A Brief History of 18 Bartlett Square in Maps


No building is yet present where 18 Bartlett Square currently stands. The curving property line (marked with a red arrow) shows the old path of Stony Brook, which had been channeled straight by this time. The site of our building is roughly where the large A sits to the right of the arrow. Across the tracks you’ll notice Jamaica Plain Station. Today, this is the Green Street T stop.



Real estate developer Patrick Meehan has built a brick building on the adjacent property. (A key is not included with this map, but brick buildings are colored pink and frame buildings yellow.) The angled line at the back of Meehan’s building roughly follows the old path of Stony Brook before it was channeled and buried in a conduit. #18 still has not been built.



Still waiting for the building to be constructed…..



At last! As this map indicates, 18 Bartlett Square was built some time between 1890 and 1896. Here it is shown as a brick building owned by the Old Colony Rail Road, and butted up against Patrick Meehan’s building. In all likelihood, the property’s trustees sold the lot to the railroad company after the original owner (probably the widow Martha Bartlett) died. That means the Old Colony Rail Road probably built the structure that currently stands on that site.



This 1905 map shows that ownership and/or management of 18 Bartlett Square has passed from the Old Colony Rail Road Company back to the property’s trustees (Trs), John Carr and Eugene Foss.



Not much has changed



At this time, the building is still managed by John Carr and the other property trustees. Its use is unspecified. The Sweet Nut Butter Company has moved into the adjacent building, which previously belonged to the Old Colony Railroad Company.



Now our building houses a soap factory. (The label on the building reads: “SOAP FACT’Y”.) Today, the “ghost sign” from this business is still visible on the brick facade facing Amory Street.



The previous edition of this map was papered over to reflect the many changes that occurred in Bartlett Square between 1928 and 1929. Patrick Meehan’s building was demolished, as were a number of other buildings in the block. By this point, our building is one of the few that remains of the original Bartlett Square.



This map from the City of Boston Topographic and Planimetric survey shows both buildings and lots. Our building is numbered 1584.



The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for the Bartlett Square area shows our building labeled as “PAINT CONTR”--a paint contractor probably owned the building or operated out of the space. This map can not be included because it is copyrighted, but it shows Bartlett Square to be nearly empty except for #18. It is available for viewing at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Copley Branch of the Boston Public Library.


Bartlett Square is not much of a square at all. Few of the original 19th century buildings remain. #18 is home to the Bikes Not Bombs retail shop and a few other offices.


Many thanks to...

  • Charlie Rosenberg of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society

  • Mark Bulger, who runs the blog “Remember Jamaica Plain?”

  • Evan Thornberry of the Levanthal Map Center at the Copley Branch of the Boston Public Library

  • & the staff at the Jamaica Plain Branch Library for their generous help finding and interpreting these maps!

written by Helen Kendall, 2012