Boston University / Bay State Road

Boston Architectural Conservation District

Bay State Road is a lovely avenue of dignified homes in a variety of turn-of-the-twentieth-century revival styles with many fine examples of historic ironwork on garden fences, balconies, and even one elaborate two-story wrought-iron verandah at number 83 that suggests New Orleans’s French Quarter.

The street was laid out in 1889 as an extension of the Back Bay. Filling this land wasn’t likely until Frederick Law Olmsted’s design for the Fens solved the problem of Roxbury sewage in the Muddy River. The waterside was preferred and quickly filled with large homes and distinguished residents. Dr. Eliot P. Joslin, the diabetes specialist, moved into the classical revival house at number 81.

Bay State Road residents felt cut off from the Back Bay after 1891 when the Harvard Bridge connected Cambridge’s Massachusetts Avenue with the quiet Boston street West Chester Park (now Massachusetts Avenue). Traffic flowed from Dorchester to Arlington along what became a heavily trafficked thoroughfare. Most of the Bay State Road houses were acquired by Boston University and now serve as offices, clubs, and residence halls.

Cover image: BU Yawkey Center, ©Yonward