Road and Bird Street. The house was built as a single-family residence but was remodeled for use as a dwelling and funeral home beginning in 1925, and continues to function in this capacity; it has received various additions and interior reorganization over time to suit the needs of the business. The original building presents two bays to Columbia Road and three bays to Bird Street. A one-story, two-bay addition constructed in 1928 extends south along Columbia Road via a one-bay connector that serves as the Columbia Road entrance to the building. The connector and addition were designed to be compatible with the original style of the building. The addition presents a shallow side gable to the street, with two large, 6/6 double-hung windows encompassing the majority of the facade. The entry is reached by a flight of steps leading to an entrance, framed by wide pilasters, and a door with transom lights above. The Bird Street elevation also features an entry with transom lights, roughly centered on the original building. This elevation has been altered over time to include a large bay window west of the entry, and a two-story, three-bay extension west of the original house, from which a one-story room extends north. The house was clad in synthetic siding beginning in the 1980s, and an asphalt roof replaced the original slate in the 1950s.
William H. Sayward Garage: 490 Columbia Road (rear) (Photo 32)
A three-car garage was constructed in 1932 at the southwestern corner of the William H. Sayward House lot. The garage is one story. It is constructed of concrete block and rests on a concrete-block foundation. It has a flat roof with a stepped parapet on its eastern elevation. This elevation is the only view of the garage visible from the street, and features two nine-light windows. Entry to the garage is through the northern elevation.
|Dorchester Associates Apartments: 493-495 Columbia Road (BOS.16780, Photo 14)|
This six-un it, wood-frame apartment house was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1899, and faces west onto Columbia Road; it is virtually identical to its southern neighbor Dorchester Associates Apartments: 487-489 Columbia Road (BOS.16779, Photo 13), reflecting their concurrent development by a shared owner working with a single architect. The only stylistic differentiation between these two buildings is in the r oofline of the dormer windows, which is hipped in this building, rather than gabled. The roof is clad in asphalt shingles. The classical entry porch on the 493 Columbia Road side of the house retains its Ionic capitals. Doric capitals cap the columns on the opposite side of the porch. Original doors have been replaced, but the sidelights and wood surrounds remain intact. Like its neighbor, the exterior is clad in vinyl siding that also masks the cornice, replacement windows hold 1/1 metal sash, and multiple satellite dishes are affixed to the facade.
Dorchester Associates Apartments: 497 Columbia Road (BOS.16781, Photo 15)
This three-un it, wood-frame apartment house was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1899, and faces west onto Columbia Road. This building was developed concurrently with its southern neighbors, Dorchester Associates Apartments: 487-489 Columbia Road (BOS.16779, Photo 13) and Dorchester Associates Apartments: 493-495 Columbia Road (BOS.16780, Photo 14), and shares the basic form, materials, and architectural detailing as seen in the individual halves of each of the paired buildings. One notable exception is the roofline, which is gabled rather than hipped, with a paired window centered in the gable. The entry porch retains its Colonial Revival detailing, namely the Doric columns and pilasters and door surround; the original door has been replaced. The exterior of this building is clad in aluminum and vinyl siding that masks the cornice, and windows h old replacement 1/1 metal sash.
Boyd & Berry Apartments: 499 Columbia Road (BOS.16782, Photo 16)
This three-unit, wood-frame apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1901, and is located at the southeastern corner of the intersection of Columbia Road and Bird Street. The building across Bird Street at 505 Columbia Road was developed concurrently by the same owner and architect (see below). This building rises three stories over a raised basement with a stone foundation, to a flat composition roof. The building occupies a long, narrow lot, and presents just a single bay to Columbia Road and extends four bays west along Bird Street. The Columbia Road elevation features a simple, projecting porch with a semicircular roof supported by two Doric columns. The porch is reached by a flight of brick-and-concrete steps, and holds a single replacement door that retains its original fanlight. A single window lights each story above the porch. The Bird Street elevation presents alternating bowed bays with three windows lighting each of the bowed bays on each floor, and paired windows with shutters on all floors between the bows. The building is clad in aluminum and v inyl siding, except for its bracketed wooden cornice with denticulated frieze. Windows have been replaced, and currently hold 1/1 metal sash.
Boyd & Berry Apartments: 505 Columbia Road (BOS.16783, Photo 17)
This three-unit, wood-frame apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style in 1901, and is located at the northeastern corner of the intersection of Columbia Road and Bird Street. It is one of two building developed by the same owner and architect (see also Boyd & Berry Apartments: 499 Columbia Road [BOS.16782, Photo 16]). This building rises three stories over a stone foundation to a flat
composition roof. The curved facade follows the corner lot: two bowed bays front Columbia Road, a rounded corner bay faces the intersection with Bird Street, and three bays extend east along Bird Street; the westernmost bays of the Bird Street (southern) elevation are bowed above the first floor, with brackets supporting the overhanging upper bays. The recessed entry is located in then orthernmost bay on Columbia Road. The entry is reached by a flight of steps, and is distinguished by a carved wood screen surmounted by wooden brackets supporting the bowed bay of the upper floors. The original door has been replaced. The building is clad in synthetic siding, and regularly spaced windows hold 1/1 replacement vinyl sash. Colonial Revival details remain in a wood stringcourse between the first and second stories, and a bracketed wood cornice with a denticulated frieze. Stacked rear porches line the rear (eastern) elevation.
