Horticultural Hall study report
Horticultural Hall is one of several architecturally important institutional structures built in the first decade of the 20th century along a small section of Huntington Avenue that have made vital contributions to the cultural and civic life of Boston and New England.
Horticultural Hall was constructed as the third home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS), a 187-year-old organization founded to encourage the science and practice of horticulture. From its inception, the organization’s membership has come from all over the Commonwealth, and MHS members developed fruits that have become common to the American diet, such as the Concord grape and the Bartlett pear, introducing them at MHS exhibitions. In the 19th century, the Society promoted scientific knowledge by disseminating scientific papers, including the then-controversial work of Charles Darwin, and by establishing science-related professorships. The Horticultural Society also became the originator of the rural cemetery movement in the United States when it purchased the land for Mount Auburn Cemetery on the Cambridge-Watertown line in 1831.
The building is a distinctive creation of the firm Wheelwright and Haven, which was active from 1888-1912, and particularly of the architect Edmund March Wheelwright. Wheelwright and Haven designed many structures in eastern Massachusetts that continue to contribute to the area’s architectural, cultural, and transportation life. They include important institutional buildings, bridges and subway kiosks, and private homes. Wheelwright also served as the City Architect for the City of Boston from 1891-1895, designing over 100 schools, police stations, and fire stations, many of which are still extant. Wheelwright’s ability to produce striking edifices and structures in a wide range of styles is a particularly noteworthy aspect of his work.
Horticultural Hall opened in 1901 as the purpose-built exhibition, lecture, and office space for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The building functioned in this capacity from until the interior was renovated for adaptive reuse exclusively as office space in 1985. The First Church of Christ, Scientist purchased the building in 1992, and it remains in use as office space. Horticultural Hall was purchased by Northeastern University in 2020.
There are two ways to provide feedback on this potential landmark designation:
- Written feedback can be provided by visiting this link: feedback form.
- The study report will be discussed at a public hearing on August 24, 2021. Members of the public are invited to attend this hearing and provide comments there as well. Please look for the meeting notice in the public notices section of our website.