King Square

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.

Architectural Description

The King Square / Dix Street area represents a narrow, but sizeable cross-section of east central Dorchester extending from King Square, westerly to Dorchester Avenue, taking in the entire length of Parkman Street and the eastern and western segments of Dix Street. Modest mid 19th century Greek Revival/Italianate dwellings lend a rural village sensibility to the streetscape, while the great historic architectural strength of this area is the development of substantial Italianate / Mansards bordering the eastern segment of Dix Street. Additionally, well crafted Queen Annes are located on and around the King Square cross roads at Neponset and Adams Streets. The Dorchester Avenue end of this district features everything from an 18th -century dwelling (6 A/6B Parkman Street), to a Greek Revival farm house (1623 Dorchester Avenue), an ensemble of Queen Anne/Colonial Revival 3-dcckers (1600 to 1606 Dorchester Avenue) as well as a Craftsman style church at 1620 Dorchester Avenue.

The oldest house in this area, although not located on its original site is the House at 6A/6B Parkman Street. This center chimney 5-bay, 2-pile, 2.5 story, clapboard-clad. frame dwelling exhibits a center entrance with Late Georgian enframements consisting of simple pilasters and pediment with return eaves. Its windows are set within raised moldings and contain 2/2 wood sash. This house is enclosed by a broad gable roof with a relatively massive chimney at either end of the roof ridge. Further east along Parkman Street are Italianate dwellings of note, including the wood-shingle covered upright and wing house at 12 Parkman Street and Parkman Street with its 3-bay main façade, front door with heavy bracketed hood and polygonal bay. An interesting Greek Revival/Italianate cottage is located at 36 Parkman Street. This 1.5 story 3-bay x 2-bay structure features a center entrance which is surmounted by a door hood consisting of bold scroll brackets and flat roof. The Greek Revival Style is represented by a pair of pedimented dormers.

The Italianate Mansard Style is well represented in a remarkably intact development of substantial 2.5 story L and -shaped houses whose 3-bay main facades feature center entrances and open front porches with champfered posts and brackets. These houses 80-100 and 77-95 Dix Street along with 367 Adams Street are enclosed. for the most part by bell cast mansard roofs with some hip roofs in evidence. 95 Dix Street is perhaps the best preserved of this collection of Dix Street Mansards.

The Queen Anne style is also well represented in the King Square area, particularly around the King Square cross roads of Neponset and Adams Street. Here, in typical Queen Anne fashion form constitutes the bulk of the architectural significance with well crafted clapboard and wood shingle sheathing along with well molded ornament thrown in for good measure. For example, the Stephen C. Higgins Funeral home at 4 Neponset Avenue is a wood shingle covered 2.5 story residence noteworthy for its highly plastic surfaces which include a main facade with two story bow front surmounted by deeply overhanging gable. Next door at 4,6 Saco Street, corner of Neponset, a multi-family house displays a long rectangular form, whose boxyness is interrupted by polygonal bays and low arched over hanging gables with lunette windows on the Saco Street facade. Also at King Square (25 Neponset Ave.) is a well preserved Queen Anne house of highly irregular form which retains clapboards, shingle apron separating the first and second floors and a corner tower with conical roof cap and slate shingles intact throughout. The asymmetrical massing, odd window placement and predilection for encircling verandahs with turned elements is embodied by 373 Adams Street.

Interspersed with the earlier Italianate housing of Parkman Street are less substantial examples of the Queen Anne style than at King Square, but what these houses lack in scale they make up for in the exuberance of their turned porch elements and wood shingle surface treatments. 33 Parkman Street stands with two bay end wall gable facing the street. It may in fact be an Italianate side-hall plan house “updated” by an unusually fancy encircling verandah with slatwork rails, well turned posts and a wealth of sawcut ginger bread detailing. #10 Parkman Street stands with three bay main facade to the street, its main facade combining a Stick Style overlay of vertical and horizontal boards with c1aoboards and well crafted octagonal shingles.

