Title and Boston skyline graphic
Boston's Notable Addresses by James R. Holland
Boston's Notable Addresses cover image
USA Book News Best Books Award Winner graphic Winner of a"Finalist Award" in the United States History Category of the 2012 USA Best Books Competition
$34.95 US (includes shipping)

Boston is a great city! It was made great by a fortunate combination of location, historic chance, and a steady stream of notable residents who helped influence United States history and culture.

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Edison, John Singleton Copley, Samuel Morse, General Knox, and Charles Bulfinch are only a few of the names that come to mind when one thinks of “the Athens of America.” All these men have something else in common: the Boston houses in which they lived and worked have long been torn down and lost to posterity. And yet so many of the homes of the rich or famous – and infamous – have survived and can still be seen and/or visited.

This 350 page paperback book, which contains more than 200 photos and historic portraits, detailed maps of five suggested neighborhood tours and describes more than a hundred notable Bostonians, is not intended as an architectural guide. It's not the style of the homes that fascinated this author. The mystique of these homes comes not from the way they were built, but from the people who once occupied them. What were those people like? Did living at this particular location influence them and their work? If only the walls could talk, what tales could they tell?

Anyone who has ever stood spellbound in a museum and gazed at the treasures of antiquity has experienced the strange sense of closeness that seems to reach across the centuries and temporarily bridge the gap between the living and artisans of the past. You may feel that closeness to history when touring the ruins of an ancient city or long-forgotten battlefield.

In Boston, the author/photographer connected with the past by standing in front of a historic house and letting his imagination bring into focus the lives of the past residents. The heroes of the past seem more real when you can stand on the same granite doorstep or brick walk that was once trod by Benjamin Franklin or Oliver Wendell Holmes. When you see that the “Warren Tavern” in Charlestown was located within easy walking distance and a short ferry ride from Paul Revere’s North End house, or that astronomer Percy Lowell was a neighbor of historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, then the history of Boston becomes a living, breathing, understandable experience.

In this book the author identifies significant houses and provides a brief biographical history of the residents that made those houses famous. The thread that binds all these famous or infamous people together is the fact their Boston homes still exist. These surviving houses are sometimes interesting from an architectural standpoint and sometimes they aren't. It's the extraordinary people who lived and worked in the structure that make it a notable address. The author has managed to locate many relatively unknown homes of many notable Boston citizens. How many locals know that Correta Scott lived in one of Beacon Hill's fanciest addresses before she met her future husband Martin Luther King, Jr. and that her husband lived in two different apartments in Boston near the Christian Science Center? How many people know where the father of the legendary super sleuth Charlie Chan resided? The astronomer Percival Lowell was a Boston boy who made the Martian Canals famous, but also calculated the location where the planet Pluto, which he called Planet X, would be found. Once discovered in the predicted depths of space, the name Pluto was chosen for the planet because Percy Lowell shares the first two letters of the name.

Did James A. Bailey of the Barnum & Bailey fame own a house in the South End where he held roof top dinner parties featuring live circus animals like lions and elephants? What famous Beacon Hill actor actually saved the son of Abraham Lincoln from being run over by a train a few years before the actor’s brother had less happy dealings with the President inside the Ford's Theatre? What was the name of one of the most famous early pioneers of photography that lived in Boston? Which well-known poet invented the famous hand-held stereoscope, a popular picture viewer that made photographs appear to be 3D when held up to the eyes like opera glasses? Where did Fanny Farmer live, write her cookbooks and conduct her cooking classes? What singing and dancing child star from the Wild West became the richest actress in the world and settled in Boston where she owned a theater connected to her own hotel by a secret passage? Hint, Mitizi Gaynor played her in the motion picture “Golden Girl.” These are only some of the facts and urban myths discussed in this history of famous Bostonians that is also a guidebook.

Come take a tour through history and learn about some famous and infamous Bostonians and where they lived and made history.

An Inexpensive E-book version of this paperback edition is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most of the other Digital Book Sellers.


JR Holland in 1965 at Ohio UAuthor's Profile:

James R. Holland is a Boston Photo-Diarist. A former photographer intern and later contract photographer for National Geographic, Mr. Holland has published photographs and articles in major magazines, textbooks, encyclopedias and video games. His work has been included in many traveling photographic exhibitions. He is also a former film and video producer for the Christian Science Center in Boston. His film work has appeared on most major networks and many cable channels. He is the author-photographer of several books including The Amazon, Mr. Pops (about Arthur Fiedler) and Tanglewood as well as Diamonds Are Waiting For You and a memoir, Adventure Photographer. He is an avid amateur art and photography collector.

All material © James R. Holland, A Bit of Boston Books