21608 Sherman Apartments
The following is from the National Register form for the Sherman Apartments Historic District.
The Sherman Apartments Historic District consists of four buildings: three masonry apartment buildings and one wood-frame building. All four buildings are situated on adjacent parcels at the corner of Washington and Lyndhurst Streets in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. The three multifamily apartment buildings were each originally constructed as six-family dwellings. The 1831 wood-frame building at 18 Lyndhurst Street was originally a private school that was converted to a two-family dwelling (photo 1). It was turned 90 degrees and moved approximately 75 feet to its present location, between 1904 and 1906, to allow the three masonry apartment buildings at 544-546 Washington Street (1904, photo 5), 12-14 Lyndhurst Street (1904, photo 2), and 4-6 Lyndhurst Street (1906, photo 3) to be constructed at the corner of Washington and Lyndhurst Streets. The Greek Revival-style, wood-frame former school features Doric columns supporting a monumental pediment on its primary elevation. The three masonry buildings are stylistically similar, with each three-story building featuring a monumental central entryway, evenly spaced window openings, and decorative brick banding.
The four-building district is situated at the northern edge of Codman Square, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Codman Square is a major neighborhood commercial core, centered at the intersection of Washington Street and Talbot Avenue, one block from the district. Four institutional, religious, and government buildings at the core of the square are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Codman Square Historic District (NR 1983). The remainder of Codman Square consists primarily of one-story commercial buildings dating to the first half of the 20th century, and multistory apartment buildings dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The setting of the Sherman Apartments Historic District consists of these one-story commercial blocks and multifamily apartment buildings along Washington Street. Outside of the commercial core along Washington and Norfolk streets and Talbot Avenue, two- to three-story, wood-frame, residential buildings are situated on many tree-lined side streets, including Lyndhurst Street.
Constructed by Walter U. Sherman in 1904-1906, the apartment buildings in the district are of similar scale and massing, and all exhibit a Classical Revival style of architectural expression, while the former Dorchester Academy building is a well-preserved example of Greek Revival-style institutional architecture. The exterior of the buildings remain largely intact, except for the loss of the cornice at 12-14 Lyndhurst Street (photo 2). Each apartment building features a pair of pronounced recessed entrances, divided by a heavy masonry wall. Although most of the original windows have been replaced throughout the group, the original leaded-glass transoms on the first floor of 4-6 and 12-14 Lyndhurst Street remain, and the original size of the window openings has not been altered. In addition, some original entrance door features remain within the buildings, including glazed sidelights and transoms. Some interior features have been altered as a result of subdivision of spaces to convert the six-family buildings into twelve-family residences; however, interior moldings, window casings, and in some locations, original fireplace surrounds remain and are in good condition. The former Dorchester Academy building was little changed following its relocation as part of the apartment building development between 1904 and 1906.
The Dorchester Academy building (1831, Photo 1) at 18 Lyndhurst Street was moved from an adjacent lot to make way for the construction of the associated apartment buildings. The building, which was converted to a residence when it was moved, was constructed in 1831 as a temple-front, Greek Revival-style school building. It originally faced west on a large parcel of land at about the location of the present-day 12-14 Lyndhurst Street, but was turned 90 degrees and relocated to its present site between 1904 and 1906. The façade (south elevation) facing Lyndhurst Street retains its original two-story, fluted Doric columns, supporting an unornamented frieze and pediment at the attic level. The wood-clapboard south elevation features an elevated porch with a wood deck. A pedestrian entrance, located at the west end of the first floor, was converted to a doorway from a full-story window. It is enclosed within a wood and glass vestibule. The five-part vestibule includes four full-height, multilight side walls, with a multilight door set beneath a multilight transom at the center. A large, wood, triple-sash window is located at the east end of the first floor and contains three six-pane sash. Two small leaded glass windows, set within wood casings, are located between the entrance and a large window opening. The second floor features three evenly spaced, 6/6, double-hung wood windows with decorative wood casings. Above the wide, wood frieze is the pedimented third floor, which features a large, leaded-glass fanlight at the center.
