Back Bay Development: 1860-1864

Overview1855-1859 – 1860-1864 – 1865-18691870-18741875-18791880-18841885-18891890-18991900-19091910-2015

Filling of the Back Bay south of the Mill Dam began in the fall of 1857 and the first houses were constructed on the newly-made land in the early 1860s. The filling was done roughly east to west, with the area north of Commonwealth Avenue proceeding more rapidly than area south of Commonwealth Avenue. As the land was filled, the lots were sold at auction and houses were constructed.

Detail from 1861 plan of the Back Bay; A Set of Plans Showing the Back Bay 1814-1881, by Fuller and Whitney; courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

Detail from 1861 plan of the Back Bay; A Set of Plans Showing the Back Bay 1814-1881, by Fuller and Whitney; courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

The map to the right, prepared by civil engineers Fuller and Whitney in 1881, shows the progress of the land fill by 1861.

During this period, the first two churches to be located in the Back Bay were built: the Arlington Street Church and Emmanuel Church.

The Arlington Street Church at 20 Arlington (northwest corner of Arlington and Boylston) was designed by architect Arthur Gilman and built in 1860-1861 for the Unitarian congregation whose meeting house previously was located on Federal Street.  The cornerstone of the new church was laid on May 28, 1860, and the church was dedicated on December 11, 1861.

Emmanuel Church at 15 Newbury (between Arlington and Berkeley) was designed by architect Alexander Rice Estey and built in 1861 for a newly-formed Episcopal congregation.  The cornerstoe was laid on June 17, 1861, the first service was on December 15, 1861, and the church was consecrated on April 24, 1862.  On its website (in 2015), Emmanuel Church notes that the plan for forming the new church originated with the residents living on the Mill Dam (Beacon Street), in part to avoid the “inconvenience of attendance on distant places of public worship.”

The map below indicates when a building was first constructed on a specific lot through 1864. Included are lots within the residential portion of the Back Bay, as defined for purposes of this website, plus buildings on the north side of Newbury. The dates used are based on original permit applications or similar documentation, when available. When no such documentation is  available, the dates provided in Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay are used.

Following the map is a list of the 154 buildings constructed between 1860 and 1864 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.

Original construction on vacant lots: to 1864

Click here for a link to maps showing the progress of construction from 1855 through 2015, in slideshow format.

Below is a list of the 153 buildings constructed between 1860 and 1864 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.  Houses indicated as demolished were replaced by 2015.

