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.

324_1800s-2Bbpl

The scene in 2014:

324_2014

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.

Massachusetts State House, Boston

The Massachusetts State House, with a Beacon Street house being demolished in the foreground.  Photo taken January 27, 1917 by Lewis Wickes Hine of the National Child Labor Committee, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

310_1917-2Bloc

The scene in 2014:

310_2014

The Massachusetts State House was built in 1798, but has been expanded several times over the years.  An 1895 expansion was built behind the original building, and in 1917 the east and west wings were added (east wings visible on the right-hand side of both photos).  The west wing, however, required the demolition of a number of houses on Beacon Street, Joy Place, and Mount Vernon Place, and the elimination of Hancock Avenue altogether.

One of the demolished buildings can be seen here in the first photo.  In this particular scene, Lewis Wickes Hine captures workers, including young children, bringing wood home, presumably to use for firewood on what was probably a chilly late January day.

Hewes House, Boston

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

309_1860c-2Bbpl

The scene in 2014:

309_2014

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.

Colonnade Row, Tremont Street, Boston

Looking north along Tremont Street in Boston, near Avery Street around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

302_1860-2Bbpl

The scene in 2014:

302_2014

Tremont Street has substantially changed over the past 150 years, as seen in the stark contrast between Charles Bulfinch’s 1810 Colonnade Row and the modern high-rise apartment buildings of today.  The 19 houses that made up Colonnade Row were similar to those along Beacon Street on the other side of the Common, but while many of the early 19th century homes on Beacon Hill remain today, the ones on Colonnade Row are long gone.  Some of the houses survived into the mid-20th century, as seen in this photo on the Boston Public Library Flickr account, but obviously today none are left.  There is, however, at least one building in the 2014 photo that predates Colonnade Row – Park Street Church in the distance was completed in 1809 and still stands at the corner of Park and Tremont.

Henchman Street, Boston

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

281_1893-2Bbpl

The street in 2014:

281_2014

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.

280_1898c-2Bbpl

The location in 2014:

280_2014

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.