Friday, May 29, 2020

Union Square, Part IV: Holy

From Dave Brigham:

A preface to the preface: I haven't been out backsidin' much in Corona Time, but I got to Union Square last weekend to take a photo I wanted to add to this post (right after my son and I shot pictures of the MBTA's Lechmere Station on its last day in service; post about that coming soon). I published the first post in my series on this Somerville neighborhood in August 2019 and intended to complete the run by the end of the year. I got hung up on writing other posts, and then by early March I had to stop going out in the world without feeling like I was endangering my health. I will publish the wrap-up post in the near future. Be well....

A preface to this series: my explorations of Union Square took place more than a year ago, and some things may have changed in the interim. Also, as much as I've researched Union Square and the changes that have already taken place and those that are coming, I realize that a few walks through the neighborhood and some poking around online can't match the breadth of knowledge earned by folks who live and work in Union Square. I'm just sharing what I saw and what I think.

Welcome to the fourth installment in my five-part series about Union Square in Somerville, Mass. In the previous posts I covered, in part, auto body shops, murals, repurposed buildings, an egregious architectural gaffe, repurposed factories, beautiful old apartment/hotel buildings, bars, restaurants, social clubs, ghost signs, abandoned storefronts, retail outlets and more. To read these posts, click these links: December 6, 2019, "Union Square, Somerville, Part III: Retail and Hangouts"; November 7, 2019, "Union Square, Somerville, Part II: Factories and Housing"; and August 25, 2019, "Union Square, Somerville, Part I: New Purposes & Grease Monkeys."

In this post, which will be the shortest of the five, I'll focus on churches, former churches and statues. Logic dictates that I would also cover cemeteries in this post, but I mentioned the single boneyard of Union Square in the second installment, as it sits on land adjacent to a rather large old factory complex.

Let's start with my favorite church in the square.

This is Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.I. Arca de Refugio on Mansfield Street. Regular blog readers may recall my love for churches, especially small ones and ones located in buildings that originally served other purposes. This, despite my atheism. This place's name translates roughly to Church of God Pentecostal, International Missions, Ark of Refuge. The church acquired the circa 1910 property in 1998 from the Troubadour Social Club, per the City of Somerville assessor's web site. And so this site hits another of my favorite types of backside joints.

From perhaps the smallest and most unassuming house of worship, we move to the heavy hitter in the neighborhood: St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

I apologize for this unimpressive photo. I was trying to get a few of the church complex's buildings into one shot and didn't do a great job. At the far left is the church itself, which dates to 1874. Next is what I believe is the rectory. The hulking edifice in the foreground is the church's former school. It is now James Hagan Manor, a senior and young disabled housing outfit run by the Somerville Housing Authority.

Also on the church property is a Catholic Charities building, Prospect Hill Academy Charter School, some houses and statues, including the one below.

The Edward P. O'Malley Memorial stands in memory of deceased ushers for the parish. I've never seen a statue dedicated to church ushers. That's pretty cool.

Next is the former Prospect Hill Congregational Church, which dates to 1887.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with other buildings in the Bow Street Historic District, it has been converted to small apartments.

Just up the way, at 1 Summer Street, is another former church that's been converted away from Christianity.

Dating to 1874, the former First United Methodist Church now features multiple condominiums. "Construction of the [church] began on the eve of the Civil War and then, inexplicably, took sixteen years to complete!" according to a brochure issued by the Somerville Arts Council. "The outcome, however, is a handsome red brick and rock-faced, granite trimmed, Victorian Gothic house of worship. The 90-foot polychrome slate steeple that originally completed the east tower of the façade was removed after the hugely destructive hurricane of 1938. The building was recently converted into seven residential condominiums with expansive ceiling heights up to 65 feet!"

I'm gonna move along to another statue, and then come back to a mysterious church to wrap up this post.

This monument right near the former police station honors the Somerville natives who died in World War I. It was erected in 1920.

OK, now back to the church that tried, but failed, to remain hidden from me.

As I was walking east on Washington Street, toward the heart of the square, I looked to my left at a residential construction project and stopped in my tracks.

"What the hell is that lurking in between those two houses?" I asked myself. At the intersection of Washington and Webster Avenue, I looked back toward where I'd seen that mysterious building. I couldn't see anything. So I headed back west, determined to get some pictures and figure out just what I was looking at.

