Sheaffe House, Boston

The Sheaffe House at the corner of Columbia and Essex in Boston, sometime in the 1800s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene in 2014:

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Located in the southern part of downtown Boston, the Sheaffe House was built in 1734 by Thomas Child, who owned a distillery a few block away.  The house was later owned by his son-in-law, William Sheaffe, for whom the house is named.  Sheaffe died in 1771, and his wife opened the house as a boarding house to support the family.  One of the residents was Lord Percy, a British officer who fought at Lexington & Concord and the Battle of Long Island.  Thanks to Lord Percy, one of Sheaffe’s children, Roger Hale Sheaffe, attended military school in London and eventually reached the rank of general in the British army.

The house was demolished sometime before 1887, and the brick building on the left-hand side of the 2014 photo replaced it.  The building, 88 Kingston Street, has been substantially renovated – I’m not sure if anything survives but the facade.  To the right is the One Lincoln Street building, an office building that was built in 2003 and is one of the tallest buildings in the Financial District.

Sun Tavern, Dock Square, Boston

The Sun Tavern at Dock Square, across from Faneuil Hall in Boston, sometime in the 1800s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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Dock Square and the Sun Tavern around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene in 2014:

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According to the sign above the building in the first photo, the Sun Tavern was built in 1690, although some estimates that I have seen have dated its construction even earlier.  In either case, the building was extremely old by the time it was photographed in 1898,  It was a tavern by the first decade of the 18th century, although possibly earlier, and was at the time located right next to the town dock, hence the name of Dock Square.  It wouldn’t be until over 50 years after it opened that its familiar neighbor, Faneuil Hall, was built, and another 80 years after that before Quincy Market was built atop what was once Boston Harbor.

The building survived until about 1910 (it appears in the 1908 atlas, but is gone by the 1912 one), and sometime in the 1920s or 1930s a good portion of Dock Square was torn down.  The rest would come down in the 1960s, when the area that once made up Dock Square, Adams Square, and Scollay Square was demolished to build Boston City Hall, seen on the right-hand side of the 2014 photo.

Hewes House, Boston

The Hewes House on Washington Street across from Milk Street, around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene in 2014:

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This area sustained some damage during the Great Boston Fire of 1872, but the Hewes House, seen in the first photo, was gone before then.  According to the Bostonian Society in a 1902 book, the house was constructed in 1656 and demolished in 1870.  If accurate, the 1656 date would put its construction within 26 years of the founding of Boston, making it several decades older than downtown Boston’s current oldest building, the Paul Revere House.  It was also 73 years older than its neighbor across the street, Old South Meeting House.  Evidently, the house was named after Shubael Hewes, an 18th century Bostonian who lived here for many years.  At the time, this section of Washington Street was known as Marlboro Street; the street long predates George Washington, so it wasn’t until 1788 that it was renamed.

Henchman Street, Boston

Looking down Henchman Street in Boston’s North End, toward Commercial Street, in 1893. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The street in 2014:

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The brick building at the corner of Henchman and Commercial Streets hasn’t changed much, aside from the bricked-up storefront at the corner and a newly-added fifth floor.  The rest of the area is very different, though.  In the intervening years, the older wooden homes were replaced with early 20th century tenement buildings, and on Commercial Street the Atlantic Avenue Elevated Railway came and went.  The North End is very different today than it was 120 years ago, although much of the area retains its old street network, including the curiously-named Henchman Street, which today is a narrow one-way street connecting Charter Street with Commercial Street.  As an etymological aside, when this street was named, the word “henchman” did not carry the same negative connotations that it does today about people who carry out the bidding of an evil person.  Instead, a henchman was simply a member of a royal court – the negative usage didn’t come until the 19th century.

Thoreau House, Boston

The Thoreau House on Prince Street, near Salem Street, probably in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The location in 2014:

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Although most commonly associated with Concord, some of Henry David Thoreau’s family was from Boston.  This house was in his family for several generations, starting with his great-great grandfather David Orrok in 1738.  After Thoreau’s grandfather died, ownership of the house was split among the eight children, including Henry David Thoreau’s father John Thoreau, although I don’t know that he or his children ever lived here.  In any case, the house, which was built in 1727, remained in the Thoreau family until 1881, and was demolished in 1896, a year before the completion of its present-day replacement, the Paul Revere School.

Galloupe House, Boston

The Galloupe House on Hull Street in Boston, around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The site in 2014:

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Supposedly, this house on Hull Street was General Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought just across the Charles River from here.  The accuracy of that is somewhat questionable, but regardless, this building was very old.  It was built around 1724, and was home to a succession of owners, including several members of the Galloupe family, hence the name.  It was demolished sometime around 1905-1910, and was replaced with the present-day buildings.