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Harriswood Crescent

60-88 Harold Street

Built: 1890

Style: Queen Anne Revival

by Angelica Coleman

History

Harriswood Crescent is one of the earliest suburban terraces in the Boston area and the only one in Roxbury. Comprised of fifteen attached single family residences built from around 1890-1910, Harriswood Crescent is one of the only examples in Boston of row housing that is designed specifically to not look like row houses. Architect J. Williams Beal, who also designed what is now Charles St. AME Church in Roxbury, focused heavily on English architecture and built a series of Queen Anne Revival row houses with features such as brick crenellations, spaciousness, privacy, and variety in materials used.

At the time of construction, Roxbury was at the height of its streetcar suburban development. Harriswood Crescent was constructed on what was known as the Boston Highlands, due to its rocky terrain and steep grades, and was a very desirable location to live. The houses were built on the land of late Horatio Harris, who died in 1876, known for his business in Horatio Harris Co., auctioneers and commission merchants.

In the early twentieth century, the area around Harriswood Crescent was home to very prominent African Americans. Many young residents went off to higher institutions of education and became notable members of society. Examples include: Melnea Cass (1896-1976), who was known as the First Lady of Roxbury for her actions in the civil rights movement, helping found the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and urging African American woman to vote after the Nineteenth Amendment was passed; H. Carl McCall,a resident of the 1940s, went on to become the first black to win a statewide office in New York when he became State Comptroller in 1993; Otto and Muriel Snowden(Otto moved to H-Block in 1917 and married Muriel in 1945), the founders of Freedom House, one of the city's foremost community agencies; and Clifton J. Wharton, Jr., the first black to head a major college, Michigan State University, and a fortune 500 company, TIAA-CREF. Many other residents went on to do great things. Currently, founder and owner of the Bay State Banner Melvin,B. Miller resides in Harriswood Crescent.



Architecture

Modeled after the Old English style of the English Domestic Revival, also known as Queen Anne Revival, each house consists of three stories on top of a raised foundation. Stone and cement steps lead to house entrances from the sidewalks, giving the illusion of several independent houses as opposed to row houses. Most house have porches in front with deep arches, gables, crenellated bay windows, and chimneys. Material used in construction is primarily brick, stucco, and rough-hewn stone

The architect varied the materials used to make a symmetrical pattern. The end two houses are made of brick, the next two units in are brick on the first floor, and half-timbered in cream colored stucco on the upper portion. The following two units are pushed back slightly and have grey-brown stucco and the center unit uses the same half-timbered cream-colored stucco. From the street view, the units look like seven houses of substantial size as opposed to the fifteen units there are.

Current Use

Today, Harriswood Crescent continues to be used as single family residences.


Source: Nomination Form-National Reigster of Historic Places

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