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Brighton Center Architecture

The Brighton Center Commercial Area represents the linear commercial development of mid-19th to mid- 20th century structures lining Washington Street, between Foster and Winship Streets. Despite the loss of historic structures such as St. Margaret's Episcopal Church and alterations and modernizations to historic fabric, enough remains to trace the evolution of this area from the mid-19th century when Brighton Center was New England's most important cattle market to its present status as a still vital business district serving long time Irish and Italian residents as well as students and recent immigrants from Ireland, South America and Southeast Asia.


The buildings of this area represent 200 years of commercial and residential architectural development. Any consideration of the Brighton Center Commercial area should begin with the following observations: the south side of Washington Street, between Foster and Market Streets is more intact than that of the north side; additionally, the south side provides the greatest evidence of this area's architectural historical evolution over time in terms of form, style and materials .The north side, on the other hand, is dominated by long, low one story concrete commercial blocks from the 1910s and 1920s. Scattered about the area are wooden structures constructed between the late 18th and late 19th centuries. Major focal point of this area, by virtue of their height, siting, massing and design, are the steeple-topped Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church at 404 Washington Street and the towered, 4-story Washington/ Imperial Building at 363-365 Washington Street and 426 Market Street.

Brighton Police Station

Situated on an oval landscaped island at the eastern entrance to the Brighton Center Commercial Area, the Georgian Revival Brighton Police Station at 301Washington Street is an architecturally significant municipal building designed by Boston City Architect Edmund March Wheelwright between1891 and 1895. Over time, the original 2-story, U-shaped, yellow brick structure has acquired L-shaped and rectangular masonry additions to its rear and west facades. The police station's main block measures seven bays in width and six bays in depth. Rising from a granite block foundation to a flat roof with deep molded metal eaves, its main facade features a formal, center entrance pavilion exhibiting. An open, Ionic columned entrance porch accessed via a broad flight of concrete steps, projects from the center pavilion. The porch's columns support a molded, cornice headed entablature which is surmounted by a balustrated composed of urn-topped plinths and balusters turned in the Georgian Revival manner. Opening on to the pavilions second floor porch is a Palladian window with molded terra cotta surrounds. The edges of this building are accented with brick Doric pilasters. In general, windows exhibit splaid, granite key stone lintels and 1/1 replacement sash; originally these windows contained 9/2 wood sash. Particularly noteworthy are the police stations cornice treatments consisting of circular plaques bordered by a lower course of molded terra cotta and a dentil course. The deep eaves are accented by closely spaced brackets.

The 1892 Nagle Building at 300-310 Washington Street is noteworthy for the exuberant Queen Anne surface treatments of its main facade. Constructed of red brick, the Nagle Building is a 4-story, U-shaped building with a narrow rear courtyard. Its main facade is 8-bays wide while its side walls are 5-bays deep. A molded metal cornice headed entablature is located above the store fronts of the first floor. The upper floors are enlivened by a pair of three-story oriels at the center of the main facade. A single oriel is located at the western end of this facade while a towered oriel enclosed by a conical roof cap projects from its northeast corner. Composed of copper, these oriels feature apron panels and vertical guilloche panels between the windows. Windows generally exhibit simple brownstone bar sills and lintels. The corners of the building are accented by brownstone quoins. Particularly noteworthy is the terra cotta ornament and corbelling of its cornice. Rising above the roof line at the center of the cornice is a rectangular ornamental panel containing brick and brownstone billet work and a plaque which reads "18 NAGLE 92".

The Greenleaf Block at 311-313 Washington Street is a two-story Tapestry Brick commercial block. Possessing a rectangular form, it is enclosed by a flat roof. Access to the professional offices of the second floor is gained via the entrance to the right of three storefronts. This entrance is flanked by black marble panels and surmounted by soldier bricks. Each of the second floor's three bays contain three windows. Culminating in a low, stepped parapet, long and narrow black marble panels appear above each of the second floor's bays.

328 Washington Street is a c.1890s Queen Anne/Georgian Revival commercia/residentia1 building which is constructed of orange brick. Rising to a height of three stories, it possesses a rectangular form and is enclosed by a flat roof. The second and third floors of the main facade exhibit a two-story copper oriel and a single window containing 1/1 wood sash. These windows exhibit simple brownstone bar sills and lintels. Enlivening the roof line is an ornate copper cheneau.

The Warren Building at 329-343 Washington Street is a boxy, three-story Panel Brick/Queen Anne building that was built in 1879 to contain stores, offices and a public meeting hall. Measuring seven-bays in width with a depth of four bays, it is constructed of red brick with blackened brick and sand stone trimmings. Built by Lord and Wentworth, masons, from designs provided by John E. Cahill, it is formally finished on three sides and is enclosed by a flat roof. Its main and side facades are divided into bays by brickwork piers. The center entrance is set within a keystone arch composed of sandstone.

Three storefronts exhibiting modern storefront treatments are located on either side of the entrance. The windows of the second floor are surmounted by sand stone trimmed segmental headed arches while those of the second floor culminate in semi-circular arches with prominent key stones. Above the third floor windows is a corralled cornice.