"Well I'll be dad gummed!" I didn't say. "That thar's a church!" I also didn't say these words.

But I knew them to be true.

I went around to Somerville Avenue and while I couldn't see the cross at the apex of the building, I did see the outline of a church, which had escaped my eyes on previous visits here.Below is a frontal view from Somerville Avenue, the shot that I took last week.

Built in 1870 as St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the building has undergone many changes in the ensuing 150 years. And more are coming.

"Sometime after 1960, the congregation dissolved and the building was sold," according to this summary of the church's history at the Union Square Neighborhood Council web site. "Joseph J. Vaccaro, Jr., owned it in August 1968, when a building permit was issued for alterations for use as a nursery school. Ten years later, the Walnut Street Center, a nonprofit social services agency that occupied the building for about 20 years, made additional minor alterations. The building most recently was used as a church by Haitian and Hispanic religious communities."

In March 2019, a developer named Elan Sassoon applied for a special permit to convert the former church to 10 residential units with first floor commercial space. I haven't been able to determine the status of that application.

To see a rendering of the outside of the front of that proposed project, once again return to the above-linked USNC web site. Sassoon was honored with a Somerville Historic Preservation Commission Directors Award in 2019.

Below is my favorite shot of the church.

I hope the developer keeps this part of the old house of worship.

Don't forget to check in for the final part of the Union Square series, in which I will do my level best to guess, and perhaps in some cases actually be able to pass along hard facts, about the future of this thriving and changing neighborhood.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Charlestown Jaunt, Part III

From Dave Brigham:

Welcome to the final installment in my three-part series on Boston's Charlestown neighborhood. In this post I'll cover a social club, an abandoned railroad, an old mill and some abandoned stuff within view of the Encore Boston Harbor casino, among other things.

The first two installments are "here" and here.

I really like the back alleys you find in many Boston neighborhoods.

I don't remember exactly where this little pass-through is. I imagine kids using it to ride bikes safely off the main roads, or criminals booking through here after knocking over a bank. So many practical uses.

Speaking of cool features of Boston, how about a pub that dates to 1780?

Named for a patriot who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Warren Tavern has served George Washington, Paul Revere and other famous Americans over the centuries. The tavern has closed for short periods of times over the past 240 years, per Wikipedia, but is one of the oldest pubs in the Bay State.

While we're on the subject of booze, how about McCarthy Bros. Liquor Store....

Located in Hayes Square, the packy has been around since 1888. During the course of those 132 years, the company brewed its own beer, although it doesn't do that anymore. The fifth generation of the family now runs the joint, which is the longest running family business in Charlestown, per the store's web site.

If you're a member or know someone who is, you can also get your drink on at Abraham Lincoln Post 11 of Grand Army of the Republic.

This club has a long and slightly confusing history, so bear with me. Founded in 1867, this chapter of the GAR -- a national fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War -- was situated in a few locations before moving to this one on Green Street in 1888, per the group's web site. "In 1920, the membership changed their charter, and called the new corporation the Abraham Lincoln Post 11/Veterans of the World War. This opened up the membership to any veteran who served in the Armed Forces during time of war," the web site indicates. " In 1932, with many of its Civil War members dead or dying, the charter was changed again, creating the Memorial Hall Corporation. The purpose of the corporation was and still is 'to hold the property at 14 Green Street for the use and occupation by persons who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America in time of war…………and to preserve the building as a sacred heirloom for the future defenders of America and as a Shrine of Peace dedicated by the people of Charlestown to her sons, the Defenders of our Country in its struggle for Liberty, Unity and Humanity.'"

The national organization of the Grand Army of the Republic was dissolved in 1956 after the death of its last member.

In the second post in this series I discussed some buildings in Sullivan Square, such as the former Schrafft's candy factory. Roughly a mile away, over the border in Everett, sits Encore Boston Harbor, the first casino in eastern Massachusetts (see my exhaustive review of this area from May 4, 2019, "Roll the Dice: Encore!"). Wynn Resorts, the company that operates the gambling and entertainment facility, has acquired a lot of property around the casino, with an eye toward developing hotels, restaurants, retail sites and office buildings. Below are a few sites in Charlestown that are currently vacant or close to it. Will these properties be redeveloped as the area around the casino glitzes up?

