Back Bay Development: 1885-1889

Overview1855-18591860-18641865-18691870-18741875-18791880-1884 – 1885-1889 – 1890-18991900-19091910-2015

New construction in the Back Bay continued at a moderate pace in 1885, but began to slow thereafter as fewer open lots were available. Construction concentrated in the furthest west portion of the neighborhood. Of the 156 buildings constructed between 1885 and 1889, 105 (67%) were on Hereford street or further west, and 61 of those were in the most recently filled area from Massachusetts Avenue to Charlesgate East.

Detail from 1888 plan of the Back Bay; by William H. Whitney; courtesy of the Bostonian Society

Detail from 1888 plan of the Back Bay; by William H. Whitney; courtesy of the Bostonian Society

The map to the right, prepared by civil engineer William H. Whitney, shows the progress of the land fill by 1888.

During this period, the Back Bay saw the construction of several large multiple dwelling, including the Hotel Royal at 295-297 Beacon, the Grosvenor at 259261 Beacon, the Graffam at 330 Dartmouth, the Imperial at 308-310 Commonwealth, and apartment buildings at 366 Commonwealth, 405 Marlborough, and 407 Marlborough.

Also during this period, the Algonquin Club built its new clubhouse at 217 Commonwealth, the first purpose-built private club in the residential portion of the Back Bay (other private clubs would later occupy former homes, such as the St. Botolph Club at 199 Commonwealth and the Chilton Club at 152 Commonwealth).

The map below indicates when a building was first constructed on a specific lot through 1889. 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. If an original building was replaced or rebuilt , the date of original building (not the replacement) is shown.

Following the map is a list of the 156 buildings constructed between 1885 and 1889 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.

Original Construction through 1889

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 156 buildings constructed between 1885 and 1889 in the residential portion of the Back Bay. Houses indicated as demolished were replaced by 2015.

