This post was authored by our Simmons 438 Archives intern, Elise Riley.
At the turn of the 19th century Cambridge’s built environment entered into a period of flux. New buildings and streets were added as the city developed. Neighborhoods expanded as houses were built into the burgeoning urban landscape. Beginning in 1910, the neighborhood of Shady Hill saw the addition of several streets including Irving Street, Bryant Street, and Francis Avenue.
The Charles N. Cogswell Collection (P014) consists of a scrapbook and loose photographs that depict these changes to the built environment in Cambridge, as well as daily life, in the late 19th century. Charles N. Cogswell, a Cambridge resident and Boston architect, lived at 61 Kirkland Street from 1882 until his death in 1941, aged 76.
Cogswell attended Harvard University and went on to study architecture at M.I.T. and at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, Paris. While the bulk of his professional work took place in Boston, Cogswell dedicated his free time to capturing the changing architectural landscape of his Cambridge neighborhood.Shady Hill is located east of Harvard Yard, right next to what is now the Harvard Divinity School. The Cogswell Collection is unique because it captures the in-between moments of growth in Cambridge and shows what the city looked like as construction was happening.
Cogswell’s neighborhood was also home to several notable Cambridge residents. While Cogswell lived on Kirkland Street, around the block on Irving Street lived Harvard professors William James and Josiah Royce.
E.E. Cummings and Julia Child would later live on this same block of Irving Street, the Childs in Royce’s former home at 103 Irving Street (above).
In his scrapbook, Cogswell also included snapshots of daily life and events in and around Cambridge.
The finding aid will soon be available on our website. To view photographs from the collection, check out our Flickr page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an in-person research appointment. The Cambridge Historical Commission also holds files on 61 Kirkland Street and the other addresses mentioned in this scrapbook.