A New Neighborhood: 1880-1900

The Saint Botolph neighborhood unfolded one parcel at a time from 1880-1990, as the development of Back Bay moved west from Copley Square towards Massachusetts Avenue. 

 

The first auction of fill land was in 1880. They offered lots on West Newton from the SW Corridor Park (then a railroad crossing into the new landfill) to Saint Botolph (which was already paved). The South End was a fine neighborhood, so this West Newton "extension" offered new homes next to a desirable address.

It seems that all townhouses on of West Newton Street were built with stained glass, but several have none today, and records are hard to find, so who can say? 

The next parcels developed were west one block on Saint Botolph Street, then south onto Durham Street. By 1882, the neighborhood was settled in a horseshoe pattern. Most townhouses on Durham have stained glass.

The other St. Botolph Street parcels auctioned in the early 1880s were close to Mass Avenue.  The north side of the street was developed to Blackwood. These two blocks also have some outstanding stained glass displays (see 171 and 199)

By the mid-1880s, both sides of St. Botolph were developed from Durham Street west to Cumberland Street, and east from West Newton to Fallon Street. Except for Durham, side streets featured less impressive stained glass than Saint Botolph and West Newton Streets.

The last stretch of Saint Botolph Street developed was the south side from Albemarle to Cumberland Street. That area was developed after 1890, and mostly in the Neo-classical architectural style. The color of the brick changed from red to white or yellow, details became symmetrical, and we have found no stained glass from the original construction on either street.

Most of the best stained glass windows are on Saint Botolph, West Newton, and Durham Streets (ie, 132 West Newton and 109 St. B). 

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The Saint Botolph Neighborhood

Throughout the neighborhood, real estate developers tended to mark their properties with a unique stained-glass signature. Probably the best example of this is from 124 to 132 St. Botolph where townhouses built by the same developer all feature the same lovely window beside the front door (we may document the developers if folks are interested). 
 

Developers would pick a stained glass pattern, then repeat it (often with some variation) in all the townhouses they built. Once you notice this phenomenon, you will see it repeated throughout the neighborhood: there are many groups of 4-7 townhouses that share architectural styles and stained glass window motifs. Usually, they also share roof designs and other features. Identifying developer patterns in St. B can make for an entertaining game.

By 1900, this neighborhood was developed, and ready for a multi-use future with light industrial, conference halls, apartments, and single family brownstones mixed into an 8x2 block space. Everything built before 1890 seems to have had stained glass. 

A New Center for Stained Glass Production

The second period of St. B stained glass was epic!

Our neighborhood became one of the nation's earliest homes for the Arts & Crafts Movement following a groundbreaking show a couple blocks away at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1897. The MFA was then in Copley Square (where the Copley Square Hotel is now).

While textiles and other decorative arts eventually moved away from St. Botolph, the crafts of bookbinding and stained glass remained St. Botolph institutions for a hundred years, from the 1890s to the 1990s.

Local stained glass craftsmanship became world famous after Charles Connick went to work a couple doors down from Saint Botolph on Harcourt Street in 1913. Alongside Tiffany and LaFarge, people on Saint Botolph helped define American stained glass in the twentieth century.

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The photos on this page have not been traced to the Connick Workshop.

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St. Botolph Transoms

 

Photos from the Owners' Perspective, added August 2021

These photos were taken with help from owners and renters.  These inside photos show glass windows at their best. Windows are usually designed and placed to be seen from the inside or the outside, and most are displayed for people inside the home.  These are inside looking out...

Photos from the Owners' Perspective, Added in May 2021

These photos were sent by area owners and renters.  You can see the increased color and vibrancy when you look out at the sky. We hope to gather more "insider photos" over time, but for now, here are over a dozen photos shared by the people in the Saint Botolph neighborhood.