Back Bay Development: 1870-1874

Overview1855-18591860-18641865-1869 – 1870-1874 – 1875-18791880-18841885-18891890-18991900-19091910-2015

Filling of the Back Bay continued through the 1870s. The pace of construction remained strong through 1872 and then declined significantly for the remainder of the decade. Of the 248 buildings built in the residential portion of the Back Bay between 1870 and 1874, 209 (84%) were built in 1870-1872, with slightly more than half of that amount in 1872.

There were at least two reasons for the dramatic drop in construction after 1872. The first was the November 9, 1872, fire which destroyed much of the financial and commercial district of Boston, seriously impacting many of the businessmen who would have been most likely to build in the Back Bay. The second was the Panic of 1873 and subsequent depression which affected the economies of both Europe and the United States, lasting until about 1879.

Although construction remained strong in 1872, the real estate market had begun to decline even before the Fire and the Panic (perhaps, in part, because of over-building in the new neighborhood).  As a result, in March of 1872 the Commissioners on Public Lands suspended sales of Back Bay lands owned by the Commonwealth.  It did not resume selling land until May of 1879.

In 1873, the Brattle Square Unitarian Church was built at 100 Commonwealth (southwest corner of Clarendon).  A victim of the economic times, the church closed in 1875 and it became the First Baptist Church in the early 1880s.

Also during the early 1870s, two multiple dwellings were built in the Back Bay: the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth (northeast corner of Exeter), consisting of six floor-through “French flats,” and the Hotel Vendôme at 290 Dartmouth (southwest corner of Commonwealth), consisting of a main building at the corner and five townhouses, connected with the hotel, to the west on Commonwealth.

The map below indicates when a building was first constructed on a specific lot through 1874. 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 248 buildings constructed between 1870 and 1874 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.

Original construction through 1874

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 248 buildings constructed between 1870 and 1874 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.  Houses indicated as demolished were replaced by 2015.