The western boundary of this area has been drawn to include 1623 Dorchester Avenue, a Greek Revival farm house on the west side of Dorchester A venue which stands with 3-bay end wall gable facing the street (appears to be a hall plan.), Christ Church Unitarian, an Edwin J. Lewis, Jr.- designed church at 1620 Dorchester Ave. is a 1.5 story, L-shaped church characterized by rugged walls of uncoursed ashlar granite. The church stands with front gable facing Dorchester Ave. Small tripartite windows are set high in the side walls. Attic gables are with half timbering. The rhythmic repetition of closely spaced dormer windows with steeply pitched Gothisized on both roof slopes strike a picturesque note. The entire structure has a pleasing, romantic Medieval appearance and deserves further study as a little known example of Edwin J. Lewis, Jr.’s work.

Also included in the extreme western section of the King square area are some noteworthy three deckers on western Dix Street and along Dorchester Avenue. #15 Dix Street represents a well preserved three decker with a main facade dominated by a pair of polygonal bays, culminating in a deep, bracketed cornice. This building was constructed in 1905 from designs provided by Timothy J. Lyons. #14 Dix Street across the street features a two tier Tuscan columned front porch and a distinctive, boldly curved comer. This is a “true” triple decker with porches front and back. It was built in 1910 from designs provided by Patrick J. Lyons Jr. The attractive ensemble of three deckers at 1600 A and B, 1602 A and B, 1604A and 1606, Dorchester Avenue were built c. 1918-1920. Painted green with white trimmings and octagonal bays, these early 20th century multi family structures serve to visually define the western edge of the King Square area.

The eastern segment of Dix Street near Adams Street is noteworthy for its discrete development of substantial Italianate houses and Italianate/Mansards built during the early 1870’s (includes #’s 77-99 and #’s 80-100 Dix Street). Typically, these houses are large boxes with center entrances, open porches, and Italianate window enframents. Mansards and hip roofs are the norm. These houses face fairly ample front yards. These houses represent something of a unique historic resource in Dorchester. Rarely does one find such a concentration of houses of this type and scale presented in such a self conscious planned development.

Parkman Street is an earlier cross street (extant by c. 1860) and its resources tend toward modest facade gable and facade gable with lateral wing Italianate cottages and houses, Occasionally, Queen Anne house appearing as evidence of later plot subdivisions. #33 Parkman Street is a good example of a vernacular Queen Anne house with a well crafted front porch. Returning to the Italianates, an interesting L-shaped house of this style stands at #22 Parkman Street while a charming Italianate cottage borders the cul de sac called Parkman Place.

Somewhat awkwardly included in this western section of the King Square Area is Elm Lawn, a cul de sac off Centre Street with no direct street connections with the rest of this area. Elm Lawn “backs up” to Dix Street properties included in the King Square area. Its narrow green space, literally a shared lawn with roadways on all sides, is one of the little known treasures of Dorchester. It boasts a small but choice collection of Queen Anne houses with irregular forms and well crafted elements, most notably the Edwin J. Lewis Jr.-designed house at 2 Elm Lawn.

Historical Narrative

King Square refers to the Adams Street/Neponset Street cross roads and was named in honor of Boston merchants Franklin and Edward King who lived in nearby Harrison Square (Clam Point). Today, this area “feels” like it is at a fair distance from the coast but up until the early 20th century the eastern side of King Square bordered Tenean Creek which flowed into Dorchester Bay. An off shoot stream of this creek meandered through what is now the eastern sections of Parkman and Dix Streets.

