Quincy, Mass. Historical and Architectural Survey

34 Coddington Street (Coddington School)

The Coddington School and Coddington Street are named in honor of William Coddington, Quincy's earliest benefactor. Coddington was a treasurer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a magistrate and also had the distinction of building Quincy's first brick house. He followed Anne Hutchinson and other religious liberals to Rhode Island in voluntary exile and left his land for the support of public schools in areas now included in Quincy, Braintree and Randolph. He later became the first governor and a president of the Rhode Island Colony.

The well known Charles A. Brigham was the architect for the Coddington School and Dennis F. Crowley the contractor. The headmaster for the new school was Walter Bentley, Frank E. Parlin was Superintendent of Schools and Dr. Nathaniel S. Hunting was Chairman of the School Committee. An earlier Coddington School, built in 1855 and enlarged in 1876, was moved 100 feet to make way for the present Coddington School and subsequently demolished. The Coddington School is now used as Quincy Junior College which was chartered as part of the Quincy Public School system in 1958.

Assessors Records.
Original plans, Maintenance Department, Quincy Public Schools.
William Churchill Edwards, Historic Quincy, Massachusetts, 1957, p. 29, 151.
Parker Collection, Thomas Crane Public Library.
"The Progress of Public School Education", Tercentenary Edition, Quincy Patriot ledger, 1925.
Patriot Ledger, September 1, 1965.

Between 1901 and 1920 Quincy witnessed a period of unprecedented school building. The discipline of pedagogy, educational philosophy and school architecture were well established and documented in numerous books on these subjects, amongst them the 1902 School Architecture by Edmund March Wheelwright. One of the first schools in Quincy, The Coddington School, designed by Charles Brigham in 1909, became a prototype for numerous schools which followed it, in particular The Wollaston School and The Adams School, both designed by A. H. Wright in 1913, The Daniel Webster School of 1916 and The Francis W. Parker School of 1917. All these schools have in common strong compact rectangular massing with longitudinal facades whose length is alleviated by projecting pavilions, regular fenestration and a strongly articulated central entrance.

Charles Brigham (1841-1925), a Boston architect was a partner of John Hubbard Sturgis from 1866 until 1888 when Sturgis died. Between 1870 and 1876, the firm of Sturgis and Brigham was involved with the construction of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, "A Terra-Cotta Cornerstone for Copley Square" (Margaret Henderson Floyd, journal of the Society of Archtectpral Historians, May 1973, Volume XXXII, Number 2, page 83) which established their firm "as the purveyors of English design in America." (Floyd, page 103).

Charles Brigham's work reflects the eclecticism and historicism prevalent in the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1887, he designed the Stoughton Railroad Station in a Richardsonian manner; in 1889-95, he was responsible for the fine north addition to the Boston State House showing great sensitivity to the original federal Bulfinch structure; and in 1899, Brigham built one of the few Chateauesque buildings in Boston, The Burrage House at 314 Commonwealth Avenue. When he was asked to provide a design for the Coddington School, he had already finished the First Church of Christ in Boston, one of the most impressive Classic Revival buildings of the city. He brought to the school the same clarity of design with classic details, but refrained from endowing the school building with a panoply of ornamentation. Instead, the elegance of the facade is manifested with few architectural details and an emphasis on the classic fenestration of the central pavillion.

The third floor lunette windows act as the continuation of the second floor traditional rectangular windows, giving the facade a semblance of grandeur with an economy of ornamental elements. This particular detail, the use of Roman arched windows on the top floor will become a characteristic of future Quincy school buildings. Often, when the school structure is severe and institutional in feeling, it will be this repetition of arcuated lines which will endow the building with a strong sense of good design. Further subtle detailing in the Coddington School is seen in the use of modillions under the eaves, a solid balcony supported by heavy baroque brackets over the central entrance,and a double door topped by a fanlight. The composite hip roof which lightens the massiveness of the structure is pierced by four tall chimneys and relates well to the geometric massing. The building material is of red brick relieved by a granite foundation, granite lintels and string courses.

It is one of Quincy's finest institutional buldings, designed by one of Boston's great architects and an important component of the Coddington Street enclave of fine public buildings, which include, amongst others, the H. H. Richardson Crane Library. The Coddington School would be a worthy candidate for the National Register.