The Longford: 507-509 Columbia Road (BOS.16513, Photo 18)
This sixteen-un it, red-brick apartment building was constructed in the Colonial Revival style between 1904 and 1910, and is located the southeast corner of Columbia Road and Wheelock Avenue. The building rises four stories over a raised basement to a flat roof and extends nine bays along Columbia Road and one bay along Wheelock Avenue. The red-brick facade is enlivened by cast-stone detailing, including sills and lintels, first-, second-, and third-floor sill courses, quoin ing and spandrels in the second, fifth, and eighth bays, and a classical entry surround that extends to the fenestration above the door. The first story features bands of brick laid in a Flemish Bond, interrupting the running bond. The facade extends above the stone cornice line to a simple cast-stone cap. The main entrance is centrally located in the fifth bay and is marked with an elaborate cast-stone surround composed of Ionic pilasters flanked by quoins and topped by a pediment with an entablature that reads: “The Longford.” The recessed entry holds replacement glass doors. The second- and third-story windows in the entrance bay are ornamented with a stone surround featuring quoins along the vertical stone members, a stone spandrel panel between the windows, and a shaped semicircular lintel above th e th ird-story window. The second-and third-floor windows in the second and eighth bays are ornamented in the same vein, with the exception of a flat lintel at the third-floor level. Window openings on the remainder of the building are grouped in pairs, with cast-stone lintels and sills. Three windows in the upper stories of the sixth bay have been filled with brick. Basement windows are infilled with concrete blocks. Original windows and doors were replaced in the 1980s. The building was rehabilitated in 2015, using historic tax credits. The rehabilitation addressed deferred maintenance and included exterior repointing and repair of brick, repair of concrete stairs, slabs, and curbs, the replacement of non-historic doors with metal-and-glass doors, and replacement of non-historic windows with 1/1 metal sash. Interior rehabilitation included repairing existing drywall, replacement of rotted wood, repair and replacement of flooring, and replacement of kitchen and bathroom fixtures in residential units. All work met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
The Columbia Road—Bellevue Street Historic District consists of a collection of predominantly residential buildings, constructed roughly between 1840 and 1932, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. The vast majority of buildings in the district were constructed by speculative developers looking to capitalize on the improvements to mass transit along Columbia Road that began in the late 19th century with the expansion and widening of the former local highway into a major transportation artery. Because of its long period of development, the district represents the evolution of Columbia Road from an early suburban street lined with singe-family homes on large lots, constructed following the introduction of rail sell/ ice to Dorchester in the mid 1830s, to a dense urban corridor lined with multifamily residen ces and apartment buildings developed in the first two decades of the 201‘ century in response to the extension of mass transit. The district is locally significant under National Register Criterion A in the area of Community Planning and Development for its association with the transformation of Dorchester from an early suburb to a bustling urban neighborhood. The majority of buildings in the district were designed in the Colonial Revival style, an architectural aesthetic at the height of its popularity during the district’s most represented period of development. Th is national style of architecture reinforced American values at a time of changing urban demographics, due to the arrival of large numbers of European immigrants to American cities. The district is therefore additionally significant under Criterion C in the area of Architecture as a well-preserved collection of Colonial Revival multi-family buildings that represent the promotion of American values as a means of attracting upper-middle-class American families to the new buildings along Columbia Road. The period of significance for the district begins in 1840, when the oldest houses were constructed, and ends in 1967, the 50-year age requirement for listing on the National Register.
The Development of Dorchester and the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District
The Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District is located in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Dorchester was founded by English settlers in 1630 and remained an independent town until 1870, when it was annexed to the City of Boston. Dorchester began as a rural farming community with a network of roads connecting outlying farms and small villages that were located at the crossroads of these local highways. Industry was centered on the lower Neponset River in southern Dorchester, which was home to various mills. Relics of Dorchester’s earliest history are scattered throughout the neighborhood. One of the most notable of these, Dorchester North Burying Ground (NR), established in 1664 by the town’s first settlers, lies less than a quarter of a mile north of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Historic District at the intersection of Columbia Road and Stoughton Street. From this intersection sprung a village that around 1800 became known as Upham’s Corner, named for a store owned by Amos Upham located at the crossroads. Upham’s Corner, also known as Columbia Square in the early 2ffh century, grew to become a major commercial village for the neighborhood through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dorchester remained largely rural, characterized by farms and country estates, until the mid 19′h century when the Boston & Providence and Old Colony Railway lines were introduced to the neighborhood in 1835 and 1844, respectively. The Boston & Providence line (later the New York and New England Railroad until 1898, and then the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad until 1968, and now part of the MBTA’s commuter rail system) ran through the western portion of Dorchester while the Old Colony Railway line ran through the neighborhood’s eastern villages. These rail lines made Boston accessible to Dorchester commuters and initiated the transformation of the rural town into an early suburb for wealthy Bostonians. Two station stops on the Boston Ss Providence line facilitated the suburban development of Upham’s Corner and the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District: the Bird Street station, at the corner of Bird and Ceylon streets, just a few blocks west of Columbia Road where it runs through the district, and the Dudley Street station, where the rail line intersected with Dudley Street, three blocks west of Upham’s corner. Large, single-family homes in proximity to the station stops were constructed on established roads such as Columbia Road (known until 1897 as Columbia Street), Dudley, and Stoughton streets.
