Russia Wharf Buildings

The Russia Wharf Buildings, including a view from the Fort Point Channel of the Graphic Art Building
Photos courtesy of the Boston Harbor Association
The Russia Wharf Buildings form a commercial block on the edge of downtown Boston. The site was used as a wharf from the early 18th century until the end of the 19th century, although greatly reduced in size and significance by this time. Russia Wharf was first notable as the vicinity of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. It probably received its name after becoming the headquarters for the prosperous trade with Russia as early as 1784. In 1872, the Great Boston Fire swept through downtown and the wharf area completely destroying the structures on Russia Wharf. Reconstruction was accomplished by 1876, which included the area from Congress Street over Russia Wharf and across a new bridge that connected downtown with areas in South Boston.

Russia Wharf Building at 518-540 Atlantic Avenue, designed by Peabody and Stearns
Photo courtesy of the Boston Harbor Association

The City of Boston granted building permits for the three extant buildings on Russia Wharf in 1897, and construction was completed the following year. The Russia Wharf Buildings were initially constructed for commercial use on the first two floors and light industrial use above. Each brick building was seven stories high and designed in Classical Revival style. All were occupied by notable printing and publishing businesses early on. Although built by at least two different firms, the buildings exhibit strong repetition of scale, materials, trim and corner-entrance motifs, and are significant as an intact trio of turn-of-the-century commercial/industrial buildings in an otherwise altered waterfront area. The Boston architectural firms of Rand and Taylor, and Kendall and Stevens, designed the Russia Wharf building located at 270 Congress Street, which is also known as the Graphic Art Building. Peabody and Stearns, Boston's most skilled and prominent architecture firm of the period, designed the Russia Wharf building located at 518-540 Atlantic Avenue.

The Russia Wharf Buildings are located on the eastern side of the Boston peninsula, occupying the northern side of Congress St. between Atlantic Ave. and the Fort Point Channel. Owned by the Russia Wharf Company, they now serve as office buildings.

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