338 Washington Street is a wooden, L-shaped Greek Revival structure which is said to contain a structure built during the l790s as the First Parish Church Parsonage. It currently has the appearance of a c. 1840s Greek Revival residence adapted for commercial purposes. Enclosed by an intersecting gable roof, a three-bay gable projects from the southern end of the west wall. Standing with its 2-bay, pedimented gable wall facing Washington Street, 7-bays border Academy Hill Road. Exhibiting a modern commercial storefront which projects beyond the plane of the wall, two polygonal oriels rest on the roof of the storefront. In general, windows are fully enframed and contain 1/1 replacement sash. The main facade's attic window exhibits 8/1 wood sash.

6 Academy Hill Road is a wooden, T-shaped Greek Revival residence with a rectangular main block and two rear ells. Obscuring the main facade is a two-story, c.1920s orange brick commercial addition which measures three bays in width and is three bays deep. The main block stands with its end wall gable facing north and south and is covered with wood shingles.

Apparently, 15 Academy Hill Road is a c. mid-19th century wooden rectangular 2.5-story structure which may have been built as a stable. Still in evidence are the pedimented attics of its narrow, three-bay sidewalls. Covered with vinyl siding, its original fenestration has been altered.

Constructed between l9lO-l915, l0-16 Chestnut Hill Avenue is a yellow brick, Georgian Revival apartment house possessing an E-shaped form composed of interlocking L-shaped components. This three-story structure's l2-bay main facade features flat, 2-bay entrances at either end and a 4-bay entrance facade at the center flanked by paired bow fronts. The paired center entrances as well as those at either end exhibit cast stone surrounds composed of Doric pilasters and molded entablatures. Still intact are the original front doors with their large oval panes and rectangular transoms. These entablatures interrupt the continuous lintel courses of the first floor windows. Rectangular, recessed panels appear beneath the second and third floor windows of the bow fronts. The second floor windows exhibit cast stone, key stone lintels while those of the third floor are surmounted by simple rectangular bars. This building's sinuous surfaces culminate in a shallow corbelled cornice.

Returning to Washington Street, the two-story commercial building at 345 Washington Street blends elements of the Tudor and Georgian revival styles. Enclosed by a flat roof, this rectangular structure's main facade is divided into five bays by six quoin-edged piers which are carried through the low parapet and capped with cast stone. The center entrance exhibits handsome cast stone surrounds composed of pilasters and a cornice headed entablature. The entrance bay culminates in a molded, cast stone, segmental arched parapet. The large display windows of the first and second floor exhibit modern metal enframents. Above the second floor windows are long and narrow recessed panels flanking small square panels exhibiting diamond shaped cast stone plaques.

256-360 Washington Street was built c.1820 as Agricultural Hall and originally stood on Agricultural Hill, occupying the Winship School lot at 54 Dighton Street. This structure's present appearance probably dates to the mid-1840s, after it was moved to this corner lot. Possessing a boxy, rectangular form with a width of three bays and a depth of four bays. Covered with wood shingles and enclosed by a gable roof, its Washington Street facade exhibits a wide fascia board beneath the pedimented attic. In general, windows contain 1/1 and 2/1 replacement sash while the windows of the attic retain original 6/6 wood sash.

362-364 Washington Street may represent the remnants of a High Victorian Gothic commercial block of the 1870s. Currently, it has the appearance of a c.1920s Georgian Revival commercial and residential building. Characterized by a rectangular form with its curved corner addressing the Washington and Market Street intersection, this three-story building is constructed of dark red brick. Brick piers separate the storefronts of this building's 4-bay Washington Street and 6-bay Chestnut Hill Avenue facades. At the center of the Washington Street facade is a tall arched entrance which contains a modern door and brick infill. The wedge-shaped lintels of the upper floor exhibit gauged brick and prominent key stones.

Washington Building

The Washington Building and Imperial Hotel at 363-365 Washington Street and 430 Market Street form a single L-shaped building. Since the First Parish Church of Brighton was built at the northeast corner of Washington and Market streets in 1722, a major landmark has been located on this lot. Built c. 1900-1908, this 4-story commercial/residential block was originally called the Imperial Hotel, with the corner component becoming known as the Washington Building during the 1920s. This building's Washington Street facade measures 1l-bays. Following the ancient bend in Market Street, its facade exhibits 21-bays. Projecting from its Market and Washington Street corner is a three-story bowed metal oriel which shelters the entrance to Rourke's News and Sundries, a longtime "institution" at Brighton Center (now KaBloom's). Between the first and second floors of the bowed and towered oriel is an apron panel featuring swag and ribbon motifs in low relief as well as a clock. Three molded metal stringcourses enliven the wall surface between the third and fourth floors. The oriel culminates in a domical roof cap with a low semicircular finial. This building's other distinctive surface treatments include the continuous, molded metal lintel course of the second floor windows, the third floor windows' granite cornice headed lintels as well as the continuous granite lintels of the top floor's arched windows. Long rectangular marble plaques incised with letters reading Washington Building and Imperial are located between the third and fourth floors of the Washington and Market Street facades, respectively.

