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When trolleys ran through Kenmore Square, instead of under it

Kenmore Square sometime before 1921

An almost bucolic Kenmore Square, sometime before 1921. Photo from the Boston City Archives.

A developer's plans to remake Kenmore Square won't be the first time the Boston crossroads gets a major makeover - and it probably won't be the last. Thanks to Digital Commonwealth, we were able to set the Wayback Machine way, way back to the days when Kenmore Square - Governor's Square in the old days - still had a fountain (built and maintained by the MSPCA) for thirsty horses:

Kenmore Square: Water trough for horses

The photo shows the square sometime between 1908 and 1910, and is also from the Boston City Archives.

In 1912, the square looking west still had a somewhat lonely appearance (and, yes, that's the Hotel Buckminster, constructed in 1897; source):

Kenmore Square: Looking west

The streetcars of the Boston Elevated Railway used to emerge from (or head into) a tunnel just east of the square. In the first photo, note where the Citgo Sign is now (source for first photo; source for second):

Kenmore Square: 1931
Kenmore Square: From the air

In 1931, though, the trolley tunnel was extended into the square itself, for a new Kenmore Square station that opened the following year (bonus fact: The station was built to allow the tunnel to continue under Commonwealth Avenue so that what is now the B Line could become a regular subway line; that, of course, never happened; source):

Kenmore Square: Trolley tunnel under construction

You can still see part of the mouth of the "incline" the trolleys took a bit further inbound on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Even before being joined by the Hotel Commonwealth, the Buckminster was never the only hotel in the square. In fact, the square got its current name from the Hotel Kenmore, originally the Kenmore Apartments, today the Kenmore Abbey apartments for senior citizens (it was the hotel where visiting teams would stay for games at Fenway).

Another one of the square's hotels, the Myles Standish Hotel, also still stands, but now it's a BU dorm (source):

Kenmore Square: Myles Standish Hotel

Also still standing: The Somerset Hotel,now residences, just outside the square, on Commonwealth Avenue at Charlesgate.

Zipping ahead a few decades, we come to the Kenmore Square of the Rat, the Deli Haus, Pizza Pad and, of course, the Mayor of Kenmore Square himself, Mr. Butch (later basically evicted to Allston by BU so as to not unnerve the oh so genteel patrons of the new Hotel Commonwealth):

More Kenmore Square history.

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Related question: The apartment building on the Northern side of the square which is on the corner of Beacon & Deerfield has been vacant since at least the 1990s, maybe longer, except for the small convenience store (recently closed) on the ground level.

The exterior is stately and it's super prime real estate given the view and location. I gather it was owned by BU. Anyone know why it stayed vacant for so long?

It's scheduled to be demolished and it's too bad they couldn't at least keep the classy facade.

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I remember seeing a Psychedelic Furs record there (circa ~1983) and thinking, "What an odd name."

There used to be a guy who parked his van across from there and rented roller skates. He would sit and practice his electric guitar while waiting for customers. I rented skates from him once and ended up flying down Beacon Street onto School Street and nearly killing myself.

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I believe it was a small local chain, rather than this being its only location. It competed with Strawberries (then also a small local chain) on the other side of the Square. Newbury Comics had not yet started up.

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I'm getting a "bad gateway" error on the city archives links. I assume that's an issue at their end?

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Try now. It just worked for me, but if you're still having problems, I can switch the URLs to the Digital Commonwealth versions, I think.

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You will be forever missed.......

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