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.
The Ames building was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1974. In 2009, after an extensive and costly renovation by the Morgans Hotel Group, the Ames building reopened as the Ames Hotel. I had the pleasure of being a guest of the hotel last week and truly enjoyed staying in a building with such a rich history. The concept of the hotel is based on the pairing of old and new, which explains the design and decor of both the rooms and the public spaces – think Windsor chairs meets sleek modern design, and all wrapped in an amazing old 19th century sandstone building.
Above: Breakfast at the Woodward – the bar restaurant at the Ames – is not to be missed.
While up in Boston, we wandered to a few spots on the Freedom Trail and took in the old buildings in the North End. It was decided that The Mariners’ House would make a suitable Boston HQ for ACL, the building is fitting with our Newport branch, which is shaping up nicely.
Directly across from the Ames Hotel is the Old State House, which was built in 1713 and stood as the seat of British rule in the colonies before the revolution.
After all of our historical adventures and picnicking at Walden Pond we ended the day off with some oysters fresh from Duxbury, Mass. and dinner back at the Woodward. The perfect end to a perfect few days in Boston.