Charles Brigham was born on June 21, 1841, in Watertown, the son of William Brigham and his wife, Mary Crafts (daughter of Joseph Crafts).
He married on December 13, 1892, in Saco, Maine, to Rebecca S. Jordan (b. May1850 in Saco ME; d. 16Nov1909 in Watertown), daughter of George Vaughan Jordan and his wife, Sarah Scammon.
Charles Brigham died on July 22, 1925, at Shelter Island, New York.
Charles Brigham graduated from Watertown High School in 1856. He subsequently served as an apprentice in the office of architect Calvin Ryder in Boston, and then as a draftsman in the offices of Gridley J. F. Bryant.
In 1862, Brigham enlisted in the Civil War and served until late 1863. He returned to Boston after the war and re-entered the offices of Gridley J. F. Bryant. In 1866, John Hubbard Sturgis, who was working in Bryant’s office as an architect, and Charles Brigham became partners in the firm of Sturgis and Brigham, remaining in partnership until 1886. John Sturgis died in February of 1888.
In addition to a number of residential and commercial buildings, Sturgis and Brigham’s works included notable public buildings, including the Church of the Advent (1875-1876) at the foot of Beacon Hill (which Douglass Shand-Tucci’s Built in Boston calls one of the two “significant bridges” to the Gothic Revival style); the first Boston Museum of Fine Arts, on Copley Square (1876-1879), designed in Medieval-style with extensive use of terra-cotta; and the Y.M.C.A. building at the southwest corner of Boylston and Berkeley (1882, destroyed by fire in 1910).
In 1888, Brigham joined in partnership with John Calvin Spofford. He had been a draftsman with Sturgis and Brigham until it was dissolved, after which he formed a partnership with Willard M. Bacon in the firm of Spofford and Bacon (which was dissolved by 1888).
Among its works, Brigham and Spofford designed the City Hall in Lewiston, Maine; State Hospital in Foxborough; Memorial Hall in Belfast, Maine; and Roxbury Presbyterian Church (1891) at the corner of Warren and Waverly Streets. The partnership also secured the contract to enlarge the Massachusetts State House.
In February of 1892, Brigham and Spofford dissolved their partnership and both men continued as sole practitioners. The contract for expanding the Massachusetts State House remained with Charles Brigham and the large yellow-brick addition to the rear of the State House was completed in 1898.
In 1904-1906, Brigham joined with Solon S. Beman to design the large extension of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, on Huntington.
In June of 1906, he became a partner in Brigham, Coveney, and Bisbee, which completed the First Church of Christ, Scientist, and, in 1919, designed St. Paul’s Church in Natick.
Brigham lived most of his life in Watertown, where he designed a number of notable buildings and was an active member of the community. He retired to Shelter Island in New York several years before his death.
For further information on Charles Brigham, see David J. Russo’s website, Historical Architecture of Charles Brigham and Watertown: http://www.davidjrusso.com/architecture/
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