Two buildings in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District reflect the period of development immediately following the introduction of the Boston & Providence Railroad to Dorchester: the William H. Sayward House, 490 Columbia Road (BOS.5798), at the corner of Bird Street and Columbia Road, and the William B. Callender House, 478 Columbia Road (BOST 6785). While the William B. Callender House has been heavily altered over the years, both houses reflect the Greek Revival architectural aesthetic, popular in America from about 1820 to 1860. Given the arrival of the railroad in 1835, these buildings likely appeared shortly thereafter. Both houses sat on relatively large lots of 30,566 and 32,670 square feet, respectively. William Sayward was a large property owner in the vicinity, owning lots across Bird Street and Columbia Road, as well as further down Columbia Road across from the intersection with Glendale Street. Sayward served as secretary of an organization called the Master Builders Association, and later moved to nearby Monadnock Street. William B. Callender owned no other property in the vicinity of the district. Little has been documented about him other than his participation in the Dorchester fraternity club known as the Union Lodge, along with other prominent neighbors. Callender owned his house until 1874, when he sold it to Ralph Butler (1813-1915), a wholesale flour merchant from Maine who later became a Dorchester land developer.’ The Callender house continued to be occupied by members of the Butler family until sometime between 1920 and 1930. A third prominent neighbor from this period was Nathaniel Hall, longtime minister of the First Parish Church of Dorchester located east of the district in Meeting House Hill. Hall served as minister to that congregation from 1835 until his death in 18754 The Hall family house was located at the corner of Sayward Street until 1917; it is currently the site of Columbia Manor, 466-468 Columbia Road (BOS.16509).
Proximity to the railroad made the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District and its immediate vicinity a highly desirable area for suburban development as the 19′h century progressed. Advertisements for building lots in the local newspapers emphasized proximity to station stops for convenience of future residents and investment opportunities for speculative developers. Advertising of lots slightly east of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District, one notice read, “but five minutes’ walk from the Bird and Cottage Street stations on the Hartford and Erie Railroad…. More houses are now being built in Dorchester than at any time for the past twenty years, and the next few years are sure to show a rapid increase in the population in this part of Boston.”‘ Dorchester was annexed to the city of Boston in 1870. By 1874 Columbia Road and Glendale and Bellevue streets were lined with single-family houses on large lots. Side streets that connect Columbia Road to Bird Street (and the station), such as Sayward Street, Glendale Street (west of Columbia Road), and Bodwell Street were not yet laid out. More dense residential development was clustered along Bird Street where it led from the station to Columbia Road.°
Development in the vicinity of Bird Street station continued over the next two decades, and by 1894 Bodwell, Glendale (west of Columbia Road), and Sayward streets were laid out and nearly fully developed, predominantly with single-family houses on small lots, with the exception of the undivided estates of Samuel B. Pierce and the Hall family between Glendale and Sayward streets. At th is time, Columbia Road continued to reflect the earlier period of development with sprawling single-family homes on lots ranging in size from 15,000 to 50,000 square feet. In 1884, the wealthy Boston merchant Samuel B. Pierce built a large house on Columbia Road at the corner of Glendale Street. This house was in keeping with the earlier development of Columbia Road, with the large house set considerably back from the road, and with secondary structures at the rear of the 50,000-square-foot lot (Fig.1). The house remained apart of the district until it was destroyed by fire in the 1940s. The location of the estate is not included within the boundaries of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District; new construction replaced the historic structure following its demolition. Samuel Pierce and his son, I Homer Pierce, who lived across Columbia Road at 14 Bellevue Street, owned property on the other side of Glendale Street, along Bellevue Street, Columbia Road, and in Upham’s Corner. (The Pierce House at 14 Bellevue is extant, but lies outside the district.)
The 1890s proved a transitional period in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District. At the southern end of the district near the intersection of Columbia Road and Bodwel I Street, a handful of single-family houses on small lots more typical of the development of the side streets leading to Bird Street Station were constructed along Columbia Road. Four buildings representing this type of development remain in the district: a trio of neighboring houses developed by the Pierce family adjacent to the large Pierce estate (the Samuel Pierce Houses at 428, 430, and 432 Columbia Road [BOS. 16790, BOS. 16789, BOS.16788], and the Mary I. Abercrombie House, 410 Columbia Road [BOS.16793]).
The Samuel Pierce Houses were constructed ca. 1894 for investment by Samuel B. Pierce. At least one, 430 Columbia Road (BOS. 16789), was designed by William 1. Jobling, a local carpenter who lived nearby at 11 Payson Avenue.’ Given the resemblance of the houses to one another and single ownership of the parcel by Samuel Pierce, Jobling probably designed all three houses. The houses were designed in the Colonial Revival style, which would become the dominant stylistic vocabulary of the district as it continued to develop.
