J. Pickering Putnam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

J. Pickering Putnam (April 3, 1847 – February 23, 1917) also known as J.P. Putnam or John Pickering Putnam, was an American architect and designer who "pioneered the concept of the modern apartment building."[1] He designed several buildings in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts. He earned a number of design patents related to plumbing, ventilation, and the like, such as US Patent No.563,064 (1896), a design for a washbasin.[2]

Brief biography[edit]

Putnam was born as "John Amory Putnam" in Boston in 1847, to John Pickering Putnam (1813-1867) and Harriet Upham (1820-1905).[3] He was one of 4 children; his siblings were Mary Upham Putnam (1843-1920); Harriet Putnam (b. 1845); and Sarah Gooll Putnam (1851-1912), a painter.[1][4]

Putnam graduated from the Boston Latin School, and from Harvard College in 1868. He then trained at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in 1869, and the Royal Academy of Architecture, Berlin, 1870-1872.[5][6] "The war interrupted his studies. Leaving Paris for Berlin, he was twice arrested as a Prussian spy, while sketching in the streets."[7]

On returning to the US in 1872 he began practicing architecture and was associated professionally with George Thomas Tilden. In 1885 Putnam married Grace Cornelia Stevens; they had 2 children: Grace Elizabeth Putnam (b. 1887) and John Pickering Putnam, Jr. (b. 1892).[7] He was a member of the Boston Society of Architects; St. Botolph Club; Portfolio Club of Boston; and The Cold Cut Club of Boston.[7]

Selected designs[edit]

  • 1872—George S. Draper house, Hopedale MA; (demolished).[8][9]
  • 1872 -- (cottage), Nahant MA; remodel, with George T. Tilden.[10]
  • 1875–63 Marlborough Street, Boston MA.[5]
  • 1876—Hotel Cluny, 545-547 Boylston Street, Boston MA; (demolished).
  • 1877—Manhattan Beach Hotel, Coney Island, NY.[11]
  • 1878–277 Dartmouth Street, Boston MA.[5]
  • 1878–167 Marlborough Street, Boston MA.
  • 1881–195 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA.
  • 1884–399 Marlborough Street, Boston MA.[12]
  • 1890—Charlesgate Hotel, 535 Beacon Street, Boston MA.[13][14]
  • 1894—Haddon Hall, 29 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.[15]
  • 1896—Commonwealth Hotel, Boston MA.[16][17][18]

Further reading[edit]

Works by Putnam[edit]

  • The metric system of weights and measures. 1877.
  • The open fire-place in all ages. 1880.
  • Improved Plumbing Appliances. 1887
  • Architecture under nationalism. 1890.
  • The outlook for the artisan and his art. 1899. “The author shows how the change, from the profit system to Nationalism, will relieve the artisan from anxiety and enable him to put art into his daily work to an extent that the world has never yet seen.”[19]
  • Plumbing and household sanitation. 1911.

About Putnam[edit]

  • Our plumbing laws; Views of an Expert Upon the Sanitary Requirements of Dwelling Houses. Boston Daily Globe Jan 3, 1885. p. 6.
  • Work for the unemployed; Cooperative Association to Hold Mass Meeting. Several Prominent Men to Speak in Faneuil Hall Tomorrow Night. Rev Henry Vrooman, the President, Explains the Object of the Organization. Boston Daily Globe. Dec 3, 1900. p. 10.
  • Deborah Fulton Rau. John Pickering Putnam (1847-1917), Visionary in Boston: A Systematic Approach to Apartment House Design. Architectura 22 (1992).


  1. ^ a b Erin L. Pipkin. "Striking in Its Promise": The Artistic Career of Sarah Gooll Putnam. The Massachusetts Historical Review, Vol. 3, (2001); p.99.
  2. ^ United States Patent Office. Washbasin, 86C. Patent No. 563,064, dated June 30, 1896.
  3. ^ The Harvard graduates' magazine, v. 25. 1917; p.622.
  4. ^ Portrait of a lady. Boston Herald. Boston, Mass.: Mar 27, 1998. pg. 045.
  5. ^ a b c Bainbridge Bunting. Houses of Boston's Back Bay: An Architectural History, 1840-1917. Harvard University Press, 1999.
  6. ^ Bryant Franklin Tolles. Summer cottages in the White Mountains: the architecture of leisure and recreation, 1870 to 1930. University Press of New England, 2000.
  7. ^ a b c Harvard Class of 1868. Secretary's report. 1908; p.116+.
  8. ^ American architect and building news 49, no.3. Aug 1895.
  9. ^ Elaine Malloy, Daniel Malloy, Alan J. Ryan. Hopedale. Arcadia Publishing, 2002; p.60. Includes illustration of the house.
  10. ^ Portfolio Club. The sketch book, no.6. Boston: 1873. Includes illustration of the cottage.
  11. ^ Jeffrey W. Limerick. The Grand Resort Hotels of AmericaThe Grand Resort Hotels of America. Perspecta, Vol. 15, Backgrounds for an American Architecture (1975); p.87-108.
  12. ^ "J. Pickering Putnam". BOSarchitecture.
  13. ^ Ask the Globe. Boston Globe. Jul 15, 1986. pg. 72.
  14. ^ Catalogue, joint exhibition of the Boston Society of Architects and the Boston Architectural Club, from April 15 to April 21. Boston: published for the Committee by Bates & Guild, 1895
  15. ^ Back Bay landmark undergoes updating. Boston Globe. Aug 13, 1989. pg. A.34.
  16. ^ Catalogue, joint exhibition of the Boston Society of Architects and the Boston Architectural Club. 1895
  17. ^ Work will be commenced in the spring; Commonwealth Hotel, Largest Structure in the World, Will Soon be Erected on the Back Bay. Boston Daily Globe. Feb 2, 1896. p.16.
  18. ^ American architect and building news. 1896
  19. ^ The Annual American Catalogue 1899. 1900. p. 173.

External links[edit]

Image gallery[edit]