Hotel Pelham, Boston

Facing the southwest corner of Boylston and Tremont in Boston around 1859, toward the newly-constructed Hotel Pelham.  Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


The same scene 2014:

Constructed in 1857, the Hotel Pelham was possibly the first apartment building of its type in the United States.  Although named a hotel, the term in the mid 19th century was commonly used to refer to what today we would call an apartment building – they catered more toward long-term residents than temporary visitors.

The date on the first photo is probably 1859, but some sources date it to 1869.  In either case, 1869 is the latest possible date for the photo, because in that year Tremont Street (the street that the photos are facing down) was widened.  Rather than demolishing and rebuilding, the owners moved the 5,000 ton building 14 feet to the west (right), a move that took three months to complete.  Following the move, the hotel remained in business for nearly 50 more years, before being demolished in 1916 and replaced with the present-day office building.



5 thoughts on “Hotel Pelham, Boston”

  1. I do believe the Hotel Pelham was the first public building in Boston to built with the Mansard roof style. The first residence is on Arlington Street.

  2. It would seem that the moving of the Hotel Pelham in 1869, to make way for the widening of Tremont Street, should be covered in any accounting of its history. The move was considered a remarkable feat of engineering and mechanical skill. My great grandfather’s company, John S. Blair Building Movers (still extant as Isaac Blair & Co., a division of the Daniel Marr & Son companies in Boston) accomplished the feat, recorded in two photos we have of the project.

  3. it was ingenius technique of Crescentino Serra from Piemonte Italy that was applied to move this Building. He moved a Romanic Bell Tower in 1776. He was my ancestor.

  4. The present building is the Little Building, now occupied by Emerson College. It housed the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government in 1919. A branch of BESAGG, the Votes for Women Shop, occupied the Hotel Pelham in Jan-Feb 1915. The Little Building is notable, and is documented in MACRIS, BOS.2249, which I just updated 2-8-21 (third supplement, to appear at end of form).


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