A Unique Piece of Architecture on Albion Place

This 1842 house is the only one of its type in all of Charlestown.

The house at 20 Albion Place is three quarters up the street on a cul de sac. The four enormous columns of this unusual house grace, not the building’s main entrance, but instead support the roof over the house’s side porch.  The modest main entrance faces the street.  An entrance into the house from the porch is on the side, under a window, non-ostentatious.

The columns are the most dramatic feature.  Described as ‘monumental Tuscan columns’ they rise two stories, in support of a ‘heavy projecting entablature’ incorporated into the roof slope. The fluted columns seem to hold up the sloping gable.

It’s the only house like it on Albion Place. According to the Boston Landmarks Commission, 20 Albion Place is the ‘only Charlestown example of a Greek Revival house with a monumental columned side porch.’ (See The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) for contrast).

Albion Place -- Albion is the poetic name for Britain -- was most likely laid out in the early 1830’s. The house at number 20 was one of the few on the street built then. Aaron Clark and Enos Varney, both carpenters, bought the lot from George Johnson, a trader, for $466.00, and built the detached house a few decades before row houses began to dominate the town. According to Boston Landmarks Commission, 20 Albion Place offers an ‘unspoiled glimpse of a substantial, detached early Charlestown homestead.’

Varney and Clark apparently lived in the house until 1846, when Clark sold it to Varney for $2,000.00.  The house passed subsequently to Lowell Hinds, a Boston leather dealer, who sold the house in 1863 to Elizabeth Crafts, wife of Elias Crafts, Jr.  Craft’s apothecary shop at the junction of Warren and Main Street was a well-known Charlestown landmark.  (See flickr photo).

  • Where is the house? 20 Albion Place
  • When was it built? 1840-1842 
  • Who built it? Aaron Clark and Enos Varney
  • What was it built for and who was the first occupant? Clark and Varney were the house’s first residents.
  • Why was it built? As one of the first homes on Albion Place, which was originally named Albion Court.
  • How was it built? Of wood, in Greek Revival with four fluted Tuscan columns. The house is in an ell-shape, with a dominant main columned porch front. 
  • What are the future plans for the structure? The house is privately owned and occupied.

Information for this article was compiled from various research materials, including Boston Landmarks Commission; http://www.albionurc.org.uk/albionbanner.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albion; www.epa.gov/region1/npdes/.../noi/.../45FirstAvenue2011NOI.pdf.

Mary Brock September 21, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I agree. You are a treasure! Another great, informative article.
Last Laugh September 22, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I couldn't agree more, Helen O'Neil is a GEM! A valuable town scribe bringing back to mind tucked-away architectural marvels and lovingly describing the very history embedded in the landmarks so amply sited through out that square green mile. Thank you Helen for your research, observations and regularly posting your catalog of historic buildings and attractions.
Nancy Hannan September 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I could not agree more with Dan's comments about you and your contributions Helen. You have given me a new awareness with which I view the Town's sublime quality. I so look forward to your posts and am disappointed if there is none on a given week. Please keep them coming!
Helen O'Neil September 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Thank you for your wonderful comments. It's great to know "At This Address" has found such happy readers. Charlestown has an endlessly fascinating story and I'm amazed at the many layers of history here. Keep reading. Tell your friends!!!
George Rinaldi March 30, 2013 at 03:07 AM
I grew up in that house. My father bought that house in the 30's and it is currently owned by my sister who inherited it from my mother. The pillars are actually on the back of the house and the original entrance was on the opposite side. Great house, lots of fond memories.


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