Francis Richmond Allen was born in November 22, 1843 in Boston, the son of Frederick Deane Allen and his wife Mary Richmond Baylies (daughter of Thomas Baylies).
He married on January 5, 1875, to Elizabeth Bradlee Wood (b. 1848-1849 in MA; d. 1930), daughter of Charles Greenleaf Wood and his wife Sara Hunnewell Bradlee.
Francis Allen died on November 7, 1931, at the Charlesgate Hotel in Boston.
Francis Allen graduated from Amherst College in 1865. Upon graduation, he became a dry goods commission merchant in the firm of Allen, Lane & Co. He withdrew from the business in 1876 to spend a year (1876-1877) studying architecture at MIT and another year (1877-1878) at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In 1878, he returned to Boston and began his career as a practicing architect.
In about 1880, he formed a partnership with Herbert P. Kenway. In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting states that the firm of Allen and Kenway was “the most consistent exponent of the Romanesque tradition in the Back Bay, and they had a distinctive way of handling it. In five of the ten Romanesque houses they designed in the district between 1881 and 1888, they substituted balustrades or heavy horizontal cornices for the usual gabled roofs and thereby sacrificed the picturesque massing which is one artistic merit of a good Romanesque design. And perhaps they thought the broad Syrian arch was unsuited to the pinched, vertical quality of the usual city façade or because its heavy spandrels reduced available window areas, they also omitted this conspicuous Richardson element. Instead, they capped their entrances with tight, stilted arches surrounded by heavy archivolts carved with an acanthus leaf pattern. The firm was also fond of Auvergnat marquetry (colored stone set in geometric patterns) and areas of intricate Byzantine-like decoration carved in brownstone.”
Herbert Kenway died in July of 1890. Francis Allen continued as a sole practitioner until about 1896, when he joined in partnership with James MacArthur Vance, who resided in Pittsfield. They remained partners until about 1902. Vance continued to practice in Pittsfield, and Allen joined in partnership with Charles Collens. The firm of Allen and Collens continued until Francis Allen’s death in 1931, with offices in Boston and New York City.
Among its work in New England, Allen and Collens designed Andover Hall (1911) at the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, the Second Church of West Newton (1916), St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine (1920) at 1101 Boylston, the Lindsey Memorial Chapel (1924) at Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street, and several buildings at Williams College (Williamston MA). Henry C. Pelton, who designed The Cloisters in New York, was associated with the New York office of the firm, and led the firm’s design work for many significant buildings in Manhattan.
Back Bay Work