Bowdoin Square (Boston)

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Bowdoin Square, Boston, c. 1880

Bowdoin Square (established 1788) in Boston, Massachusetts was located in the West End. In the 18th and 19th centuries it featured residential houses, leafy trees, a church, hotel, theatre and other buildings. Among the notables who have lived in the square: physician Thomas Bulfinch; merchant Kirk Boott;[1][2] and mayor Theodore Lyman.[3] The urban renewal project in the West End in the 1950s removed Green Street and Chardon Street, which formerly ran into the square, and renamed some existing streets; it is now a traffic intersection at Cambridge Street, Bowdoin Street, and New Chardon Street.[4][5]

Bowdoin Square is served by the MBTA Blue Line station Bowdoin.

Brief history[edit]

Some of the features of Bowdoin Square in its heyday included:

  • Kirk Boott house (built 1804). "The half-acre lot on which Boott build his brick house was then a pasture in Boston's West End, an area that was just beginning to be developed. Boott's 3-story Federal mansion, with its tall Palladian windows lighting the staircase overlooking the garden, was very likely designed by Charles Bulfinch."[6]
  • Samuel Parkman house (built c. 1816). "The large granite double house which stood for years at the western end of Bowdoin Square was built about 1816 by Hon. Samuel Parkman, a rich merchant. He was father of Dr.George Parkman who was murdered in 1849 by John White Webster ... [and] grandfather of Francis Parkman, the historian."[7]
  • Baptist Tabernacle (built 1840); also known as the Bowdoin-Square Church or the Bowdoin Square Baptist Church[8][9][10]
  • Revere House hotel (1847–1912)[9]
  • United States Court House (19th century)[11]
  • Bowdoin Square Hotel[12]
  • Bowdoin Square Theatre[13][12]



  1. ^ Boston Directory. 1807.
  2. ^ Daily Atlas (Boston), April 2, 1844.
  3. ^ Boston Directory. 1823
  4. ^ Massachusetts Centinel; Date: 07-02-1788
  5. ^ Boston Street Laying-Out Dept. A record of the streets, alleys, places, etc. in the city of Boston]. Boston: City Printing Dept., 1910.
  6. ^ Alan Emmet (1997). "Radishes and orchids: the Boott's garden in Boston". So Fine a Prospect: Historic New England Gardens. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
  7. ^ State Street Trust Company. Forty of Boston's Historic Houses. 1912.
  8. ^ Robert Woodward Cushman. Bowdoin Square Church Book: comprising a brief history of the formation and organizations of the church : a list of its members : its articles of faith, covenant, etc. Boston: Samuel N. Dickinson, 1843
  9. ^ a b King's hand-book of Boston. 1889. Includes illustration of the church.
  10. ^ "Parson Downs squelched, The Boston Baptists drop the Bowdoin-Square Church." New York Times, Sep 16, 1886. p.1.
  11. ^ Boston Directory. 1856.
  12. ^ a b "Boston hotel on fire; The Bowdoin Square House Damaged and Two inmates Injured." New York Times, Feb 28, 1902. p.6.
  13. ^ "A Boston Theatre Sold: The Bowdoin Square Bid Off, After Many Adjournments, for $96,000." New York Times, Aug 8, 1893. p.1.
  14. ^ Life and Letters of Charles Bulfinch, Architect. 1896.
  15. ^ New Hampshire Sentinel; Date: 05-02-1850
  16. ^ Homans. Sketches of Boston, Past and Present. 1851.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fire in Bowdoin Square, Last Evening. Boston Daily Globe, Jan 7, 1874. p.1.
  • Bowdoin Square Literary Union Entertainment. Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922); Boston, Mass. Dec 1, 1875. p.4.
  • The Outside Show: Illuminations Along the Line of March- Columns Avenue a Blaze of Light--The Display Elsewhere--Some of the More Prominent Illuminations and Decorations. Boston Daily Globe, Oct 27, 1876. p.8.
  • Twelve missing in Boston fire; Blaze Starts in Old Revere House and Spreads to Nearby Buildings. New York Times, Jan 16, 1912. p.1.
  • Robert Campbell. From square to bare; once filled with stately homes, Bowdoin Square's modern incarnation is decidedly less impressive. Boston Globe. May 21, 2006.

External links[edit]