In the 17th century, the King Square area was part of the vast area south of Meeting House Hill known as the Great Lots. The oldest house in this area is #6 Parkman Street which may date to as early as the late 18th century and was moved to this lot between 1874 and 1884. (Further research is needed here). Otherwise most of the housing in this area post dates the Civil War. As late as 1850, there were only three houses and the Third Universalist Church which stood at the southwest corner of Neponset Street and Victory Road. Founded around 1850 and known as the Harrison Square Unitarian Church from 1875-1894, the church was later moved to 1620 Dorchester Avenue, corner of Dix Street and was renamed Christ Church of Dorchester. Additionally, the 1850 map of Dorchester shows the Greek Revival houses owned by J. W. Foster at 1623 Dorchester A venue and R. Alden at 26 Neponset Avenue. Originally a farm house, 1623 Dorchester Avenue was the southern most of four c. 1840s houses owned by Eatons and Fosters on the west side of Dorchester Avenue. It passed from the Fosters to Annie Murphy at the turn-of-the-century. By the Depression era, J. and N. Ryan owned this house. 26 Neponset Avenue is another survivor from the mid-19th century. It was owned by Ruel Alden from the 1840s until the 1880s. Between the 1890s and the World War I-era, 26 Neponset was owned by Francis Loring. By 1918, 26 Neponset Street was owned by William H. Pelton and by the 1930s was the residence of T. J. and M. Keane.

Dorchester A venue was originally the turnpike that connected Boston to Lower Mills. This toll road was set out in 1804 but for four decades it was the “free” thoroughfares of Washington Street to the west and Adams Street to the east that had the heavier traffic. The King Square area began to be developed with housing after 1856 when horse drawn omnibuses began to run regularly along Dorchester A venue.

In 1850, the area between Adams Street and Dorchester Avenue was devoid of housing and side streets with the exception of housing bordering the aforementioned avenues. Parkman Street was cut through from Dorchester Avenue to King Square by 1874 and it is along this east-west thoroughfare that the earliest houses in this area are located. Parkman Street tends to be characterized primarily by Italianate houses of the 1860s and 70s whose 3-bay main blocks are invariably oriented to the street and may have rear or side ells rendering these structures either L- or -shaped. 12 Parkman Street’s lot, by the late 1860s contained the house and shop of Edward McLean, sometimes spelled Maclean. The McLeans lived here from the 1860s until at least the early 1930s. Between 1874 and 1884, the Italianate house at 22 Parkman Street was built for a C.S. Batchelder. By 1910, an Annie Ferguson lived here and by 1933 A.S. and A.I. MacIntyre owned this property.

The Italianate House at 26 Parkman Street has significant historical associations with Darius Eddy. In many ways Parkman Street could have been named Eddy Street because Darius Eddy’s sons lived at 28, 30 and 33 Parkman Street during the late 19th century. 33 Parkman was the home of George Eddy who was active in his father’s refrigerator business until c. l900. Darius Eddy was a well known manufacturer of “refrigerators” or ice boxes as they were then known. As early as 1847, Darius Eddy established the “Eddy Refrigerator” in King Square, Dorchester. He established his company on Gibson Street near Fields Corner to produce ice chests or wooden boxes with metal linings that held ice to keep food cool. Eddy Refrigerators were known for their high quality craftsmanship which encompassed fine quality wood and lining and sides with steel. The original Eddy factory was destroyed by in 1872. Eddy subsequently built a new and more modem facility at the comer of Adams and Gibson Streets. , Refrigerators were marketed to be “dry, sweet and clean” and designed “to protect the health of the family”, in the circulation of cold, fresh air through the refrigerator. After 1872, Darius Eddy took his sons Lewis, Isaac and George Eddy into the business. The Eddy Co. remained in business until after World War I, at which time the Eddy Refrigerator, although still noted for its quality craftsmanship could not compete with electrified refrigerators. This company had been living on borrowed time and customer loyalty for several decades and was sold to Andrews and Goodrich. By 1918, a T. Lodge Eddy lived here in this T-shaped house with three stables at the rear. By 1933, a Hunter owned this property.