R. Wesley's Bistro has been closed for several years. I found a Charlestown Patch article from April 2012 that mentions how dusty the place is. There is a parking lot behind the building, and plenty of traffic to bring in customers to a new eatery. The casino might -- once business returns at least to semi-normal -- bring in more folks looking for a quick bite or drink. This building is in rough shape, though, so it might need to come down.

Just to the right of the former eatery's green awnings you can see the Encore Boston Harbor.

Also in the shadow of the Schrafft Center is a property hemmed in by Rutherford Avenue, Mishawum Street and Main Street.

At least part of the building is occupied by Louis W. Mian, Inc., an importer, distributor, fabricator and installer of all types of natural stone, per the company's web site. The company dates to 1948. Now, as for the empty lot in the foreground....I searched quite a bit online and think I found out what used to be here: James J. Duffy, Inc., a wholesale distributor to convenience stores (think Bazooka gum, Magnum Ecstasy condoms, Slim Jim, 5-Hour Energy, etc.). The company is located in Chelsea now, but I found an address for 500 Main Street, Charlestown, online, which matches the address for this lot.

I haven't been able to figure out what, if anything, might be in the works for this lot. I'm guessing eventually a condo building will rise here.

A stone's throw away I found this remnant of a railroad right-of-way.

I believe these tracks are a bit of what's left of a spur off the Boston & Main Railroad that led to Charlestown's waterfront. "Now used to receive shipments of new cars, Mystic Pier was once a substantial freight hub, with the industrial spur providing the industries on the pier with a rail connection to western clients," per this Boston Streetcars web page.

Across from the Louis W. Mian building referenced above is the ugly mess of Rutherford Avenue.

Dating to the 1960s, I believe, Rutherford Avenue is, as this November 2011 Boston Globe article says, a city street masquerading as a highway. A concrete wound slicing between Bunker Hill Community College and various industrial parks on the west side, and the quieter, residential areas on the east, Rutherford Avenue needs to be updated, something everyone agrees on. But for more than a decade, the City of Boston has been conducting studies and working with the community to try and figure out how to balance the need for traffic management, green space, bicycle and pedestrian access, signage, expansion of the Ryan Playground and many more issues. I have no idea when this will all come to fruition. Maybe once the casino opens again, things will pick up as development takes root across the border in Everett.

On the corner of Spice and Cambridge streets, directly across from the Sullivan Square subway and bus station, is the building below, which dates to 1895.

This property is known as the Julian D'Este Brass Finishing Company and Foundry, per MACRIS. Current tenants include Madison Floral and Be Movement Arts.

Let's wrap it up with some Charlestown-themed graffiti.

The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (known locally as the ZBH, or the Zakim or the Bunker Hill Bridge) spans the nebulous body of water that runs between Cambridge, Charlestown and the North Station area -- is it the Charles River? Millers River? Boston Harbor? Anyway, the bridge, which has become an iconic symbol of "new Boston," was named for both the late civil rights activist Lenny Zakim and the nearby site of a famous Revolutionary War battle.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Low-Rent Tour of Boston's Financial District

From Dave "Moneybags" Brigham:

I worked in Boston's Financial District back in the good old days, when there were actually, you know, financial companies there. I took a few walks through there in recent months, but had no idea that the days of wing-tipped bankers and high-finance savants were over. According to a recent Boston Globe article, "The Financial District is becoming a tech district."

Regardless, there's still plenty of old-Boston architectural glitz and history among all the fleece-vested tech goobers evidently walking these streets. Here's some of what I found on my recent explorations. WARNING: prepare for a bumpy flight as I bounce from one place to another, with no rhyme or reason. Buckle up, sit back, relax and prepare to learn about the hidden history of yet another Boston neighborhood.

Completed in 1915 at 68 Devonshire Street, the Newport Building was the third in Boston to rise to at least 12 stories. Built by real estate executive Loren Towle, the Newport was named for the developer's hometown in Rhode Island. I'm not sure if this tile mosaic at one of the entrances is original.

The building is now known by the odd name Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall Boston.

Also on Devonshire Street is an outlet of the Calgary, Canada-based Elephant & Castle chain of British-style pubs.

The restaurant is located in 159-175 Devonshire, which is known as the Compton Building. The property dates to 1902.

Up the street, at the corner of Devonshire and Milk streets, is this fantastic facade.

