Dorchester’s Many Pockets of Architectural Splendor
Photo: Adam Pieniazek
As one of the oldest communities in the US, the neighborhood of Dorchester is full or architectural splendor. Originally founded in the 1600s as its own independent town, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that Boston annexed Dorchester.
Even before streetcar service came to Dorchester, Boston’s elite were drawn to the location. When development picked up pace, even more people chose Dorchester as a place to call home, while commuting to jobs in the downtown area.
Like its earlier years, Dorchester is still filled with elegant homes and grand estates. While sadly there are some original homes that no longer stand, hundreds of old Victorians do.
Most were constructed of wood, in a range of styles. It’s no wonder that this part of Boston is so popular even today, as unlike some other parts of the city, the architecture ranges greatly in Dorchester from Queen Anne to Stick Style, Greek Revival to Federal.
You’ll also find some Colonial Revival, Shingle Style, Swiss Cottage, and Italianate home designs in this part of Boston. Many of these old homes are finding new life generations later, as they’re being renovated by new owners to reflect some of their original style points.
Today, there are still some single-family estates in Dorchester, in addition to condos, some of which were converted from old mills near the Neponset River in the Lower Hills neighborhood. In the Savin Hill Historic District, most of the buildings were constructed from the late 1800s to around 1930.
Although you’ll find a variety of architectural styles represented, about one-third of the buildings here are in a Queen Anne style, followed by Colonial Revival. There are also some architecturally significant homes in the neighborhoods of Meeting House Hill and Ashmont Hill. As demand for housing in Dorchester increased, the triple decker also rose in popularity in this part of Boston.
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