Peabody and Stearns was formed in 1870 by Robert Swain Peabody and John Goddard Stearns. They remained in partnership from 1870 until their deaths, a few days apart, in 1917. Theirs was one of the most prominent architectural firms in the late Nineteenth Century, achieving particularly noteworthy designs in the 1880s and early 1890s when Julius Schweinfurth was their chief draftsman, becoming, in the words of Douglass Shand-Tucci (Built in Boston) “a firm that in many ways would be to Boston what McKim, Mead and White were to New York and Burnham and Root to Chicago.”
After the deaths of Robert Peabody and Frank Stearns in 1917, the firm continued under the direction of W. Cornell Appleton, who had been chief of design, and Frank A. Stearns, John Stearns’s son, who had been superintendent of construction. It operated under the name of Appleton and Stearns, but also identified itself as “successors to Peabody and Stearns.” The firm continued until Frank Stearns’s death in October of 1922.
Peabody and Stearns’s work in the Boston area included the Boston and Providence Railroad Station at Park Square (1872; demolished); the Brunswick Hotel (1873) and annex (1877) at the southeast corner of Boylston and Clarendon; the Boston Post Building (1874) at 17 Milk Street; the New York Mutual Life Insurance Building (1874-1875; demolished in 1945) on Post Office Square; the American Unitarian Association Building on Beacon at Bowdoin (1886; demolished); Assumption Church in Brookline (1878-1886); the Exchange Building (1887), one of first buildings to use steel framing; the Stock Exchange Building (1889-1891) at 53 State Street; Christ Church in Waltham (1897-1898); and the Custom House Tower (1913-1915) on State Street at India Street.
Back Bay Work