The Italianate cottage at 36 Parkman Street was built c. 1870 and was variously owned by J. R. Howard (1870s), Henry L. Emerson (1890s) and Fannie A. Lowney from resided here until the 1930s. ..

Dix Street ‘s development represents a case of two cul de sacs cut through at opposite ends of this area finally meeting in the middle after the demise of several large estates at the center of the block. The eastern end of Dix Street is by far ore interesting of the two cul de sac/driveways.

Further research is needed here but it would appear that the Vinson family, responsible for setting out Melville Avenue in 1863, should also be credited with the development of a discrete enclave of substantial Italianate and Italianate/Mansard houses from 77 to 99 and 80 to 100 Dix Street during the early 1870s. 96 Dix Street, over time was owned by Vinsons, Murrays,and Colbys. 80 Dix Street’s owners included Emily J. Newhall (1870s and 80s), whose family had, for decades, owned a large farm near the northeast comer of Ashmont and Adams Streets. Margaret and Elizabeth Harrigan owned this housel at the turn-of-the-century while Ida C. Johnson lived [here] by the World War I -era. Catherine C. Chaisson lived here during the early 1930s.

Although located at 367 Adams Street, the Vinson-King House was evidently built at the same time as the Dix Street houses judging by similarities of form and design as well as original ownership by the Vinson family. During the l880s and 90s it was owned by M A. King and from the turn-of-the-century until the World War I -era this Italianate/Mansard residence was the home of Isabel G. Frost By the early 1930s, it was owned by Bertha F. Parsons.

On the east side of King Square is an Italianate/Mansard house that has been a defining landmark on the square by virtue of its distinctive, boxy form and bell-cast mansard profile since the time of construction c. 1870-73. Built for King Square livery and boarding stable owner Mozart A. King, 354 Adams Street was moved to the north a few yards c. 1880 to accommodate the setting out of Howe Street. From the 1870s until c. 1920, this house rubbed elbows with Mozart A. King’s stables which encompassed three contiguous structures (demolished). Just to the north of the stables was the Darius F. Eddy & Sons Refrigerator Manufacturing Co. This property had passed from the Kings to Minnie A. Mason by the early 1930s. For many years, 354 Adams Street has housed the Stephen A. Higginson Funeral Home.

Neponset and Adams streets, at King Square, became the focus of a small building boom during the 1890s. Triggered primarily by the introduction of the electric trolley, several large Queen Anne houses survive to attest to the prosperity of the mid- to late-1890s, including the exuberant, ornately rendered residence at 2 Neponset Street. Built on one of four vacant lots owned by Jonathan Howe in 1884, it was standing a decade later. Caroline B. Tanner, the original owner lived here until c. 1920. By the 1930s, it was owned by Virginia T. Green.

King Square Stable-owner Mozart A. King built the Queen Anne house at 373 Adams Street c. 1890-94. Passing to Mary E. Pettee c. 1895, its stable was built in 1899 from designs provided by Charlton W. Allen, a developer and architect of Wellesley Park. By 1933, Esther W. Pettee owned this house and stable.

The four-unit Queen Anne house at 10 /12 and 4 /6 Saco Street was built c. early 1890s and provides evidence of residential development probably directly linked with the introduction of the electric trolley. Part of Jonathan Howe’s 4-lot tract during the 1880s, this multi-unit residential building was owned by Josie E Worthen from the time of its c. 1890 construction until at least the Depression-era. Saco Street was set out c. late 1870s and originally terminated in the marsh land bordering Tenean Creek, one block to the east of this property.

Further research is needed on the cul de sac called Elm Lawn at the south west corner of this area. Set out c. 1890 as a park with an appearance similar to that of Centervale and Tremlett Parks, in the Melville Ave. area., Elm Lawn’s handsome Queen Anne houses and landscaped park deserve further study.

