Dudley Triangle

Dudley Triangle

The following is from the AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated March, 1995 and recorded by Edward W. Gordon.

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

The Dudley Triangle area, is bounded by Dudley Street on the northeast; the New York, New Haven and

Hartford Railroad tracks on the east; Quincy Street on the south; and Blue Hill Avenue on the west. This area is overwhelmingly residential and extraordinarily complex in terms of housing pes and is not always cohesive in terms of concentrations of historic resources. There are many gaps in the streetscapes in the form of vacant lots.

Well-designed new housing just to the east of Blue Hill Avenue (bordering Dacia Street) is compatible with olderhousing stock. Historic resources are dispersed throughout the entire area with the St. Paul’s / Hartford Street/Chamblet Road and Magnolia Square/ Sargent Street section offering, perhaps the best opportunity for a cohesive historic district. The major landmark on the “sky line” of this area is St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church (1922-37) which is situated atop Harrison Hill. Perhaps this area’s greatest strength lies in its masonry buildings–be they row houses, apartments, commercial blocks, school, municipal facilities etc.These masonry structures, with their quality craftsmanship, fine design and attention to detail speak to the fact that this was once le of the most urbane and affluent parts of the city. It is sometimes difficult to “read” the development of this rea because there is so much that is missing or that is brand new. Another look at the streets at the northern apex of this triangular area is recommended north of West Cottage Street.

The oldest building in the area appears to be the Greek Revival house at 186 Magnolia Street. Its encircling verandah is in poor condition with attenuated Tuscan columns no longer supporting the roof in some instances and the roof, itself, missing parts or all of its entablature. This house is “alive” with all manner of projecting components including polygonal bays, oriels and gables. Still intact is its lot’s low granite block, cap stone- topped retaining walls.

One block south of Chamblet, off of Magnolia Street, is Magnolia Square. This cul-de- de -sac is bordered primarily by large Queen Anne houses with the noteworthy exception of 1/3 Magnolia Square. This house has the appearance of an Italianate school that has been adapted for residential purposes (further research needed here). This clapboard- clad house stands with its broad end wall gable facing Magnolia Square. It is composed of a 3-bay x 2-bay main block with a fairly extensive rear ell. Its center entrance is flanked by 2-story octagonal bays. Above each bay is an occulus window. At the center of the attic is a tripartite window that contains clapboards. Its windows are fully enframed with cornice headed lintels. Its side walls’ roof slopes exhibit pairs of pedimented dormers.

Across the street at #14 Magnolia Square is an intact, hip roofed 2-family Colonial Revival with a front porch exhibiting clustered Ionic porch columns. Its main facade features a bow front and bowed oriel above the entrance. #17 Magnolia Square is a substantial Queen Anne/Colonial Revival clapboard and wood shingle clad residence with three-story corner tower. Situated on a high rubblestone basement, this house rises 2-stories to a low hip roof with a cornice entablature noteworthy for its low relief ribbon and swag motifs.

Other buildings of note in this area include the Little Zion Church of God at Wayland Street , corner of Howard Street. This building was evidently built as a synagogue c.1920, but further information is needed here. Constructed of brick, this 3-bay x 6-bay rectangular 2-story building is enclosed by a flat roof. Difficult to categorize stylistically, this building’s double doors open onto an open porch which rests on a raised brick platform. Above the main entrances are windows set within a pair of Renaissance Revival console keystone arches. Ranking these windows are long and narrow arched windows. Under each of these windows are panels with decorative checkerboard patterns (composed of marble?) This building ‘s main facade culminates in a low stepped parapet_

West Cottage Street and vicinity contains several architecturally significant buildings. Its streetscape is intact between Dudley Street and Brook Avenue, lined as it is with brick row houses with octagonal bays at #’s 7-19 and 16-26 West Cottage Street. #30 West Cottage Street , corner of Brook Avenue is a wood shingle clad Queen Anne residence characterized by an irregular form. It is noteworthy for its well rendered front and side porches. Around the corner at # ‘ s 88-100 Brook Avenue is a town house grouping unusual for the way its facades follow the curve in Brook Avenue These Italianate / Mansard / Panel Brick houses exhibit corbelled cornices and entrances variously set within saw cut bracketed door hoods and brownstone arches. The mansard roofs of #’s 88,90 and 92 appear to be missing.

