Steeped in history and architectural excellence, Boston is a remarkable city in Massachusetts, USA. This coastal city boasts plenty of renowned structures that showcase the rich historical background and cultural wealth of Boston. In this article, we’ll highlight the 20 most famous buildings in Boston to give our readers a comprehensive guide to the city’s architectural heritage.
From Massachusetts State House to Boston City Hall, we’ll provide you with a brief history and background of each structure, as well as talk about their architectural significance and current use.
So, whether you’re planning a trip to this historic city or simply seeking a virtual escape, this exploration of famous buildings in Boston will offer you insights into the city’s soul and captivating narrative.
Without further ado, let’s dive into our list of Boston’s famous architectural landmarks.
List of Most Famous Buildings in Boston
1. The Massachusetts State House
|Location:||24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133, USA|
Built in 1798, the Massachusetts State House was designed by the Bostonian architect Charles Bulfinch. It’s the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use in the United States.
The building’s most distinctive element is the amazing dome gilded with 23-karat gold. Besides the dome, it features a grand hall and a grand entrance.
This national historic landmark in Boston offers visitors the opportunity to see the Hall of Flags and the Governor’s Council Chamber. It also showcases a great example of Federal-Neoclassical architecture.
Today, the state house accommodates the seat of the Massachusetts government and is open to the public for tours.
2. Boston Public Library
|Architect:||Charles Follen McKim|
|Location:||700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116, USA|
Boston has many exceptional architectural landmarks just as the Boston Public Library, the first large and free municipal library in the US. This historical landmark features a Renaissance Revival-style design that adorns both the exterior and interior.
The building has a beautiful courtyard and a grand central hall. There are over 23 million items in the library’s collection. Visitors come here not only to use the library but also to behold wonderful murals and frescoes by John Singer Sargent and Edwin Austin Abbey.
Arched windows, monumental-scale ceilings, marble floors, statues, vaults, colossal columns, and intricate Renaissance-style decorations are a brief summary of the McKim Building’s architectural wealth.
It was extended in 1972 with the Brutalist Johnson building and the McKim was renovated in 2016. The library offers free tours some days a week for the spaces including collections and art pieces. Get more information from the museum’s official website.
3. The Custom House Tower
|Architect:||Ammi Burnham Young|
|Type:||Public building, hotel|
|Location:||3 McKinley Square, Boston, MA 02109, USA|
Designed by Ammi Burnham Young, the 496-foot (151m) Custom House Tower was built in 1915. The original building functioned as a customs house and government office when it was built in 1849.
After the tower was added to the original customs house building in 1915, it became the tallest building in Boston until 1964. Featuring a big clock, it has a pinnacled tower that makes the structure an important part of the Boston skyline.
Furthermore, its Neoclassical architectural design reveals stunning facades adorned with unique marble and granite workmanship. The exterior facades feature intricate carvings and sculptures.
Since 1997, it has belonged to Marriott Hotel and is a popular tourist destination. Visiting here, you can behold the panoramic view of Boston City from the observation deck in the tower.
4. Trinity Church
|Architect:||Henry Hobson Richardson|
|Location:||206 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116, USA|
A masterpiece of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the United States, Trinity Church is one of the well-known historic buildings in Boston. Built in 1877, it was designed by H. H. Richardson, who is one of the 3 most known American architects alongside Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.
This old structure features pinnacle towers, arched windows, rounded arches, intricate stone carvings, sculptures, and more. Its castle-like towers and heavy walls are built with rough stones.
The inside has nothing short of the exterior. Paintings by John La Farge and beautiful murals change the interior space into a religious museum. He also designed one of the most recognized stained glass works in the country for this church.
Additionally, the main hall was designed in an auditorium style to reflect the democratic spirit in the 19th century USA.
Today, Trinity Episcopal Church is an active parish and is open to the public for tours. The church is located near the public library and 200 Clarendon Tower.
5. Boston City Hall
|Architect:||Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles|
|Location:||1 City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201, USA|
A prime example of Brutalist architecture, Boston City Hall was designed by the world-renowned architecture studio Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles (KMW) in 1962 and completed in 1968.
This massive concrete building features a solid and bold stance with a central courtyard. It reveals the interior functions with dynamic terraces and concrete cantilevers.
While some consider it the ugliest structure in Boston, some people really love this distinctive building. Its brutal concrete facades and one-color cold design may not welcome passers-by, but this building is still an important part of architectural history.
Today, the building houses the seat of the city government and the Boston City Council. It’s the right place to see a famous Brutalist building.
6. 200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower)
|Architect:||Henry Cobb of I.M. Pei & Partners|
|Location:||200 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116, USA|
Designed by Henry Cobb, I.M. of Pei & Partners in 1972, 200 Clarendon, formerly known as John Hancock Tower, is the tallest building in Boston and New England with a height of 790 feet (240.8 m).
According to the American Institute of Architects, it is one of the most loved buildings in the country since 1977. This sleek and modern skyscraper design has an entirely glass monolithic mass. Its blue-colored glass panels reflect the beauty of the nearby environment.