The east elevation is clad in asbestos shingles. It features four evenly spaced window openings on each level which retain their original wood casings. The first floor features two six-over-six wood windows, a truncated window near the center of the first floor, and a pair of multilight wood doors at the far north end. A corner pilaster is located at the north end of the elevation. The east elevation also features an overhanging wood cornice. The asbestos-clad west elevation has a fenestration pattern consistent with the east elevation; however, a one-story projecting porch extends along the entire elevation. The porch has a hipped roof, supported by fluted Doric columns beneath a simple wood frieze. The north elevation is not readily visible. The front-gable roof of the building has overhanging eaves on all sides, and contains several tall, red-brick chimneys. An octagonal cupola is located at the center of the roof ridge. It is clad in clapboards and contains 1/1 sash. The interior of the building, which is not accessible, contains two residential units.
The building at 544-546 Washington Street (1904, Photo 5) is a three-story, masonry, Classical Revival-style building. The façade (west) faces Washington Street. It consists of a three-story, rough-cut granite and red-brick elevation, set on an elevated basement level. A pair of recessed entryways is located at the center of the first floor, and window openings– containing 1/1 aluminum replacement sash, with cast-stone sills, lintels, and window surrounds––are situated on all levels. The rough-cut, granite-block basement level, with rectangular punched window openings, is set on a granite base and rises to a rounded, projecting, cast-stone beltcourse at the first-floor level. A second molded cast-stone beltcourse is set above the granite first-floor level and intersects the window sills at the second floor. Two small window openings are set on each side of the main entrances and are flanked by large windows on each side, set within the projecting round bays. Cast-stone quoins extend up both sides of this elevation. The central entrances are divided by a brick firewall, clad in original raised wood panels, and are accessed by five granite steps rising to mosaic-tile landings. Each of the entrances is flanked by Classical Revival-style, cast-stone blocks, set below a cast-stone arch with a projecting acanthus-leaf capstone. Both of the exterior entries feature modern single-leaf wood doors with glazed panels and transoms. The entrances lead to an interior vestibule with a single wood step and a second set of modern aluminum and glass entrance doors. Above the third-floor projecting wood cornice, a stepped red-brick parapet projects above the roofline. The parapet is topped with aluminum flashing.
The three-story, red-brick, north and south (side) elevations are minimally ornamented but enlivened by rounded bays, and are constructed with rougher brick than the Washington Street elevation. Both feature evenly spaced vertical bays of window openings, including two windows on each level of the projecting rounded bays. All window openings feature slightly projecting, flat, cast-stone sills and engaged, flat, cast-stone lintels. The red-brick parapets above the third-floor window openings step forward slightly on each side, and each is articulated with a projecting, rounded beltcourse. The parapet is topped with aluminum flashing. The red-brick east (rear) elevation is minimally ornamented, and is constructed with the same brick as the side elevations. The rear elevation contains punched window openings with flat, cast-stone sills and rounded-arch, red-brick lintels. Former doorway openings on each side of the rear elevation have been infilled with red brick at each level. The shallow red-brick parapet above the third-floor window openings is topped with aluminum flashing.
The four residential units on each floor are accessed by two main stairs, which are separated by a brick firewall at the center of the building along Washington Street. A small lobby is located inside each entrance door. A U-shaped common hallway extends from the main entrance and around the main stairhalls on each level. The walls of the lobbies and staircases are finished with either painted flat plaster and a baseboard, or painted flat plaster and tall raised panels below the chair rail. The panels extend up the stairs to the second floor on both sides of the building. Each staircase contains wood treads and risers that have been covered with rubber treads. A low wall is situated on the interior side of thestairways in the location of former railings. A glass skylight illuminates each of the stairhalls. The original layout of the building remains largely intact, including the original interior residential unit corridors that now serve as common hallways, following the conversion of the single apartments into two units on each level. Interior finishes consist of wood and vinyl-tile floors, flat-plaster walls with wood baseboards, and flat-plaster ceilings throughout. Doors and windows are generally trimmed with flat wood stock.