Further west on West Cottage Street is an interesting group of four Queen Anne/Romanesque row houses at it’s 74-80 that feature paired entrances set within brown and white stone voussoir edged arches. Octagonal bays appear as a pair at the center of this row as well as at either end of this group. A continuous band of brick work panels appears between the windows of the first and second floors. At the top of each oriel is an ornamental swansneck scroll.

St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, located at the corner of Hartford and Lingard Streets, was built between 1923-1937 from designs provided by Maginnis and Walsh. This Boston architectural firm had a national reputation for excellent, scholarly ecclesiastical design. Examples of this firm’s work includes the church of St. Catherine of Genoa (1907-1916) on Spring Hill in Somerville; St. Catherine of Siena built in Norwood in 1909 and St. Theresa’s in West Roxbury, designed in 1929. Designed in the English Gothic style, St. Paul’s form is that of a modified Latin Cross. Constructed of granite blocks with the gable end wall of the nave facing Hartford Street, this church’s pinnacle-topped tower rises from in front of the altar. The main facade’s three entrances are set within pointed arches and open onto a broad flight of steps. Above the center entrance is a large, Gothic stained glass window. St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church is the major landmark in the Dudley triangle area and imparts a kind of English country village character to its surroundings.

Hartford Street represents the main north-south street in this area within the larger Dudley Triangle area (St. Paul’s/Hartford Street might be a good name for this sub area). In general, Hartford Street is lined with 2.5 -story Queen Anne gable-fronted, side passage houses. Characterized by cross-shaped forms, these houses exhibit 2-story polygonal bays on their main facade as well as various types of small, open entrance porches. #37 Hartford Street represents an interesting variation on the aforementioned Hartford Street housing, exhibiting a three -story tower with pyramidal roof cap. Its front door opens onto a small encircling verandah which exhibits turned posts and saw cut diagonal bracing enlivened by ginger bread ornamentation. Other Hartford Street houses do not at all follow the typical formula for housing on this street 27 Hartford Street, for example, features broad Shingle Style end wall gambrel profiles which sweep down and over an open front porch with square posts. Its main facade’s roof slope features two levels of dormer windows. Other exceptions to the rule along this street include the Queen Anne residence at 32 Hartford Street . Here, pedimented gable roofed components face Hartford and Lingard Streets. Nestled and angled at the center of these wings is a two story component with a small encircling verandah. Although altered by asphalt shingles, the Queen Anne house at 44 Hartford Street is of interest for its unusual form which includes a circular corner oriel which projects from a more standard T-shaped house with intersecting gables. The encircling verandah is of interest for its circular conical roofed segment. The real gem on this street in terms of domestic architecture is the small, well-detailed Italianate house at 54 Hartford Street. Here, this L- shaped house is composed of a 2-bay x 2-bay main block with small rear ell. Built c.1865-1870, this house features a later Queen Anne front porch with turned elements. Its main facade features a polygonal oriel to the right of the entrance. Its upper floors exhibit unusually ornate window enframents for a house of this scale and includes a tripartite window with bracketed and cornice headed lintel and scroll detail at its lower corners. Its cornice features a crisply rendered dentil course as well as closely spaced brackets. It is enclosed by a low hip roof with a single dormer at the center of its main facade. Around the corner at # 38 Sargent Street is a well preserved example of the Stick Style, complete with vertical stick work over clapboards and broad jerkin head gable.

Chamblet Street, off of Hartford Street is lined with several large architecturally significant late 19th century residences including 9 Chamblet Street , a robust example of the Colonial Revival style . This hip-roofed house is noteworthy for its full length front porch with paired Ionic columns and turned Georgian Revival railing balusters. Its center entrance is flanked by leaded glass side lights and surmounted by a graceful fan light. Its main entrance is flanked by 2-story bowed segments. At the center of the main facade is a tripartite window with leaded glass sash and molded enframements. Pairs of dormers with broken pediments appear on its slate-shingled roof slopes. 2 Chamblet Street, corner of Magnolia, is in need of immediate preservation action. This large, rambling, towered Queen Anne house exhibits a highly irregular form; its clapboard and wood shingle sheathing is in an advanced state of deterioration.

