Don’t let the profusion of Prada-clad shoppers fool you: there’s much more to elegant Newbury Street than world-class retail, people-watching, and alfresco dining. One of the first streets created on the marshland once known as Back Bay, Newbury has seen myriad tenants and uses over the past 150 years. Look closely and you’ll glimpse a historical side to Newbury Street all but unseen by the fashionistas.


prac_info “T” station: Arlington, Copley, or Hynes/ICA

prac_info Boston Architectural College: 320 Newbury St; 617 585 0100; open 8am–10:30pm Mon–Thu, 8am–8pm Fri–Sun

prac_info Church of the Covenant: 67 Newbury St

prac_info Emmanuel Church: 15 Newbury St

prac_info French Cultural Center: 53 Marlborough St; 617 912 0400; open 9am–9pm Mon–Thu, 9am–5pm Fri; longer hours in summer

prac_info New England Historic Genealogical Society: 101 Newbury St; 617 536 5740; open 9am–5pm Tue–Sat (until 9pm Wed)

prac_info Kingsley Montessori School: 26 Exeter St; not open to the public

prac_info Trinity Church Rectory: 233 Clarendon St; not open to the public

Google Map

  • Buy picnic supplies at Deluca’s Back Bay Market (239 Newbury St).
  • View the schedule for Emmanuel Music at

Shops on Newbury Street

1. Emmanuel Church

Google Map

Architect Alexander Estey’s impressive church (1860) was the first building to grace Newbury after the infilling of Back Bay. The adjacent Lindsey Chapel (1924) is home to the renowned Emmanuel Music ensemble.

2. French Cultural Center

Google Map

Housed in a grand Back Bay mansion, the French Cultural Center hosts everything from lectures in French to concerts and a tasteful Bastille Day celebration. It also runs year-round courses in French for all ages.

3. Church of the Covenant

Google Map

English-born architect Richard Upjohn left his Neo-Gothic mark on Boston with the Church of the Covenant, erected in 1865. It has the world’s largest collection of Tiffany stained glass.


The beautiful interior of Church of the Covenant

4. Kingsley Montessori School

Google Map

Built as a Spiritualist temple in 1884, this building became the dignified Exeter Street Theater in 1914. In 2005, it was converted to a private school.

5. New England Historic Genealogical Society

Google Map

Members seek to discover more about their New England progenitors in one of the most extensive genealogical libraries in the US.

6. 234 Berkeley St

Google Map

Originally a natural history museum opened in 1864, this landmark building is now a high-end home goods store.

7. Commonwealth Avenue

Google Map

A mall running along the center of Commonwealth Avenue provides a leafy respite from the Newbury Street throngs. Benches and historical sculptures, line the pedestrian path (see Commonwealth Avenue).


A historical sculpture on the Commonwealth Avenue

8. Trinity Church Rectory

Google Map

H. H. Richardson, Trinity Church’s principal architect, was commissioned to build this rectory in 1879. His handiwork echoes the Romanesque style of the church itself on Copley Square (see Trinity Church).

9. Gibson House Museum

Google Map

One of Back Bay’s first private homes, Gibson House was also one of the most modern residences of its day. With its gas lighting, indoor plumbing, and heating, it spurred a building boom in the area (see Gibson House Museum).


Possessions on display at the Gibson House Museum

10. Boston Architectural College

Google Map

For more than 125 years, aspiring architects have studied at this college. The McCormick Gallery hosts a number of changing exhibitions.


The facade of Boston Architectural College


Since its settlement by Europeans, Boston has been reshaped to suit the needs of its inhabitants. Back Bay derives its name from the tidal swampland on which the neighborhood now stands. During the 19th century, gravel was used to fill the marsh and create the foundations for the grand avenues and picturesque brown-stone buildings that now distinguish this sought-after area.

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