Being the tallest building in Boston, this 62-story skyscraper offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the whole city. Due to restrictions in building tall buildings, Boston won’t have any taller buildings than 200 Clarendon, at least in the near future.
Today, the John Hancock Tower is used as office space and is home to many prominent businesses. The building’s observation deck is a popular tourist destination.
7. Boston Symphony Hall
|Architect:||McKim, Mead, and White|
|Location:||301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston|
Accommodating the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Hall was built in 1900. The hall’s acoustic design is one of the best in the world.
Besides the host symphony orchestra, audiences can visit here for different music groups, orchestras and celebrated musicians.
The Boston Symphony Hall is a magnificent building with a grand entrance, a beautiful auditorium, and ornate decoration. Whether you’re a music lover or an architecture enthusiast, you should visit this amazing place at least once.
8. Old North Church
|Location:||193 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113, USA|
A historical building in Boston, Old North Church, built in 1723, is Boston’s oldest church. The building is famous for its crucial role in the American Revolution. Paul Revere learned at the steeple that the British were coming by sea and hung two lanterns to signal this report from the tower.
This Episcopalian Church features a beautiful example of colonial architecture, with a striking white steeple, stained glass windows and some classical architectural elements. It also has a big clock on the tower, which is the oldest public clock in Boston.
Today, it is open to the public and it is an active parish. The church is also a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the most important historical sites in the USA.
9. MIT Stata Center
|Location:||32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, 02142, USA|
Ray and Maria Stata Center, alias MIT Stata Center, is one of the most interesting structures in the world. Designed by the world-famous architect Frank Gehry in 2000, it is a masterpiece of Deconstructivism in Architecture.
The buildings have various curvilinear facades, each with different scales and designs, that make the project different and worth seeing.
This 720,000-square-foot academic complex accommodates a research center and the faculty of computer, information and intelligence services of MIT.
10. Fenway Park
|Architect:||James E. McLaughlin|
|Location:||4 Yawkey Way Ext, Boston, MA 02215, USA|
Built in 1912, Fenway Park is home to the Boston Red Sox, one of the most known baseball teams in the world. Fenway is the oldest baseball stadium in the US.
Fires in 1926 and 1934 damaged the stadium critically. This required a comprehensive renovation in 1934, which included the “Green Monster” left-field wall and other additions such as the manual scoreboard.
While the “Green Monster” wall was built to prevent people outside the stadium from watching games for free, today some visitors come here particularly to see this famous wall.
Currently, Fenway Park is an active baseball stadium and visitors can book guided tours to see the clubhouse and the stadium itself.
11. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
|Architect:||Willard T. Sears|
|Location:||25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115, USA|
Dedicated to the art and personal collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was completed in 1901. Opened to the public in 1903, it has an extensive collection of over 2,500 artworks, books and sculptures.
It showcases art pieces from some famous artists including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli.
This adorable 15th-century Venetian-style palazzo features a mesmerizing courtyard, a grand entrance and artifacts from all around the world.
Once upon a time, it was Gardner’s private home. Today, the famous Boston landmark Gardner Museum offers visitors an unforgettable cultural journey through a three-story heaven.
12. Boston Opera House
|Architect:||Thomas W. Lamb|
|Location:||539 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111, USA|
Boston Opera House building is one of the most exclusive places in Boston downtown. Designed as a movie palace, it first served as a theatre, then was converted to an opera house. Built in 1928, it’s an excellent example of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture.
It has a magnificent auditorium and a glorious lobby. The flashy decorations ornate every piece of the interior, golden leaf ornaments, Carrera marble, tapestries, and more.
In the 21st century, it has undergone a comprehensive restoration in order to prevent the building from being fated. Today, it is home to the Boston Ballet and different performance arts shows.
Visiting here, you’ll not only enjoy performance arts and music but also love the architecture in Boston.
13. The King’s Chapel
|Location:||58 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108, USA|
This special Anglican church, known as King’s Chapel, was built in 1754. Actually, there was a wooden church built in 1688 here. However, it was removed after a bigger stone church version of the structure in 1754.
It is said that the old wooden structure remained until the outer stone construction was completed. Then, the old wooden church was demolished and ruins moved out through windows.
The Georgian-style chapel building features an Ionic colonnade outside and has a small tower. This small church has Corinthian column pairs inside.
14. Christian Science Church
|Architect:||Franklin I. Welch, Charles Brigham, S.S. Beman|
|Location:||250 Mass Ave., Boston|
Christian Science Church in Boston is also known as the Mother Church of Christian Science. It was built in 1906 and seems like a Renaissance castle.
While the original church had a more traditional design, it has transformed into the current architecture after gaining different extensions. All these traditional and modern extensions create harmony together with the contributions of beautiful landscapes.
A tour of the famous Boston buildings can not be completed without visiting this religious architectural marvel.
