The Berkeley Building on Boylston

Every now and then, if we choose to keep our phones in our pockets and forgo the latest podcast, we are free to look up and take in the beautiful architecture of our cities hidden in plain sight. The Berkeley Building at the corners of Boylston and Berkeley Streets in Boston is a shining example of why we should look up more often. 

Built in 1905, the Berkeley Building was one of the early commercial buildings constructed in Back Bay. The distinctive Beaux Arts Style exhibits terra cotta cladding over a steel frame. Beaux Arts Style comes from the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts school of architecture in Paris. This style of architecture incorporated classical, Renaissance and Baroque details in harmony with modern materials. 

The architects, Stephen Codman, and the esteemed Frenchman, Constant Desire Despradelle were responsible for the design, which chiefly features offices and other commercial space above the ground level of glass-fronted shops that maximized patron circulation from the street. The building appears as if it were set atop a glass riser.

Some of the first tenants of the building were Pelton Piano Company, Sampler Corsets, Louis H. Werner Furs. Today, among others, it’s the home of T-Mobile and Citizens Bank. 

The City of Boston has a detailed report on the building online accessible here

Historical photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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