AMC in City Square: New Home, Lots of History

August 27, 2018

 

When moving its headquarters one year ago, AMC simply followed the red brick: Both the organization’s longtime home on Joy Street, in Beacon Hill, and its new headquarters, a six-story building at 10 City Square in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, are located on the city’s historic Freedom Trail. While AMC staff sits on 2.5 floors of freshly renovated City Square office space, the building itself is nearly as old as its new occupant. The history of the surrounding blocks stretches back to the birth of Boston.

AMC’s new HQ faces a modest green space, City Square Park, whose size belies its significance. Great House, built on this spot in 1629, was home to John Winthrop, one of the first governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The site later hosted Three Cranes Tavern, which operated until June 1775, when the British leveled the neighborhood in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Two months earlier, Paul Revere had stopped here to pick up a horse for his famed midnight ride.

City Square had already seen a lot of activity when, in 1892, a businessman named Michael Roughan hired the architect Arthur Vinal to draft plans for the site. Vinal had recently designed a firehouse on Boylston Street and the High Service Building at Chestnut Hill Reservoir, both still in use today, and he applied his Romanesque and Renaissance Revival styles to Roughan Hall.

The four-story building initially housed social and fraternal organizations on its upper floors, with a real estate agent and a hatter on the first floor. The high-ceilinged fourth floor (long-since divided into three floors of office space) was used for lectures, meetings of the longshoremen’s union, dances, films, and roller skating. The basement featured bowling lanes and billiard tables, with street-level occupants ranging from liquor, shoe, and uniform shops to, most recently, a dry cleaner and a restaurant.

Roughan Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, around the time Boston was preparing for its Big Dig, or the decades-long effort to bury a section of Interstate 93 beneath downtown. A related archaeological dig in City Square revealed remnants of Great House and Three Cranes Tavern, some of which serve as a historic centerpiece to City Square Park.


Duplicates of images from AMC’s own Library & Archives can be ordered for a fee. Funds support efforts to preserve the club’s historical collections. Call 617-391-6629 or e-mail amcarchives@outdoors.org for details.


 

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, writes the trail-running blog Running Wild.