With the recent sale of the Eden D. Jordan Jr. Mansion and its proposed redevelopment, some fear that the building’s elegant and historic first-floor music room could be demolished and lost to history.
The five-story multifamily dwelling, located at 46-47 Beacon St., overlooks the Boston Common and was built by Eben Dyer Jordan Sr., co-founder of Jordan Marsh department store, circa 1898. (Upon the elder Jordan’s death in 1895, his son, Eden D. Jordan Jr., described as one of the city’s greatest patrons of the arts during his time, inherited the property.) The Italian Renaissance Revival townhouse was sold to become the headquarters for the Women’s Republic Club in the 1930s and ’40s and then acquired by the Unification Church in the mid-1970s. Mainsail Management recently bought the building from the church for $20.5 million.
The building was designated a local National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It has also been a pending interior landmark Commission since 2000 per the Boston Landmarks Commission, but pending properties, like this one, can’t be given full landmark status until the BLC has been able to access the building and develop a study report. But so far, Mainsail Management hasn’t allowed BLC staff to enter the building.
Meanwhile, Mainsail reportedly plans to redevelop the building into four condo units, with a garage below, leaving the fate of its St. James Ballroom uncertain.
The ballroom boasts 28-foot ceilings, with walnut panels, and was designed specifically for string quartets, said Darr Christensen, who managed the building from 2012 to 2017. A lion’s head is carved into the wood stair column, he said, while the approximately 16-foot wood doors leading into the ballroom are adorned with images of peacocks, dragons, and a phoenix.
The room was even featured during the auction scene in the “Thomas Crowne Affair,” the classic 1968 film starring Steve McQueen that was filmed in and around Boston, added Christensen.
Asked about the potential loss of the building’s interior, Alison Frazee, executive director of the nonprofit Boston Preservation Alliance, wrote in an email: “As an owner of an older home, I understand the desire to make a place your own, but we have been entrusted with a unique responsibility and must consider ourselves stewards of these special spaces. Few interiors still exist with the extraordinary detail and craftsmanship of 46 Beacon. Any owner who sees these spaces as anything less than priceless should not have purchased the property. Destroying irreplaceable historic fabric to flip a building and make a profit is not acceptable.” Mainsail Management couldn’t be reached for comment.