Constructed between 1925-1930, 366-372 Washington Street is a rectangular, one story commercial block exhibiting characteristics of the Tapestry Brick and Classical Revival styles. Its four storefronts are divided by three Doric brick piers with cast stone capitals. A cast stone stringcourse above the store windows provides a strong horizontal accent. This building's flat roof is enclosed by a low stepped parapet exhibiting cast stone plaques.

385-381 Washington Street is a one-story, rectangular commercial building which is constructed of brick. Built during the 1910s, this structure is difficult to classify stylistically; a corbelled brick cornice is its most distinctive feature. This masonry building is compatible with the scale and materials of the Brighton Center Commercial area's historic structures.

Numbered 394 Washington Street and 2-4 Dighton Street, The Corcoran Block is Brighton Center's most intact wooden 19th century commercial/residential block. Designed in the Italianate style, this handsome three- story rectangular structure is clad with clapboards and enclosed by a flat roof. Measuring 4-bays wide and 9-bays deep, its main facade's center entrance is flanked by wide storefront windows flanked by pilasters and surmounted by a broad entablature. Two recessed side entrance with simple wooden vertical and horizontal lnframements are located on the Dighton Street facade.

In general, this buildings edges are accented with narrow corner boards while its windows are fully enframed and contain 2/2 wood sash that is probably original.

Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church

The imposing Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church at 404 Washington Street was built in 1921 from designs provided by Blackall, Clapp and Whittemore. Clarence Blackall was the architect of Boston's Winthrop Building, the first steel frame office building in the city. He is best known as a talented theatre architect who designed the Colonial, Wilbur, Modern and Metropolitan Theatres. Since 1827, a Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church has occupied this corner lot. Composed of two T-shaped forms, the horizontal components of the T's are contiguous. The component of this building containing the vestibule measures three-bays in width and is a single bay deep. The first and second floors of the nave's sidewalls are pierced by seven windows. A hybrid of the Colonial Revival and Classical Revival styles, this structure is dominated by a wooden multi stage steeple which rises from behind the pediment of the main facades portico. The steeple's tall and square base exhibits clock faces on four sides. On each side of the second stage, arched openings are enframed by Tuscan columns which rise from balustrade-linked plinths and support pedimented entablatures. The octagonal third stage exhibits small occulus windows on each of its sides. Rising from the third stage is an octagonal spire which culminates in a gold leaf weather vane. Projecting from the two-story, gable roofed nave's north wall is a handsome monumental columned portico composed of fluted Tuscan columns which support a pediment-surmounted entablature. These columns rise from a high stone platform which is accessed by a broad flight of steps. Opening onto the portico are three entrances which exhibit wooden surrounds and cornice headed entablatures. Above the entrance is a multi-pane tripartite window whose lintel is flush with a fascia board. Projecting from either side of the nave's end wall is a two-story gable roofed structural component.

The one-story rectangular stucco-parged commercial block at 415-419 Washington Street is typical of 1920s commercial blocks erected to serve the rising automobile trade. Particularly noteworthy is this structure's ornate cast stone cornice.

Tucked away behind a modem commercial block at 430 Washington Street, 9 Eastburne Street was built during the early 1900s to serve as a parish hall and/or chapel for St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. Originally located at the northwest corner of Eastburne and Washington streets, this wooden 1870s church was demolished during the late 1970s. St. Margaret's Episcopal Parish Hall is a wooden, rectangular structure which stand with its three-bay east gable facing Eastburne Street. Rising from a ledge stone basement to a steeply pitched gable roof with flared bargeboards, this building is clad with dark brown shingles. Projecting from the center of its one-bay facade gable is a small enclosed porch which is sheltered by a steeply pitched gable. Flanking the entrance porch, small square windows set high on the wall contain six panes. This structure's sidewalls are pierced by four windows. Evidently, this church building has been adapted for reuse as a private home.

Set back from the southeast corner of Washington and Foster streets is a stucco parged Colonial Revival/stucco parged residence which stands on the site of the early 19th century John Field House. 434 Washington Street is a 2.5 story hip roofed house which measures three- bays in width and two-bays in length.

Although the early 19th century wood frame Federal style Dr. Noah Worcester House and Post Office is no longer extant, a granite marker commemorating the great Unitarian theologian stands between the Colonial Revival three-deckers at 437 and 439 Washington Street.

Overtime, the Brighton Center Commercial area's commercial, municipal, ecclesiastical and residential building stock has suffered from fires, demolition alterations and modernizations. The temple form, Greek Revival, Granville A. Fuller-designed Brighton Town Hall (1841) was destroyed by fire during the mid 1970s. Its massive granite block foundation still stands at 321 Washington Street. Built in 1830 and expanded during the early 1850s by Boston architect William Washburn, the Italianate Cattle Fair Hotel stood at the north west corner of Washington and Market Streets. This large cupola-topped wooden structure, with its loggias and rusticated surfaces was torn down around the turn of the century. Despite these losses, the Brighton Center Commercial Area encompasses a large number of Yell-preserved architecturally and historically significant structures.


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