The boundary lines of the King Square area have been drawn to include significant 1890s-1910s development bordering Dorchester A venue. One measure of the impact of this turn-of-the-century building boom on the area was the construction of Christ Church of Dorchester at the corner of Dix Street and Dorchester Avenue in 1894. Organized May 13, 1852, as the third Unitarian Society, it was known from 1875 to 1894 as the Harrison Square Unitarian Church. The present stone and half-timbered Gothic Revival building was built from designs provided by the important Dorchester-based architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. By the 1890s, the focus of Dorchester development was moving from east to west, with new residential developments evolving in the vicinity of Melville Avenue. The relocation of this church to Dorchester Avenue probably represents an effort to serve the spiritual needs of the new home owners to the west of King Square.

During the first quarter of the 20th century, three-deckers were built along Dorchester Avenue and the western end of Dix Street. Pre-dating World War I, the three-decker numbered 15 Dix Street was built in 1905 for George N. Douse from designs provided by Timothy J. Lyons, Dorchester architect. Built on the former grounds of the Joseph Dix estate (l860s and 1870s), its land passed to J.H. Farrar by 1884. Interestingly, architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. owned 15 Dix’s lot, along with two others at the turn- of-the-century. Mary A. Curley owned this three-decker by 1910. During the Depression-era 15 Dix was owned by T. and M. O’Flaherty. 14 Dix Street dates to 1910 and was built for Anna E. Lally. Patrick J. Lyons, Jr. was both its architect and builder.

Built on the former Mary E. Carven estate between 1918 and 1920, 1600 A, 1602, 1604 and 1606 Dorchester Avenue form a “wall” of Queen Anne three-deckers that defines part of the western edge of this area. 1606 Dorchester Avenue, the first of this quartet was standing by 1918. Originally owned by Ellen V. Byrne, during the early 1930s, 1600 and 1602 were owned by Louis J. Reynolds; 1604 was owned by C.A. and A.C. Murphy and Ellen V. Byrn owned 1606 Dorchester A venue.

By 1925 the King Square area was completely built up, having developed from a community of farmers and estate owners at mid-century to a street car suburb well-served by commuter trains and trolley lines.

Statement of Significance

King Square

Qualifies as area of architecturally / historically significant residences representing a wide range of construction dates and architectural styles (c. 1780 to 1920). This area includes the 5-bay, double pile, center entry house at 6 Parkman Street which appears to date to the late 18th century. Particualrly noteworthy is the Vinson-family’s Dix Street development of c. early 1870s Italianate/Mansard residences; this is the most extensive contiguous representation of residences of this style and scale in Dorchester and encompasses numbers 80 to 100 and 77 to 95 Dix street as well as 367 Adams Street. Additionally, an architecturally memorable node of Queen Anne residences developed around the Adams Street/Neponset Avenue cross roads known as King Square. For example, 25 Neponset Avenue is a commodious, towered and well-detailed residence while 4, 6 Saco Street, corner of Neponset Avenue is a well preserved double Queen Anne house built during the 1890s. This area also encompasses an important grouping of Queen Anne/Colonial Revival three-deckers dating to c. 1918-1920 at 1600-1606 Dorchester Avenue. One of Dorchester’s unsung ecclesiastical treasures anchors the south east corner of Dorchesrter Avenue and Dix Street. Built during the 1890s as Christ Church Unitarian, this church’s Medieval Revival/Craftsman characteristics and distinctively proportioned Dorchester Avenue gable are trademarks of the work of the brilliant Dorchester architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr.

Bibliography and/or References

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

Boston Directories: 1870-1945

Tercentenary Committee. Dorchester 1630-01d and New-1930

Tucci, Douglas Shand. Built in Boston. City and Suburb, (1978)

Tucci Douglas Shand, The Gothic Churches of Dorchester

Taxable Valuation of the Town of Dorchester, 1869

Dorchester Community News, September 24, 1993, “Eddy and Sons Made Refrigerators in Dorchester for Y


Posted on

June 18, 2022

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