Although the southern boundary line is confined primarily to the north side of Quincy Street, this area does include the Phillips Brooks School on the south west side of the street. In general. Quincy Street tends to be lined with fairly plain and altered triple deckers. Situated at # 5 Perth Street, corner of Quincy street, the Philips Brooks School is a fine example of a Renaissance Revival institutional building.The facade of this red brick, 3.5 story school is characterized by a highly symmetrical design which is divided into three, 5-bay segments. Its center entrance is set within a graceful console keystone arch and exhibits rich but restrained limestone surrounds. Above the entrance is a plaque with raised lettering which reads “Phillips Brooks School 1899”. It was designed by A. Warren Gould, architect of the Dorchester Women’s Club (1892) at 40 Centre Street in the Codman Square area of Dorchester. This school’s ground floor features rusticated brick work treatments; its windows are interspersed with ornate stone piers. The upper floors of its flanking bays are faced with white stone . The third floor of the center bay features tall and narrow arched windows interspersed by engaged columns.Above the top floor windows of the flanking bays are stone friezes with low relief floral detail. Particularly noteworthy is the molded cast metal cornice which includes a crisply rendered dentil course.At either end of the rectangular main block are four- story campanile-like towers with open porches at the top level, pierced by arched openings. A three-story flat roofed bay projects from the west wall.

The western boundary line of this area is confined primarily to the east side of Blue Hill Avenue but jogs across this thoroughfare to take in the Rosa Parks Day Care Center at Blue Hill Avenue, corner of Savin Street; this masonry structure was built as a George Robert White Health Fund Unit in 1929 (architect unidentified).

This Renaissance Revival, 3.5 story red brick and limestone trimmed building stands 12 bays in width and 3-bays in depth. Its main entrance is located at the center of its narrow Savin Street wall and is set within a console bracketed pediment. Its Blue Hill Avenue wall is noteworthy for its rhythmic repetition of monumental Doric piers which are interspersed between multi pane windows that exhibit something of an industrial aesthetic. The top floor features pairs of wide, multi- pane windows that are interspersed with paired Doric pilasters and impart a solarium-like appearance to this top floor. This building is enclosed by a flat, deeply overhanging roof. At the Blue Hill Ave/ Savin Street corner just above the level of the second- floor windows is a shield -like date plaque which reads “1929”.

Continuing northeast along Blue Hill Avenue is an extraordinary, cupola topped Italianate house on the Roxbury side of this thoroughfare numbered 57 Blue Hill Avenue. This house sits atop a low brick store front/basement, now vacant, which in and of itself is an important document of a type of “mom and pop” storefront that was much more prevalent at the turn of the century. This wood shingle clad house stands with broad and bracketed end wall gables facing north-south. Projecting from its main facade is an off- center, 3-bay x 1-bay end wall gable which exhibits an arched Gothic revival attic window. The first floor encircling verandah is supported by posts featuring unusual punched and cut detail. Angled bracing extends from these posts to the porch roof eaves. The main entrance is situated near the northeast corner of the house and is set within a deep, pendant-ornamented door hood. To the left of the door hood is a polygonal bay. In general, windows are set within deep, well-molded, segmental headed and square surrounds. Rising from the intersection of the main block’s gables is an octagonal cupola with deep, bracketed

The northeast boundary of this area includes both sides of Dudley Street between Blue Hill Avenue and the New York, New Haven and New England Railroad tracks. Although Dudley Street suffers from numerous gaps in its streetscapes, it nevertheless encompasses an architecturally significant collection of brick buildings dating from the mid-late 19th century.

