Peabody and Stearns, 1872
Enlarged: John H. Sturgis, 1882
Restoration: Childs, Bertman, Tseckares, Casendino, 1969
Built for congressman Frederick Ames and enlarged ten years later for Oakes Ames, the house has some of the most elaborately ornamented interiors in the Back Bay. Sturgis enlarged it in 1882 by adding a four-story monumental tower with a commanding mansard roof and a chimney ornamented with pediments and bas-reliefs. Next to this he created a new entrance and porte cochere with fine wrought-iron gates.
Inside, a grand hall was created, 63 by 18 feet with an 18-foot ceiling, paneled in richly carved oak woodwork. At the end of the hall a grand staircase rises beneath a skylit dome of stained glass by John La Farge, surrounded by the murals of the French painter Benjamin Constant. Guests arriving for parties drove into the porte cochere and took the elevator to the second floor, where they removed their coats, then made a grand entrance descending the broad staircase into the glittering hall.
The Commonwealth Avenue side features an elaborately worked wrought-iron fence of spiral posts and intertwined floral vines and a two-story projecting plant conservatory.