This is 45 Milk Street, known as the International Trust Company Building. Built in 1893, it was enlarged in 1906.

Next is the Samuel Appleton Building at 1 Liberty Square.

Although it was built in 1926 , I guess this property was named for Samuel Appleton, a wealthy merchant and mill owner, who died in 1853.

Continuing with the doorway and facade theme (maybe this ride isn't so bumpy after all), below is the Unity Building on Devonshire Street.

Built in 1914, it is so named because, well, I'm not sure. I read the MACRIS file and it told me all sorts of things, such as the fact that upon its completion, according to a rental pamphlet, the building is "especially adapted for banking & other office purposes requiring large open spaces." It was occupied largely by lawyers, real estate firms, various building supply & construction related firms early on. But I couldn't ascertain where the name Unity came from. Just sounded good, I guess.

At 24 Federal Street, I spied this ornate doorway.

Built in 1921, 24 Federal Street is known as the Harris Forbes Building, named after a bond trading firm that was its first occupant.

I guess I'll just keep going with doors and entryways.

This is 50 Post Office Square, which was built in 1947 for the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company. That business merged with New York Telephone in 1984 to form NYNEX; I recall walking past this building in the 1990s when I worked in the area, and there being a big NYNEX sign on it. NYNEX eventually became part of Verizon. In this building, the laboratory in which the first telephone was built has been reconstructed, per Wikipedia.

Below is a shot of the whole building.

The Easton Building, below, is located next to the Old State House, on Devonshire Street.

Built in 1902, this Beaux Arts beauty was formerly the headquarters and visitor center of the Boston branch of the National Park Service. The building, which is now home to Boston Harbor Now and the Rian Immigrant Center, was named for the town in Massachusetts where was located the manufacturing operation of Oliver Ames & Son, for whom the building was erected.

OK, time for an opulent twofer.

On the left is 145 Congress Street, which is the backside of 42-60 Federal Street. Built in 1912, this property was originally part of the First National Bank. This building is now home to, among other tenants, the Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter, AAA Boston and Liberty Mutual.

On the right is the entrance to 55 Congress Street, once the headquarters of Fidelity Investments, and now part of a major redevelopment called Congress Square. I wrote about Congress Square earlier this year in a post about Liberty Square and a bit of the Financial District (see March 7, 2020, "Give Me Liberty Square...and the Financial District").

Below is the front entrance to 42-60 Federal Street.

Man, I didn't realize how many pictures I took of doors.

Currently home to Mediterranean restaurant Bonapita, 49 Franklin Street, above, has a fairly grand history, both in this building and one previously at this location. Built in 1935, this property was originally the St. Thomas More Oratory. "Sir Thomas More, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist," per Wikipedia. "He was also a Chancellor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532." An oratory is a small chapel, often used for private worship. I have no idea what the interior of Bonapita looks like, but I hope some details from the oratory survive. The building was designed by Richard Shaw, who also designed the Hatch Shell on Boston's Esplanade.

From 1803-62, this site was home to the Holy Cross Church (later Cathedral), which was designed by -- who else? -- Charles Bulfinch. The house of worship was torn down to make way for commercial buildings. The new Cathedral of the Holy Cross stands in the South End, and was dedicated in 1875. Below is a plaque near Bonapita marking the spot of the original Holy Cross Church.

The church's founder, Jean-Louis Anne Madelain Lefebvre de Cheverus (say that five times fast; hell, say it one time slow) -- known as John Cheverus -- emigrated from France (via England) to Boston in 1796, per Wikipedia.

Cheverus lived nearby. The plaque above is on the exterior of 75-101 Federal Street, perhaps 150 yards from the former cathedral site. He returned to France in 1823 and died in 1836 at the age of sixty-eight.

On Purchase Street, at the eastern edge of the Financial District, sits the Consulate General of Brazil.

The consulate assists folks with visa, passports, customs clearance and more.

Below are two very cool buildings and one cold building.

In the foreground is 10 Liberty Square, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Known as the Codman Building, this property rose in 1874; the top two floors were added in the 1880s. The architects were John H. Sturgis and Charles Brigham. "Among the original tenants was John B. Callander, a dealer in glass ware and lamps," per MACRIS. "According to Whiting's survey of 1877...there was a dining saloon in the basement, a cigar store on the first floor, and the rest of the building was occupied by miscellaneous offices and sample rooms for cotton brokers and others....From the l890's to the 1910's, the building was occupied by Jones Brothers Granite Works, and from the 1880's to 1910's also housed the offices of the Cochrane Chemical Company (established 1849), importers of chemical dystuffs."

