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210 Commercial Street - Boston MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member elyob
N 42° 21.800 W 071° 03.100
19T E 331052 N 4692156
Quick Description: This building is at the corner of Commercial Street and Lewis Street.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 6/14/2018 11:16:37 AM
Waymark Code: WMYGRK
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member kbarhow
Views: 1

Long Description:
The text below is taken from the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System.
210-218 Commercial Street is reminiscent of New York City’s Flatiron Building (1901-1903) in its domination of the northwest corner of Commercial and Lewis Streets. While its height (only six stories, plus basement) does not approach that of a true skyscraper, the building includes stylistic and structural elements common to the commercial building form that became known as the Chicago Commercial style. A steel-framed brick building set on a granite block foundation and serviced by an elevator, 210-218 Commercial approaches the academic ideal of a “transparent skin over the structural skeleton” for skyscrapers developed in Chicago in the 1890s by such Boston-bred architects as Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) and Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). Of tripartite design, with the base, shaft and capital structure common to skyscrapers, verticality is given to the heavy brick mass of 210-218 Commercial by the use of vertical brick piers. These project beyond the plane of its walls from a rusticated brick base with tripartite shop windows, keystone detailing, and brownstone string-course, to segmentally arched windows just below the projecting brick roof cornice. Emphasis is given to these arches by the keystone placed at the center of each window on the sixth floor, which extends into the cornice, thus typing the shaft of the building into its capital. The five metal-framed window bays on each side of the building on each floor also reflect academic ideals in their use of a single broad glass panel flanked by narrower windows on each side. Metal panels below each window form recessed spandrels between the vertical brick piers. The curves expressed in the segmental window arches of the first and sixth floors are repeated in the curving wall of the clipped corner of 210-218 Commercial Street. An entry to the building is located on this wall, as is a single window on each of the floors above. Each opening on this wall is rectangular in shape and embellished by a brick splayed lintel and a modest brownstone keystone.

210-218 Commercial Street was the third commercial-industrial building constructed in the district at the end of the first decade of the 20th century. It is by far the most fully developed example of the commercial style of the three, and represents a major addition to the district in both style and size. Built on filled-in land resulting from the construction of Atlantic Avenue in 1868, the 1912 building replaced an earlier commercial four-story building on the site. Just prior to its demolition, in 1909 210 Commercial Street housed a ship’s chandlery, appropriate to its proximity to Lewis Wharf.

In a common pattern to the district, the new 210-218 Commercial Street building housed a shop on its first floor with warehouse space above. By 1917 even the first floor was being used for storage for the Prince Macaroni Co., while its upper five floors held wool. In 1922 a Fire Commissioner’s report noted there was insufficient means of egress for the 200 men and women employed in a clothing factory on the top three floors of the building. Steamship supplies and a wholesale grocer occupied the rest of the building. By 1929 the building was apparently completely given over to storage, as it was labeled as a “loft” on the Sanborn map of that year. Shoe Factories, tomato packing and machine storage used the building in the 1940s. The building continued its mixed commercial-industrial use until the 1970s when it was converted to office space, a use continued to the present.

Although its architect is unknown, the well-articulated commercial style of 210-218 Commercial suggests a designer fully at home with the academic ideals of commercial architecture at the beginning of the 20th century. The cost of such decorative details as string courses, and the segmentally arched windows with their keystones is similarly suggestive of the continuing economic importance of the Fulton Street-Commercial Street district, an importance rooted in its proximity to the waterfront. 210-218 Commercial makes a notable contribution to the district for both its rarity as an early 20th century building in the predominantly 19th century streetscape, and for its use of the academic architectural ideals so expressive of its time.

Web Address: [Web Link]

Date of construction.: 1/1/1912

Current use of the building.: Office building

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