Beacon: Berkeley to Clarendon
North Side South Side
164 Beacon (1889)
Beacon: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
246 Beacon (1887) 259 Beacon (1888)
250 Beacon (1887) (Demolished) 261 Beacon (1888)
266 Beacon (1886) 283 Beacon (1885)
285 Beacon (1885)
295-297 Beacon (1885)
Beacon: Exeter to Fairfield
North Side South Side
316 Beacon (1885)
328 Beacon (1885) (Demolished)
Beacon: Fairfield to Gloucester
North Side South Side
348 Beacon (1886) 357 Beacon (1885)
352 Beacon (1885) 359 Beacon (1886)
367 Beacon (1886)
369 Beacon (1886)
371 Beacon (1886)
375 Beacon (1886)
Beacon: Gloucester to Hereford
North Side South Side
406 Beacon (1887)
408 Beacon (1886)
410 Beacon (1886)
412 Beacon (1887)
414 Beacon (1887)
Beacon: Hereford to Massachusetts
North Side South Side
448 Beacon (1889) 441 Beacon (1887)
452 Beacon (1887) 453 Beacon (1885)
456 Beacon (1886) 455 Beacon (1886)
457 Beacon (1886)
459 Beacon (1887)
461 Beacon (1887)
463 Beacon (1887)
465 Beacon (1887)
467 Beacon (1888)
469 Beacon (1888)
471 Beacon (1889)
473 Beacon (1889)
475 Beacon (1889)
477 Beacon (1889)
Beacon: Massachusetts to Charlesgate East
North Side South Side
499 Beacon (1888)
501 Beacon (1888)
503 Beacon (1888)
505 Beacon (1888)
507 Beacon (1887)
509 Beacon (1887)
511 Beacon (1887)
513 Beacon (1887)
515 Beacon (1887)
517 Beacon (1887)
519 Beacon (1887)
521 Beacon (1887)
523 Beacon (1887)
525 Beacon (1887)
527 Beacon (1887)
529 Beacon (1887)
531 Beacon (1888)
Charlesgate East: Beacon to Marlborough
East Side
10 Charlesgate East (463 Marlborough) (1889)
Commonwealth: Clarendon to Dartmouth
North Side South Side
132 Commonwealth (1885)
Commonwealth: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
172 Commonwealth (1885)
184 Commonwealth (1889)
Commonwealth: Exeter to Fairfield
North Side South Side
217 Commonwealth (1887) 204 Commonwealth (1888)
231 Commonwealth (1885) 206 Commonwealth (1885)
233 Commonwealth (1886) 208 Commonwealth (1885)
234 Commonwealth (1889)
Commonwealth: Fairfield to Gloucester
North Side South Side
257 Commonwealth (1886) 274 Commonwealth (1885)
276 Commonwealth (1885)
Commonwealth: Gloucester to Hereford
North Side South Side
308 Commonwealth (1889)
Commonwealth: Hereford to Massachusetts
North Side South Side
347 Commonwealth (1888) 328 Commonwealth (1889)
330 Commonwealth (1888)
366 Commonwealth (1889)
Commonwealth: Massachusetts to Charlesgate East
North Side South Side
377 Commonwealth (1889)
379 Commonwealth (1889)
381 Commonwealth (1885)
383 Commonwealth (1885)
385 Commonwealth (1885)
387 Commonwealth (1885)
389 Commonwealth (1885)
391 Commonwealth (1885)
Dartmouth: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
330 Dartmouth (1889)
Exeter: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
16 Exeter (196 Marlborough) (1886)
18 Exeter (1885)
Gloucester: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
20 Gloucester (1886) 17 Gloucester (1886)
Hereford: Commonwealth to Newbury
West Side East Side
40 Hereford (1886)
46 Hereford (1885)
48 Hereford (1885)
50 Hereford (1885)
52 Hereford (303-305 Newbury) (1885)
Marlborough: Dartmouth to Exeter
North Side South Side
186 Marlborough (1886)
196 Marlborough (16 Exeter) (1886)
Marlborough: Exeter to Fairfield
North Side South Side
251 Marlborough (1886) 248 Marlborough (1885)
261 Marlborough (1887) 252 Marlborough (1885)
275 Marlborough (1886) 254 Marlborough (1887)
256 Marlborough (1887)
258 Marlborough (1887)
Marlborough: Hereford to Massachusetts
North Side South Side
365 Marlborough (1887) 388 Marlborough (1885)
393 Marlborough (1888) 390 Marlborough (1885)
395 Marlborough (1888) 392 Marlborough (1885)
397 Marlborough (1888) 394 Marlborough (1886)
401 Marlborough (1885) 396 Marlborough (1887)
403 Marlborough (1886) 398 Marlborough (1887)
405 Marlborough (1889) 400 Marlborough (1887)
407 Marlborough (1889) 402 Marlborough (1887)
404 Marlborough (1888)
406 Marlborough (1888)
Marlborough: Massachusetts to Charlesgate East
North Side South Side
421 Marlborough (1889) 424 Marlborough (1889)
423 Marlborough (1889) 426 Marlborough (1887)
425 Marlborough (1886) 428 Marlborough (1886)
427 Marlborough (1886) 430 Marlborough (1885)
429 Marlborough (1886) 432 Marlborough (1885)
431 Marlborough (1885) 434 Marlborough (1885)
433 Marlborough (1885) 436 Marlborough (1885)
435 Marlborough (1885) 438 Marlborough (1885)
437 Marlborough (1885) 440 Marlborough (1885)
439 Marlborough (1885)
441 Marlborough (1885)
443 Marlborough (1885)
445 Marlborough (1885)
447 Marlborough (1886)
449 Marlborough (1887)
451 Marlborough (1887) Demolished)
453 Marlborough (1887) Demolished)
455 Marlborough (1887) Demolished)
457 Marlborough (1887) Demolished)
459 Marlborough (1889)
463 Marlborough (10 Charlesgate East) (1889)
Massachusetts: Back Street to Beacon
West Side East Side
7-9 Massachusetts (1888)
Massachusetts: Beacon to Marlborough
West Side East Side
27½-29 Massachusetts (1889)
Massachusetts: Marlborough to Commonwealth
West Side East Side
47 Massachusetts (1889)
49 Massachusetts (1889)
51 Massachusetts (1889)