Boston, Massachusetts is one of the oldest cities in North America. The City has accumulated places ranging from 17th Century to the present day. It is a modern, bustling city superimposed on a centuries old town. In a city where nondescript luxury condos pop up on every corner, it’s rare that historic places are re‐energized by visitors to their original glory. There are a few locations in Boston where Architects can feel for a moment that they’ve stepped into a time machine and must put on the wish list to visit once in their life.
1. The Boston Opera House
Known as the epicentre of Boston nightlife during the Jazz Age, the Boston Opera House was a vaudeville palace when it was built in 1928. It looks every bit the luxurious palace having its own glide beauty and glamour. With the Wonderful and magnificent Baroque Style interiors, the theatre housed the performing arts facility fully equipped with theatrical, lighting, sound, mechanical, electrical, and fire/life safety systems.
2. Boston Public Library
In designing Boston Public Library, it was sought to create a veritable “palace” to inspire and elevate its public. The exterior design included the elements that paid homage to the city and the institution. Its Georgia marble floor inlaid with brass designs to its three aisles of vaulted ceilings, gives a grand entry into the heart of the building. The main reading space, Bates Hall spans a length having 50 foot high Barrel Vault Ceiling. The Library is known as “An ornament to the City.”
3. Trinity Church
Considered a masterpiece of American architecture, the building is a celebrated example of “Richardsonian Romanesque” design, named after its architect, H. H. Richardson. The church has an unconventional Greek Cross Plan unlike any other typical plans. It consists of Chancel, Nave and Transepts of equal size grouped around a central square. This approach represented a radical departure for American ecclesiastical design. Everything about this building from its elaborately carved exterior to its stained‐glass windows, colourful mosaics and wall murals proclaims the teaching of Christ.
4. Isabella Stewart Garden Museum
The Museum is a creation of Isabella Stewart Garden’s dream of having a house filled with beautiful pictures and objects of Art, for people to come and enjoy. The Couple travelled through Venice, Florence and Rome to gather architectural fragments for their museum with an apartment for themselves within it. They collected columns, windows, doorways, balustrades, capitals, etc. from the Roman, Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods. By putting all this together, they could have created discordant mess; instead it came out to be a beautiful and harmonious whole. The Courtyard is an experience to takeaway. It is a creation of ‘Inside Out’ Venetian Palazzo replica.
5. Boston City Hall
A prominent and controversial example of Brutalist architecture, the City hall was designed to create an open and accessible place for city’s government. The designed introduced an articulated structure that expressed the internal functions of the buildings in rugged, cantilevered concrete forms. While hovering over the Broad brick Plaza, the design of the hall is divided into 3 sections, aesthetically and by use. The lowest portion of the building, the brick‐faced base, which is partially built into a hillside, consists of four levels of the departments of city government, where the public has wide access. The brick largely transfers over to the exterior of this section, and it is joined by materials such as quarry tile inside. The use of these terra cotta products relates to the building’s location on one of the original slopes of Boston.
6. Concord’s Colonial Inn
The Colonial Inn is located on an L shaped property. The main hotel building is a long, roughly rectangular, four‐story wood frame structure. A single‐story porch extends along the length of the facade, which has a projecting three‐story section near its centre, and a rounded section at the northeast corner. A Greek revival residence as said, the hotel is historically significant because it is the only surviving 19th‐century hotel that still serves as a hotel and retains its historic appearance.
7. Old Corner Book Store
Constructed in 1718, The Old Corner Book Store is one of the oldest Commercial building and was home to the 19th Century publishing giants. It was previously constructed as a home and an apothecary shop to Dr Thomas Crease. It later housed a number of booksellers and publishers, the most famous of which was Ticknor and Fields.
8. Paul Revere House
The Paul Revere House was owned by the legendary patriot, built in 1680 is the oldest remaining structure that which is a Home. As is typical early Massachusetts Bay Timber construction, the L‐shaped townhouse contains spacious rooms. The main block of the three‐story dwelling consisted of four structural bays demarcated by heavy framing posts and overhead beams. The larger ground‐floor room in this main block was dominated by its chimney bay and adjoining lobby entrance. The exterior features double casement windows and 2nd floor overhangs installed in the rear elevation.
9. Old State House
It stands as one of the oldest surviving buildings. The building served as the centre of civic, political and business life. Built in 1713, the red brick building is highly symmetrical and ornamented. Façade is where one can find, elaborated clear glass windows, Gable Roof, Bull’s eye windows and a ceremonial balcony. The Georgian Style building with formal ornamentation was designed by a trained British Architect, which is put to adaptive use today.
10. King’s Chapel
The 1754 Granite Building is home to over 330 years of History. As one of the oldest churches, it houses the oldest American pulpit still in continuous use. The existing stone structure was built around the original wooden structure in order to continue holding worship during construction. The magnificent interior is considered the finest example of Georgian architecture in North America.
11. Faneuil Hall
Often referred to as “the home of free speech” and the “Cradle of Liberty,” Faneuil Hall hosted America’s first Town Meeting. It has served as an open forum meeting hall and a market place for more than 270 years and has continued to provide stage for debates. There are glazed leantos on either side of the central structure, echoing the forms of the metal sheds. The plan involves sensitive designing towards pedestrian streets. One finds everything that Boston has to offer at one stop here.
12. Acorn Street
Acorn Street in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood. This narrow little street is one of the most photographed places in Boston. That alone should make it worth visiting, but other than that Acorn Street is surrounded by one of the most interesting and historic parts of Boston. It is, one of the last places to still have actual cobblestones as paving material. Early Boston soil was loaded with rounded irregularly shaped stones known as ‘Cobs.’ Original cobblestone streets are now rare and considered historic treasures. A Street paved with these multi‐hued, variously shaped historic remnants retains its original character and charm, and can be quite beautiful.
13. Old South Meeting House
Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston and the stage for some of the most dramatic events leading up to the American Revolution. The building is Georgian in Style, built of red brick with a steeple at the front. At the time of its construction, the meeting house was the largest building in Boston. Built as a Puritan meeting house in 1729, Old South Meeting House stands today as one of the nation’s most important colonial sites and one of the earliest museums of American history.
14. Old North Church
Built in 1723, Boston’s oldest Church is the site that launched the American Revolution. The Georgian Style Building had the 175 foot tall, 3 tired spire, which was the tallest structure in Boston until 1809. The current steeple is a replica of original. It is the most visited historical sites of Boston.
15. Leather District
The neighbourhood of Boston has the buildings in Classical Revival, Romanesque Architectural Style. It was at first developed as a residential area, but became the centre of the city’s leather industry after the Great Boston Fire. Ground floors were designed to showcase merchandise, and the second floors housed offices. Upper floors were used for storage, the top floors being reserved for the slowest‐moving merchandise. The buildings were designed by architects, with a significant influence of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
History is lot more than what is seen. But for architects, the details of how and why a singular building was built, plays a very important role. Different types of buildings, built with a purpose, change the perspective of a building design. Boston here has lots of History to Lean on, once you visit it you know it.
Ar. Vibhuti Sorathia, has always chosen to represent her thoughts in words than any other medium. She loves to take inspiration from things around her and from places she travels. Her aim in Life is to spread awareness about Architecture and Travel through her writings.