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Somerset Club (David Sears House)

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David Sears House
1819–1821, Alexander Parris; 1831, 1838 remodeled; 1871–1872, Snell and Gregerson; 1892–1918 interior decoration, Little, Browne and Moore. 42–43 Beacon St.
  • Somerset Club (David Sears House) (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)

One of the most distinctive town houses on Beacon Hill, the Somerset Club was built as the residence of David Sears, a wealthy merchant and politician. Although granite was becoming a popular material for public buildings in Boston by the 1820s, its use for domestic architecture remained rare. The Chelmsford granite is finely dressed here, rusticated for the basement level and smooth above; Solomon Willard carved the foliate marble panels between the first and second stories. The original building, at 42 Beacon Street, was two stories in height with a central half-cylindrical bay, garden space on either side, and a porticoed entrance on the right facade. In 1831, Sears purchased part of the garden of his downhill neighbor, Harrison Gray Otis. On this land and on his own garden space he erected another town house, at 43 Beacon Street, that repeated the design of his original house, adding a third story to both buildings. His daughter Anne came to live here after her marriage to William Amory in 1833. In 1837, his second daughter Harriet married Caspar Crownin-shield and Sears decided to build a house, at 41 Beacon Street, for them on the uphill side of his property. To do this, Otis demolished part of the original mansion, creating a new entrance portico on Beacon. When the Somerset Club purchased the property from Sears's heirs, they commissioned Snell and Gregerson to make changes, including the addition of a large dining room surmounted by a billiard room that replaced a service wing of the original house. The entrance stair hall and adjacent large and small drawing rooms still maintain the scale and much of the character of the Parris design, with later redecoration. Founded in 1851 and originally located at the corner of Beacon and Somerset streets (hence the name), the Somerset Club remains one of the most exclusive private clubs in the city.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


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Keith N. Morgan, "Somerset Club (David Sears House)", [Boston, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 107-107.

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