An Investment In The Future

Historic Ames Building becomes newest residence hall

Photograph by Michael J. Clarke

The Ames Building at One Court Street is one of the more historic buildings in all of Boston. It’s also Suffolk University’s newest residence hall, where students can experience all that Boston has to offer in the heart of one of the city’s most vital corridors.

Talk about the hub of the universe. Place a pin on a map of Boston’s most-central downtown location and there is One Court Street, an architectural gem at the nexus of State, Court, and Washington streets. The iconic building most recently operated as a boutique hotel before Suffolk bought it in September 2019. Suffolk President Marisa Kelly calls the new residence hall “an investment in the future of our students and the University and a signal of our enduring commitment to this city.”

One Court Street looks out at the Old State House and is steps from City Hall, Faneuil Hall, the Financial District, all of the city’s subway lines, and key University buildings. It has instantly become a centerpiece of Suffolk’s urban campus.

Completed in 1893, the Ames Building lays claim to being Boston’s first skyscraper. The 14-story Romanesque structure was at the time the tallest masonry building constructed in the United States. To walk into One Court Street is to walk into history.

“You instantly feel the historic character,” says Shigeo Iwamiya, Suffolk’s director of Residence Life and Housing. “It feels like you are walking into something very significant—a historical landmark, quite literally. Even the staircases feel like they are full of Boston history.”

That historic character blends with the modern flair of a former boutique hotel, renovated in 2017. Lending itself to coronavirus planning, each of the 112 residential rooms, which in time will accommodate up to 300 students, has its own bathroom. They also have high ceilings and jaw-dropping views through cathedral windows that look out onto the city. A new, publicly accessible restaurant and café with outdoor patio will enliven the streetscape, and the building provides a multipurpose student lounge and conference room space.

The building, which started as the headquarters for the Ames family agricultural tool business, has long been a part of the city’s commercial history. State Street was once the only road that connected the Shawmut Peninsula with the mainland and the only route to move goods to and from Boston Harbor. As today’s students walk out of One Court Street’s front door they will walk into all that history and commercial vibrancy, in the center of one of the world’s greatest learning capitals.

Ames Building

Ames Interior

Exterior and interior views of One Court Street, a former hotel turned Suffolk’s newest residence hall.

Suffolk University Magazine

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