The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this scene. See it larger.
Curley Mansion, 320 Jamaicaway.
I concur with Fish!
What other "random" living room from that period would they ask us to identify?
Only other thought would be Kennedy's house in Brookline - but not likely.
Based on the furniture etc. - about 1930 +/- 5 years?
Mayor Fitzgerald's home in Dorchester?The rooms in the image above seem small for the Curley Mansion, and the furniture to me is more early 20th Century. I can't get a clear image of the photo(?) above the piano, which might reveal a lot.
Wouldn't the Curley and Fitzgerald homes have had a statue of the Virgin Mary or a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on display?
After the 1860s. Chickering started making the square grand in 1832, but the name wasn't prominently in that location until the 1860s.
(Yep, helpful, I know. ;-) )
How could a) Boston City Archives improve customers services practices?... b) do better surveying of archives of other City Departments?... c) and expand digitizing of public records of Boston City Council?
City of Boston communities' constituencies need a more responsive Boston City Archives that not only reaches out better and responds with more robust information to enquiries.
Have you tried talking to anybody at the Archives about this?
Many tries to discuss historic preservation of public records of Boston City Council
The number of bentwood and wicker chairs, lack of curtains, and the general absence of personal bric-a-brac (compared to what was typical of the time, turn of the century) suggest to me that these rooms are not in a private residence but parlors in a more public building, maybe a hotel, dormitory, or boarding house. Maybe some of those chairs were transferred to the porch in good weather. The quality of the piano suggests a more well-to-do clientele. On the other hand, the piano is quite old compared to the rest of the furniture, and those square pianos went out of fashion quickly when the grand pianos we know arrived, I think because they didn't hold their tune.
It might also be the home of someone who didn't care about decorating according to the custom. These rooms could belong to a single, professional man, I suppose. No embroidered cushions, plants or flowers, antimacassars, or other more feminine touches appear. All the footstools are the same. But you'd think a male owner might want a sofa or two instead of all of those chairs. It seems like a private home would be more layered with possessions and different styles/eras of furniture. These rooms look like they were papered, carpeted, furnished, and decorated in one fell swoop, and not very thoroughly or characteristically.
Can't wait for the answer to this one!
Here's a shot in the dark, as it were: Perkins School?
But those foot stools would be a tripping hazard at Perkins!
The more I look at this, the more it doesn't feel at all like a private home, even of a public figure like a mayor. It's nice but it just isn't very comfortable.
The foot stools would not an issue if you know they are there.
However, I have another guess, then: Home for Little Wanderers?
Home for Little Wanderers comes down | Universal Hub
How did they get away with tearing it down and why did they tear it down? It would have been sweet with modern addition(s).
One can only hope that a home for children had some child-size furniture.
I'm now noticing the absence of lighting. If those gasoliers had been electrified, there'd probably also be some floor and table lamps for reading those books. Actually, there are hardly any tables, too! So those light fixtures are more likely gas, which dates this photo earlier than I'd thought. The Arts and Crafts–style pottery on the fireplace and general absence of clutter made me think this could have been taken as late as the 1920s. But there'd be more lighting.
These rooms are sparsely furnished: Easier to clean, with so few textiles and lots of hard surfaces. Victorian-Edwardian homes like the Gibson House had rugs scattered on top of rugs, velvet portieres to close off rooms, lots of cushions and tablecloths, piano shawls, even mantel drapery sometimes. And many layers of window treatment. There would be less and less of that as time passed and people lightened up their rooms. But this is really spare.
A TB sanitarium around 1900?
It was only a classic orphanage briefly in the 1800s. Then they started moving to foster care, which they still provide. The residential facilities for the past 100 years or more have been for elementary kids and teens who need more structure than a foster home and public school. So they wouldn't need to have little kid furniture. It was also the thing back then to furnish things in a "stately" sort of aesthetic, as this helps people feel taken seriously and like they're in a place that values them. For what reason we later shifted over to making places look institutional, I have no idea.
at 137 Beacon? It's a museum now & well worth a visit. I haven't been in years but that's the chord the photo struck. Unlike most houses in the Back Bay, the interior & most of its decorations and furnishings are original. I believe it became a museum in the late 50's, after the last scion of the Gibson family died
That's got an exposure that you typically will not find - I used to live in a brownstone on Baystate Road and that angle of light doesn't generally happen in a row house in that line unless you are on the end of a row. I also noticed that there are too many windows and too many windows and too long a window wall for that house.
Good guess, though. I'm betting this is a south west facing window row in a much larger structure without much around it.
This isn't a row house with the windows to right.
The Gibson House looks nothing like this and never did — no double parlor, for one thing. And, aside from a couple of Edwardian-era redecorations in a few rooms, the house looks just as it did in the Victorian era. It's layered with stuff, and looks like what it was, an idiosyncratic private home.
Tours are offered at 1, 2, and 3 pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
You don't see two rooms adjoining like this, the layout on the family floors is one large room on either end separated by a corridor. The top 2 floors (not open to the public) have smaller rooms but would have had bedroom furnishings. The last major redecoration by the family was in the 1930s.
