Masons Responsible for Bank Building's Height
Thompson Square building draws its roots from the year Charlestown joined Boston.
Charlestown Savings Bank was founded in 1854 by a group of prominent local businessmen and civic leaders. Their offices were originally in City Square.
In 1873, the same year Charlestown voted to annex itself to Boston, the bank voted to build a new building in Thompson Square and bought the land from the heirs of Timothy Thompson. A row of ‘little, quaint houses...all of them painted dingy white' were demolished and in their place was built what Hunnewell called ‘one of the largest and handsomest structures in Charlestown.’
Research suggests that, had it not been for the involvement of the Masonic King Solomon’s Lodge, the building at Thompson Square might have ended up as a two-story structure instead of a five-story one.
The Masons occupied the top three floors, where there is a large assembly hall and a banquet room. Charlestown Five Cents Savings Bank originally occupied the second floor, along with the offices of Monument Bank and Charlestown Gas Company. As the Five Cents Saving Bank grew, it took over most of the first floor where it installed an alarm system and heavy iron vaults.
The bank had its offices on the first floor of 1 Thompson Square until it moved in the 1970's to Bunker Hill Mall under the new name of NewWorld Bank. In 1994 NewWorld Bank was bought by Citizens Bank.
- Where is it? One Thompson Square
- When was it built? 1874-1876
- Who built it? It was designed by the Boston architectural firm of Moffette and Tolman.
- What was it built for and who was the first occupant? Charlestown Five Cents Savings Bank had its offices originally on the second floor. The Masons - King Solomon’s Lodge - occupied the top three floors. There were three shops on the first floor.
- Why was it built? The board of Directors for Charlestown Five Cents Savings voted to build the facility to accommodate its need for more space.
- How was it built? In the heavily detailed style of High Victorian Gothic, popular in the United States for civic, commercial, and religious architecture. The building is brick with a front of ‘pale olive stone.’ It was built for about $100,000. According to Victorian Boston Today it has “polychromatic sandstone surfaces, pointed arches and a heavy mansard roof with slates and copper cheneau (roof gutters) intact.”
- What are the future plans for the structure? In the 1970’s Charlestown Savings moved into Bunker Hill Mall, and the Masons relocated. Various businesses now occupy the 30,000 square feet. You can still see the bank’s original iron vaults deep in the recesses of the first floor. The building was designated a Boston landmark in 1981.
Information for this article was gathered from various sources, including: Public Hearing: Charlestown Savings Bank -- Boston Landmarks Commission held September 26, 1978; A Century of Town Life: a History of Charlestown, Massachusetts by James Hunnewell; Victorian Boston Today: Twelve Walking Tours by Mary Petronella and Edward Gordon; and various web-sites, including http://springpadit.com/presspreview/business/charlestownfivecentssavingsbank and http://www.archive.org/stream/publichearingcha00bost#page/n7/mode/2up; also conversations with Danny O’Neil.