The Mary I. Abercrombie House, 410 Columbia Road (BOS.16793), is located just a half a block south of the Pierce houses on the other side of Bodwell Street. This house retains its carriage barn at the rear of the lot, a rare pairing in this now-dense urban setting. A house with a carriage barn on this lot first appears in 1894 on the Bromley Atlas; by 1898, the house was removed but the carriage house remained. A new house was constructed between 1898 and 1904, and owned by Mary Abercrombie in 1904. Mary Abercrombie was born in Massachusetts to Scottish parents. She was widowed by 1920 when she was living in the house with her niece, an Irish maid, and an Irish lodger.” This is the only building in the district that reflects the Queen Anne architectural aesthetic, a style that was popular from about 1880 to 1910, and is represented in many of the houses that line the side streets off of Columbia Road.
The shift away from large estates along Columbia Road to single-family houses on small lots in the late 19`” century was short-lived in the district. Instead, over the next two decades, large estates were demolished, land was subdivided, and speculative developers constructed multifamily apartment buildings. A major factor in this transition was th e extension and widening of Columbia Road in 1897 and the subsequent introduction of electric streetcars to the new boulevard. While horsecars ran along nearby streets like Dorchester Avenue, this was the first introduction of affordable mass public transportation to Columbia Road itself (Fig.2). Railroad fare was significantly higher than the price of a ride on a streetcar; thus, the introduction of the streetcar to Columbia Road made the neighborhood accessible to those who previously cou Id not afford a suburban commute. The result was multifamily housing to accommodate a new market of commuters.
The Columbia Road project transformed a modest local road into a major thoroughfare of 110 feet in width that connected Franklin Park, the largest park in a string of designed landscapes and parkways created by Frederick Law Olmsted, and known as Boston’s Emerald Necklace, to Dorchester Bay, about a mile and a half northeast of the district. The Boston Daily Globe reported on the project enthusiastically, claiming the improved new road would “complete the magnificent chain of parkways which now encircles the city… it will be a magnificent boulevard, and over the greater portion of it the electric cars will run.” 7 Another article noted, “This improvement will prove a notable one, from the fact the street is used as much as any in Dorchester, and is now destined to be one of the prominent thoroughfares in this part of the city.”‘ The work on Columbia Road was the largest and most expensive undertaking in Dorchester up to that time, with total land damages for takings associated with widening the street alone exceeding $500,000.9
A major transfer in real estate within the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District coincided with the initiation of the Columbia Road project. In 1897, the same year construction began on the improved Columbia Road, a prominent Boston banker and developer, Abraham C. Ratshesky, acquired several estates at the corner of Glendale Street and Columbia Road. The tract extended beyond the intersection with Sayward Street on the other side of Columbia Road, encompassing nearly an acre of land along Columbia Road. The Boston Daily Globe reported on the property transfer, calling the tract an “important as well as valuable property in the Dorchester District,” and associating its significance with the road improvements: “In the purchase of these two estates, Mr. Ratshesky has acquired a handsome property, as it is on the line of the n ew Columbia Street boulevard giving a total frontage on that street of over 500 feet and 150 feet of Glendale Street.”‘
In addition to being an important local banker and developer, Abraham Ratshesky (1864-1943) was prominent in the political arena. Among other roles, he was a member of the Boston Common Council, Secretary of the Republican State Committee, served a term as State Senator in the early 1890s, and later served as a US Minister to Czechoslovakia. He was extremely active in Jewish philanthropic and charitable affairs, including establishing the Beth Israel Hospital Building fund, to which he was a substantial contributor. A testament to his local celebrity, his obituary was printed on the front page of the Boston Daily Globe.” Unlike large property holders in the district such as Samuel Pierce and William Sayward, who lived in or near the district, Ratshesky was a resident of Boston’s Back Bay and developed large properties in the Central Business District, as well as Dorchester. His interest in the Columbia Road tract demonstrates the significance of the Columbia Road project as a harbinger for outside interest in the neighborhood. As one advertisement for a nearby property declared: “…3 or 4 minutes to Bird Street Station…eight minutes ride to new southern station and seven minutes walk to Upham’s Corner, Blue Hill Ave, or Meetinghouse Hill electric cars and electric cars soon to run on Columbia Road. When the Columbia Road is finished the increase of all estates in value will be large…”
Ratshesky’s interest in investment along Columbia Road was shared by other speculative developers looking to capitalize on the potential of the Columbia Road improvements. The first buildings constructed in the district following the approval of the Columbia Road project were the Dorchester Associates Apartments 487-489 493-495 and 497 Columbia Road (BOS.1677 9, BOS.16780, BOS.16781), and th e Boyd & Berry Apartments 499 and 505 Columbia Road (BOST 6782, 16783). These Colonial Rev ival-style, wood-frame apartment buildings were the first multifamily buildings constructed in the district. The Dorchester Associates Apartments, constructed in 1899, resembled the single- and two-family houses prevalent on side streets, but each building contained three apartments, making six units available in the double houses. The Dorchester Associates were local developers who were fully immersed in the property transfers occurring in Dorchester between 1896 and 1913. They typically purchased real estate for immediate improvement and constructed apartment houses for purchase. They had an office in Upham’s Corner in the early years of the 2011] century:3 Then eighbor ing Boyd & Berry Apartments, built a few years later in 1901, departed from the house form and introduced frame apartment buildings to the district. Like the Dorchester Associates, Boyd & Berry were Dorchester developers who typically purchased land for immediate improvement and resale. They designed Colonial Revival three-deckers further down Columbia Road beyond Upham’s Corner, and on Elder and Marie streets in Dorchester during the first decade of the 2011] century.
