You are here

TKT Building (Davenport Car Works)

-A A +A
Davenport Car Works
1848; 1882 and 1896, Allen and Endicott; 2002, Tsoi/Kobus and Associates and Payette Associates. 708 Main and 34–54 Osborn sts.

The car works were begun in 1832 by Charles Davenport, a manufacturer of omnibuses who moved from Central Square (CS15) in 1842 to reuse a structure at this corner, becoming the first builder of center-aisle railway passenger cars. The earliest surviving structures are the 1848 two-story brick wings added to the north of a missing 1815 head house and a one-story brick foundry to the west built the same year. The car works soon became the largest plant in this area. In 1857 Davenport retired and sold the property to boilermakers Allen and Endicott, who added to the foundry a second wood-framed story covered in slate. Their most famous tenant was Walworth Manufacturing, known not only for their steam pipes, fittings, and valves but also for the invention of the Stilson wrench. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell first used his new telephone in Walworth's Boston office to speak with Thomas A. Watson at the Cambridge plant. In 1882 Allen and Endicott replaced the old head house with a three-story brick building with arched brick lintels, granite windowsills, and a corbeled cornice, elements repeated in the four-story divided extension built in 1896. During World War II, this became the temporary headquarters of Polaroid; Dr. Edwin Land kept his personal laboratory here for the rest of his professional life. In 2002, Transkaryotic Therapies (TKT) renovated and expanded the complex, partially replacing the wooden framing with steel, restoring the exteriors, and adding a new limestone and curtain wall section of eighty thousand square feet.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "TKT Building (Davenport Car Works)", [Cambridge, 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, 293-293.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.