Another noteworthy masonry building is the “Mathew” commercial/residential block at 555 Dudley Street. This 4-story Renaissance/Georgian Revival building addresses the Dudley / West Cottage Streets intersection with a distinctive , curved facade. Access to the apartments of the upper floors is gained via front doors set within a broad, console bracketed stone arch. The yellow brick upper floors undulate with three octagonal bays on the West Cottage Street side and a single three-story bay on the dudley Street facade. This building culminates in a corbelled cornice and is enclosed by a flat roof.

#’s 589, 591, 593 and 595 Dudley Street is an imposing Panel Brick/Queen Anne residential block. Its rectangular 16-bay x 3-bay form exhibits paired entries at the 4th and 5th bays from either end of this brick structure. Each floor displays different window lintel treatments including bar, segmental headed, drip and square headed windows. A corbelled brickwork course separates the third and fourth stories and piers project between every group of four windows on the 4th story. A very English Queen Anne touch are the four swans neck scroll pediments that rise above the roof line at regular intervals.

Considering the eastern edge of this area, Magnolia Street, one block from the railroad tracks, is intermittently lined with architecturally significant buildings, including #’s 6 to 24 Magnolia Street . This group of brick bow front row houses features short flights of granite steps; deep, bracketed door hoods; 2-story bow fronts and mansard roofs with single and tripartite dormers. Also noteworthy is the Benedict Fenwick School (now the Sister Clara Muhammad School) at 150 Magnolia Street. Blending Renaissance Revival elements with Tapestry brick surface treatments, this 2.5 story school is composed of an 11 bay x 2-bay main block with a substantial side wing. Still extant at 177 to 185 Magnolia Street is a row of bow- front apartments which feature recessed entrances, surmounted by lintels with incited Eastlakian detail. This building culminates in a well-crafted brick work cornice.

Considerably more cohesive is the collection of historic resources atop Harrison Hill. This area within the larger Dudley Triangle area encompasses late- 19th- century- single and two- family housing bordering Hartford, Lingard, Half Moon, Chamblet and Sargent Streets and Magnolia Square.

The Dudley Triangle area, in the mid-late 18th century ,achieved prominence as a country retreat for affluent t3ostonians.The east side of Mt. Harrison or Harrison Hill and nearby Dudley Street (originally part of Stoughton Street) once encompassed the homes of Swans, Taylors, and later Hoopers. The hilly, ledgy, tree- covered terrain .ittracted wealthy merchants seeking respite from the worlds of business and politics in Boston . This area’s scenic :andscape provided refuge and inspiration for writers like Susan Wentworth Apthorp who composed the first Vnerican novel The Power of Sympathy” and Perez Morton who wrote the funeral eulogy for General Joseph Warren who died at Bunker Hill. Both Apthorp and Morton communed with their muses in the old Taylor House

high stood on Dudley Street opposite Howard Avenue.According to Dorchester historian William Dana Orcutt, ttis fine example of a mid- 18th -century Georgian mansion “embraced a large tract of land, which was bounded b) flowering shrubs. Tall, majestic elms surrounded the house, which was itself a type of the hospitality which reigned within”.The center-hall house stood 5-bays in width and two piles in depth, with highly symmetrical iacades . The main facade featured a pedimented center pavillion with the main entry set within an elegant bowed, balustrade-topped portico. Flanking the entrance were pairs of monumental Corinthian pilasters. Perez Morton owned this property from the 1770s until 1808; he purchased it from Lemuel and Ezekiel Bird. This estate “contained by estimation five acres more or less, with all the buildings thereon standing”. Born in 1751, Morton ‘k as, among other things, a speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1807-1811), attorney general of Massachusetts 1811-1832) and in 1820 he was a delegate to the State convention. Later owners of Morton’s mansion included Coolidges, Hedges and finally Taylors. Sadly, this house was taken down during the 1890s.

