Upham's Corner Online

Public Documents Help Reveal the History of 1299 Massachusetts Avenue

1299 Massachusetts, located in Edward Everett Square, has now been purchased by Living Stream Ministry for joint use with a local Christian congregation, Church in Boston.  Construction / restoration work has been underway for several years.  Architect, William (Buddy) Christopher, states that the church has been working with the BRA to restore the building authentically, consistent with its original look and complimentary to the existing artistic presentation in EE Square.

Massachusetts Avenue and Columbia Road are the primary streets associated with the intersection known as "Edward Everett Square" - Boston Street as well.  Cottage Street is rarely mentioned and most traffic is unaware that this street even exists on both sides of Columbia Road.  Yet historic maps of Boston from 1874 through 1933 show that Cottage Street once was the dominant N/S crossroad of the intersection.

By 1904, Edward Everett Square had come into existence along with a major change to the road system including a new extension of Massachusetts Avenue terminating there.  Out of this new road grid was created a triangular-shaped plot of land where Mass Ave and Cottage Street intersected. Possibly as early as 1917, the owner, John Gillespie, built a garage on the site and as of 1929, was issued an official occupancy of "Garage repair shop and show room."  Two addresses were used interchangeably for the garage  - with an address of 708 Columbia Rd (also referred to as 1299 Massachusetts Avenue).

Since then, the building has seen multiple uses, most of them related to car repair but it was also used as an employment agency and a fruit stand. 

Beginning with 1874

In 1874 Stoughton Street served as the northerly route from Pleasant Street through Uphams Corner, still retaining the name Stoughton Street until past Brook Ave where the name changed to Dudley Street.   Columbia Street ran east / west through Uphams Corner and as it intersected with Stoughton Street, the name changed to Boston Street.

Further east and parallel to Stoughton Street was another important road - Cottage Street.   From Dorchester Ave, Cottage Street served as a primary north/south crossroad.  At Pleasant Street, Cottage Street forked around an island of land, most of which was owned by John Richardson (from whence the name, Richardson Park).  Cottage Street continued north on the west side of this parcel of land while Pond Street, a lesser road, lay on the other side.  Just past Sumner Street, both Cottage and Pond Streets intersected with Boston Street while Cottage Street continued north through the intersection. 

Bringing it current: 
  • Stoughton Street no longer continues past Columbia Road but rather the name changes immediately to Dudley Street.
  • Columbia Street is now Columbia Road
  • Columbia Road continues east through the Uphams Corner intersection while Boston Street begins in Edward Everett Square
Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

A closeup of the intersection of Boston and Cottage Streets shows that it is already "busy." While Cottage Street is the major street on the west side of the parcel, Pond Street is adding to the complexity of the intersection.

Notice the large parcel of land at the intersection of Cottage and Boston Streets on the east side. 

Bringing it current:
  • The large parcel of land at Cottage and Boston Streets on the east side no longer exists.  Instead a much smaller triangle of land remains, as was created after Massachusetts Avenue was built.
Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

1889 Saw the Beginnings of Massachusetts Avenue in EE Square

The first iteration of what eventually became Massachusetts Avenue was called East Chester Park and this shows on the map of 1889.  The triangular plot of land that now remains at the intersection of East Chester Park and Cottage Street is owned by Hrs. Ellen Gillespie, likely the original owner of the land in that form. 

The intersection has grown more complex: 
  • Boston and Cottage Streets are cross streets, each continuing through the intersection
  • East Chester Park and Pond Street terminate at the intersection

Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

By 1904 Significant Changes Including the Naming

The 1904 map shows significant changes.  Edward Everett Square has been named and East Chester Park is now Massachusetts Avenue.

Ellen Gillespie is still the owner of the property though it would appear that a second building has been constructed on the site.

Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

1910 - Property Changes Hands but Stays in the Family

The property appears the same six years later in 1910 but the owner has changed to John Y Gillespie.

Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

Boston Map of 1918

No changes in 1918.  Property still owned by John Y Gillespie.

Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

In 1933 Map Shows Property as Garage

Fifteen years later, in 1933, the property is still owned by a "Gillespie," this time M. Wilbur Gillespie and the property is labelled "garage."  Compare the two maps from 1918 and 1933.  The newer map has many small "brown boxes" which likely are garages.

Edward Everett Square Section of Dorchester

When was the Garage Built, 1917 or 1929?

The property address in ISD documents is both 708 Columbia Road and 1299 Massachusetts Avenue while the former address is the more commonly used in the eariest building permits.

  • April 12, 1929 - John Gillespie, owner, applies for a building permit with current and future uses "garage."
  • June 18, 1929 - M Wilbur Gillespie, owner, applies for building permit.  He states a current use of "garage, repair shop, stores" and a future occupancy of "Garage - Repair Shop - Show Room."
  • May 16, 1947 - The building owner is Walter McDonough Co, the address is 708 Columbia Rd and the applicant sites a "garage permit"  issued 6/28/1917.  McDonough Co is owned by Walter M. McDonough who lived at 21 Melbourne Rd in Dorchester.  At that time, he stated that the building is currently used as a garage.
  • June 9, 2003 - Permit requests that five lots (#  3597, 3598, 3599, 3600 and 3601) be combined into one lot.  This permit cites a legal occupancy of "Garage repair shop and show room"  Doc # 236 / 1929.

So when was the garage built?  It would appear that a garage permit was issued June 28, 1917 but that the upgraded occupancy including show room was issued in 1929.  While the garage does not show on the 1918 map, that could be a matter of timing.  A garage does show on the map in 1933.

After close to a century following its original construction,  the current restoration appears to be a significant enhancement to Edward Everett Square.

Click here to view 1299 Mass Ave website

Posted: November 28, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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