The Mayor's Office of Arts + Culture for Boston. We foster the growth of the cultural community in Boston and promote participation in the arts.
In addition to designing specific buildings, Charles Bulfinch introduced Boston to the practice of planning whole blocks and neighborhoods. He planned out Park Street, which leads up to the State House from Tremont Street along the short side of the Common and once included a row of houses he designed.
The Amory-Ticknor House, at the corner of Park and Boylston, is the only surviving building by Bulfinch on the block. When the State House was under construction, the lot was occupied by an almshouse (homeless shelter) which did not compliment Boston's view of its majestic new capitol. Thomas Coffin Amory, a prominent Boston merchant, purchased the land from the city, and Bulfinch designed this house for Amory and his family (completed in 1804) as well as a new, larger almshouse on Leverett St.
The Amory family only lived here for a few years before financial problems forced them to sell it. One of Amory's ships was attacked at sea and lost, and he is said to have received the news of his impending bankruptcy during the housewarming party for his new mansion. It was sold and split into two homes, presumably because Amory was unable to find a buyer who could afford the entire house. Since then the homes have seen many notable residents and visitors, including the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824.
In addition to Amory, the house is named for George Ticknor, a well-known Harvard scholar who helped to introduce Spanish literature to America. He moved here in 1829 with his wife Ana Eliot Ticknor, who perhaps has a greater claim to fame as the founder of the first correspondence school in the US, the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, intended to reach women learners. The school's teachers included Ellen Swallows Richards (the first female to attend MIT), Alice James (writer and sister of Henry James), and several other prominent Boston intellectuals who happened to be women.
One wall of the house's garden level is embedded with arches. It is rumored that Bulfinch connected many of his buildings via underground tunnels, so these may have once been the entrances to tunnels connecting to the State House under Beacon Street. However, Bulfinch also had a taste for blind arches as an architectural feature, so these may have simply been design elements.
As of fall 2017, half of the building is vacant. The other half is in use by commercial tenants.