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Richards Building Study Report

The Boston Landmarks Commission has posted a study report on the proposed designation of the Richards Building as a Landmark under Chapter 772 of the Acts of 1975, as amended.

The ca. 1858 Richards Building at 112-116 State Street is the oldest remaining cast iron-front structure in Boston’s central business district. The Richards Building has local, state, and regional significance for its associations with the growth of real estate development and investment by wealthy Boston business interests, as well as the expansion of the City’s financial district.  

The Richards Building is architecturally significant as it is one of about six such façades in existence in the City. It is representative of an architectural design and construction style that became popular in the latter part of the 18th century (and was a precursor to the modern skyscraper). It is an outstanding example of early cast iron architecture.

The building was originally known as the Shaw Building, having been commissioned by Boston merchant and shipowner Robert Gould Shaw (1776-1853) on two parcels he acquired in 1811 and 1818. Shaw was the grandfather of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (d. 1863 at Fort Wagner, South Carolina), who commanded the all-Black 54th regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The design is attributed to architect Edward Cabot, who in 1857 became a charter member and later a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Cabot was also president of the Boston Society of Architects from its founding in 1867 until 1900.  

Additionally, the Richards Building is cited in the National Register of Historic Places as being within the Custom House District (NRDIS 1973).


(Report amended as of February 3, 2023)

The proposed designation will be discussed and voted upon at a public hearing on February 14, 2023. Please look for the meeting notice in the public notices section of our website. 

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