15 Sep 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by nrg51
Patch Instagram photo by nrg51

The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.)

The property's most famous occupant was Amaziah N. Swallow, who owned Charlestown’s Big Store at City Square.

The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.) The Swallow Mansion (33 Cordis St.)

For a quick history on this property, read just the facts.

According to Timothy Sawyer’s "Old Charlestown," Cordis Street was set out as early as 1799 "over the pasture of Captain Joseph Cordis." He was a ship-master and merchant who became a large real estate holder in the 1780s, during post-Revolutionary War reconstruction.

A few homes on Cordis Street were built in the early 1800s. The mansion at 33 Cordis St. was part of the building boom of the 1840s and 1850s, following an influx of European -- predominately Irish -- immigrants.

The house at 33 Cordis Street, according to the Boston Landmarks Commission, is architecturally significant and a rare Boston example of a Greek Revival temple-form house, with monumental fluted Ionic columns at the front of the house. The elegant, tall windows grace the first and the second floors.

The house was built by William H. Bacon, who lived on High Street. Bacon was active in Charlestown’s building trades and bought the lot for $1,200 from Eben Plummer and Ezra Fogg of Boston. He completed the house in 1845 and apparenty never lived there.

Robert Edes was the mansion’s second owner, but the house’s most famous occupant was Amaziah N. Swallow, who owned Charlestown’s Big Store at City Square. The Big Store was the largest retail grocery store in Charlestown and one of the largest in Boston.

Swallow bought 33 Cordis St. from Edes in 1862 for $2,462. The “Swallow Mansion” was then passed on to A.N. Swallow’s son, George N. Swallow, a politician and grocer who became a state legislator, "in spite of being a Republican in a Democratic district." The Swallows owned the house until 1901.

Eileen Buckley bought the house in 1911 and a series of owners followed.

The house is a Greek Revival wood frame house, built on the southwest slope of Breed’s Hill, with four Ionic columns in front. It has a pedimented (triangular) gable roof, a full basement and a low attic. The house now has a Palladian-type (three-part) attic window. The front yard was enclosed by a granite block retainer wall.

The house is currently occupied and privately owned.

Information for this article was compiled from several sources, including the Boston Landmarks Commission, vis a vis Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory; A Century of Town Life: a History of Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1775-1787 by James Frothingam Hunnewell; web-sites http://www.homes.com/Home-Prices/ID-500015995824/33-CORDIS-ST/ and  http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/lilley-eaton/genealogical-history-of-the-town-of-reading-mass-ala/page-35-genealogical-history-of-the-town-of-reading-mass-ala.shtml. Thanks to Susan Voloshin at the Charlestown Library for helping to locate some research materials.

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