The mansion of the infamous James Swan was also located in this area (more research is needed to pinpoint the exact location—Kirker and Orcutt are vague as to its site). Swan, a native of Fifeshire , Scotland came to Boston at an earl age, worked for a time as a clerk, participated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and was wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He later became adjutant general of the Commonwealth but during the 1780s, was forced to flee to France because of his inability to honor substantial debts. His wife , Hepzebah Swan, was one of the original Mount Vernon Proprietors on Beacon Hill . Swan paid off his debts, recouped his fortune and returned to the U.S. during the mid 1790s.  In c. 1796. He hired the architect Charles Bulfinch to design a great wooden bow fronted country house. Swan had purchased this land as early as 1780. The estate had been formerly owned by Nathaniel Hatch, a Tory, who had his property confiscated by the State. Orcutt , in reference to the Swan Mansion, noted that ” “its site was imposing being upon a ledge of rocks”. Swan’s Bulfinch-designed mansion was described as an “elegant and very expensive house”. Swan’s property also encompassed a “road house”, two stables, a hay loft with a servants’ chamber and a pidgeon house. Swan’s years on Dudley Street were brief but his heirs owned this property until 1857 when both the house and its French Louis XVI furnishings were sold at auction. In 1825, Mrs Swan entertained Lafayette here while her husband James languished in a debtor’s prison in Paris. Later owners included Nathaniel Augustus Barrett and Mrs. William H. Cilley. Like the aforementioned Taylor House, the Swan House was torn down during the 1890s, ironically at the height of the Colonial and Federal Revival’s popularity in the Boston area. All of this discussion of extinct 18th century landmarks is meant to show that a precedent had long ago been set for this area’s status as a section of upscale suburban and later urban masonry residences during the mid to late 19th century–a period of time for which there is ample physical evidence still in existence in this part of Dorchester.

In a sense, the story of the Dudley Triangle’s history as a modern neighborhood begins with the construction of the Captain Robert Chamblet Hooper mansion in 1845. Hooper built his Italianate, cupola topped mansion on or near the site of the present St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church at the corner of Hartford and Lingard Streets. Before discussing Hooper, it should be noted that in 1850, Hooper’s neighbors in the Dudley Triangle area included members of the Loring, Sargent, Cunningham, Monk and J. P. Clapp families. Additionally, there were seven unlabeled dwellings in this area. Magnolia Street existed as Myrtle Street, Quincy Street extended only from the Roxbury line to Columbia Street (Road), Blue Hill Avenue is not shown on this map but was located on the other side of a stream that separated Dorchester and Roxbury. West Cottage Street started out as a drive way leading northwestward from Dudley (then part of Stoughton) leading to the Monk place. Howard Street is shown on the 1850 Map as forming a triangular area with Quincy and Myrtle (Magnolia) Street. Returning to Robert C. Hooper (1805-1869), it should be noted that he was born in Marblehead, the grandson of “King” Hooper, a well known merchant. Robert Hooper was educated at Phillips Academy and graduated with Harvard’s Class of 1822. After Harvard, he traveled the world on his father’s ships. Robert Hooper made his fortune building and selling ships, and by trading sugar and other commodities in Boston. He also traded on and owned a share of Central Wharf and built Constitution Wharf. Hooper’s Dorchester estate was called Oakland.

This 20- acre estate was bounded by Dudley and Hartford Streets. In 1869, the year of his death, Hooper ranked among Dorchester’s wealthiest men with his house alone valued at $40,000.00. Between 1870 and 1911, Hooper’s heirs gradually subdivided his estate which covered a sizeable percentage of the Dudley Triangle area. Lingard Street was first known as Hooper Street. During the late 1870’s-80’s, Robin Hood Street, Chamblet Street and Half Moon

Magnolia Street, which was extant by 1850, is one of the streets in the Dudley Triangle section that show the greatest range of historic domestic architectural styles.The oldest house on this street, and for that matter in this area , appears to be the Greek Revival farm house at 186 Magnolia, corner of Quincy Street. It does not appear on the 1850 map but was probably extant by 1855. In 1869, it was owned by Elizabeth P. and Richard K. Vaughan . At that time this house was valued at $3500 and its stable and shed were assigned a valuation of $500.

