Historic Boston Studios

The other day, I noticed for the first time part of the façade of the Beth Israel Medical Center- I had never noticed it was once the Massachusetts School of Art (which is now MassArt).  It had been taken over by Beth Israel in the late 80′s.  I was struck with the beauty of the stone carving and lettering.  It’s at the corner of Brookline & Longwood, in the heart of today’s hospital district.

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Façade of the old Mass Art building

The inscription on this side reads “Every genuine work of art has as much reason for being as the earth and the sun”.  

Here’s the other entrance:

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The other door

The other door reads  “The useful and elegant arts minister to the comfort of man and gladden his eye with beauty”

Here’s a couple other shots of the building I found on the net:

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an image of the building from the 50’s

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another detail


The most well known of Boston’s historic artist studios is still in use today.  The Fenway Studios were built in 1904 and has continually had artists working in them since then…. and after becoming a national landmark it will continue to be.  It’s written about extensively on their website.

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Here is a video on youtube featuring two of the artists from the Fenway Studios.  Gives you a pretty good sense of the building.


Another interesting defunct studio building is the Riverway Studios, now the Wheelock College library.  The Riverway Studio building was built in 1915,  under direction by Frank Benson and Ned Tarbell.  I’ve read that DeCamp may have been involved in the design  as well, though most places mention only Benson and Tarbell.

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It was a popular Boston studio, where many painters of note, including  William Paxton, Gertrude Fiske, Benson and Tarbell worked.     Unfortunately, the studio’s use was short-lived, Wheelock College bought the building in 1944.  You can read more about their renovation of the building here.

Visiting the building today, you can see very little evidence of the building’s previous use.  The building has been renovated many times, starting the year it was bought.  You can, however, still get an ethereal sense of what the spaces were like by the proportions of the room, and of course by the beautiful 15-foot windows that are still in place.

Though the trees on Boston’s Riverway now block much of the natural light, looking through the window you can still glimpse some of the skyline that appears in one of Benson’s etchings that he’d clearly done from the window.  That’s about all that’s left of the artist studio that was there.