12-14 Lyndhurst Street (1904, Photo 2) is a three-story, Classical Revival-style masonry building set on an elevated basement. The façade (south) on Lyndhurst Street, which consists of painted rough-cut granite and red brick, features rounded end or corner bays. A pair of recessed entryways is located at the center of the first floor, and window openings–– containing 1/1 aluminum replacement sash, with rough-cut granite sills, lintels, and window surrounds–– are situated on all levels. At the first floor, original leaded-glass transom windows––similar to those at 4-6 Lyndhurst Street––are present. The rough-cut, granite-block basement level, with rectangular punched window openings, is set on a granite base and rises to a rounded, projecting, cast-stone beltcourse at the first-floor level. The rough-cut granite base continues up along the first floor to frame the two central entrances. A decorative cast-stone beltcourse is set above the granite entrances, and intersects the window sills at the second floor. Two small window openings are set on each side of the main entrances. Two window openings are located within the rounded end bays on each end of the building. The south elevation central entrances are divided by a brick firewall, parged in concrete, and are accessed by five granite steps rising to concrete landings. Each of the entrances is flanked by rough-cut granite blocks set below a granite arch, with a projecting acanthus-leaf capstone. Both of the exterior doors feature modern single-leaf aluminum doors with glazed panels and transoms. The entrances access an interior vestibule with a single wood step and a second set of modern, aluminum-and-glass entrance door systems. Pairs of windows, separated by a wide aluminum-clad mullion, are situated above entrances at the second and third floors. The window openings are detailed with rough-cut granite sills, lintels, and quoins. The first- and second-floor brick elevations are detailed with horizontal brick banding. The third floor features a solid brick field that extends up to the stepped brick parapet, which is capped with aluminum flashing. The entire facade (brick and granite) has been painted.
The red-brick east and west (side) elevations are minimally ornamented, and are constructed with rougher brick than the south elevation. Both side elevations feature evenly spaced vertical bays of window openings, including windows on each level of the projecting rounded bays on each side elevation, and two windows in the slightly rounded projecting end or corner bay. All window openings feature rough-cut granite sills and lintels. The red-brick parapets above the third-floor window openings step forward slightly, and are articulated with a projecting, rounded, cast-stone beltcourse. The parapets are topped with aluminum flashing. The red-brick east (rear) elevation is also minimally ornamented, and is constructed with the same brick as the side elevations. The elevation contains punched window openings with rough-cut granite sills and rounded-arch, red-brick lintels. The shallow red-brick parapet above the third-floor window openings is topped with aluminum flashing. The interior of the building is not accessible.
4-6 Lyndhurst Street (1906, Photos 3 and 4) was the final three-story masonry building constructed within the district. It is shaped in a manner consistent with the angle at the corner of Lyndhurst and Washington streets. Like its counterparts, the building is designed in the Classical Revival style. The façade (south) on Lyndhurst Street consists of three stories of red brick set on a raised basement. A pair of recessed entrance doors is located at approximately the center of the first floor, and window openings with cast-stone sills, and cast-stone jack-arch lintels are situated on all levels. The basement, with rectangular punched window openings, is set on a shallow granite base and rises in a red-brick field, to a rounded projecting, cast-stone beltcourse at the first-floor level. A second molded cast-stone beltcourse is set above a red brick field, and intersects the window sills at the first-floor level. Four large window openings are set on the east side of the central entrances, and three large window openings, including one window set within the projecting round corner bay, are located on the west side of the central entrances. Flanking the central entrance are two small window openings.
The main entrances are divided by a brick firewall, now clad in modern clay tiles, and are accessed by five granite steps, a mid-level mosaic tile landing, and sets of wood stairs. Both of the wood entrances feature modern, single-leaf entrance doors with raised wood panels below a single glazed panel (now covered with plywood). Each door is flanked by raisedpanel and glass sidelights, and all components topped with a glazed transom. Each of the entrances is flanked by Classical Revival-style, cast-stone pilasters, which have been painted, and are set below a Classical Revival-style entablature with a projecting cornice and frieze, articulated with an egg-and-dart motif. A flat, cast-stone beltcourse runs above the entrance entablature, intersecting with the second-floor window sills. Above the third-floor projecting wood cornice, a stepped brick parapet projects above the roofline. The parapet features recessed, flat red-brick and decorative checkerboard brick panels. The parapet is topped with aluminum flashing.
