Warren Gardens

by Andrew Hatt

Warren Gardens was the largest housing development within the Washington Park Urban Renewal Area. In June of 1965 the BRA announced that 200 units of moderately priced homes would be built on a twelve-acre site. Ultimately, it was constructed in two sections between 1967 and 1969 and stretched from Regent to Dale Street. Hugh Stubbins Associates with Ashley Meyer and Associates were responsible for its construction. Initially, a development of 228 townhouses attached in clusters of four to twelve homes built largely of prefabricated concrete and wood forms was planned, along with a retail block. The Dabney Street cluster of homes was to be built above this site, which had been a community fixture due to the flower garden that occupied the location. On September 30, 1965 Warren Gardens Inc was formed as a cooperative and go onto develop the land sold by the BRA on March 31, 1967. The design of the development was purposefully rambling and complex, as the row houses are reminiscent of London Council house communities. Warren Gardens occupies two self-contained domestic villages with virtually no contact with public streets.

Overall, ninety homes, apartments and other buildings were destroyed to make way for Warren Gardens, including a few well-known structures. The six-story brick “suburban apartment house” that sat solidly for sixty-five years at the corner of Warren, Regent and Saint James Streets was destroyed. This building, The Warren had deep inset entrances with a bust of Joseph Warren affixed above them. The Warren was constructed by Carl Fehmer in 1886, one year after the first apartment house, the Dunbar, was constructed in Roxbury. Another victim was the Masonic Building built next to the Warren in 1902-03 and designed by Edwin H. Olivier. The Joseph Warren Statue that was placed in front of The Warren in 1903, was ultimately removed in 1966 to make room for the reconstruction of Warren Street. That statue, which was designed by Paul H. Barrett, was given to the Roxbury Latin School in 1969. Additionally, many of the wood-frame, 6-family houses with distinctive round arch entrance frames that were indicative of the area succumbed to the wrecking ball. However, despite the loss of some very distinctive types of architecture, the architectural community fell in love Warren Gardens, mainly due to Hugh Stubbins who was nearing the height of his international fame.