Inside the Architecture: Fresh Pond Hotel


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Fresh Pond Hotel, now located on Lakeview Avenue, was once the bustling social center in the area around Fresh Pond now known as Kingsley Park.

The founder of Fresh Pond Hotel, Jacob Wyeth, bought eight acres of land in 1796 along Fresh Pond from his father Ebenezer Wyeth, a brick maker. Jacob Wyeth was a Harvard graduate in 1792 who decided to use the land to open his own hotel.

The piece of land was located on a bluff that overlooked the water.  Since 1793, wealthy people from Boston bought much of this attractive land to build homes on because Boston and Cambridge were now easily connected via West Boston Bridge and Concord Turnpike.

Jacob Wyeth hired architects John Walton and Joseph Moore. These two men built the federal-style hotel as a three-story wood frame. Walton and Moore took out a mortgage on the property to finance the project.

A year later in 1797, the hotel was officially opened to welcome guests. The business investment turned out to be a success. Within 18 months, Jacob Wyeth was able to repay Walton and Moore.

Two major contributing factors to the hotel’s success were the building of Mount Auburn Cemetery and Watertown Branch Railroad (which brought people directly to Fresh Pond). Fresh Pond Hotel gave people a place to escape the city heat in the summer and offered fishing, fowling, sailing, rowing, bowling, fine dining with wines and other alcohols, and an orchestra for dancing.

After Jacob Wyeth retired, the hotel was owned for a short while by his son Nathaniel Wyeth, and then owned by his nephew Jonas Wyeth. Jonas Wyeth remodeled the hotel in 1838 into a Greek revival with trim and gables. This renovation modernized Fresh Pond Hotel to its time.

Jonas Wyeth continued the success of Fresh Pond Hotel, which now had a reputation of being a place for Boston social events. Upon Jonas Wyeth’s retirement, Lyman Willard took ownership and continued the success through the 1840s until he would build his own hotel on Brattle Street.

The hotel continued with the same reputation for a perfect resort getaway with many different owners until it was closed down in 1886 due to Temperance Laws. These laws precursed prohibition, but were intended to limit alcohol consumption.

Due to the Temperance Laws, the hotel became a nunnery known as the Sisters of Saint Joseph Convent.

In 1893, the building was moved to its current location at 234 Lakeview Avenue in order to preserve the land and water on Fresh Pond. Since this move, the once hotel is now apartments. The exterior was replaced with stucco, but the interior remained relatively the same.