Completed in 1893, the Ames building is considered by many to be Boston’s first skyscraper; though, even at the time of its opening, it was never Boston’s tallest building. That honor belonged to Church of the Covenant. The Ames building also ranks as the second tallest masonry load-bearing wall structure in the world, behind Chicago’s Monadnock Building, and was constructed using sandstone from the Cleveland Quarries Co. that was carted to Boston all the way from Amherst, Ohio. (Sidenote: As a child I swam in the Amherst quarry that produced the sandstone used in the construction of the Ames Building.)
The Ames Building was commissioned, paid for and built to house the headquarters of the Ames Shovel and Tool Co., which was run by the wealthy Oakes Ames. In addition to being an industrialist, Oakes Ames was a Congressman from Massachusetts (and a fairly corrupt one at that) and was largely responsible for overseeing the construction of the Union Pacific railroad. Coincidentally, the town of Ames, Iowa (which is famous for the Republican Straw Poll that took place this past week) is named for Oakes Ames due to his involvement with the railroad.