Solved: Hemenway Building = 10 Tremont Street

Last week’s  request for information about 10 Tremont Street, bore fruit. Several people responded with information but the most comprehensive description came from historian, author and lecturer Anthony M. Sammarco.

The Hemenway Building

The structure at 10 Tremont Street was formerly known as the Hemenway Building, built in 1883 for the Hemenway Trust and designed by two principals in the architectural firm of Bradlee, Winslow and Wetherell (1829 – 1888). Upon Nathaniel J. Bradlee’s death in 1888, it continued as Winslow, Wetherell & Bigelow.

Just to add a little confusion, the firm also existed as Winslow and Wetherell and this is the partnership that designed the Hemenway Building.

The archive photo below shows the Hemenway Building as seen from the old Scollay Square with the peripatetic statue of Governor Winslow in the center. It appears as clearly the tallest building in the neighborhood.

Hemenway Building, Digital Commonwealth

The Hemenway Building
Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth

In the aerial photo below, look for the dark red rectangle on the left of Tremont Street at the top of City Hall Plaza where the two curved buildings come together. The 20th-century buildings dwarf this once-prominent structure.

Government Cneter, Scollay Square, Philip Greenspun, Hemenway Building

Photo by Philip Greenspun

The Style and Cost

The “Massachusetts Historic Places Dictionary” defines the style as “other/Romanesque,” while the “Engineering Record, Building Record and Sanitary Engineer, Volume 11” describes the materials as “dark brick with trimmings of rough Longmeadow stone.” The Hemenway Building reportedly cost $220,000 to build—about $5,960,440 today.

The grocery and catering firm of S.S. Pierce was the first tenant and they continued to occupy the ground floor until moving to a new building, no longer extant, in the Back Bay.

Other Work by Winslow and Wetherell

The partnership of Walter Thacher Winslow and George Homans Wetherell also designed other iconic buildings in Boston. Among Winslow and Wetherell’s works were:

  • Auchmuty Building (better known as Dainty Dot) at 120 Kingston in Boston (1889)
  • Shreve, Crump & Low Building on Tremont (1890)
  • Edison Building on Atlantic Avenue (1891)
  • Castle Square Hotel and Theatre on Tremont (1894)
  • Steinert Hall (1896) on Boylston
  • Hotel Touraine at the corner of Tremont and Boylston (1897)
  • S. S. Pierce Building at Coolidge Corner in Brookline (1898)
  • Jeweler’s Building on Washington and Bromfield (1898).

Winslow and Wetherell have been credited with designing many of the buildings of the Baker Chocolate factory complex in Dorchester.

Mystery Solved

So there you have it. Mystery solved thanks to Mr. Sammarco.

I see this building all the time when I park at Center Plaza (which is the curved building on the right in the aerial photo above) to give a Dark Side of Boston tour for Boston By Foot. It has always intrigued me and I’m happy to finally know its history.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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