Exploring Boston’s Magnificent Architecture

Ed Greable Blogger June 25, 2018

 

As one of the oldest urban neighborhoods in the country, Beacon Hill is certainly a sight to behold. Luckily, it is also quite walkable, which means you can easily set out on foot to enjoy the beauty of the neighborhood’s architecture. If you decide to take a self-guided tour of the federal and Greek revival homes in the neighborhood, here are a few highlights for you to enjoy.

African Meeting House

Designed by Asher Benjamin, who was a pioneer in the federal and Greek revival styles, the African Meeting House was constructed in 1806. Throughout the 1800s, the building served as a central hub for abolitionism. It later became a synagogue and still remains the oldest African-American church building in the country. Located at 47 Joy Street, the museum has been a part of the Museum of African American History since the 1970s.

Chester Harding House

Currently under the ownership of the Boston Bar Association, the four-story Chester Harding House is a Federal-style rowhouse dating back to 1808. Over the years, the home has changed ownership several times, including being owned by Chester Harding in the late 1820s. The home is located at 16 Beacon Street.

Louisburg Square

Featuring Greek revival townhouses facing a private park, Louisburg Square has homes dating back to the 1820s. While the square itself remains just as exclusive as it was when it was originally formed, you can still take a stroll through the area to view the bow-fronted facades of the homes.

Massachusetts State House

Finished in early 1798, the Massachusetts State house was built on a cow pasture once owned by John Hancock. Located at 24 Beacon Street, the home was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who was the first American architect to achieve wide fame. As such, the home serves as a prominent example of the federal style born in the United States.

Old West Church

Located at 131 Cambridge Street, the Old West Church was originally built in 1806 to serve as a Congregational parish for those whose church was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The building later served as the home of the Boston Public Library before being transformed into a Methodist parish in the early 1960s.

Otis House Museum

Designed by Charles Bulfinch and built for Harrison Gray Otis in 1796, the federal-style Otis House Museum originally served as the Boston mayor’s mansion. The home, which is located at 141 Cambridge Street, was later used as a clinic and then as a middle-class boarding house before becoming the museum that it is today.

William Hickling Prescott House

Located at 55 Beacon Street, the Greek revival-style William Hickling Prescott House dates back to 1808. Its namesake, historian William Hickling Prescott, lived in the home during the mid-1800s. The building is now a museum operated by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

After exploring these sites, you will not only have a much better appreciation of the magnificent architecture that Boston has to offer, but you will also take a walk back in history as you explore the pasts of these magnificent buildings.

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