Kenmore Square’s Hotel Buckminster was just inducted by the Boston Landmarks Commission as an official city landmark! The news comes after years of debate on whether or not the hotel was qualified for the title.
Bostonians passionately voiced their support in favor of the induction. The hotel, built in 1897, earned the distinction on May 1, 2023.
History of the Hotel Buckminster
Inside the iconic rounded brick corner of the Hotel Buckminster was a space boasting 116 rooms intended for wealthy families looking for a residential hotel. The hotel also adapted to cater to commercial and transient clientele from its early days due to the nature of its location.
Establishing New England’s radio scene
Reincarnated radio station, WNAC, operated its studios in the hotel for over 30 years. The hotel became a significant player in Boston’s broadcasting mediums-establishing the Yankee Network which broadcasted to all of New England from the hotel. In 1953 a television station also operated out of the hotel.
U.S. Army base
During World War II, Hotel Buckminster the U.S. Army operated and occupied the building. It was used for the First Service Command of all six New England states.
Below the hotel resided Storyville from 1951-1953, a prominent jazz club operated by George Wein of Newport, Rhode Island who was a jazz festival trailblazer and founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. Many celebrated artists such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald visited the property over the two years.
Dormitory for Cambridge School of Business
From 1966-1977 the hotel operated as a dorm for the Cambridge School of Business, later renamed Grahm Junior College. At the turn of the 21st century, the Buckminster resumed operations as a hotel until COVID struck. The hotel remained vacant and permanently closed in 2020.
Famous Black Sox Scandal
The 1919 Black Sox Scandal hatched at the hotel. Eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of agreeing to an $80,000 bribe (the equivalent of 1,423,301 in 2023) to purposely lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. One of the eight White Sox players supposedly had the secret meeting at the hotel in September 1919 to lose 3 games of 5 in exchange for a payout.
The eight players became known as the “Black Sox,” due to the controversy of the scandal.
Becoming an official Boston landmark
After the pandemic left the Hotel Buckminster vacant in 2020, the building was at risk for demolition and redevelopment. Bostonians voiced their disappointment and took action to preserve the historic building that many use as a North Star when in the Kenmore area.
The first step to landmark is drafting a petition from 10 registered Boston voters and acquiring signatures. The process took nearly two years, and plenty of back and forth between Bostonians and developers.
Now that it is an official landmark, it doesn’t mean the gutted hotel will just occupy square footage idly. This just constricts developers and requires certain acts of preservation to keep the story of the Hotel Buckminster alive while encouraging adaptive use of the space.
Other Boston landmarks
The Hotel Buckminster joins a series of iconic Boston landmarks like the Union Oyster House, Faneuil Hall, and the Public Library.
Make sure to pay the historic Hotel Buckminster a visit and snap a photo with the iconic rounded exterior!