Little Building - Boston, MA
Posted by: silverquill
N 42° 21.138 W 071° 03.894
19T E 329932 N 4690957
Quick Description: Built in 1917, the Little Building was a grand "skyscraper" office building/arcade complex, with space for 900 offices. In 1994 Emerson College bought it and renovated it as housing for 750 students. It dominates the corner of Tremont & Boylston.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 9/24/2009 5:15:44 AM
Waymark Code: WM79KJ
The Little Building was named for local Boston businessman and philanthropist, John Mason Little. It was a quite ground breaking for 1917, when it was built, as a "skyscraper" incorporating 900 offices, stores, shops, restaurants, and even a post office. The architect was Clarence Blackall who designed as many as fifteen theaters in the Boston area, including the Colonial and Wilbur Theaters nearby.
Today it is the largest residence building of Emerson College, an urban school devoted wholly to the theater and communication arts. There is a 150-seat Cabaret theater in the lower level of the building.
The following is from the Midtown Cultural District Historic Building Survey
Modern Gothic steel frame skyscraper with 2-story Tudor-arched entrance at #80 Boylston. Above level 2, building features 4 pavillions, each 3X4X3 bays projecting from main block, each bay with either paired windows and stone spandrals or metal polygonal bays with Gothic-inspired metal spandrals, terminating in Tudor arches at level 2. Gothic trim at topmost spandral
The Little Building is significant as the theatre area's best example of the Modern Gothic skyscraper, as a work by prominent Boston architect Clarence Blackall, and as a well-preserved example of a less common building type, the office building/shopping arcade. Walter Muir Whitehill termed the Little Building the most glamorous office building of the era of World War I.
The Little Building was advertised as a "City Under One Roof" with 600 offices, 15 stores, 22 shops (featuring "distinctive and correct merchandise), a post office, restaurants (including an Automat in the basement), a subway entrance and corridors to nearby theatres. The two-story interior arcade and interior vaulting remains intact, along with one complete shop interior and storefront. Similar interior arcades can be found in the Old South Building of 1902 and the Park Square Bldg of 1923.
The use of the Modern Gothic style demonstrates the versitility of Clarence Blackall, (1857-1942), designer of the neighboring Renaissance Revival Colonial and Capital Buildings and the Colonial Revival Hotel Avery and Wilbur Theatre. Blackall, best know for his theatre architecture including 14 Boston theatres, also designed the city's first skeleton construction building, the Carter/Winthrop Building (1894). In the theatre area Blackall also did the Modern, Pilgrim/Olympia, Metropolitan/Music Hall, Demmon Building and White Building, which is similar to the Little in style and use of pavillions to increase light in interior offices.
The Little Building stands on the site of the Hotel Pelham, the first apartment-hotel on the East Coast (1857).