Curious to know what you believe was redecorated in the 1930s. The only area I can think of that might date to that time is the wallpaper in the stairwell. Do tell!
The stairwell wallpaper is from the 1890s redecoration, it's considered rare in that it is "Japan leather" that was actually manufactured in Japan, rather than England, the source of most wallpaper in that style. It is a major priority for protection and restoration.
Features of the family's 1930s redecoration are primarily visible in the dining room and third floor study, red carpeting and wall coverings.
The wallpaper in the back staircase is most definitely 20th century. And in the 1950s\1960s furniture in the music room and lady's bedroom were re-upholstered with the intent to restore the furnishings to proper Victorian style. The music room was redecorated by Rosamond Warren Gibson c. 1890 to resemble the French salon style she loved, the furniture was upholstered in gold, a much better match for the decor of the room that the existing 1950s era upholstery. A number of objects are not original to the house, most prominently the piano, which was donated.
Full disclosure, FenRes: I'm a member of the GHM board — are you affiliated, too?
The 1890 Japanese "leather" wallpaper was recently cleaned and repaired, thanks to a preservation grant. I was referring to the wallpaper in the other, secondary stairway as the only 20th-century paper in the house.
All of the red carpeting in the house is original, but not for long! Most of it (not the red study, although it's the shabbiest by far) will soon be replaced with a custom-woven repro in an identical design and color from the same English mill. It will be installed this spring or summer. It should transform the house.
The 1890s blue carpet in the library is also on schedule to be replaced, again by a custom-woven repro from the original English mill. These projects have been discussed and dreamed of for decades, so it's exciting that they will soon finally happen!
The wallpaper in the dining and study are thought to be original — "gold burlap," tarnished with time.
Agree that the velvet upholstery in the music room is ghastly. And perhaps you know that the house is currently on its fourth piano. In the 1990s, a donor replaced the dreadful square piano with a lovely antique baby grand, but that was later traded for a lesser-quality grand that belonged to a Gibson family member, although it was not Charlie's piano.
One-time tour guide, I haven't visited the house in well over a year, so haven't seen the wallpaper restoration. I knew about the red carpet project but not the blue carpet-that is great to hear. I intend to fund a restoration of the music room furniture as soon as I win the lottery, or otherwise acquire a fortune.
Old City Hall, and the Mayor's office to boot.
Also, I think the Archives folk are doing a great job with customer service. For example, they oftentimes pass a photograph on to some blogger who posts it on his website and has people try to identify what the photograph is.
and the woodwork suggest to me that the building is from around the 1870s but that the photo may be from the early 20th century. Perhaps around 1910.
It does look institutional and the far room does look like the library. So a club or school?
I know that isn't much help and I may be all off.
The Home for Aged Couples, Seaver Street
The framed print in the background appears to be an etching originally from 1882 by Leopold Flameng after a painting by Emile Renouf called A Helping Hand:
My guess for location is the Dupee Estate-Mary Eddy Baker house in Chestnut Hill. Similar Arts & Crafts + Ruskinian style, and it could have been prior to her adding a glut of religious art when she moved in around 1907.
But some odd or telling things are visible.
The rocking chair in the middle of the photo appears to elevated on risers of some sort.
No sheet music on the piano, nor a bench of the type that might be used to store some.
Dictionary prominent on table, so possibly a writer? Of course, having a dictionary handy wasn't at all unusual for any older house.
Got me. I don't know.
The platform rocking chairs ... love them.
Wow, we're impressed with the level of sleuthing on this mystery photo!
Unfortunately, none of you quite got it, though those of you who figured out that it was an institutional space are absolutely correct. This is the "First Parlour" at the Nurses Home at the Boston City Hospital. The photo was taken in 1899.
You can see an uncropped version of the photo here
And, you can see more recently digitized records from City Hospital
This would be inside the fictitious St Elsewhere (St Eligus) hospital building? aka 14 E Newton Street?
(And of course if my memory serves me correctly, 14 E Newton was the Nurses Home for Boston City Hospital)
When I first visited Boston in 1986, "St Eligius" was a priority on my sightseeing itinerary, even though it meant going off the beaten path into the quite dodgy South End. The visitor's center on the Common provided location directions for fans of the show.
St. Elsewhere Opening Sequence | YouTube
before the train completely passed through the shot. It was almost like the producers (or the City) didn't want people to realize that Boston ran pathetically short 4 car trains on a major transit line.
The other neat thing about the shot of the O/L cars: NO RUST!
I remember the shutting down of the elevated line was referenced in a later season episode, though I think they kept the shot in the opening sequence.
This Nurses Home was on East Springfield Street, which you can see pictured
We meant to include a link for a photo of the exterior of the Nurses' Home. Here it is: https://cityofboston.access.preservica.com/file/sdb%3AdigitalFile%7Ce085...
Home for the Feeble-minded on East First Street in South Boston.
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