The west (Washington Street) elevation is similar to the south elevation, including the granite base and basement window openings, a red-brick field rising to a rounded, projecting cast-stone beltcourse, and a second-story, flat, cast-stone beltcourse at the window sill level. These elements carry over from the south elevation, and turn the corner to the north elevation to a depth of approximately eighteen inches. The projecting rounded corner bay also extends around from the south elevation, engages with the east elevation, and extends out again to form a shallow rounded bay from the basement to the roofline. A low, red-brick parapet, topped with aluminum flashing, is set above the projecting wood cornice.
The north (rear) elevation is minimally ornamented and is constructed with rougher brick than the street elevations. It features relatively evenly spaced vertical bays of window openings in three sizes. All window openings feature slighting projecting, flat cast-stone sills and engaged, flat cast-stone lintels. Two wrought-iron fire escape landings project off the central bays, and are set above a basement and first-floor level entrance door that provides access to the basement boiler room. The red-brick parapet above the third-floor window openings is topped with aluminum flashing. The east (side) elevation is also minimally ornamented and is constructed with the same brick as the rear elevation, with the exception of approximately eighteen inches of brick and cast-stone elements that wrap around the corner from the south elevation. A shallow, projecting, round, red-brick bay projects out of the center of the elevation from the basement to the roofline. The elevation contains punched window openings with flat, cast-stone sills and lintels. The red-brick parapet above the third-floor window openings is topped with aluminum flashing. Most of the original sash within the building has been replaced with 1/1or 6/6 aluminum and vinyl replacements. In most locations, the original window casings––including a simple ogee brick mold––remain, but are in poor condition due to lack of maintenance. The first-floor windows on the west, south, and east elevations contain original leaded-glass, fixed transom sash.
Each of the two residential units on the first and second floors and the four units on the third floor is accessed by two main stairs, separated by a central brick firewall. A small lobby is located inside each entrance door on the façade (Lyndhurst Street). No common hallways currently exist within the building. The walls of the lobby and staircases are painted flat plaster with a chair rail at approximately three feet and a ground-level baseboard along all exterior walls of the stairhall. Each wood staircase contains wood treads and risers, as well as a wood handrail and balusters. Interior finishes consist of wood and vinyl-tile floors, flat plaster walls with wood baseboards, and flat plaster ceilings throughout. Original door and window casings also remain in many locations; however, in some locations the lower portions of the casings have been replaced with flat wood stock. In several locations, wood mantels (some retaining beveled glass) and built-in hutches, which have been painted, remain. The east side, second-floor residential unit was damaged by fire in 2007. The fire, limited to the southeast corner of the unit and the interior firestairs, damaged the interior plaster and door and window moldings but did not cause major structural failure to the building.
While no ancient Native American sites are currently known within the district, sites may have been present. No ancient Native American sites are recorded in the general area (within one mile). The nominated district is located on the edge of a broad terrace that gradually drops nearly ten meters in topography to the east. This slope represents the boundary between the Charles River drainage to the west and the Neponset River drainage to the east. Soils slope gently downward to the east within the district, and the surrounding area is heavily developed by residential structures. The nearest major source of fresh water is the Neponset River, 1.8 miles to the southeast; however, springs and minor tributaries were likely once present closer to the district, but are now obscured by development. Several rhyolite lithic quarries are known to exist approximately two miles to the south of the district.
Disturbances to the ground surface, and coverage by extant structures within the property, are extensive. These disturbances include both the four extant structures and the previous location of the Dorchester Academy within the district. Currently, the only undeveloped area within the district is immediately behind 12-14 Lyndhurst Street, though concrete pathways currently exist in this area. Given the above information, a low potential exists for locating ancient Native American resources on the properties.
