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Colburn House and Headquarters House (William H. Prescott House)

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William H. Prescott House
1808, Asher Benjamin. 54 Beacon St. 1808, Asher Benjamin. 55 Beacon St.
  • (Damie Stillman)

Asher Benjamin designed this handsome mirror pair of bowfront brick town houses after the publication of his second architectural book, The American Builder's Companion (1806), coauthored with Boston stuccoworker Daniel Raynerd and showing the influence of Charles Bulfinch on Benjamin's designs. The attenuated forms of the Bulfinch/Benjamin formula are seen in the fan and sidelights of the doorway, the Doric colonnade and balcony across the first level, and the three-story pilasters that flank the bows. The better preserved of the two is 55 Beacon, the headquarters for the National Society of Colonial Dames in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. From 1845 to 1859, Spanish historian William H. Prescott lived here and wrote his History of the Conquest of Peru (1847) and History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain (1855). Prescott substantially enlarged the house with an addition to the rear containing a dining room on the second floor and his study on the third, the latter still preserved much as he used it in the 1850s. In 1872, Franklin Gordon Dexter inherited the house and hired John Hubbard Sturgis to make interior alterations, including a new staircase in the Colonial Revival manner.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Colburn House and Headquarters House (William H. Prescott 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, 108-108.

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