Apart from the polychromatic Ruskin Gothic idiom, which drew inspiration from the similarly narrow house fronts of Venice, these buildings are the only Back Bay houses of consciously medieval aspect. More ingenuous than ingenious, they are distinguished only by their incongruity. At 165 Beacon Street, the masonry detailing bristles with gratuitous pilasters and trefoils; fenestration raises uneasy tiers of pointed arches, each different in profile, from cellar to garret. At 76 and 80 Commonwealth, Gothic flourishes are reserved for the entrance surround and dormers, to somewhat quieter effect. Though not without charm, these houses are ultimately a bit fatiguing. Rather like eccentric human neighbors, one is relieved not to have more of them.
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165 Beacon Street and 76 and 80 Commonwealth Avenue
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