A low to moderate potential exists for locating historic archaeological resources in the Sherman Apartments Historic District. The first structure in the district, the Dorchester Academy, was built in 1831. In 1904, the building was rotated 90 degrees, and two additions removed from the structure. A comparison between the 1904 and 1910 Dorchester Atlases shows that the entirety of the original 1831 footprint of the academy building lies within the current footprints of 12-14 Lyndhurst and the current academy building location. Therefore, there are likely no architectural foundation elements preserved of the original 1831 structure.
The undeveloped area in the rear of 12-14 Lyndhurst Street may contain mid 19th-century deposits relating to the use of the property as the Dorchester Academy, including privies. Also, there may be preserved 20th-century domestic deposits from the multifamily apartment buildings that surround the open space.
Development of Codman Square
The development pattern in Codman Square began with the laying out of Norfolk Street in 1803. One of the oldest roads in Dorchester, it intersects with Washington Street one block south of the district. As the major connector from inland Massachusetts to the Boston, Washington Street was the only overland access to the Boston peninsula. The intersection of Norfolk and Washington streets made this area a significant crossroads for commercial activity in the 18th century. Codman Square’s first commercial establishment was a one-story, wood-frame store, operated by James Baker ca. 1763 at the intersection of Norfolk and Washington Streets. Surrounded by large estates with great tracts of land, the intersection was referred to as Baker’s Corners. In addition to the store, Mr. Baker’s home was present, as well as the town hall (later replaced by the current building). In 1806, the Second Dorchester Church (NR 1983) was built near the intersection. The congregation named the area Codman Square in memory of their late leader, Reverend Doctor John Codman, in 1847.
The land on which the Sherman Apartments Historic District is located was originally part of the Baker Estate, which was established ca.1763 with the creation of a store and residence for James Baker, who would later found the Walter Baker Chocolate Company in nearby Lower Mills. The first road laid out off of Washington Street in the area was Melville Avenue (one block north of the district) in 1863. Large tracts of land immediately surrounding what would become Codman Square were owned by respected Dorchester families, including Alexander Beal, N.A. Leigh, Thomas M. Vinson, and Edwin H. Sampson in the first half of the 19th century. One of the earliest buildings in the area that still remains is the Dorchester Academy building. Originally located on Washington Street, the academy building was moved by W.U. Sherman to its present location at 18 Lyndhurst Street between 1904 and 1906 to facilitate the development of the Sherman Apartments.
The Dorchester Academy was a private school for boys founded by the Second Church’s Reverend John Codman and local businessmen James Penniman, Joseph Leeds, and Thomas Tremlett in 1831. During this period, the Dorchester public schools educated 647 students while private school students numbered 233. By 1834, five new public primary schools were established for instruction of children less than seven years of age, and six new buildings were constructed in 1836-1837. As the population in Dorchester increased, more schools were constructed within the community, or existing schools were replaced with larger buildings. After its inception, the Dorchester Academy was briefly housed at the Penniman House (no longer extant) during the construction period for the present building. The school drew students from Dorchester’s most respected families. In its first year, the academy had 103 students. The focus of the school was education in several branches of study and in the deportment of its students. While many schools of the period instituted corporal punishment, the academy exercised “private retirement and meditation” as a means of mitigating disobedience. It continued to serve an educational purpose until ca. 1850, when it was converted to a single-family residence. Primary and secondary sources consulted to date do not indicate what became of the school. It is possible that with the 1870 annexation of Dorchester to the City of Boston and the resulting expansion of the public school system, the need for a private school ceased, resulting in the closure of the Academy.
Many wood-frame houses were located along the Washington Street spine in and around Codman Square throughout the 19th century. Additional buildings were constructed including churches, schools, governmental buildings, and private property; however, the area remained largely undeveloped until the 1890s when the electrification of the Metropolitan Street Railway made access easier. Although the railway had been present in the square since 1874 when it was drawn by horses, electrification brought reliable and on-time transportation to the square. Subsequent elevated railway expansion through Dorchester and Roxbury would allow Codman Square residents access to improved transportation todowntown Boston As a major crossroads, Codman Square was a center for activity. In the late 19th century, apartment buildings situated in and around the square became a viable alternative to single-family houses which were also being developed in large tracts on new roads laid out off of the major thoroughfares. Unlike the vast tracts of masonry apartment buildings constructed in the early 20th century on the wide promenades of other parts of Dorchester, the Codman Square neighborhood retained a more middle-class residential scale. Smaller apartment buildings were constructed concurrently with large, single-family homes situated along the major thoroughfares intersecting the Square.
