|Photo by Stephen Foskett (CC BY-SA 3.0)|
|Archival photos courtesy of the Boston Public Library.|
|Hanover Street, North End. Photo by Ingfbruno (CC BY-SA 3.0).|
First Universalist Church / Samaritan Hall
350-352 Hanover Street
Cast by Shem Drowne, who created the banner vane for Old North Church and the grasshopper vane for Faneuil Hall, the cockerel vane now tops the First Church in Cambridge in Harvard Square. The Cockerel Church was made most famous in Esther Forbes' novel Johnny Tremain as the parish where Johnny's silversmith master Ephraim Lapham was a deacon:
He took his time blessing the meal. He was a deacon at the Cockerel Church and very pious... Of course, on Sunday the shop would be locked up all day, the furnace cold. Mr. Lapham would as always escort his household, dressed in Sunday best, to the Cockerel Church and after that back for a cold dinner. Whether they went again or not to afternoon meeting, the master left for each to decide. He himself always went... Johnny, Dove, and Dusty were apt to steal off for a swim, although Mr. Lapham had no idea of it. He thought they sat quietly at home and that Johnny read the Bible out loud to them. (pp. 8, 28)
...5 Tileston Place, a rare remnant of the North End's pre-code wood clapboard building phase, dating from the late 18th century. And its obscurity from the public eye was its saving grace: it narrowly escaped the mass demolition of several blocks to pave the way for the Paul Revere Mall (aka "the Prado") in the 1930s.
|Mariner's House (1847), North Square. Photo by Beyond My Ken (CC BY-SA 4.0)|
Today, Mariners House serves as an affordable hotel ($65-$110 per night, including full breakfast) for mariners on active duty or retired after 20 years of full service.
Dearborn's Reminiscences of Boston (1851) described Mariners House as follows:
This is a noble edifice of 4 stories, erected by the Boston Port Society, and leased to the Seamans' Aid Society : it contains 40 rooms over the basement story : the building is 40 feet square, with a wing extending 70 feet of three stories; in the basement is a storage room for seamens' luggage, kitchen; laundry and bathing room: in the wing, is a spacious dining hall for seating an hundred persons : it has a chapel for morning and evening services arid where social, religious meetings are held every Wednesday evening under the care of Rev. E. T. Taylor : a reading and news room, with a good library to which accessions are daily making; and a store for the sale of sailors' clothing: the building and land cost about $38,000, and it has been furnished at a cost of about $21,000, by the generous contributions of the Unitarian Churches of Boston and vicinity; a good supply of water is on the estate, and two force pumps supply each of the stories with hot or cold water, as required.
Across North Square is Sacred Heart Italian Church, built as Seamen's Bethel in 1833 by the Boston Port Society in this location so sailors would spot it as they docked at the wharves, as a lure to come and worship. "I set my bethel in North Square because I learned to set my net where the fish ran," said Father Taylor, its Methodist preacher. His guests included Charles Dickens, Jenny Lind, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, and Herman Melville, for whom Father Taylor inspired the character of Rev. Mapple in Moby Dick. Following his death in 1871, Seamen's Bethel was acquired by the St. Mark Society, a Catholic Italian immigrant group, in 1884, rechristened Sacred Heart Italian Church in 1888, and reclad in the spirit of the Southern Italian basilicas of their home country in the mid-1920s. Below is Seamen's Bethel c.1860:
Skinny House / Spite House
|Photo by Rhododendrites (CC BY-SA 4.0)|
The Skinny House has been the stuff of lore regarding the rationale for its diminution. One legend has it that two brothers inherited land, and while one was in the service, the other built a house so big it left his brother with little land to build on. Miffed at this, the returning brother built the Skinny House to block his brother's light and views.
According to another story reported by the Globe in 1997, an unidentified builder erected this sliver of a shanty to obstruct light and air from the house of an ornery neighbor he was fighting with. Regardless of which story you buy, the Skinny House has been proven over time to be a good buy, by virtue of its open-concept spaces, its sale prices under $1 million so far (until the next sale, of course), its access to the best of Boston, and, above all, its place in history—Boston's and its own.
St. Mary's Church
|St. Mary's Church (1877, Patrick C. Keely) in 1897.|
Photo by Rocco Marciello.
The Church of St. Mary of the Sacred Heart was built in 1877 in a subdued Romanesque design by Patrick Charles Keely, architect of many notable Catholic and Protestant churches in New England and beyond, including the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End. Keely designed most of his churches to reflect the architectural character of their neighborhoods and the heritage of their parishioners.
He fashioned St. Mary's in brick to blend with the predominantly brick residences in the neighborhood, and with just enough Romanesque trim and ornamentation to recall the Irish and Italian basilicas the residents remembered from their homelands. Thus the churches signified their sacredness, but in an inviting, not overbearing, way.
This church is almost one hundred years old. But by the time you get back from camp, it won't be here. A lot has been done to it already. The pews have been removed. But the organ has been saved. It will be reinstalled in a church in Minnesota. Now I think you'll find the acoustics splendid in here. But I must tell you that every noise you make and every word you utter carries a long echo in this big space. So please go in quietly, and please show respect. This is a very sacred place.Sacred, indeed! The relative simplicity (and sordidness) of the exterior hardly prepared me for the heavenly baroque extravaganza of Corinthian columns, springing arches, stained-glass windows, marble statues, intricate frescoes, polychrome trim, and innumerable other artistic articulations of God's creation that permeated the barrel-vaulted hall, culminating at the most richly adorned chancel I had ever seen. It seemed sacrilegious to reduce this masterful artistry to the dust from which man had crafted it as God had sculpted Adam and Eve out of the clay He had created. But, sure enough, the pews had been ripped out of the marble floor and piled at the sides, awaiting the Dumpster. And rubble and debris were scattered about—prompting some choirboys to capitalize on the acoustics by jettisoning pieces from our choirloft down into the sanctuary to hear gunshot booms report and reverb throughout the space as they struck the stone.