This article originally appeared in the November 14, 1908 edition of the Jamaica Plain News.
During the past week there has been under process of demolition a Jamaica Plain dwelling which, though devoid of great antiquity or particular historical significance, was of some distinction in the community, and its demolishing is a matter of considerable local interest. This dwelling is what is popularly called, locally, the old Call mansion, situated at 14 Everett street.
The cause of its destruction and final disappearance from the public view is that its present owner contemplates improving the property, possibly by erecting a series of modern apartment houses. This mansion house was built in 1869 by Mr. John M. Call, for many years a prominent resident of Jamaica Plain, and was occupied by him until his death in 1898, since which time it has been empty and the prey of time and decay.
The contractor who erected the mansion was Mr. John J. Shaw, a well-known and quite prominent business man of the section who lived for many years on Washington street near Cornwall, and who, like the owner of the mansion, has been for a number of years deceased.
The contract for building the house was $23,000 and a few years later an addition was built at a cost of $11,000. Soon after its completion Mr. Call was offered $50,000 for the estate. This figure gives an idea of the size and elegance of the mansion, for the times in which it was built. It had 24 rooms and was finished with marble mantles and thresholds and black walnut doors.
It was two stories high with a French roof and the rooms had exceptionally high ceilings. The wall paper and other furnishings were of a richness to match. In the room originally used as a billiard room but later made the dining room, the wall paper was of French origin and of elaborate pictorial design having life size figures, birds of plumage, mountain scenery and forest and garden views.
Mr. Call moved to Jamaica Plain in 1851, occupying a house adjoining the present site of the mansion. When the construction of the latter began, the old home of the family was removed to Gordon street, where it now stands just in the rear of R.S. Harrows’ real estate office. The mansion was completed in 1869, after being about two years under construction and the family moved in on January 1, 1870. Into the great dwelling of 24 rooms went a family of three, Mr. and Mrs. Call and their son, J. M. Call. Jr., then a lad, who for several years has resided in the house on Everett street almost directly opposite the mansion.
For many years the family resided there and then business reverses came to the owner and the fine old estate gradually declined the last few years of its occupancy, it being run as a boarding house. Mr. and Mrs. Call having rooms and taking their meals there. Not long after Mrs. Call’s death, which followed that of her husband, the mansion was abandoned and a few years ago was purchased by Mr. E.N. Foss, who is now tearing it down to utilize its timbers in the erection of another building.
One hears the question frequently asked why such a fine, large old dwelling was ever erected on a site so near the railroad track and it is a matter of wonder until one learns that it was quite a fad to build such mansions and that several were erected in Jamaica Plain about this time, among them being the old Farrington estate and one or two others on Pond street. As to the location it is interesting to know that when the mansion was built there were but six other dwellings in sight of its location. Two of these were the house now occupied by Dr. Arthur N. Broughton on Roanoke avenue and the streets now known as “The Elms,” the location then being one of unusual sight lines and attractive views.