The Pierce Building is an anchor of Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner, which was first settled in 1630 and annexed to the City of Boston in 1870. The Pierce Building sits across from the North Burying Ground, which gave this neighborhood the name “Cemetery Corner.” The site of the Pierce Building was once owned by Samuel Bowen Pierce, who was born in 1806 in Vermont and sold crockery and varied goods throughout New England. After his death in 1895, Pierce’s son J. Homer demolished the homestead and built the current structure, naming it the S.B. Pierce Building after his father. Homer became a large land developer in Dorchester. After WWII, the neighborhood saw a slow decline and over time the building suffered from deferred maintenance.
In the early 1980s, after the building was foreclosed, the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation took control of the property and did a modest rehabilitation for retail, artists’ lofts, and office space. But more investment was needed, especially after a small piece of marble fell from the façade onto the sidewalk below. Starting in 2020 with extensive work on the façade, the team began interior restoration the following summer and completed the project in the fall of 2022. The extensive project included new mechanical systems, lighting, and interior finishes, ADA upgrades, brick repointing, envelope sealing, restoration of historic architectural elements, new windows, and new restrooms and kitchen facilities for tenants. The second floor is now an incubator space for creative businesses and local entrepreneurs. The first floor’s new tenant is JP Morgan Chase’s Community Center branch which will help expand access to banking and boost financial health and inclusion among Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities. These kinds of bank branches offer access to affordable home loans, low-cost checking accounts, and financial health education workshops. The upper floors will remain the home of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, a team that acts to build strong, thriving, and diverse communities through affordable housing opportunities and economic development.
“Upham’s Corner is experiencing a period of revival, and it’s crucial to the community that its history and character remain accessible in the landscape as new buildings emerge,” says Alison Frazee, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, “Dorchester Bay itself is an anchor of the community, and the Pierce Building’s restoration maintains a tangible connection between people and place in this thriving neighborhood.”
Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation
Bay Contracting, Inc.
Boston Community Preservation Fund
Building Envelope Technologies
Syska Hennessy Group
The Henderson Foundation
The Life Initiative
Wozny Barbar & Associates