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Charles River Square and West Hill Place

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1910, Frank Bourne; 1916, Coolidge and Carlson.
  • Charles River Square (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Keith Morgan)

Across Charles Street, the commercial thoroughfare of Beacon Hill widened in the 1920s, and originally at the edge of the Charles River, two similar urban experiments rose in imitation of earlier neighborhood patterns. For the Parkway Trust, Frank Bourne created Charles River Square, a narrow rectangle of red brick and cast-stone Federal Revival town houses, suggesting nearby Louisburg Square (BH24) and opening onto both Storrow Drive and, through a Palladian arch, Revere Street. Coolidge and Carlson responded to this model in their slightly later West Hill Place, where fourteen irregularly planned town houses fronted a circular court or the river embankment. Dark brick and cast-stone neoclassical trim unite these special places that project as much the feel of Georgian London as of Federal Beacon Hill. Construction of Storrow Drive in 1951–1954 deprived these houses of their access to the water and their serenity.

Between Charles River Square and West Hill Place remains a private garden to which the fortunate abutters have access. The garden is the surviving element of the James T. Fields House, which stood at 148 Charles Street until it was demolished following the death of his widow, Annie Adams Fields. She created a garden here beginning in 1870 and deeded the property to her neighbors upon her death in 1915. Annie Field's garden, of which only one tree may survive, makes these two neighborhoods even more like private English squares that frequently have their gardens available only to the surrounding residents.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Charles River Square and West Hill Place", [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, 117-118.

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