Enfilade

New Book | Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them

Posted in books by Editor on July 1, 2021

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Joseph Bagley, Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2021), 248 pages, ISBN: ‎ 978-1684580392, $30.

As Boston approaches its four-hundredth anniversary, it is remarkable that it still maintains its historic character despite constant development. The fifty buildings featured in this book all pre-date 1800 and illustrate Boston’s early history. This is the first book to survey Boston’s fifty oldest buildings and does so through an approachable narrative which will appeal to nonarchitects and those new to historic preservation. Beginning with a map of the buildings’ locations and an overview of the historic preservation movement in Boston, the book looks at the fifty buildings in order from oldest to most ­recent. Geographically, the majority of the buildings are located within the downtown area of Boston along the Freedom Trail and within easy walking distance from the core of the city. This makes the book an ideal guide for tourists, and residents of the city will also find it interesting as it includes numerous properties in the surrounding neighborhoods. The buildings span multiple uses from homes to churches and warehouses to restaurants. Each chapter features a building, a narrative focusing on its historical significance, and the efforts made to preserve it over time. Full ­color photos and historical drawings illustrate each building and area. Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them presents the ideals of historic preservation in an approachable and easy­-to-­read manner appropriate for the broadest audience.

Joseph M. Bagley is the city archaeologist of Boston, a historic preservationist, and a staff member of the Boston Landmarks Commission. He has worked for multiple local and state historic preservation offices, including the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.