The large plots of land in the vicinity of the Sherman Apartments Historic District were subdivided over the next several decades as more streets were laid out, including Lyndhurst Street in 1894. In the late 1870s and into the early 1880s, high-style, architect-designed houses were constructed along Melville Avenue for professionals practicing law, medicine, and business. Architects practicing in the area included local architects Arthur Vinal, E.A. Poe Newcomb, George Meacham, E.L. Clark, Robert Brown, and L. Underwood. Laid out on large house lots––some of which centered on urban parks or squares like those laid out in the South End neighborhood of Boston a few decades earlier––many houses were designed by builders rather than architects, including many by W.H. Haddock and C.W. Allen. Development of the area continued unabated through the turn of the century with a greater number of smaller houses and house lots for working families. The development of more economical housing was consistent with the changing demographic of Codman Square at that time, after the electrification of the streetcar. The area around the Sherman Apartments Historic District is included in the MHC inventory as the Melville Avenue/Wellesley Park Area.
Apartment Buildings in Codman Square
The availability of reliable transportation made it possible for middle-income families to live outside the densely settled urban core of Boston. With the increasing number of people desiring to settle in Dorchester, and available house lots becoming scarce, apartment buildings became a popular alternative to home ownership in this attractive middle-class neighborhood at the turn of the century. The first apartment buildings in the Codman Square area were attached, three-story, three-family masonry buildings constructed in 1886 on the west side of Washington Street (no longer extant). A wood-frame multiunit building with ground-floor commercial space was designed in the Classical Revival style by C.A. Russell in 1897-1898. Known as Walton and Roslin Halls and located at 702-728 Washington Street, the property was developed by John Haddock, a well-known local builder who lived at 627 Washington Street, in the heart of Codman Square. In 1901, A.B. Pinkham designed a high-style, mixed-use apartment building with ground-floor commercial space at the corner of Gaylord and Washington Streets for the widowed Sarah Davidson, who lived in a nearby large single-family home. In 1903, a three-story, mixed-use, masonry building with ground-floor retail was designed by local architect Henry J. Preston for the estate of Caroline Jackson at 327-339 Talbot Street. Up until the construction of the three Sherman Apartment buildings in 1904-1906, most apartment buildings in the square contained ground floor retail spaces. Following the construction of the Sherman Apartment buildings, both residential and residential with ground-floor commercial buildings continued to be developed. More residential-only apartment buildings, however, were developed on the north side of the square, including the Sherman Apartment buildings, than south of the square.
The construction of the Sherman Apartments Historic District is indicative of the changing development pattern in Codman Square at the turn of the 20th century. Like all of the apartment buildings in Codman Square, construction of the Sherman Apartments was stimulated by the electrification of the streetcar along Washington Street. With more families interested in living outside of the city core, speculative development became common. Just as developers of single-family dwellings constructed blocks of similar houses for middle-income families, the apartment buildings in the Sherman Apartments Historic District were consistent in design, and the apartments were larger than those one might find in older parts of the city. These buildings were constructed to provide housing for middle-class families who, for whatever reason, were unable to, or did not desire to, purchase a house lot in the neighborhood.
Sherman Apartments Development
Originally located on a single parcel where the three apartment buildings currently stand, the former Dorchester Academy (relocated to 18 Lyndhurst Street) was designed as a private school building in 1831. After serving as an educational building for several decades, it was converted to a residential building by ca. 1850. The house was purchased ca. 1898 by Joseph H. Beale, a local real estate developer who briefly resided in it until he built his own house at nearby 55 Lyndhurst Street, on plans drafted by local architect Thomas L. Barlow.