Arlington: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side
1 Arlington (1861)
2 Arlington (1861)
3 Arlington (1861)
4 Arlington (1861)
5 Arlington (1861)
6 Arlington (1861) (Demolished)
7 Arlington (1861) (Demolished)
Arlington: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side
9 Arlington (1861)
10 Arlington (1861)
11 Arlington (1861)
12 Arlington (1860)
Arlington: Commonwealth to Newbury
West Side
13 Arlington (1860) (Demolished)
14 Arlington (1860) (Demolished)
15 Arlington (1860) (Demolished)
Beacon: Arlington to Berkeley
North Side South Side
124 Beacon (1860) 101 Beacon (1862)
126 Beacon (1860) 103 Beacon (1862)
128 Beacon (1860) 105 Beacon (1862)
130 Beacon (1861) 107 Beacon (1862)
109 Beacon (1862)
111 Beacon (1862)
113 Beacon (1863)
115 Beacon (1863)
117 Beacon (1864)
127 Beacon (1861)
129 Beacon (1861)
131 Beacon (1860)
133 Beacon (1860)
135 Beacon (1860)
137 Beacon (1860)
139 Beacon (1860)
141 Beacon (1860)
143 Beacon (1861)
145 Beacon (1861)
147 Beacon (303 Berkeley) (1861)
Beacon: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
132 Beacon (1861) 149 Beacon (1861)
134 Beacon (1860) 151 Beacon (1861)
136 Beacon (1860) 153 Beacon (1861)
138 Beacon (1860) 155 Beacon (1861)
140 Beacon (1860) 157 Beacon (1861)
142 Beacon (1860) 159 Beacon (1861)
144 Beacon (1860) 161 Beacon (1863)
146 Beacon (1862) 181 Beacon (1863)
148 Beacon (1860) Demolished 183 Beacon (1863)
150 Beacon (1860) (Demolished) 201 Beacon (285 Clarendon) (1864)
152 Beacon (1860) (Demolished)
154 Beacon (1861)
156 Beacon (1861) (Demolished)
158 Beacon (1861) (Demolished)
168 Beacon (1861)
170 Beacon (1861)
172 Beacon (1861) (Demolished)
174 Beacon (1861) (Demolished)
176 Beacon (1861) (Demolished)
178 Beacon (1862) (Demolished)
180 Beacon (1862) (Demolished)
Beacon: Clarendon to Dartmouth
North Side South Side
188 Beacon (1864)
190 Beacon (1864)
192 Beacon (1862)
194 Beacon (1862)
196 Beacon (1863)
198 Beacon (1862)
200 Beacon (1862)
202 Beacon (1862)
204 Beacon (1862)
206 Beacon (1862)
208 Beacon (1862)
210 Beacon (1863)
212 Beacon (1863)
214 Beacon (1863)
216 Beacon (1863)
218 Beacon (1863)
220 Beacon (1863)
226 Beacon (1864)
228 Beacon (1864)
230 Beacon (1864)
232 Beacon (1863)
234 Beacon (1863)
Berkeley: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
303 Berkeley (147 Beacon) (1861)
Berkeley: Commonwealth to Newbury
West Side East Side
255 Berkeley (48 Commonwealth) (1864)
Clarendon: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
285 Clarendon (201 Beacon) (1864)
Commonwealth: Arlington to Berkeley
North Side South Side
1 Commonwealth (1861) 2 Commonwealth (1864) (Demolished)
3 Commonwealth (1861) 4 Commonwealth (1864) (Demolished)
5 Commonwealth (1861) (Demolished) 6 Commonwealth (1864) (Demolished)
7 Commonwealth (1861) 8 Commonwealth (1864) (Demolished)
9 Commonwealth (1861) 10 Commonwealth (1864) (Demolished)
25 Commonwealth (1861) 16 Commonwealth (1864)
27 Commonwealth (1861) 18 Commonwealth (1864)
20 Commonwealth (1861)
22 Commonwealth (1861)
24 Commonwealth (1861)
26 Commonwealth (1861)
28 Commonwealth (1861)
30 Commonwealth (1861)
32 Commonwealth (1861)
34 Commonwealth (1861)
36 Commonwealth (1861)
38 Commonwealth (1862)
40 Commonwealth (1862)
42 Commonwealth (1864)
44 Commonwealth (1864)
46 Commonwealth (1864)
48 Commonwealth (255 Berkeley) (1864)
Commonwealth: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
29 Commonwealth (1863) (Demolished)
31 Commonwealth (1863)
33 Commonwealth (1863)
Marlborough: Arlington to Berkeley
North Side South Side
1 Marlborough (1862) 4 Marlborough (1864)
3 Marlborough (1862) 6 Marlborough (1864) (Demolished)
5 Marlborough (1862) 8 Marlborough (1864)
7 Marlborough (1862) 10 Marlborough (1864) (Demolished)
9 Marlborough (1863) 12 Marlborough (1863)
11 Marlborough (1863) 14 Marlborough (1863)
13 Marlborough (1864) 18 Marlborough (1864)
15 Marlborough (1864) 20 Marlborough (1864)
22 Marlborough (1863)
24 Marlborough (1863)
26 Marlborough (1863)
28 Marlborough (1863)
30 Marlborough (1863)
32 Marlborough (1863) (Demolished)
Marlborough: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
71 Marlborough (1864)
73 Marlborough (1864)
75 Marlborough (1864)
77 Marlborough (1864)
79 Marlborough (1864)
81 Marlborough (1864)
83 Marlborough (1864)
85 Marlborough (1864)
87 Marlborough (1864)