In the mid-ground is the State Mutual Insurance Company Building, aka 40-50 Congress Street, aka 35-43 Kilby Street. Built in 1902 for the insurance company that gives this property its historic name, this building was designed by the firm of Andrews, Jacques & Rantoul. The firm designed many Boston buildings, including the east and west wings of the Massachusetts State House.

In the background of the above photo is Exchange Place, which is a behemoth with a somewhat interesting history. "Built between 1981 and 1985, this 40-floor skyscraper incorporates part of the facade of its predecessor, the Boston Stock Exchange, which was completed in 1891. As part of an agreement with preservationists, the developers eventually agreed to also include the stock exchange's former staircase in the main lobby. Those are my very own words, from the June 17, 2019, post, "Stairs Exchanging Places".

Below is a cool detail from 31 Milk Street, a circa 1923 building that currently houses a post office on the ground floor, and office space in the 10 floors above.

I haven't been able to track down any history of this property, but that looks like a vault alarm box, so I'm guessing this place was built as a bank.

Below are two cool details from the John W. McCormack Post Office and Court House, in the heart of Post Office Square.

(Above an entrance.)

(Decorative covering.)

This 22-story Moderne tower dates to 1931. The post office that was here for decades, and which I frequented in the '90s when I worked nearby, moved to the building mentioned above. The court rooms were moved to a newer courthouse in the Seaport. Evidently this place is filled with federal offices of various types now. The building was eventually named for Boston-born John W. McCormack, who served terms in both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Massachusetts State Senate before winning election to the United States House of Representatives. He became the 45th Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1962, per Wikipedia.

Below is the McCormack building.

Post Office Square would be just another boring walk-through neighborhood if it weren't for the amazing park in the middle.

Norman B. Leventhal Park is named for the co-founder of Beacon Construction Co. and former chairman of the Friends of Post Office Square. There is a cafe in the park, a few fountains, plenty of shade and, on beautiful days, people taking lunch breaks and walks with their kids and just enjoying the city. There is a parking garage underneath; previously there was an above-ground garage on the site.

Across Pearl Street from the park is The Langham Hotel, which, when I took this shot, was under renovation. It is slated to reopen in the fall, but who knows whether that will happen.

Built in 1922 as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, this property was a Le Meridien Hotel from 1981 until 2003.

Just steps away, on the side of 12 Post Office Square (at the corner of Congress and Water streets) is a plaque marking the former site of 19th century anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator.

Founded at this corner in 1831 by William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator was a leading voice in the abolitionist movement. The newspaper moved from here in 1834, and the building burned in Boston's Great Fire of 1872. The current building, also known as 60-62 Congress Street, was erected in 1907 as the Hornblower and Weeks Building, per MACRIS, after the brokerage firm that was its initial tenant.

Now we come to a building where I once worked.

This is 75-101 Federal Street. I worked in the older building in the foreground; that's 75 Federal. The Art Deco building rose in 1929; I worked as a proofreader at an accounting firm that has since moved to the newer, taller 101 building, I believe. The building has amazing metalwork details.

And a cool old night-deposit vault.

As cool as 75-101 (the newer part dates to 1988) is, the nearby 160 Federal Street is perhaps the most amazing Art Deco structure in Boston.

Known as the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building, this masterpiece was built in 1928. Per MACRIS, it is a "[m]onumental structure architecturally significant as most intact Boston example of Art Deco skyscraper." This was the company's headquarters; factories were located elsewhere.

Hard as it is to believe, given the size, history and beauty of this place, there was a plan afoot a few decades ago to raze this place. "The owners wanted to tear the building down and build a new tower," per MACRIS. "Preservationists rallied to save the structure and the developers wound up not only keeping the building but restoring it and renaming it 'The Landmark.' 'The exterior and lobby have been faithfully restored and a new tower, 150 Federal Street was built, in 1988, next to the building and connected via a glass lobby."

(Entrance to 160 Federal Street. Damn!!)

Now let's move to Arch Street, and a large glass tower with partially preserved older buildings at its feet.

