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Packard's Corner Architecture

The Packard's Corner area, for the purposes of this study is an irregularly shaped area at the junction of Commonwealth and Brighton Avenues. The historic crossroads, called Packard's Corner, is the location for several architecturally significant early 20th century commercial buildings. Packard's Corner also encompasses relatively early examples of apartment houses built c. 1900-1915. Brighton Avenue, and particularly Commonwealth Avenue are broad boulevards lined with masonry apartment buildings. Ranging in height from three to five stories many of these buildings speak to the early 20th century rise in popularity of light hued brick, often used in combination with cast stone for first story surface treatments. The main facades of these apartments are enlivened by bowed and polygonal bays. Surface ornamentation is derived primarily from the Classical, Renaissance, Georgian, Neo Adamesque/Federal Revival styles. Occasionally the primacy of a classically derived ornamental architectural vocabulary is challenged by Tudor Gothic forms and details.


Dominating the north side of Packard's Corner, the former Packard Motor Car Company at 1079-1089 Commonwealth Avenue (1909-1930), exerts a visually powerful, placemaking presence via the expanse of its 1l bay concrete facade. This facade is treated as a grid of classisized vertical piers and horizontal bands of windows and apron panels. This massive, 4 story rectangular concrete structure extends northward for an entire block along Malvern Street to Gardener Street whose utilitarian characteristics have been tempered by classical revival elements. Although its main facade has been altered by modern commercial signage and a recessed porch on the second floor of the center five bays, this early Automobile Age structure still retains the appearance of a concrete industrial structure treatments. Atlases and images of the Packard Building on the company's letterhead suggest a plant that evolved in three stages (although it is unclear if Kahn was involved in all three building campaigns). Between 1909 and 1916 the rectangular wooden structure labeled "garage" in 1909 was replaced by a long rectangular concrete structure (the present 1079 Commonwealth Avenue). Between 1916 and 1925, the Packard plant evolved into a U-shaped, 4-story concrete structure with a deeply recessed, treed court yard. Company letterhead displaying images of the Packard Plant verifies that the central court yard was infilled between 1929 and 1935. The earlier U-shaped structure with its deep court yard was transformed into a rectangular building with an 11 bay main facade. This facade, although altered by modern commercial treatments and signage still dominates the north side of the Brighton/ Commonwealth Avenues intersection.

Adjacent to the Packard Building on the east, at 1065-1075 Commonwealth Avenue is a one -story, c. 1920s Art Deco concrete and brick structure built to house an automobile dealership. During the Fall of 1995, the Star Market Company completed a fine renovation of this building, preserving its stylized, streamlined Art Deco piers, center entrance bay, lintels and cornice. The main facade's six bays are divided by piers which culminate in stepped, pinnacle like forms which are typical of Deco surface treatments like the Packard Building, this structure extends deeply back to Gardener Street.

The only commercial building, on the south side of Commonwealth Avenue at Packard's Corner is the one story, Frederick A. Norcross designed and Max Stassel developed 1092-1104 Commonwealth Avenue. Situated directly on the great bend formed by the old Mill Dam extension road and Olmsted designed segments of Commonwealth Avenue, its storefronts are enframed with black marble ornamental panels and lively Tapestry brick surface treatments.

The group of one and two story commercial buildings at the apex of the triangular block, delineated by St. Luke's Road, and Brighton and Commonwealth Avenues housed several stores selling motor vehicle related products. The 2 story tapestry brick building numbered 1103-1115 Commonwealth Avenue and 4-18 Brighton Avenue was developed by William H. Burger between 1910-1915.

On each side, six storefront bays are set off by tapestry brick piers and apron panels with decorative brick patterning. The apartment complex at 1117-1123 Commonwealth Avenue (c. 1910-1915), has lavishly ornamented store fronts. Exhibiting front doors set within a handsome enframement of fluted Ionic columns and pilasters, this one-story commercial building's four stores are surmounted by an elaborate white terra cotta parapet incorporating engaged collonettes, bold scroll brackets and an heraldic shield at the center. Stylistically, this commercial building might be classified as Spanish Baroque or Spanish Colonial Revival.

20-32 Brighton Avenue's is a two story, rectangular commercial block. This brick, concrete and cast stone building's storefronts feature seven large, transom surmounted display windows separated by rusticated cast stone piers. This building culminates in a low, stepped brick parapet with ornamental square and rectangular cast stone panels.

The Frederick Law Olmsted designed segment of Commonwealth Avenue begins its long incline up to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir at Packard's Corner. Although Olmsted's landscape design for Commonwealth Avenue has been modified, this impressive boulevard deserves to be protected from adverse alterations for its entire length. Olmsted originally planned the segment of Commonwealth Avenue, between Brighton Avenue and Warren Street, as three drives interspersed with two narrow parks between Brighton Avenue and Warren Street. These green spaces were formally planted with Elms which have succumbed to the Dutch Elm blight. In 1909, the electric streetcar tracks were set out over the northern park strip, thus compromising Olmsted's vision for this stretch of the avenue.

