You are here

United Shoe Machinery Building

-A A +A
1929–1930, Parker, Thomas and Rice; 1988, Jung/Brannen. 138–164 Federal St.
  • United Shoe Machinery Building (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

The United Shoe Machinery (USM) Building is Boston's most prominent Art Deco skyscraper. The twenty-four-story structure rises from a trapezoidal site to a ziggurat mass achieved through multiple setbacks. Recessed windows and spandrels emphasize the vertical thrust of the steel-reinforced piers. Geometric and stylized ornament, both inside and out, signals the jazz age image of this tall office building. The United Shoe Machinery Corporation was formed in 1889, merging the region's three dominant shoe machinery companies. Parker, Thomas and Rice's design for the USM Building exemplifies the 1928 zoning changes in Boston that allowed taller buildings with recessed upper levels. This building's lobby connects with that of its postmodern neighbor, 150 Federal Street (1988, Stubbins Associates).

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "United Shoe Machinery Building", [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, 68-69.

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.