New England Telephone Headquarters

Now Verizon | 185 Franklin Street | 1947 | Cram & Ferguson

Completed in 1947, our research suggests that this building was designed in 1939 before World War II, as is the case for the John Hancock Building in Back Bay, which was designed by the same architects.  Because of the war, construction was delayed, but the building is undoubtedly a Massive Moderne structure belonging to the earlier period.  Architects Cram & Ferguson also designed the Post Office Building which we will visit next.

This 7x10 bay steel frame skyscraper has a notable 4-story entry.  Recent renovations by the firm of Goody Clancy and Associates include a sympathetic new design for the entry, exterior Art Deco-style lighting fixtures and matching telephone booths.  Interestingly, Goody & Clancy were also chosen for the restoration of the John Hancock Building, and report that the elevator cabs and elevator lanterns were identical in both buildings.

The lobby mural, "Telephone Men and Women at Work", was created by Dean Cornwell (1892-1960), noted for numerous murals throughout the country in the 1920s - 1950s.  It depicts the history of the telephone, starting with Alexander Graham Bell, forming a complete oval 160 feet long by 12 feet high, with 197 life-size figures.  The panels were painted in Cornwell's huge studio on the top floor of Grand Central Station in NY.  It took three years, and was completed in 1950.  Cornwell received the Architectural League's Gold Medal in 1951.

The mural was removed as part of a building renovation in 2009, and ADSB is currently working with the developer and the Boston Preservation Alliance to get the mural restored to the building.

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