Between Fuller Avenue and Thorndike Street, on the south side of Commonwealth Avenue, stand three ,groups of four story Classical Revival apartment buildings including 1114-1120; 1122-1126 and 1128-1132 Commonwealth Avenue. To the west of Thorndike Street, the Classical Revival 1140 -1156 Commonwealth Avenue is a five story apartment complex which exhibits entrances elegantly enframmed by paired and fluted Corinthian columns. Cast stone covers the walls of the first and second floors while the upper floors are faced with tan brick. Few Boston apartment building facades approach the 50-bays of this complex's main elevation.

On the north side of Commonwealth Avenue the exception to the rule of lighter hued brick is to be found at the Bernard Steuer developed 1165-1177 Commonwealth Avenue (c. 1910-1915). Rising four stories in height, these Classical /Georgian Revival, polygonal bayed apartments exhibit cast stone surface treatments on the first floor and red brick on the upper floors, culminating in well molded copper cornices. Also noteworthy are the apartments numbered 1185-1197 Commonwealth Avenue (c. 1917-1924), between Chester and Reedsdale Streets. Constructed of cast stone and tan brick, the polygonal bays of this group of four, five story buildings enliven the streetscape with a rhythmic repetition of projecting forms.

The section of Brighton Avenue located within Packard's Corner, although impressive in terms of width, lacks the cohesiveness of Commonwealth avenue's architecturally significant buildings, suffering from the presence of parking lots on its north side and undistinguished commercial buildings on its south side between Chester Street and Linden Avenue. Nevertheless, some of the earliest apartment housing within this study area is still extant along the north side of Brighton Avenue. For example, the three-story bow front 19-25 and polygonal bayed 57-59 and 61-67, were built during the early 1900s, and adopt a row house form and scale. Particularly noteworthy is 57/59 Brighton Avenue's bowed brick facades trimmed with smooth and rusticated granite.

Built c. 1910-1920, the Georgian Revival 56-64 Brighton Avenue's is a 4.5 story E-shaped apartment with two recessed rear court yards. Constructed of yellow brick, it measures 20 bays in width and is 13 bays deep. Four narrow polygonal bays appear at the corners of this building while two bays project from the center of the main facade. This building culminates in a castelated parapet.

St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church at 46 Brighton Avenue/7 Luke's Road is a small complex of three buildings Church, Chapel/Parish House and Rectory ranged around a landscaped court yard. Built in 1913, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, possesses a modified Latin cross plan. Designed the Tudor Gothic style, it is constructed of tan brick. It stands with its narrow, buttressed end wall adjacent to St. Luke's Road. Its main entrance is sheltered by a projecting and open wooden porch which projects from the northeast corner of the nave's one story northern aisle . Above the nave's north and south aisle enclosures are half timbered clerestories. A secondary entrance is situated within a pointed arch at the north transit. The ground floor walls are pierced by narrow and deep, square headed windows set within rock faced label lintels. Forming the western wall of a landscaped court yard is a Parish Hall, originally built as a chapel in 1895. This chapel originally overlooked a lawn and Brighton Avenue. Its original main entrance, now obliterated by the later church, projected from a narrow gable and was characterized by a rustic, English Medieval appearance complete with half timbered gable, steeply pitched roof, wide and splaid barge boards and double doors set within a broad pointed arch. Its three bay side walls exhibit a high rubblestone basement, half timbered walls, windows set high on the walls with diamond shaped panes pointed arch enframements surmounted by king post accented gables. No longer extant is the low wood shingle covered steeple with a louvered effect at its octagonal base. Enclosing the court yard on the south side is St. Luke's Rectory, also dating from 1895. Essentially rectangular in form, it exhibits half-timbered surface treatments identical to those of the chapel(the first floor is clad with clapboards). Its clipped gable's north slope sweeps from the roof ridge over a side porch supported by square posts and broad pointed arches. St. Luke's overall design is one of great charm and is one of Allston Brighton's architectural treasures that deserves to be better known. For a relatively small structure, St. Luke's possesses a splendid collection of stained glass windows including the north window by Louis Comfort Tiffany and a dozen or so windows by Connick, the important early 20th century stained glass artist who had a studio in the Saint Botolph Street section of Boston and often worked with the great American Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram.

The 4 story, Georgian Revival Lindale Apartments at 100 Linden Avenue are essentially triangular in form, the apex of this triangle exhibits a pair of distinctive bowed bays whose windows overlook the intersection of Linden Avenue and Reedsdale Street. The bow, fronts flank an entrance with an ornate surround. Between the second and third floor double windows of the entrance bay is a plaque reading "The Lindale" in incised lettering. The side walls have a depth of 16 bays. In general, windows contain 1/1 wood sash and exhibit splaid key stone lintels.


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