Did you know there is a 12-sided Jamaican House on the National Register of Historic Places?

The house at 17 Cranston Street is quite unique – so unique that it was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Image by Charlie Rosenberg from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society

The house, built in 1871, is the only dodecagonal (12-sided) house in Boston, according to the Jamaica Plain Historical Society (JPHS).

JPHS describes the residence as having a “flamboyant wood frame”. Additionally, JPHS states:

Carpenter and Italianate Gothic motifs characterize its details, while its format defies classification in terms of traditional construction. Built on a tri-hexagonal plan approaching a “Y”, the axes of the house are oriented north, east-south-east, towards Hyde Square, facing Cranston Street, and west. -south-west, towards the cliff delimiting the rear of the property. Standing two stories above street level, the house is topped with a central hexagonal cupola. The first impression one receives from the structure is that of its eccentric polygonal shapes.

The land the house sits on was purchased by James and Archibald Scott from developer Timothy Bowe in 1871, according to wikipedia. The Scotts lost the property to foreclosure in 1874, but the house was most likely built by the Scotts as Archibald was a carpenter. He specialized in the trade of organ building, and Bowe was a mason, and none of the neighboring houses come close to this one in terms of architectural interest, according to the National Archives. According to a 1908 Boston Daily Globe article about the house, the Scott brothers camped in a tent on the property while the house was being built.

After the Scotts lost the property, there were a number of absentee owners. In the 20th century, the vestibules were added and the house was covered with an asphalt coating, which was placed over the hexagonal tiles, according to the National Archives. Subsequent owners removed the upholstery, exposing the original, which was judged in 1987 to be in good condition.

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