Fields Corner
Part of: Dorchester
Contains: Melville Park
Massachusetts > Greater Boston > City of Boston > Dorchester > Fields Corner

Fields Corner was established in the 1700s, but most of the neighborhood's surviving architecture dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is a lively and diverse neighborhood, and in 2014, Fields Corner was recognized as one of the "10 Great Neighborhoods in America" by the American Planning Association – the only neighborhood within New England to be named to the list. The neighborhood's revival is in large part to the entrepreneurship of the Vietnamese expat community, and Fields Corner has the fifth-largest Vietnamese population in the United States.

One of several commercial centers within Dorchester. Fields Corner, along with Upham's Corner and Codman Square, is one of several lively commercial centers within Dorchester. The neighborhood is particularly known for its diverse, international restaurant,s including Caribbean, Irish, Latin, and Vietnamese. Indeed, the Blarney Stone pub (1505 Dorchester Ave.) is said to be where the first draft Guinness was served in the United States.

While Dorchester's history as a colonial town extends to the 1630s, Fields Corner was one of the later neighborhoods to develop. It was long part of the Great Lots, the large areas of southern Dorchester used as farmland. Later, it was the site of Intervale, the estate of heirs of the Walter Baker Chocolate family. Until 1850, the area was still open countryside and farmland, with no cross streets off of Washington Street or Dorchester Avenue.

Best blocks and notable buildings

One Fields Corner (1448 Dorchester Ave.) is the most visible and iconic building of the overall Fields Corner neighborhood. Built in 1906, the ornamented building with the copper bays. The architect, T. Edward Sheehan, also designed the triple-decker houses at 2 and 8 Montello Road .

1484 Dorchester Ave. is a rare surviving building from the residential period of the neighborhood. Built in the 1890s, this wood-shingle three-story building with the double bowed oriels stands apart from the larger, sleeker buildings erected in the 1920s.

Melville Park is an enclave of 26 stately Queen Anne houses around the one-acre Wellesley Park, one of three remaining gaslamp parks in Boston. The houses were developed between the 1870s and 1880s, many by the prominent architect Arthur H. Vinal, who also lived here at 35 Melville Avenue in a house of his own design. Vinal also designed a number of residences in Back Bay and South End. Melville Park is named for the streets that mark the northern and southern edges of the neighborhood.

2 Melville Ave. was built c.1885-93 for Louisa M. Smith who lived here during the 1880s-early 1900s.

3 Melville Ave. was built in 1881, designed by architect Edgar Allen Poe Newcomb (1846-1923), perhaps best known for his enormous, three-turreted Second Empire Lowell Rail Road Station (1871-79) which was demolished
in 1927 to accommodate the Boston Garden.

4 Melville Ave. was built ca. 1875-83 for M. L. Merrihew, treasurer of an unspecified company located at 43 Milk Street.

6 Melville Ave. was built in 1879 from designs provided by E. A. Poe Newcomb, architect of 3 Melville Avenue.

10 Melville Ave. was built in 1880 by architect George Meacham (1831-1917), designer of Boston's Public Garden in 1860. It was originally owned by John W. Field of J.W. Field & Company, leather, 105 Smith Street, Boston.

12 Melville Ave. was built in 1883-84 and designed by Arthur H. Vinal.

29 Melville Ave. is a Shingle Style house designed by Arthur H. Vinal in 1884.

33 Melville Ave. is designed by L. Underwood in 1886. This Queen Anne house is characterized by an asymmetrical form and a pleasing blend of materials including granite block basement, brick chimney with ornamental niche (Allston Street facade), clapboard clad first floor and wood shingles on the upper floors.

35 Melville Ave. was designed by Arthur H. Vinal as his own residence in 1882. The Dorchester Athenaeum describes it as "A robust synthesis of styles, the house owes its informal symmetry and love of detail to the Queen Anne movement, while its rock-faced masonry porch, stunted columns, and broadly arched windows speak of the Romanesque Revival style. Notice, too, the terra-cotta ridge tiles that crown the slate roof. " The Boston Landmarks Commission described it in 1995 as "arguably one of the finest upper middle class streetcar-suburb residences built in any Boston-area suburb."

37 Melville Ave. was designed by Arthur H. Vinal.

39 Melville Ave. was designed by Arthur . Vinal.

98 Melville Ave. was built by the Walter Baker Trust in 1894.

Commercial and retail

The commercial heart of the neighborhood is the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street, and the Fields Corner Main Street promotes activities to support the neighborhood.


The neighborhood is served by the Fields Corner stop on the Red Line, as well as the Shawmut stop, just south of the neighborhood (and particularly convenient for residents of Melville Park).


Fields Corner is in the center of Dorchester, with Clam Point/Harrison Square to the east, Meeting House Hill to the north, and St. Marks Parish to the south.

The neighborhood is loosely bounded by Bowdoin, Washington, Ashmont, and Clayton streets.