By 1904, the former Dorchester Academy was owned by builder William U. Sherman who constructed 544-546 Washington Street immediately adjacent to the house in the same year. Later that year, a small hothouse building at 18 Lyndhurst Street was demolished. Sherman turned the academy building 90 degrees and relocated it to its present lot on Lyndhurst Street. The existing multi-family dwelling at 12-14 Lyndhurst Street was constructed on its former site. A duplicate of this building was also constructed at the southeast corner of the intersection of Lyndhurst and Washington Streets but was demolished in 1947. In 1906, the final multifamily dwelling in this group was constructed at the corner of Washington and Lyndhurst Streets (4-6 Lyndhurst Street).
The Sherman Apartments were designed and constructed by a builder-owner, rather than the more traditional development pattern of an architect working with the owner. W.U. Sherman fits the definition of a “home builder,” described by Sam Bass Warner in Streetcar Suburbs. The “home builders” group is identified by Warner as a group of suburban landowners developing property between the years 1872-1901. Although the Sherman Apartments Historic District falls a few years after Warner’s study, it is a representative example of the type of development he described. W.U. Sherman purchased the former Dorchester Academy property and moved to the area to oversee the construction of his apartment buildings––a typical pattern, according to Warner. Furthermore, Sherman, a builder by trade, was also typical of the type of real estate developer active during that period: someone already involved in the building trades who made a living through speculative development. As a real estate developer, Sherman, listed as a “builder” in the 1900 census, identified a tract of land in a well-established, middle-class neighborhood. Seeing the area as a reasonable place for his own residence, Sherman and his family had moved here by 1910 and remained in the house at 18 Lyndhurst Street until at least 1920, living among his middle-class neighbors.
In 1900, Sherman and his wife Lydia were a young, recently married couple living in a two-family house at 27 Thetford Street not far from Franklin Field. Sherman likely learned from and worked closely with his father Artemus Sherman, a Canadian-born immigrant who was a builder. By 1910, Sherman, Lydia, and their young son were living with Sherman’s parents and a Scottish-born live-in servant in the former Dorchester Academy building at 18 Lyndhurst Street. Sherman’s continued residence in the building following the sale of the adjacent apartment buildings indicates the neighborhood retained much of its original middle-class character that drew residents from downtown Boston to suburban Dorchester. During his tenure on Lyndhurst Street, Sherman continued developing apartment buildings, including one at nearby Washington and Rosedale Streets, and he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Dorchester Trust Company, a local banking institution. By 1930, Sherman, his wife, and his parents moved into separate apartments at 12 and 18 Algonquin Street (still extant) respectively. The addresses are two segments of a monumental apartment complex constructed by Sherman in 1912 on the north side of Codman Square. Further research will likely discover additional buildings in Dorchester that were conceived of and built by Sherman. After the Shermans moved into the apartments, the old Dorchester Academy building served as the home to two retired families, one living with elderly parents. In 1956, it was identified as a residence for one family and four lodgers.
The six-family building at 544-546 Washington Street was the first of the three apartment buildings constructed in the district. Each of the three floors contained two residential units. In 1910, the building was owned by the Trustees of Almon L. Smith, who also owned 12-14 Lyndhurst Street. Residents of 544-546 Washington Street included small families headed by a physician or a real estate broker, and in some cases widows living with a child and/or a servant. In the early 20th century, residents were mostly from Massachusetts and Canada. The property remained with the Smith Trustees until ca. 1924, when it was owned by the Dorchester Associates of 780-A Dudley Street in nearby Roxbury. The pattern of smaller families, generally American-born of American or Canadian-born parents, living in the building continued into the 1920s, although several families with roots in Italy and Scotland were present. Several doctors lived in the building with their wives and small children, many with live-in servants.
By ca. 1933, 544-546 Washington Street (together with 12-14 Lyndhurst Street) was owned by M. Elmer Minard. The building was occupied by small families whose breadwinners were doctors, jewelers, and public school teachers. Like much of Dorchester, Codman Square was a vibrant community until the 1970s, when disinvestment became rampant. Very few modifications to the interior layout or exterior of the building occurred in the 20th century. However, by 1981, the building was vacant and open to trespass. Many properties in Codman Square were abandoned, and many were lost to fire. However, as the decade progressed, the community regained control of the neighborhood and buildings were once again put back into use. The building at 544-546 Washington Street was purchased in 1985 by the Codman Square Limited Partnership, and rehabilitated into twelve units of affordable rental housing.
