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176–178 Commonwealth Avenue

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1883, Charles Atwood.

If other architects were so frustrated by postfire building code restrictions as to abandon the design of related, rather than replicative, adjacent houses, Charles Atwood rose to the challenge with invention, vigor, and aplomb. Its rustication creeping up the outer edges of the facade, a projecting arcade of rockfaced brownstone spans the elevation. Low-sprung arches provide deep shelter to three entrances (placed unusually at grade level), of which one originally opened to an independent suite, probably used as a doctor's office. An angled bay at the left and a cylindrical turret at the right engage the arcade at their apex point. Culminating in a conical roof, the turret is balanced to the left by a curly gable of Flemish derivation, further bracketed by a pair of octagonally capped dormers, each centered on the vertical oval windows of the floor below. Atwood even contrives to make a virtue of the mandated party-wall parapet, expressing it as crow steps to complement the differing geometries of the gable and turret.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan

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