Isabella Stewart Gardner Carriage House
The Ingersoll-Gardner Carriage House was originally
built by Captain Nathaniel Ingersoll in 1806. Ownership passed to John
Gardner and then to Jack and Isabella Stewart Gardner in the 1840's as
part of the family estate, Green Hill, in Brookline. The building contains
a large front portion as a clean enclosed coach room, and a barn area
at the rear for animals and "dirty" tasks, with hay storage and a dovecote.
The entire northeast quadrant of the interior, the barn area, is open
to the roof. The structure of the carriage house has stayed much the same.
The exterior walls were originally horizontal clapboards later covered
by hand-driven pine shingles about 15 inches long. The original trim was
painted a cream color. Lean-to structures have been added, rebuilt, and
modified, most recently in 1933. (Click thumbnail image to enlarge)
The property on which the carriage house was originally built was developed
into several house lots and the carriage house was to be destroyed. Neither
the Brookline Preservation Commission nor the Transportation Museum could
raise funds rapidly enough to move it by mid-February 1999 according to
the new owners' wishes. The Shirley House Association accepted the
structure as a gift at the end of December 1998 and began the process to
move it immediately.
January and February 1999, the carriage house was dismantled by Preservation
Timber Framing, a company with experience in moving historic structures.
It was carefully studied as it was taken apart and documented by photographs
and video. Horse stalls and cow stanchions were found and preserved for
re-installation. (Click thumbnail to see images of
the carriage house being disassembled)
All parts of the structure were removed to a Roxbury warehouse, owned
by YouthBuild Boston, for temporary storage. It was found that repairs
to the frame and joists would require more work than originally estimated,
increasing the costs of reconstruction by $60,000. Some timbers were in
unusable condition and had to be replaced. The more than 180 essential
repairs had to be undertaken with historically accurate methods and certified
for strength and safety before a building permit was issued by the City
of Boston for reconstruction.
(Click here to see images of the carriage house being reassembled)
The entire building was stored during the winter months in two large containers.
Additional costs were incurred as the new foundation based on City of
Boston requirements to excavate to undisturbed soil - Boston "blue clay"
- ended up being 14 feet deep. Erected by Yankee Steeplejack Company during
the winter of 2000-01, the finished structure was dedicated on May 18,
2001 by Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino. Horses with park rangers attended
the ceremonies with about 120 other guests. As the carriage house is large
(35' x 55'), there is room for community meetings, events and functions.
The new lean-to houses a kitchenette and handicapped accessible uni-sex
restroom. Not many carriage houses of this vintage have survived. As we converted to
the automobile for transportation, carriage houses were destroyed, burned
down or were converted to garages. The Gardner carriage house has the
fine Greek revival styling of the Federal period, and closely resembles
the original Shirley carriage house.
The Eustis coach, in its un-restored grandeur, as well as other carriages
are displayed. (Click thumbnail image to enlarge)