Speculative development of the district with apartment houses flourished in the years leading up to World War I. Ratshesky sold off his large tract in 1905, and it was developed by various speculative developers between 1905 and 1914. By 1 910, three-quarters of the eastern side of Columbia Road was developed, with eight new brick apartment buildings varying in size from six to nineteen units. These buildings included the G.L. Davidson Apartments, 6-8 Bellevue Street (BOS.16501), the Hotel Bellevue, 435 Columbia Road (BOS.16502), the Israel Sirk Apartments, 465 Columbia Road (BOST 6507), the Cora B. White Apartments, 467 Columbia Road (BOS.16508), the Joseph Klein Apartments, 471 Columbia Road (BOST 6510), the Elmhurst and the Glenwood, 477-477 Columbia Road (BOS.165 11), the Pilgrim, 481485 Columbia Road (BOS.16512), and the Longford, 509 Columbia Road (BOS.16513). In addition, the Hall and Pierce estates on the other side of Columbia Road were subdivided during this time, and three-decker frame apartment buildings were constructed between the two older houses. These are the William Riley Apartments at 460 and 462 Columbia Road (BOS.16787 and BOS. 16786). The remainder of the Ratshesky tract was developed by 1914 with one commercial block of four stores, and three apartment buildings containing three to six units completing the block between Glendale and Bird streets. These additions included the Peter B. Seigel Stores, 445-451 Columbia Road (BOS.16503), the Commonwealth
455-457 Columbia Road (BOS.16504), and the Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments 459 and 461 Columbia Road (BOS.16505 and BOS.16506). By and large, the developers of these apartment buildings were local: many of them lived in Dorchester and were most active in the development of Dorchester properties, though a few were active outside the neighborhood as well. Typically they bought vacant lots for improvement and immediate resale, often receiving additional land as partial payment. Some worked with architects, others were owners as well as designers. The architects who were involved in these projects generally worked in the neighborhoods of Boston and Cambridge
The G.L. Davidson Apartments, 6-8 Bellevue Street (BOS.16501), and the Hotel Bellevue, 435 Columbia Road (BOS.16502), were among the first brick apartment buildings to be constructed in the district following the sale of the Ratsh esky tract in 1905. Their introduction typifies the development of the district. Gideon L. Davidson erected the apartments in 1906 and 1907 on the prominent corner of Bellevue Street and Columbia Road. Davidson was born in Canada and emigrated to the United States in 1880. He was a contractor and house builder actively developing many lots in Dorchester between 1889 and 1917w ith frame one-, two-, and three-family houses. He often received land as partial payment when he sold a new building. By 1920 he had moved from Dorchester to Newton, where he continued to build houses. Both apartment buildings were designed by Boston area architect Edward E. Jordan, who worked in Dorchester, Cambridge, and Somerville. The Hotel Bellevue was described by that name in the report of its sale shortly after completion. ‘5 The account highlights the building’s attributes as well as the nature of the development boom in Dorchester at this time:
One of the largest, as well as most important sales of apartment house property and vacant land closed in Dorchester for sometime has just been effected…whereby Sidney Baker of Kent, England takes title to the hotel Bellevue…This structure was recently erected by Gideon L. Davidson, and is considered one of the most up-to-date apartment houses in the Dorchester district. It comprises a large four-story brick building containing 8 apartments with all improvements…as part payment [Baker has] conveyed to Mrs. Davidson eighteen lots of land…situated in the Mellville Ave district. It is the intention of Mrs. Davidson to begin at once the erection of a number of high class two-apartment frame houses and several single houses containing six to eight rooms with baths and all improvements…’ 6
The development of the Elmhurst and Glenwood, 475-477 Columbia Road (BOS.16511), and the Pilgrim 481-485 Columbia Road (BOS.16512), mirror the speculative nature of investment characterized by the construction and sale of Gideon L. Davidson’s buildings. The Elmhurst and Glenwood was constructed in 1906. Bernard Finn was the developer and owner, and Boston-area architect William E. Clark designed the building. Finn was a Russian-born house builder who emigrated to the United States in 1890 and lived in Dorchester. Clark lived in Cambridge and designed apartment houses, commercial buildings, rowhouses, detached houses, and warehouses, mainly in Boston’s outlying neighborhoods, but also in the North End from about 1887 to 1911.17 Like the Hotel Bellevue, the Elmhurst and Glenwood was sold soon after its completion and Finn received additional land as partial payment. The report of the sale emphasizes “‘modern improvements” in the eight large suites. The buyer was William Q. Wales, a large property owner about a half-mile down Columbia Road near its intersection with Devon Street. Wales, a resident of Olney Street, was a metal merchant with a long Dorchester lineage; his father was a well-known florist who operated a large nursery on their Columbia Road property. lust a few years after the completion of the Elmhurst and Glenwood, William Q. Wales sold the extensive Wales family property to developers like Finn, who constructed similar apartment buildings:* The Pilgrim was developed by Char les A. Woodsome between 1905 and 1910. Woodsome was a partner in the Boston jewelry business E. B. Horn Company, and a prominent member of Dorchester society who engaged in any real-estate transactions between 1895 and 1910. In addition to developing the Pilgrim, he also purchased the Hall family house at 468 Columbia Road in 1917, and prepared the site for development of an apartment house in the same style as the Pilgrim, though ultimately the site was developed in 1925 by another investor.’ At the time Woodsome was active in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District, he was living on Stoughton Street; he later moved to Melville AVenUe.2°
