Hotel Vendome, Boston
Beaux Arts vs. Brutalist and fires...

Hotel Vendome, Boston, 1881

"Built in 1871 and massively expanded in 1881, the Vendome was a luxury hotel located just north of Copley Square. The Vendome was called by its owners “one of the most palatial and most elaborately furnished hotels in the world.” The hotel hosted a sitting president (Grover Cleveland) along with many other dignitaries.

The popularity of the hotel led to the fateful decision, around 1890, to carve a new ballroom out of several rooms on the first floor. To create the larger space, the main load-bearing wall that ran across the first floor of the building was removed, which left only a single cast iron column to support the weight of the four floors above. Nobody could have possibly imagined the sequence of events that would doom nine of the men whose job it was to save it from fire 80 years later."

Present day, with Brutalist additions.

"Built in 1871, the Mansard-roofed French Second Empire style corner building of the Hotel Vendome, on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, was designed by William G. Preston, who had studied in Paris. The western section, designed by J.F. Ober and R. Rand, followed in 1881.

Hotel Vendome was for many years the city’s premier hotel, but by the late 1960s attempts were made to demolish the outmoded building. Renovations were almost complete in 1972, when a fire destroyed the southeast section of the original structure. Nine firefighters died when part of the building collapsed after the fire was out. There is a memorial to the nine firefighters on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Dartmouth Street.

A 1970s addition to the Vendome by Stahl/Bennett in the Brutalist style replaced the destroyed section. The building today houses apartments, offices and stores."