History Lesson: Columbia Square


Charles Bulfinch, architect of many of Americs’a great historical sites, designed South End’s Columbia Square as one large park, but a city planner nixed the idea, concluding two smaller parks better served the city. How he reached this conclusion, I’ll never know, but the resulting Franklin Square and Blackstone Square mirror each other, separated by the ruinous traffic of Washington Street. By 1901, the Elevated Railway, rising thirty feet above Washington Street, further wounded the park(s) with horrendous noise and a heavy blanket of soot from each passing train.
In the 1980′s, the trains disappeared and the elevated tracks vanished, but South End’s main thoroughfare still slices this stately park into two identical pieces.  
The following homes have park views and, more significantly, sit within two blocks of the sweet, yeasty cinnamon rolls offered by Flour:
411 Shawmut Avenue, #1   
Beds: 1/Baths: 1.5
SQ.FT.: 1116
$/SQ.FT.: 390
42 West Newton Street, #3-19
Beds: 1/Baths: 1
SQ.FT.: 563
$/SQ.FT.: 691
34 East Newton Street, #5
Beds: 1/Baths: 1
SQ.FT.: 440
$/SQ.FT.: 657
And, as a bonus, this one has a view of Cathedral housing development:
11 George Street, #15A
Beds: 2/Baths: 2
SQ.FT.: 1109
$/SQ.FT.: 585

  • http://boston.condodomain.com Anthony Longo

    You guys really are doing a great job on the blog. Loving it. Keep it up!

  • http://bostonreb.com John K

    Mr know-it-all (me) had no idea it was called Columbia Park!

    Exciting things coming to that neighborhood. A developer has purchased the “Jesus Saves” church and has proposed a six-story condominium building to take its place (including parking). The height would blend well with other buildings on that block, and on the block behind, on Harrison Ave.

    The South End Landmarks Commission seemed to be satisfied with the height, as did neighbors, but didn’t much care for the architect’s exterior design. It’s as if he wanted to mimic the Cathedral project, down the street.

    Once built, it will be a welcomed addition to the area. And owners will have great views of a wonderful park, and be able to boast that they live in one of the most historic parts of the city.

  • April

    I looked at the slideshow for that last one and it is beautiful.

  • http://fabulist.org Julie

    you had me at “cinnamon rolls”

  • Beauregard Knowitall

    Though Flour was likely only mentioned as an afterthought, you cannot underestimate the importance of purchasing one’s baked goods from regional establishments rather than one of those abominable franchise operations. Birthday cakes in particular should be purchased with care, as a subpar confection can not only turn off your guests but also leave them wishing that you’d never been born in the first place.

  • http://boston.redfin.com/blog/author/alyk Alyk

    Hello John. I don’t think the name Columbia Square ever made it past the planning stage. I can’t find any maps or pics… I guess some dude decided his plan was better Charles Bulfinch’s plan, so he took an eraser to the blueprints, making some minor changes. I first thought the change was shameful, but 200 years ago, Washington Street was the only way out of the city on dry land. I’d be all for cutting up the park if I had to steer a team of horses around it every day.

  • http://boston.redfin.com/blog/author/alyk Alyk

    Hi Julie, Flour has delicious cinnamon rolls, but they’re usually gone by late morning. Better get there early…

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

  • Kristie

    Is it wrong to purchase a home based entirely on its proximity to delicious pastries?

  • Brian


  • http://boston.redfin.com/blog/author/alyk Alyk

    Kristie, it’s never wrong to pick a home based on its proximity to a good food. I wouldn’t pack up and move just to be near Flour, but it’s nice having it down the street.

    If I were moving based on pastry alone, I think I’d pick the North End; loads of choices within a couple of blocks.

    You couldn’t go wrong with Chinatown either. Fact: pork bun = yeasty goodness. Salty and sweet, for those who care.

  • http://bostonreb.com John K

    Beauregard, no doubt that’s sometimes true that we should support locally-run stores & shops.

    But, not always. For example, for years I’ve eaten at a local South End sandwich shop, one that had so many delicious vegetables to choose from, it was as if I was in a “garden”.

    Turns out, the owners never thought to pay the Commonwealth the meals taxes they had been collected, and are now in arrears, over $500,000.

    So much for supporting the community.

  • Clint

    I think “yeasty” is one of the least-used adjectives of all time.

  • Lisa

    I would love to live by this park. Looks like a nice place to go and have a picnic during the summer.

  • Thomas Gagnon

    I’m wondering, which Blackstone was Blackstone Square named after? The Rev. Blackstone? The jurist Blackstone? Was Franklin Square named after Benjamin Franklin?
    Meanwhile, Flour looks tempting but expensive.

  • http://boston.redfin.com/blog/author/alyk Alyk

    William Blaxton, possibly. I just did a quick Google search, so take it with a grain of salt.