The Longford, 509 Columbia Road (BOS.165 13), was another early apartment building with a similar genesis. Joseph L. Bergman developed th e property between 1904 and 1910. Bergman was a real-estate broker and investor who lived on Dudley Street?’ He emigrated to the United States in 1881 from Russia, and was most active in real estate during the first decade of the 20th century; he invested in properties throughout Boston’s neighborhoods, including many in Dorchester, and had an office at 30 Court Street. An advertisement for his services emphasizes real-estate development as investment:
To Investors: Don’t invest in stocks or poorly located real estate where you may never see your money again. Consult me first. I have great inducements to offer in all kids of real estate. If I cannot suit you l will at least give you some good adv ice free. The following are a few selected from my innumerable list: large estates on North SL Commerical SL Cross St; also on Charlestown SL for improvement… vacant land on…Columbia Road, Hancock St, Dorchester….an estate suitable for a hote1.22
The Longford was the largest apartment building constructed in the district until the second wave of development in the mid to late 1920s. It contained nineteen suites of one to four rooms, each with a kitchenette and a bath?* This was a building designed to capitalize on a wide range of streetcar commuters—from an individual who might need a single room, to a family requiring more space. In 1911 the building was purchased by the Longford Realty trust, the main trustee being Raymond P. Delano, a Dorchester real-estate broker who resided in the neighborhood and served as secretary of the Dorchester Real Estate Brokers Association.
The G.L. Davidson Apartments, 6-8 Bellevue Street (BOS.16501), the Hotel Bellevue, 435 Columbia Road (BOS.16502), the Israel Sirk Apartments, 465 Columbia Road (BOST 6507), the Cora B. White Apartments, 467 Columbia Road (BOS.16508) the Joseph Klein Apartments, 471 Columbia Road (BOST 6510), the Elmhurst and the Glenwood, 477-477 Columbia Road (BOS.165 11), the Pilgrim, 481485 Columbia Road (BOS.16512), and the Longford, 509 Columbia Road are notable as the first of their kind in the district and as models for future development of the district. Their construction coincided with the construction of the Dorchester Municipal Building (BOS.57 99) erected in 1902 and located on a prominent corner just outside the district at 510 Columbia Road, at the intersection of Columbia Road and Bird Street. (Fig. 3)Th is building served as a community center, library, and gymnasium for the rapidly growing neighborhood. Architecturally, it set the tone for apartment buildings in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District, which departed from the early frame models erected by the Dorchester Associates and Boyd & Berry and embraced the red brick and cast stone, strong classical details, and prominent entrance surround presented by the Municipal Building.
The final development of the Ratshesky tract occurred between 1910 and 1914, and continued the trend of speculative development by local real-estate investors. William Stober owned the vacant parcel at the corner of Glendale Street and Columbia Road in 1910. Stober was a real-estate broker who invested in properties in Boston and Brookline, typically improving vacant lots with stores, apartment buildings, and houses. The Peter B. Seigel Stores were constructed on this parcel in 1911 by architect Max M. Kalman. Kalman designed many buildings between 1910 and 1920 in Beacon Hill, the North End, Allston, and East Boston, as well as Chelsea and Brookline.24 This is the only commercial block in the district; it offered groceries, laundry service, and a tailor to residents of the neighborhood. Given the proximity of the district to Upham’s Corner, the need for commercial space was not critical along this segment of Columbia Road. No original building permits remain for the Commonwealth, 455-457 Columbia Road (BOS.16504), and Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments, 461 and 459 Columbia Road (Bos.16506, BOS.16505). However, we know from advertisements for rental apartments in the Commonwealth and the Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments that the buildings were occupied by 1914. It is likely that the Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments, 459 Columbia Road (BOS.16505), was constructed at this time as well. Given the nature of Stober’s real-estate business, it is possible that Stober developed these properties himself and sold them upon completion. C. C. Clark owned the Commonwealth, and the Mechanic Savings Bank owned the neighboring buildings in 1918.
The first residents of these new apartment buildings were a departure from the district’s early wealthy homeowners. They were middle-class renters employed as clerks, chemists, accountants, teachers, police officers, merchants, salesmen, milliners, and stenographers. A few families employed servants and several rented extra rooms to boarders. Theseresidents were typically American-born, from Massachusetts and other northeastern states. The few families who were born outside the US were generally from Canada.” The uniformity of population reflects a desire on the part of these early apartment-building owners for attracting a well-regarded class of renter to the new apartments. This intent is captured in an advertisement for the Commonwealth from 1914 that characterized the building as high-class and restricted renters to American families: “Elegant location, hot water, gas and electric lighting, oak floors, elegant bath, lavatory, janitor service, all American neighborhood; location the best; 5 min of Upham’s Corner; good concession; rented reasonable to American family. Apply to 455 Columbia Road, Suite 8.”
