John Hancock Building

Parker Thomas and Rice, 1922

Harleston Parker Medal, 1924

This is the first of the three John Hancock Insurance Company buildings built in Boston. It was designed by the local firm Parker, Thomas and Rice, best known as architects of the art deco United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building. Its three-story colonnade is set back from the street and is topped by five more floors of offices – a monumental but fairly conventional composition.

The lead partner, J. Harleston (Harley) Parker, was an alumnus of Harvard, MIT, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and chairman of the Boston Art Commission. In 1921, he established the Harleston Parker Gold Medal (named in honor of his father), as an ongoing way for the BSA to recognize “the most beautiful” new or recent piece of architecture in the city. Three years later – as luck would have it - this building of his own design won the award.

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0,