Looming in the background is 101 Arch Street, a 20-story tower that rose in 1988. The beautiful old building in the foreground was built in 1873, and may have also been known as 101 Arch Street. The address on MACRIS lists this whole complex, which includes facades and parts of other small buildings, as 91-101 Arch Street. This High Victorian Gothic building was erected right after Boston's Great Fire of 1872, which destroyed 776 buildings in the downtown area. The original tenants "were Barnes, Ward & Co, jobbers of woolens, and Leland, Rice & Co, jobbers of ready-made clothing," per MACRIS. There is now a Chilean restaurant on the ground floor.

The above building sits to the right of a newfangled glass entryway to the tower. On the left of that entrance is the building below. Also pictured: that fancy atrium.

I love the contrast in architectural styles here, and the reflection, too. This building also rose in 1873; its historic name is the H. B. Wells Cotton Batting and Twine Company building. Seriously. Other early tenants included wig-making company Adams & Cary and Thompson & Leavitt, jobbers of ready-made clothing, per MACRIS. Other tenants over the years included a hat maker and a shoe repair shop, before the building was leased by St. Anthony's Shrine. Run by the Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province, the shrine moved across the street into its own building in 1955. The friars still own the old batting and twine building; it is/was used to house members of the holy order.

How's this for a lantern?

It's located on the exterior of Webster Bank, at 100 Franklin Street. Built in 1903, this wonderful property is known as the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company Building.

Banks do love their fancy details, don't they?

This is on the outside wall of the Boston Private Bank & Trust Company (which may have moved) at 10 Post Office Square. The property was built in 1923 as the Atlantic National Bank Building.

OK, time for an artsy shot of three very different buildings on the northern edge of the Financial District.

On the left is 25-29 State Street (aka the Second Brazer Building), which dates to 1897 and occupies the site of the first meeting house in Boston, erected in 1632, per Wikipedia. In the middle is 1 State Street (aka the State Street Building), which dates to 1925. Finally, on the right, is One Boston Place, a 41-story tower also known as the Boston Company Building and which was erected in 1970.

These buildings tower over the Old State House, below.

Built in 1713, "it was the seat of the Massachusetts General Court until 1798, and is one of the oldest public buildings in the United States," per Wikipedia. There is a subway station in the basement.

Swinging wildly to the southern fringe, abutting Chinatown, we land on the Bedford Block on the corner of Bedford and Lincoln streets.

"Built in 1875 in a style promoted by John Ruskin called Venetian Gothic," per Wikipedia, this building's style is also known as Ruskinian Gothic.

"It was designed by Charles Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears for Henry and Francis Lee as a retail shoe center in an area that had been destroyed by the Great Boston Fire of 1872," per Wikipedia. "The building was added to the National Historic Register in 1979. The Bedford Block's exterior is constructed of polychromatic bands of New Brunswick red granite, Tuckahoen marble, and pressed terra-cotta panels....It was the first building after the Great Fire to use New Brunswick red granite as a material."

It is quite stunning.

Back over on Franklin Street, I spied three cool buildings, one of which I kinda short-shrifted.

On the left is the Wigglesworth Building, which was built in 1873 and named for the property owner, attorney Edward Wigglesworth. Per MACRIS, "Historically, it is significant as the location from 1876 to 1900 of the Abram French crockery company. In the middle is the W.L. Strong & Company Building, which, like its neighbor, is a post-Great Fire building from 1873. It is named for a dry goods/garment industry company. On the right is the Columbian National Life Insurance Company Building, which dates to 1912.

I'm gonna wrap up this tour with what I'm calling the black eye of the Financial District.

Located on High Street, right across from an entrance to the aforementioned 160 Federal Street, this place has been vacant for years. It was most recently a hardware store. The building, which has been for sale for quite some time, dates to 1873, in case you couldn't guess. Got a nice history, as well, although since it's squeezed between two much bigger buildings, I can't imagine what it's future holds. "The original occupant of 51-53 High Street was Chester Guild, Hide & Leather Machine Co....," per Wikipedia. "By 1887, he was joined by H.H. Read & Co., split leathers, etc." This location isn't far from the Leather District, which I profiled earlier this year (see February 22, 2020, "Hell Bent for the Leather District").

Maybe somebody will build a pencil tower here. Anyway, thanks for joining me on this long tour of a Boston neighborhood with some really fabulous architecture and history.