15. South Station
|Architect:||Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge|
|Location:||700 Atlantic Ave #2, Boston, MA 02110, USA|
South Station, alias The Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center, is the center point in New England for train transportation. Designed by the renowned architecture firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in 1899, it features a Neoclassical architecture.
It is the largest railroad station and bus terminal in New England. It has undergone an extensive renovation that was completed in 1989. In 1995, an inter-city bus terminal opened here as well.
The Classical Revival architecture has turned the building into an open museum. Its Ionic columns, friezes and triangular pediment attract the attention in the front center. Additionally, there is a big public clock on the top of the entrance facade.
The oval-shaped mass makes itself the most outstanding building on this avenue and it also creates a striking entrance that winks the three main directions; Atlantic Avenue, Summer Street, and Dewey Square.
16. John F. Kennedy Library & Museum
|Location:||Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125, USA|
Opened in 1979, the building was designed by the world-famous architect I. M. Pei. The library and museum building has a comprehensive repository about John F. Kennedy and his family.
Located by the Atlantic Ocean, the structure has simple and pure geometric forms just like other I. M. Pei buildings. The biggest mass in the project is a 125-foot (38.1 m) high concrete triangular tower, which is the main part.
A rectangular prism made of glass and steel accompanies the main part. The monumental architecture also includes a two-story cylindrical mass that houses two theatres.
17. Quincy Market
|Location:||4 S Market St., Boston|
Featuring Greek Revival architecture designed by Alexander Parris, Quincy Market is a historical building in Boston. Built in 1824-1826, it is an expansion of the Faneuil Marketplace.
Many special events are held here, and it also houses various shops, restaurants and a food court. Besides its functions, the building is a tourist attraction in Boston thanks to its catchy Greek Revival architecture, with spectacular Doric columns and triangular pediment.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966, the market is two stories tall and 535 feet (163 m) long, with a domed building in the center.
18. Old South Meeting House
|Location:||310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108, USA|
One of the oldest buildings in Boston, Old South Meeting House was built in 1729. While it has been surrounded by high-rise structures and skyscrapers, it still stands out with its red brick exterior and attractive tower.
According to American historians, about five thousand colonists met here to plan the Boston Tea Party. This was a place where people could talk about important and crucial issues about America.
Designed in the Georgian style, it is the oldest surviving Congregationalist church in Boston. While it was originally functioned as a church, it has been turned into a museum in 1877.
19. Faneuil Hall
|Location:||4 S Market St, Boston, MA 02109, USA|
Boston’s renowned shopping mall Faneuil Hall houses various restaurants, stores and food vendors. Built in 1742 by the commission of the businessman Peter Faneuil, this historical building is an important place in American history as it hosted many important speeches and meetings during the American Revolution.
The original building was destroyed by a fire in 1761, and it was rebuilt by the local people in 1762. Famous American architect Charles Bullfinch greatly expanded the structure in 1806.
After additions and enlargements, the Faneuil Marketplace consists of 4 buildings, which are Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market.
It was the number 4 in America’s most visited tourist attractions in 2008, according to Forbes Traveler. Today, the Faneuil Hall, or “Cradle of Liberty”, is one of Boston’s cultural icons and a center of attention.
20. MIT Kresge Auditorium
|Location:||W16, 48 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 02139, USA|
Designed by famous Finnish-born American architect Eero Saarinen and constructed in 1955, this modern oval building is an auditorium at MIT. The building includes a theater, concert hall and related rooms for performance artists.
Its 1/8 sphere-shaped mass makes this building’s architecture prominent and catchy. This form also provides a solid acoustic performance. The concrete shell with copper cladding encloses a triangular area.
MIT houses many famous buildings in Boston and Kresge Auditorium is one of them. If you have a chance to visit MIT in Cambridge, don’t forget to see this iconic structure.
In conclusion, Boston in Massachusetts, USA is a city rich in history, culture and architecture, and has plentiful famous buildings that are worth seeing. From Trinity Church to Boston City Hall, there are both historical and modern buildings here.
Whether you’re a local resident or a curious tourist, Boston offers a wealth of opportunities to explore and discover its rich history and culture. To help you in this adventure, we’ve created a list of the most famous buildings in Boston, touching the history and architecture of each briefly.
Each building has its own unique story, architectural style and importance in American history. All of them have played an important role in shaping the city we know today.
We hope that this article has provided you with the best information and useful guide about renowned buildings in Boston. Next time you’re in Boston, be sure to grab a tour through the city to discover all these buildings that make here such a unique and special city.
Read Also: 20 Most Famous Buildings in Philadelphia
A: Boston boasts several iconic buildings, including the Massachusetts State House, Fenway Park, Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower, which are must-see attractions.
A: Dorchester’s James Blake House, built in 1661, is the oldest surviving building in Boston.
A: The biggest railway transportation center in Boston is South Station, built in 1899.
A: The oldest church in Boston that is still open to worship is the Old North Church, built in 1723.
A: With a height of 790 feet (240.8 m), the tallest structure in Boston is 200 Clarendon Street, formerly John Hancock Tower.