Across from the Cushing-Endicott House and built the previous year, the Crowninshield House reveals the Boston fascination with French massing and English ornament. An architect of national importance throughout much of the Back Bay's formative period, H. H. Richardson produced only three houses in the neighborhood. Built before he had embraced the Romanesque Revival style, his first Back Bay commission is not one of his more successful works. Although favored with a large corner lot, its massing is awkwardly tight and boxy. Fenestration is sparse and static; the masonry detailing, flat and tentative. The vigorous massing and sensitivity to materials that would distinguish Richardson's greatest achievements are curiously absent here. Nevertheless, George Wheatland repeated the materials, massing, and details for his adjacent town houses (1871) at 312 and 314 Dartmouth Street.
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