The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.)

The property's most famous occupant was Amaziah N. Swallow, who owned Charlestown’s Big Store at City Square.

For a quick history on this property, read just the facts.

According to Timothy Sawyer’s "Old Charlestown," Cordis Street was set out as early as 1799 "over the pasture of Captain Joseph Cordis." He was a ship-master and merchant who became a large real estate holder in the 1780s, during post-Revolutionary War reconstruction.

A few homes on Cordis Street were built in the early 1800s. The mansion at 33 Cordis St. was part of the building boom of the 1840s and 1850s, following an influx of European -- predominately Irish -- immigrants.

The house at 33 Cordis Street, according to the Boston Landmarks Commission, is architecturally significant and a rare Boston example of a Greek Revival temple-form house, with monumental fluted Ionic columns at the front of the house. The elegant, tall windows grace the first and the second floors.

The house was built by William H. Bacon, who lived on High Street. Bacon was active in Charlestown’s building trades and bought the lot for $1,200 from Eben Plummer and Ezra Fogg of Boston. He completed the house in 1845 and apparenty never lived there.

Robert Edes was the mansion’s second owner, but the house’s most famous occupant was Amaziah N. Swallow, who owned Charlestown’s Big Store at City Square. The Big Store was the largest retail grocery store in Charlestown and one of the largest in Boston.

Swallow bought 33 Cordis St. from Edes in 1862 for $2,462. The “Swallow Mansion” was then passed on to A.N. Swallow’s son, George N. Swallow, a politician and grocer who became a state legislator, "in spite of being a Republican in a Democratic district." The Swallows owned the house until 1901.

Eileen Buckley bought the house in 1911 and a series of owners followed.

The house is a Greek Revival wood frame house, built on the southwest slope of Breed’s Hill, with four Ionic columns in front. It has a pedimented (triangular) gable roof, a full basement and a low attic. The house now has a Palladian-type (three-part) attic window. The front yard was enclosed by a granite block retainer wall.

The house is currently occupied and privately owned.

Information for this article was compiled from several sources, including the Boston Landmarks Commission, vis a vis Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory; A Century of Town Life: a History of Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1775-1787 by James Frothingam Hunnewell; web-sites http://www.homes.com/Home-Prices/ID-500015995824/33-CORDIS-ST/ and  http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/lilley-eaton/genealogical-history-of-the-town-of-reading-mass-ala/page-35-genealogical-history-of-the-town-of-reading-mass-ala.shtml. Thanks to Susan Voloshin at the Charlestown Library for helping to locate some research materials.

chris wolff July 12, 2011 at 02:13 PM
great article--but when it comes to printing it out all of your articles are impossible for me--as it print is so tiny i can barely read it. i cannot change the print size on my computer. maybe you can have a print this article on you site. thanks and please let me know. i love the historical and print them out. christiane
Helen O'Neil July 12, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Thank you Christiane for reading. Glad you enjoy historical pieces. Your suggestion is a good one. I'll pass it on to the editor.
Geri Jaena Maxwell August 16, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Hi Helen, Wow....great story/pics. I was thinking of how many times I passed this house when I was a kid and never gave it a thought. Now, today, I'm in awe of its magnificent. I will be sure to go by this home when I make my next trip back this fall. Thanks, Geri Jaena Maxwell
Helen O'Neil August 17, 2011 at 01:12 AM
Thank you Geri. I think what makes this house stand out is how different it is in style from everything around it. The columns make you stop and look closely.


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