Monday, June 18, 2012

Boylston Market

Boylston Market, BPL Flickr photo group. No overhead wires for streetcars, so perhaps 1880s.

Boylston Market was designed by Charles Bullfinch, erected in 1809-10, and named for philanthropist Ward Nicholas Boylston (Boylston street was so-named at the same time).

Note: The father of Ward Nicholas Boylston was the loyalist Captain Benjamin Hallowell, who lived in Jamaica Plain (then Roxbury). The Hallowells left Boston with General Howe in 1775. In time, the son, Ward Nicholas, took his uncle's surname, and returned from London to the United States in 1800 to fight for the return of the family property through his mother's line (his father being a loyalist). A magnanimous court returned the estate at Centre and Boylston streets in Jamaica Plain to him, and he remained there until he died in 1828. So Boylston street honors the son of a loyalist who returned and became a respected American.

This photo dated 1881-1883. BPL Flickr photo group.

More than just a market, Boylston market was home to various institutions, and housed a hall where concerts and meetings were held, including those of the Handel and Haydn Society and the New England Anti-Slavery Society.

Title: Corner of Washington and Boylston Streets, Boston. The old Boylston Market, Published in: Ballou's pictorial drawing-room companion, unknown date (possibly mid-1850s) BPL Flickr photo group.

The then-new Boylston Market, 1813. At the corner of Boylston and Orange (later Washington) streets (click on map for larger image).

Near the end: Boylston Market, 1883.

Boylston Market was torn down in 1888, and replaced by the Continental Clothing House, which I discussed in my last entry. The belfry was eventually placed on the Calvary Methodist Church in Arlington Massachusetts.


  1. There's also a Boylston, Massachusetts, out near Worcester. It's named after the same guy, who gave the town money to build its town house.

    West Boylston is directly adjacent and was split off from Boylston because a population area developed too far away from the town center for convenient attendance of town meetings and such.

    1. Yes, he actually spent summers out that way, and wintered at the family estate in Jamaica Plain.

  2. What few foilks now is that Boylston Hall, inside Boyston Market, may well be the birthplace of American Vaudeville. While researching in nthe Rare Books Depaetment of the B.P.L. for our two-volume, large format "Vaudeville, Old & New": an Encyclopedia of Variety in America" (Routledge Press, 2007), I came across eleven playbills from The Vaudeville Saloon, 1840, located in Boylston Hall. These eleven playbills had been mistakenly slotted into a totally different folder I had requested. They were printed on fragile paper, and it was indeed fortunate that they had survived in pristine condition and that they were discovered by someone who was trained to recognize their importance.
    Any show business historian knows that the common attribution of "the father/founder of vaudeville to B. F. Keith is nonsense. The Vaudevilklke Saloon in Boaton, though it existed for only three summer months in 1840, was an event before Keith was even born!

    The arliest known use of thee term "vaudeville" in the USA was in 1819 when a visiting troupe from France billed themselves thusly (through Vaudeville had evolved in France for three previous centuriesd), and vaudeville entrepreneurs Ton Pastor, Frank Rivers and others in the Manhattan/Philladelphia area were touring variety shows billed as Vaudeville shortly after the Civil War.

    Thanks for your blogs.

    Frank Cullen:
    2011 Award for Excellence in Preservation of Theatre History by the (NYC) Theatre Museum;
    co-founder: American Vaudeville Museum (now at UA Tucson;
    lead author: Vaudeville, Old & New: an Encyclopedia of Variety Perfomers in America, 2007; and the Porridge Sisters (of Boston) Mystery series: Murder at the Tremont Theatre, 2010; Murder at The Old Howard, 2011; and due 2012, Murder at Loew's Orpheum.

  3. I never could proof my own words! The first line of my comment should read: "What few folks know..." I apologize for that and the other dozen typos. Hope what I've written is understandable nevertheless. Obviously, to be a vaudeville historian requires a certain age. At 76, I can barely manage e-mail and word processing. Social media are beyond my ossifying brain to grasp.
    Frank Cullen