Fields Corner named for Isaac and Enos Field, who were prominent businessmen in the area.

Zechariah Field (1600-DATE), who arrived in Boston in 1629 (as part of the XX expedition). The Field family was prominent in commerce in the area, owning two general stores and six houses in the area. The Isaac Newsome Field House, built in 1795, [still stands??] at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street.

The neighborhood could have just as easily been named Robinson's Corner, in honor of John H. Robinson (1809-1883), whose family owned much of Adams Street in the 1700s, and who is credited with much of the development of Field's Corner and of Clam Point/Harrison Square once the railroad made the area attractive for development rather than farming.

It was during the 1920s, however, that Field's Corner came into its own as a center of modern one- and two-story commercial blocks. Several of these cast stone and tapestry brick flat-roofed structures bear date plaques attesting to their construction during the prosperous 1920s. Built in 1920, 1485-1489 Dorchester Avenue features cast a
stone facade and well-preserved parapet detailing. It replaced a cross-shaped house that had been owned by Jacob Foster and his heirs during the late 19th century. By 1933 this 4-store structure housed the Boston School of Music, Hyman Becovsky Hardware and Samuel M. Maninn 's Jewelry Store. The 5-story, cast-stone-fronted commercial building at 1443A Dorchester Avenue bears a date plaque of 1921. Its owner, Myer Dana hired architect Henry F. Bryant of 334 Washington Street, Brookline, to build this structure. In 1923, what had been the estate of Benjamin Clapp in the late 19th century, succumbed to commercialization in the form of a one- story 6-store brick and cast stone faced building. Gabriel Backer of Haymarket Square, Boston commissioned the architect Arthur O. Bottomley to design this structure. Tenants of this block in 1933 included Staty Hadjiannis, baker, Charles M. Hatch, barber, a Chinese laundry, Frank Panico's shoe repair, Morrs Berkovitz, tailor, Balkin's Variety, a real estate association, and Rodman's meat market. The point of listing all these small businesses is to underline the fact that this was a vital, self sufficient commercial center during the first decades of this century with little need for residents to look to downtown Boston or elsewhere for essential services. The Howard Building at 1490-92 Dorchester Avenue is a brick structure with exceptional cast stone facing exhibiting stylized Art Deco motifs. It was built in 1928 for David Rubin by Eisenberg and Feer, a Comhill, Boston-based firm that was quite prolific in the Dorchester building trades during the first quarter of the 20th century. In 1933, the Howard Building contained an S.S. Kresge Department Store.

Several buildings in this area underline the fact that residential construction around this area was such to warrant a new school (Grover Cleveland School at 11 Charles Street, built in 1925 by O'Connell Shaw. The former Dorchester Theatre complex at 1526-30 Dorchester A venue also speaks to the rapid build up of the area by the time of World War I.

Another influential resident of Field's Corner during the mid-late 19th century was William Taylor Adams a.k.a. ?Oliver Optic," writer of children's stories such as the "the Boat Club Series", "Young Americans Abroad" and The Boat Builder Series". William Taylor Adam's house was an elaborate towered Italianate mansion which stood where the ramps to the Field's Corner T Station are located today (1479 Dorchester Avenue).

Few wood frame residential structures survived the late 19th century commercialization story of Field's Corner. This area includes 3, 5 Charles Street, a late 19th century, Italianate wood frame 6-bay, two pile house which is rectangular in form style and provides a glimpse of what the housing stock along Dorchester A venue must have been like before the onslaught of one and two story commercial blocks built for the street car service and automobile trade in the 1910s and 20s. One of the oldest structures in this area is the former Police Station #1 Building at 1 Arcadia Street. Built ca.1875, this building may represent the work of City architect George Clough. Its High Victorian Gothic surface treatments and steeply pitched gables are reminiscent of the Seaverns Street Police Station of similar vintage in Jamaica Plain and is representative of the City of Boston providing municipal buildings for its newly acquired neighborhoods. In 1874, 20 structures and numerous vacant lots lined Dorchester Avenue from Field's Corner, southward to Park Street. Leavitts, Clapps, Keens, Leonards, Jenkins, Fosters, Whiton's and Harris' lived ong this stretch of Dorchester Avenue. A black smith shop was located a few feet from the west side of Park Street, Metropolitan Railroad Horse car depot stood south of Foster Street and otherwise this area was overwhelmingly residential. 1428 Dorchester Avenue is a Greek Revival cottage which predates 1850 and has survived, albeit adapted for reuse as a commercial property. It may well be the oldest structure in this area. Further study is needed to determine if earlier houses have been absorbed or are encased in early 20th century commercial blocks as is the case at the former Dorchester Theatre and apartments at 1526-1530 Dorchester Avenue where the gable roof of an Italianate house is clearly visible on the Park Street side of the Theatre/commercial/residential building.