Ayer Mansion (Interior) Study Report
The Frederick Ayer Mansion is architecturally significant at the local, state, regional, and national levels as the last surviving example of a complete and in situ residential commission by the famed American artist, designer, and craftsman Louis Comfort Tiffany. It is one of only three remaining examples of a Tiffany-designed interior and the only known example of Tiffany’s exterior stone mosaics on a residential building in the United States. Visitors to the Ayer Mansion are surrounded by what Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum, has described as "a visual feast of color, light and texture." The New York architect Alfred J. Manning worked in concert with Tiffany to design the building and its decorative scheme with masterful integration of exterior and interior artwork and architecture. It has further significance at the local level as a unique example of Moorish and Byzantine eclectic architecture in Boston.
The Frederick Ayer Mansion is also historically significant at the local level for its connection with the successful entrepreneur and art collector, Frederick Ayer, and his wife, Ellen Banning Ayer, and as a component of the major residential development of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
The Boston Landmark petition for the Tiffany-designed interior spaces of the Ayer Mansion was initiated by Jeanne Pelletier, who served as Preservation Advisor to the Campaign for the Ayer Mansion, and Scott Steward, an Ayer descendant and President of the Campaign for the Ayer Mansion, which since 1998 has spearheaded efforts to fund and undertake restoration, education, and programing. While the exterior of the mansion is protected by the landmark district guidelines of the Back Bay Architectural District, the interior remains vulnerable to change. Although a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Restriction exists for the property covering both exterior and interior features, Landmark designation would provide additional protection and guidance and would acknowledge the importance of this interior and this singular property’s outstanding historical, architectural, and artistic significance.
(Report amended as of September 30, 2022)
The proposed designation will be discussed and voted upon at a public hearing on October 11, 2022. Please look for the meeting notice in the public notices section of our website.