May 3, 2018

Winthrop-Carter Building

At 7 Water Street is the Winthrop-Carter building Boston's first steel skyscraper. The Boston Landmark Commission calls it a "fine example of Second Renaissance Revival style."

The Winthrop-Carter Building is a 9-story steel frame building with steel external alls and brick terra cotta covering.

Winthrop Building

Nine Interesting things about the Winthrop-Carter Building

  • This was near the location of the John Winthrop home. John Winthrop was Boston's first Colonial Governor.
  • Current structure was created in 1893 at the request of the landowner - Timothy Harrington Carter. Clarence Blackall was the architect.
  • When the original designs were presented to the city for permits they didn't propose a steel frame, instead they proposed a seven-story brick building. However, the City complicated things by reducing the property size by widen Washington Street and straighten Water Street. Clarence Blackall had to go "back to the drawing board" to come up with a better solution.
  • When completed the building was assessed for $672,000. Today the building is assessed for $4,038,500
  • The Building was called Carter Building until 1899 when it was renamed Winthrop-Carter Building.
  • This wasn't the site of the Winthrop house, instead, this was the site of the Great Spring, which would have been next door to the Winthrop house.
  • The Great Spring was one of the main sources of fresh water for Boston. The Spring has not been visible since 1702.
  • The Devonshire Street Subway entrance is on the Winthrop-Carter property. It was put in 1903 - ten years after the building was completed.
  • Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 1973, it took the City of Boston 43 years to designate the building as a Boston Landmark. (There are no signs around the building indicating that it's a Boston Landmark or on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Some Observations

When looking at the building, look at the Terra Cotta detail on the third and fourth floors. Also look at the stained glass on the Water Street side.

One thing I notice when walking down Spring Lane - it felt like a movie studio backlot. Just the small space and the window fire exits on the building.

Sign On the Building

Built in 1893, this was the first steel frame "skyscraper" constructed in Boston. It was the work of innovated local architect Clarence Blackall, who modeled this building on the early still commercial structures of Chicago. The office building received unprecedented attention in Boston, praised for its technological achievement and also for its graceful curved design and facade of colored brick and terra cotta. Originally built for businessman C. H. Cater, the structure was renamed in 1899 to recognize the location on the site of the home of the city's first colonial governor, John Winthrop.

Location of the Building

The Winthrop-Carter building is located near downtown crossing. It's located at the corner of Water Street and Washington Street - directly across the street from the Old Corner Bookstore.

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