Beacon: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
163 Beacon (1871)
167 Beacon (1871)
177 Beacon (1871)
185 Beacon (1872)
191 Beacon (1871)
193 Beacon (1871)
195 Beacon (1871)
Beacon: Clarendon to Dartmouth
North Side South Side
203 Beacon (278 Clarendon) (1870)
205 Beacon (1874)
209 Beacon (1874)
221 Beacon (1870)
235 Beacon (1870)
237 Beacon (1870)
255 Beacon (1872) (Demolished)
Beacon: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
240 Beacon (1871) 263 Beacon (1871)
252 Beacon (1870) (Demolished) 265 Beacon (1871)
254 Beacon (1870) 267 Beacon (1871)
256 Beacon (1870) 269 Beacon (1871)
258 Beacon (1870)
260 Beacon (1870)
262 Beacon (1872)
264 Beacon (1872) (Demolished)
276 Beacon (1874) (Demolished)
Beacon: Exeter to Fairfield
North Side South Side
282 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 299 Beacon (1870)
284 Beacon (1870) (Demolished) 303 Beacon (1871)
292 Beacon (1870) 305 Beacon (1871)
294 Beacon (1870) 307 Beacon (1871)n
296 Beacon (1870) (Demolished) 309 Beacon (1871)
298 Beacon (1871) 311 Beacon (1871)
304 Beacon 313 Beacon (1871)
306 Beacon (1871) 315 Beacon (1871)
308 Beacon (1871) (Demolished) 317 Beacon (1871)
310 Beacon (1871) (Demolished) 319 Beacon (1871)
312 Beacon (1871) 321 Beacon (1872)
314 Beacon (1871) 323 Beacon (1872)
330 Beacon (1871) (Demolished) 325 Beacon (1872)
332 Beacon (1871) (Demolished) 327 Beacon (1872)
329 Beacon (1874)
343 Beacon (1873)
345 Beacon (1873)
Beacon: Fairfield to Gloucester
North Side South Side
334 Beacon (1872) 351 Beacon (1870)
386 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 353 Beacon (1870)
388 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 355 Beacon (1870)
390 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 361 Beacon (1872)
392 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 363 Beacon (1872)
394 Beacon (1872) (Demolished) 365 Beacon (1872)
396 Beacon (1872) 397 Beacon (1870)
398 Beacon (1872) 399 Beacon (1 Gloucester) (1870)
400 Beacon (1872)
Beacon: Hereford to Massachusetts
North Side South Side
443 Beacon (1872)
445 Beacon (1872)
447 Beacon (1872)
Berkeley: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
299 Berkeley (1874) (Demolished)
Clarendon: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
274 Clarendon (1872)
278 Clarendon (203 Beacon) (1870)
Clarendon: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
270 Clarendon (1873) 263 Clarendon (1870)
265 Clarendon (1870)
267 Clarendon (1870)
Clarendon: Commonwealth to Newbury
West Side East Side
230 Clarendon (109 Newbury) (1871)
232 Clarendon (1872)
234 Clarendon (1871)
236 Clarendon (1871)
Commonwealth: Arlington to Berkeley
North Side South Side
12 Commonwealth (1870) (Demolished)
14 Commonwealth (1871) (Demolished)
Commonwealth: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
35 Commonwealth (1873) 52 Commonwealth (1871) (Demolished)
37 Commonwealth (1872) 62 Commonwealth (1872)
39 Commonwealth (1872) 64 Commonwealth (1872)
57 Commonwealth (1874) 66 Commonwealth (1872)
59 Commonwealth (1874) 74 Commonwealth (1870)
76 Commonwealth (1872)
78 Commonwealth (1872) (Demolished)
80 Commonwealth (1872)
82 Commonwealth (1872)
84 Commonwealth (1872)
86 Commonwealth (1874)
Commonwealth: Clarendon to Dartmouth
North Side South Side
109 Commonwealth (1872) 100-110 Commonwealth (1873): Brattle Square/First Baptist Church
111 Commonwealth (1872) 116 Commonwealth (1873)
117 Commonwealth (1871) 118 Commonwealth (1873)
121 Commonwealth (1872) 120 Commonwealth (1873)
123 Commonwealth (1872) 122 Commonwealth (1871)
125 Commonwealth (1872) 124 Commonwealth (1871)
127 Commonwealth (1871) 126 Commonwealth (1872)
129 Commonwealth (1871) 152 Commonwealth (1870)
Commonwealth: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
161 Commonwealth (1873) (Demolished) 160 Commonwealth (290 Dartmouth) (1871): Hotel Vendôme
163 Commonwealth (1874) 192 Commonwealth (1872) (Demolished)
191 Commonwealth (1872)
Dartmouth: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
328 Dartmouth (1872)
Dartmouth: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
306 Dartmouth (1872) 315 Dartmouth (1870)
312 Dartmouth (1871)
314 Dartmouth (1871)
Dartmouth: Commonwealth to Newbury
West Side East Side
280 Dartmouth (1871) (Demolished) 279 Dartmouth (1871)
282 Dartmouth (1871) (Demolished) 281 Dartmouth (1871)
284 Dartmouth (1871) (Demolished) 283 Dartmouth (1871)
290 Dartmouth (160 Commonwealth) (1871): Hotel Vendôme
Exeter: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
1 Exeter (1870)
3 Exeter (1870)
5 Exeter (1870)
7 Exeter (1872)
9 Exeter (1872)
11 Exeter (1872)
Fairfield: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
1 Fairfield (1871)
3 Fairfield (1871)
5 Fairfield (1871)
Fairfield: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
7 Fairfield (1872)
9 Fairfield (1872)
Gloucester: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
4 Gloucester (1871) 1 Gloucester (399 Beacon) (1870)
6 Gloucester (1871) 3 Gloucester (1872)
8 Gloucester (1871) (Demolished) 5 Gloucester (1872)
7 Gloucester (1872)
Gloucester: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
10 Gloucester (1872) 9 Gloucester (1872)
12 Gloucester (1872) 11 Gloucester (1872)
14 Gloucester (1872) 13 Gloucester (1872)
15 Gloucester (1872)
Hereford: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
13 Hereford (1872) 14 Hereford (1871)
15 Hereford (1872) 16 Hereford (1871)
17 Hereford (1872) 18 Hereford (1871)
20 Hereford (1871)
Marlborough: Arlington to Berkeley
North Side South Side
19 Marlborough (1872) 2 Marlborough (1871)
Marlborough: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
59 Marlborough (1873) 66 Marlborough (1870)
61 Marlborough (1873) 68 Marlborough (1870)
86 Marlborough (1872)
88 Marlborough (1872)
90 Marlborough (1872)
92 Marlborough (1870)
Marlborough: Clarendon to Dartmouth
North Side South Side
105 Marlborough (1871) 108 Marlborough (1870)
107 Marlborough (1871) (Demolished) 132 Marlborough (1871)
109 Marlborough (1871) 134 Marlborough (1872)
111 Marlborough (1872) 136 Marlborough (1872)
113 Marlborough (1872) 140 Marlborough (1872)
115 Marlborough (1872) 142 Marlborough (1872)
117 Marlborough (1873) 144 Marlborough (1872)
119 Marlborough (1873) 146 Marlborough (1872)
148 Marlborough (1872)
Marlborough: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
163 Marlborough (1871) 164 Marlborough (1870)
175 Marlborough (1871) 166 Marlborough (1874)
177 Marlborough (1871) 168 Marlborough (1874)
170 Marlborough (1874)
172 Marlborough (1874)
Marlborough: Exeter to Fairfield
North Side South Side
225 Marlborough (1873)
227 Marlborough (1873)
229 Marlborough (1873)
231 Marlborough (1873)
233 Marlborough (1874)
235 Marlborough (1874)
237 Marlborough (1874)
239 Marlborough (1874)
277 Marlborough (1873)
279 Marlborough (1873)
Marlborough: Fairfield to Gloucester
North Side South Side
285 Marlborough (1871) 282 Marlborough (1872)h
287 Marlborough (1871) 284 Marlborough (1872)
289 Marlborough (1871) 286 Marlborough (1872)
291 Marlborough (1872) 288 Marlborough (1872)
293 Marlborough (1872) 290 Marlborough (1872)
295 Marlborough (1872) 292 Marlborough (1872)
297 Marlborough (1872)h 322 Marlborough (1872)
299 Marlborough (1872)
317 Marlborough (1874)
319 Marlborough (1874)
321 Marlborough (1873)
323 Marlborough (1873)
Marlborough: Gloucester to Hereford
North Side South Side
337 Marlborough (1872) 334 Marlborough (1872)
339 Marlborough (1872)
341 Marlborough (1872)
343 Marlborough (1872)
345 Marlborough (1872)
347 Marlborough (1872)
349 Marlborough (1872)
351 Marlborough (1872)
353 Marlborough (1872) (Demolished)
355 Marlborough (1872)
357 Marlborough (1872)
Marlborough: Hereford to Massachusetts
North Side South Side
363 Marlborough (1872)