The interest in attracting American families is also reflected in the names given to some of the apartment buildings as well as their architectural styles. Names like The Pilgrim” and The Commonwealth” emphasized national pride and heritage. Stately architectural ornament harkening back to colonial precedent projected refinement and national roots. At a time when Boston’s downtown neighborhoods were populated by large numbers of recent immigrants, national pride in the form of architecture asserted strength of lineage. Th is was afar-reaching sentiment that was cemented by the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, which ushered in a wave of interest in the nation’s colonial past that continued through the first half of the 20′h century. Colonial nomenclature was not the only signifier of a high-class apartment district, however. Names like “the Elmhurst” and “Glenwood” and “the Longwood” imbued a sense of serene natural beauty offered by the proximity to Franklin Park along a green boulevard. Additionally, the use of the term “hotel” by the developers of the Hotel Bellevue would have struck a high-class note by virtue of comparison with well-known apartment hotels occupied by wealthy Bostonians downtown; “Bellevue,” while also one of the street names on which the apartment is located, translates from the French to “beautiful view,” a further enticement for refined renters.
New construction in the district stalled after the completion of the block of Columbia Road between Glendale and Bird streets, likely due to the country’s involvement in World War I. The final wave of development occurred between 1925 and 1928, and introduced one single-family house and three large apartment buildings contain ing fourteen to 35 units on the western side of Columbia Road. The H. K. Helmsdorf House, 480 Columbia Road (BOS.16784), and Columbia Manor, 466-468 Columbia Road (BOST 6509), were constructed in 1925. The Helmsdorf house was squeezed between the Sayward and Callender houses; it was built for the Helmsdorf family by local architect Giles B. Powell who primarily built multifamily houses in Dorchester.” Columbia Manor was built on the former site of the Hall family house, cleared by Charles Woodsome in 1917. Columbia Manor was listed by that name in city directories. It was built by prolific local architect Samuel S. Levy for the Dorchester Realty Trust. Levy, a Russian immigrant who arrived in the United States at the age of four in 1889, was active in Chelsea early in his career and later in Boston. During the 1920s he built at least 21 apartment buildings in Dorchester, Roxbury, Brookline, Jamaica Plain, and Newton.
The final buildings constructed in the district were built in 1928 (Fig. 4). The Alpine, 422-424 Columbia Road (BOS.16791), and Priscilla Court, 414-418 Columbia Road (BOS.16791), were both developed by Ralph C. Estes, a building contractor with an office at 7 Cush ing Avenue. However, different architects designed each building. The Alpine was designed by Saul E. Moffie, while Priscilla Court was designed by G. Bertram Washburn. Moffie and Washburn were both local architects who were active in the 1910s through the 1940s. Moffie had offices in Boston and Cambridge and designed many buildings in the Greater Boston area. Many of his Boston buildings were built in the Back Bay, Dorchester, Roxbury, and Allston-Brighton. These included apartment houses as well as commercial blocks and single-family houses. Washburn also constructed a number of apartment buildings in Brookline.
As the district continued to develop, the demographics of the residents did not change significantly from the precedent set by the earliest residents. The apartments continued to be occupied primarily by middle-class American families employed with professions similar to those renting a decade earlier: salesmen, clerks, stenographers, printers, physicians, teachers, and grocers. Again, names like “Priscilla Court,” “the Alpine,” and “Columbia Manor” continued to project colonial lineage, lofty serenity, and elite residences, and attracted a class of renters in keeping with those who were well established in the neighborhood. The mid 1920s brought a few changes to the oldest houses in the district, which were anomalies on this booming, multifamily boulevard. Each was converted from single-family occupancy to partial businesses; the Sayward house became a funeral home as well as a residence, and the Callender house was converted to a lodging house. (The lodgers, however, conformed to the makeup of the apartment residents in nationality and occupation.) This era also saw the introduction of the few concrete-block garages in the district, added to the older single-family houses on larger lots. The homogeneous make-up of the neighborhood remained largely intact through 1940. Beginning in 1930, a few buildings included households whose heads of families were born outside the United States in countries other than Canada. These include natives of Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Lithuania. The vast majority of residents, however, continued to be from Massachusetts and New England.
The 1950s and 1960s were a transitional period for the district. Many of the apartment units were reconfigured, shrinking the original apartment size and allowing a greater number of residents to occupy the buildings. The Elmhurst and Glenwood, the Hotel Bellevue, and the Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments, for example, all doubled their original occupancy between 1954 and 1968. These changes ushered in a new class of renters, as smaller apartments were more affordable to the masses and less desirable to those who preceded them. The majority of residents during this period had Irish surnames in the city directories. Other alterations to the district at this time included the introduction of small offices into some of the oldest residen teat. In 1958 an optometrist’s office was introduced into one of the early, frame apartment buildings built by the Dorchester Associates in 1899, and one of the single-family houses developed by Samuel Pierce in 1894 housed a doctor’s office as well as a residential apartment in 1962.18 This was also a period of transition for the public transit that spurred development in the district a half-century earlier. The aging fleet of streetcars were converted to trackless trolleys in 1949, and replaced entirely by busses in 1962 (Figs. 5-7).
