A. W. Perry, Inc. with offices in Boston and Hingham, Mass., is a trusted name in commercial and residential development.
Event attendees enjoyed a grand buffet prepared by The Catered Affair of Hingham under the direction of Molly Haverty. Pastry chef Ellen Bartlett of Cakes to Remember created a delicious tribute to The Berkeley in the form of a cake, designed to scale and painstakingly replicated from a photograph of the building.
S. Maxwell Beal, Chairman of the Board Emeritus at A.W. Perry spoke on the history of The Berkeley, “A.W. Perry became involved in the building in the 1940s, after acquiring 50 percent of the stock shares of its then owner, the Berkeley Hotel Trust, and eventually acquiring full ownership in the 1950s. The Berkeley was built in 1906 on the site of the former Berkeley Hotel. Originally designed by MIT architecture professor, Constant Desire Despradelle, the building was meant to house retail stores as evidenced by its many oversized windows, which now transmits ample light into the building’s office space.”
The Berkeley was very popular with those in the “decorative arts” field who were the tenants occupying the building. Clients of The Berkeley’s design tenants delighted in coming to Back Bay to meet with their designer, enjoy lunch and shop at the neighboring boutiques.
In a sense, The Berkeley “launched” the Boston Design Center in South Boston, as design tenants such as Brunschwig & Fils and Stark Carpet relocated during the extensive renovation.
After obtaining designation on the National Register of Historic Places, A.W. Perry completely renovated The Berkeley in 1988 – 1989, at a cost of $15 million. Macomber Builders, under the direction of George Macomber, handled the renovation, and the project’s architect was James Alexander of Feingold, Alexander & Associates.
According to Alexander, “There were several challenges in The Berkeley renovation. One challenge was that all of Despradelle’s original drawings of the building had been destroyed in a big fire in Boston. But, we had a beautiful rendering of the exterior and one surviving original storefront to which we were able to piece it all together. Then there was the challenge of trying to make the plan of the building work for modern offices that demanded large floor areas, while still maintaining the building’s historic character. Not only that, the building was irregularly shaped in the form of a ‘U’. For this we had to build a new link, which connected one side to the other, and created a cohesive ‘O’ shape floor plan to which we added an atrium in the center.”
He continued, “Restoring the balustrade to its former grandeur was also a significant feat. It would have cost well over $1 million to restore it to the original terra cotta. Instead, we used reinforced fiberglass to replicate the original design, which cost roughly 40 percent of what it would have, and there was no danger of deterioration with this material. We were able to overcome all of these major challenges, as well as quite a few minor ones, in a restoration that will surely stand the test of time.”
Known as “the Crowned Jewel of the Back Bay”, The Berkeley was the first building in Boston to be honored with all three (local, regional and international) of BOMA’s “Office Building of the Year” awards in 1990. Current tenants include Arnold Communications, Goody, Clancy and Associates and other consulting and asset management firms in addition to upscale retail establishments.
“With panoramic views of Back Bay, fantastic historical elements and modernized systems which provide comfort and security to tenants, The Berkeley is a stylish and prestigious building that offers an exciting and inspiring working environment. We’re very proud of it,” noted John H. Spurr, Jr., president of A.W. Perry and host of The Berkeley’s anniversary gala.
A.W. Perry holds 100th Anniversary Gala For the “Crowned Jewel of the Back Bay” - The Berkeley
Since 1884, A.W. Perry, Inc., a privately held real estate firm, has provided the highest level of quality, service and value to clients. An established leader in the industry, A.W. Perry is an award winning property management firm, an experienced developer and an innovative investment builder. Under the direction of the family’s fourth generation, the company maintains a reputation of strength, stability and integrity.
Known for creating and nurturing long-standing business relationships, A. W. Perry has established a portfolio of commercial and industrial property as well as a significant inventory of developable land. In addition to the Berkeley, A.W. Perry’s projects include several other Downtown Boston office renovations and; South Shore Technology Park in Rockland and Hingham (which includes Serono, Inc.’s North American headquarters as well as a 327,000 square foot building currently under construction for Blue Cross Blue Shield.) The firm also has a proud history in residential development which includes Whiting Village, Stone Meadow Farm, The Homestead and Spring Meadow in Hanover and currently Deerfield Farm in Pembroke.