Interestingly enough, masonry row housing as well as wood frame dwellings were built in this area bem oen 1870-1890. Between 1870-74, the red brick group of bow front Italianate /Mansards was built at #’s 6 to 24 Magnolia St (originally Myrtle Street. Early owners (1874 Atlas) included George Smith at #6; Anne G. Greenlaw at #8 ( presumably a relative of carpenter William C. Greenlaw who lived at #37 Blue Hill Avenue), James D.K. Willis lived at #10; Ruth H. Martin resided at #12; Robert B. Griffin, salesman and commuter to w :irk at 34 High Street, Boston lived at #14; L.V. Morey is listed at #16; Alexander Mc Donald owned #’s 18 to 22: and *24 was owned by an A.L. Hitchcock, salesman.

Another Magnolia Street masonry row is #’s 177 to 185 Magnolia Street located towards the western end of this thoroughfare. Built between 1884-1894 in the Panel Brick/Queen Anne style, early owners included Mary R. Price-#177; Mary L. Quincy-#179; Martha Clark-#181; and S.B. Pierce-#183.

The Benedict Fenwick School at #150 Magnolia Street, near the center of this thoroughfare was built in 1912 from designs provided by James E. Mc Laughlin. Its 80,632 square foot lot had been owned by the City of Boston since at least 1874. Magnolia Square off the west side of Magnolia Street was carved from the Hooper estate during the 1890’s. #1,3 Magnolia Square looks like a c.1860s school house that was adapted for re-use as a residence-further research is needed here. This building’s main facade was originally oriented towards Ma.2nolia Street and was turned to face Magnolia Square between 1898-1910. An Adam Foncar owned this house di. the 1890s. The remaining houses on Magnolia square represent a speculative development by architect and builder G. Fred Osgood of the Boston architectural firm of Gardener and Osgood. Examples of this firm’s work include the Queen Anne/Colonial Revival houses at 14 and 17 Magnolia Square . Built in 1898, both houses were originally owned by G. Fred Osgood.

Continuing northeasterly is Chamblet Road, off the west side of Magnolia. #2 Chamblet Road , the dilapidated Queen Anne in need of preservation action, was built in 1895 by architect and builder J.G. Eaton for Ivlar. W. Wooley, widow of William Wooley. A later owner was Emma P. Best.

9 Chamblet Street represents a late work by Boston architect William Gibbons Preston who while still :a his youth designed the Museum of Natural History Building at Berkeley and Newbury Streets in the Back Bay.(now Louis’) as well as the first segment of the Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Avenue and also worked extensively in Savannah, Georgia. This house was built in 1896 by and for James D. Mc Clellan, carpenter, 19 Wareham Street and 166 Devonshire  Street in Boston (probably cost of the land for this house was $10,000.00).

Hartford Street was set out during the late 1880s over what had been part of the Robert C. Hooper estate. The early 1890’s seem to have been a time of considerable house construction activity on this street. #27 Hartford Street was built in the early 1890’s for an A.A. Whitney. By 1898, an A.A. Roberts owned this house. William F. Palmer owned this house during c.1905-15 and in 1908 built an “auto shed” on the premises–surely one of the first garages in Dorchester and worth mentioning because the building department materials contain an original, well-detailed 2-color drawing of this garage. Palmer’s occupation is never listed and he is listed as having died on September 29, 1909. Later owners were a T. J. and A.C. Barry. #32 Hartford Street (corner of Lingard) was built in 1892 from designs provided by A.P. Clifford who was also the original owner and builder. Later owners included Annie E. Bradbury (1894), Sarah E Parker (1898), and Mary Phippen (early 20th century).

 #33Hartford Street, built during the early 1890s, like #9 Chamblet Road, represents the work of local carpenter J. D. McClellan. A later owner was Margaret Kelley (1910s, 20s). The Queen Anne at 44 Hartford Street , dating from the.early 1890s, was built for an Elizabeth B Mc Quarrie. Further research is needed to determine the construction date of the little jewel of a house at #54 Hartford Street which looks to date to around 1870. For many years, Elizabeth L. Fernald and Henry W. Fernald , clerk lived here. #38 Sargent Street, the well preserved Stick style house was built c.1880 on a multi- lot tract that had been owned by a William Gray Jr. in 1874. Owners of this house include an M. P. Gifford, (1890’s) and Emma F. Stedman (1910s).


Posted on

June 13, 2022

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