The Colonial Revival Movement and the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District
The dominant architectural vocabulary of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District is the Colonial Revival. This style was immensely popular in the United States from the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries. The most active period of the development of the district, 1894 to 1928, occurred at the peak of the popularity of the Colonial Revival. While early interest in the colonial past was triggered by the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago cemented the interest in reviving its relics in the minds of the nation. The occasion marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, and presented visitors with innumerable opportunities to experience the colonial past. Colonial architecture was on exhibit in many of the state buildings erected at the fair; colonial decorative interiors, commemorative displays, and historical exhibitions flooded the fair grounds.25 Massachusetts recreated the John Hancock House, built on Beacon Hill in 1737 and demolished in 1863. This colonial celebration coincided with mass immigration to the United States from Europe in the 1880s and 1890s, which fueled a desire to establish the dominance of American values. Reviving elements of the colonial past was reassuring to families with long bloodlines at a time of great change.
Colonial Revival architecture began as loose interpretations of colonial period buildings, but took a more serious turn in the early 20th century when publications such as The American Architect and Building News began publishing measured drawings of colonial buildings and the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs printed photographs of colonial precedents.3° The singlemost defining characteristic that was reproduced in the revival movement is an emphasis on the door surround of the main entrance, which often features pilasters or slender columns supporting a pediment or entablature as seen in the Georgian style, or a fanlight above the door as seen in the Federal style. Other characteristic elements of the revival style include cornices, symmetrical fenestration arrangement, light-colored brick, bay windows, multipane double-hung sash windows commonly featured in pairs, and, in urban examples, bowed fronts.”
The enduring popularity of the Colonial Revival style explains its pervasive use by speculative builders in the development of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District. Its appeal would have been especially popular among the class of residents sought for the district. As discussed earlier, names like the Commonwealth, the Pilgrim, and Priscilla Court added emphasis to the colonial derivation of the forms. The most striking Colonial Revival architectural elements pervasive in the brick apartment buildings in the district are the strong cornice lines, bowed fronts, symmetrical facades, and elaborate classical entry surrounds, especially striking on those buildings on the eastern side of Columbia Road. Original windows and doors have been replaced in most instances, but windows would likely have held multipane, double-hung sash. The frame buildings in the district also exemplify defining Colonial Revival features. A strikingly intact Colonial Revival entrance remains in one of the single-family houses built by Samuel Pierce in 1894: 432 Columbia Road (BOS16788), which retains its mu Itipan e door with sidelights as well as its classical door surround with slender Doric Columns supporting an elliptical pediment. Remnants of the Colonial Revival door configuration with paneled door and sidelights are visible on Dorchester Associates Apartments at 487-489 Columbia Road (BOS.16779), constructed in 1899. The William Riley Apartments, 460 Columbia Road 0305.167874 are a good example of the Colonial Revival aesthetic applied to a three-decker apartment building; the building retains its original door and sidelights, as well as a strong cornice and slim porch columns.
Summary of Activity in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District Post-1967
While the mid 201h century initiated the transition of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District away from its original form and population, more significant change followed in the succeeding decades. The late 1960s and early 1970s brought wholesale renovations to many of the apartment buildings in the district for use as affordable housing by a team called Columbia Apartments, headed by John Danielson. The Elmhurst and Glen wood, the Hotel Bellevue, the Commonwealth, the Mechanic Savings Bank Apartments, Columbia Manor, the Alpine, and Priscilla Court all received new windows and doors as well as interior updates between 1967 and 1968. A few years later, in 1972 and 1974, the G. L. Davidson Apartments, the Pilgrim, the Cora B. White Apartments, and the Joseph Klein Apartments were rehabilitated to the same extent, and for the same purpose. The 1970s and 1980s saw the introduction of synthetic siding to the frame apartment buildings and single-family houses and the reconstruction of front porches, which in many cases resulted in the loss of historic fabric. It was also at th is time that two of the Pierce family houses were converted from single to two-family houses. The 1980s ushered in a second wave of rehabilitation for affordable housing to Columbia Manor, the Alpine, and Priscilla Court by a group called Glendale Associates. The population of the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District also changed during this period from a predominantly Irish neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s to a predominantly African-American neighborhood in the ensuing decades. The mass migration of African Americans from the southern United States to urban cities in the north began in the 1910s and continued through the 1970s. African Americans settled in many Boston neighborhoods during this period. Their arrival in the Columbia Road-Bellevue Street Historic District dates to after the 1960s. The majority of the current population of the district is of African-American and Hispanic descent. In 2016, the Cruz Development Corporation rehabilitated the G. L. Davidson Apartments, the Cora B. White Apartments, the Joseph Klein Apartments, and the Longford for continued use as affordable housing using state and federal historic tax credits. The renovations aimed to address issues of deferred maintenance on the exterior and interior of these buildings. Work included the replacement of non-h istoric doors and windows, repointing and repair of brickwork, repair of concrete stairs, slabs, and curbs, and drywall, replacement of rotted wood and non-historic interior fixtures and finishes, and repair and replacement of flooring. All work met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for T