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Housewright Speculative Housing

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1835–1836, Thomas M. Howard and James Hunt. Mount Vernon and W. Cedar sts.

The vast majority of houses built on Beacon Hill from the 1790s through the 1830s were designed (and constructed) by housewrights, not professional architects. The block of Mount Vernon Street between Louisburg Square (BH24) and W. Cedar Street provides a microcosm of activity by one pair of housewrights. Thomas M. Howard appeared in the Boston city directories as a mason from 1835 through 1863, with a short hiatus. Around 1834, Howard formed a partnership with James Hunt, an older housewright; both men lived in Bay Village, then known as the Church Street district, on the opposite side of Boston Common. In 1833, William Frost purchased land on Beacon Hill from Charles Bulfinch and contracted with Howard and Hunt to design and build a house for him (91 Mount Vernon) and others for speculation: 93 and 98 Mount Vernon and 15 and 17 W. Cedar. They also built 95 Mount Vernon for Thomas B. Vose, probably Frost's business partner. These three-bay Greek Revival houses stood three stories in height (all but 91 later raised to four stories), constructed of running bond brick with inset doorways framed by Doric pilasters. The fluid economic conditions that encouraged real estate development came to a sudden end with the depression of 1837, which left Howard insolvent.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan
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Citation

Keith N. Morgan, "Housewright Speculative Housing", [Boston, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-BH25.

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, 111-112.

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