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.


The scene in 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.

5 thoughts on “Sheaffe House, Boston”

  1. William Sheaffe is my 4 x grandfather. There is a number of references to Columbia and Essex Street where the house is situated.

    I do not think the streets even exist now. I was in Boston three years ago (2012) trying to locate the site where the house was situated. Can anyone help??

    Stephen Sheaffe

  2. Columbia Street does not exist anymore. It was a narrow alley one block long, going from Essex Street to Summer Street. It was about halfway between Kingston Street and Lincoln Street, both of which still exist today. Hope that helps!

  3. According to the map on page 7 of the document on the URL below from the site , the 88 Kingston Building ( now called Lafayette lofts) didn’t replace Sheaffe House directly as Columbia was the next street to the East of Essex St.
    I live in a condo at 88 Kingston st and was trying to find the history of the building and could only find info on the Auchmuty building ( 120 Kingston st). Thanks.

    • It’s been almost a decade since I wrote this post, so I had to go back through some of the old maps. It looks like most of 88 Kingston was built just to the west of the site of the Sheaffe House, but it’s hard to say whether or not part of it covered the original footprint of the old house. Either way, this scene is more or less the correct orientation of the old photo – perhaps it would have been better to take it from about 25 feet further back, but otherwise it’s the same scene in both photos.


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