Back in the 1930s and 1940s, 534 Beacon Street was the Hotel Fensgate. This post card was created before the dreadful Storrow Drive took away the Fenway and Back Bay connections to the Charles River.
On this 1928 atlas page, the arrow points to the Hotel Fensgate. You can see links to both the Charles River and the Back Bay Fens before Storrow Drive and the Bowker Overpass. (There is a group, Friends of the Charlesgate, working to restore Charlesgate.)
Today, this address is the Charlesview Condominiums. Here's a photo of the building today. It was built in 1923 and E.B. Stratton was the architect. And, here's a map showing the overlay of the highway ramps.
This is an illustration of the same Beacon Street view from the hotel's stationery.
The Fensgate's menu proclaimed it was,"Boston's Famous Steak and Lobster House." (Click on the menu for a larger view.)
Menu items included:
- Large Broiled Live Lobster for $2.75
- Lobster Salad for $2.00
- Famous One Pound Sirloin Steak-Club Style for $2.95
- Planked Steak for two for $6.00
And, while those prices look very inexpensive today, it was known as an expensive place to dine.
And, Jazz Too!
In his book, The Boston Jazz Chronicles, author Richard Vacca wrote,
"The Fensgate already had a club, the Satire Room, once advertised as 'Boston’s most expensive and intimate rendezvous.' Liberace made his Boston debut at the Satire, as did Irwin Corey. George Frazier, in his Herald review of singer Elsie Houston in August 1942, noted the cost of an evening at the Satire Room: 'She is so good that you forget for the moment that the check will be a sum only slightly smaller than the national debt. That’s being pretty good.'"
In his book, Myself Among Others: A Life In Music, jazz impresario George Wein talks about his days at the Hotel Fensgate. He tells of finding this as a spot for his own group for a few weeks and that he eventually took the advice of the attorney for the hotel which was, "You know George, I think you should open your own club." Wein did, and the rest is jazz history.
In Boston, there are stories on every corner. Let us know if you find an interesting tidbit on some Boston corner that we should explore and share!
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2013 Penny & Ed Cherubino
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