History

Chickering & Sons Piano Forte Manufactory

Almost two centuries ago, the South End became the center of Boston’s thriving piano industry when the Jonas Chickering Pianoforte facility was constructed and opened in 1854 at 791 Tremont Street.

The revolutionary new, steam-powered plant was capable of producing 60 Chickering-designed pianos a week. When it was completed in 1854, the Chickering factory was considered to be the second largest building in the United States after the U. S. Capitol and the most perfect and extensive pianoforte establishment in the world.

In 1972, the Piano factory was transformed through the enterprising vision of a couple of young Boston architects. They chose to preserve the integrity of the building as a factory and “fit the old and new together in a meaningful way”. Thus was the concept of “adaptive reuse” born – a preservationist philosophy that remains strong today.

Sandblasted interior brick walls and timber columns were married to sheetrock partitions to create unique loft apartments. Large windows were installed to flood the apartments with natural light and outsized entry doors, a loading dock and freight elevator were installed to transport large objects. The four wings of the building encircle a large 1 acre area that was landscaped to provide a private greenspace in a busy city. These improvements are still appreciated by our residents today, almost 50 years later.

Conceived by the architects as housing for artists, the Piano Craft Guild today retains the vibrancy and innovation of its artistic tradition, while offering the services and amenities that today’s market desires.