The six-family dwelling at 12-14 Lyndhurst Street was the second building constructed in the district. Each of the three floors contained two residential units. In 1910, the building was owned by the Trustees of Almon L. Smith, who also owned 544-546 Washington Street. It was occupied by several lawyers as well as widows with small children who were assisted by live-in servants. Most residents were born in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. This pattern continued in the 1920s with several lawyers remaining as tenants, along with real estate brokers, salesmen, a private school principal, and widows living with adult family members. In the1920s, most of the tenants had been born in Massachusetts, with families from England, Ireland, Canada, and other New England states. In 1924, a fire damaged a portion of the third floor and the roof, both of which required repairs.
In 1930, the make-up of the building’s residents had changed little; it continued to serve as housing for professionals including several lawyers, but was also home to retired families, some living with elderly parents. The building was regularly maintained, with major repairs limited to the cornice on the front of the building and an interior rear stair repair. By ca. 1933 it, together with 544-546 Washington Street, belonged to M. Elmer Minard. Only minor modifications were made on the interior and exterior of the building over the years, until 1961 when 14 Lyndhurst Street was converted into five apartments. The second and third floors of 14 Lyndhurst were converted from a seven-room apartment to one three-room and one four-room apartment, each with a kitchen and bathroom. At the same time, a connecting balcony was added between 12 and 14 Lyndhurst Street for fire safety. It was not until 1981 that 12 Lyndhurst was converted to a six-family building. In 2005, 14 Lyndhurst Street also became a six-family building.
The final building constructed in the district was 4-6 Lyndhurst Street. Each of the three floors contained two residential units. Original elevations prepared by Sherman for the property indicate the building has undergone little change but do indicate that some upgrades included during construction were not specified in the design plans. Specifically, the extant leaded-glass transom windows were not shown on the original plans. When constructed, each entrance opened into an entrance hall and stairs that provided access to the upper levels. Each unit, with the exception of the first-floor unit at 4 Lyndhurst Street, contained a corridor surrounding a back stair, a library, and a parlor. Two chambers, a dining room with a butler’s pantry, a kitchen, and a bathroom completed each apartment. The first-floor unit at 4 Lyndhurst Street was noteworthy for having an even larger floor plan, with a small reception room near the entrance door.
By 1910, the property was owned by Charles F. Cutler. Like its neighbors, the building was home to physicians, textile dealers, a private school principal, public school teachers, and widows caring for young children with the assistance of live-in servants. Many residents were born in Massachusetts with families from Massachusetts or other New England states. Several retired couples or widows living with adult children were also living in the building through the 1930s. In 1933, E.M. Murphy owned the property. The third floor of each side of the building was converted into two units over the years, and minor modifications to the interior and exterior of the building were undertaken until the early 2000s, after a fire damaged a portion of the second floor of 6 Lyndhurst Street.
Despite efforts by the Boston Police Department to rid the neighborhood of drug-related crimes (drug trafficking, prostitution and murder), at the turn of the 21st century the buildings at the corner of Lyndhurst and Washington streets had become havens for criminals. A one-week occupation of the corner buildings by community and church leaders cast a spotlight on the area and spurred a feature story in the Boston Globe. In response to the community’s desire to clean up this part of the neighborhood, the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation purchased 4-6 Lyndhurst Street with the goal to rehabilitate the property to help stabilize the neighborhood.
The buildings at 544-546 Washington Street and 4-6 Lyndhurst Street are undergoing substantial rehabilitation to provide twelve and eight units of affordable housing, respectively, in the Codman Square neighborhood. The projects––utilizing state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits––will include rehabilitation of the exterior masonry, replacement of windows with historically appropriate replacement windows, replacement of the roofs, mechanical building systems, rehabilitation of the interior units and stairways, and restoration of the original leaded-glass transom windows at 4-6 Lyndhurst Street.
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