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Sears Crescent and Sears Block

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1816; 1969, Don Stull Associates. 36–68 Cornhill St. 1848; 1969, Stahl/Bennet Associates. 70–72 Cornhill St.
  • (Damie Stillman)

Two of the few buildings to escape the demolition of Scollay Square in preparation for the new Government Center complex in the 1960s, the Sears Crescent and the Sears Block document the importance of Cornhill Street, once the center for Boston's bookstores. The Sears Crescent, originally a simple red brick five-bay, six-story unit flanked by nine-bay, five-story wings, was elaborated with Italianate window hoods in the mid-nineteenth century. The Sears Block is one of the best surviving examples of the severe (more so since the sash windows were replaced by single panes of glass), trabeated-granite, commercial architecture characteristic of Boston in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The projecting steaming teakettle, originally a sign for the Oriental Tea Company nearby in Scollay Square, remains a beloved element of the City Hall Plaza (GC15) streetscape.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Sears Crescent and Sears Block", [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, 53-53.

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