Gridley James Fox Bryant

Gridley James Fox Bryant

Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 8 Jun 1899 (aged 82)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 134999195 · View Source
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from the Springfield Daily Republican, 9 June 1899, p. 10

In His Day the Best Known Architect in the Country -- His Work in New England

Gridley James Fox Bryant, 83, died yesterday at the home for aged men in Boston. In his day he was probably the best known architect in the country, having designed and supervised various public buildings throughout the country. He was born in Boston in 1816, a year that was the coldest on record, and on the night of August 29, which goes down in history as unprecedentedly cold, which may account for Mr. Bryant's assertion that he never was thoroughly warm in his life. His father, Gridley Bryant [1789-1867], was also a remarkable man. He was a mechanic and inventor: he built the first railroad in America in 1831, at the Quincy quarries, made to transport stone for the Bunker Hill monument. The elder Bryant was the inventory of the two-wheel and four-wheel truck which has been used on cars since, and invented and built the first turn-table in this country.

Young Gridley Bryant was educated in the public schools nominally, but actually in the library of his father, and the office of Alexander Parris, a notable government engineer and architect. He adopted the architect's profession, designed for the Broadway savings bank, South Boston, in the early '30's; later built the first fireproof building in Boston; rebuilt the Charlestown state prison; built the Charles Street jail, after which he erected jails at Alfred and Bangor, Me., the county courts, jail and officers' quarters at Auburn, county jails at Augusta and Machias, Me., government custom house at Eastport, state reform school at Cape Elizabeth, Me., remodeled the state capital at Concord, N.H., built the state industrial school at Manchester, built jails at Lawrence and Northampton, almshouses at Deer Island and at Cambridge, several big institutions in Boston, the high school at Newburyport, Peabody Institute at Danvers, city halls at Lynn and Gloucester, erected the Old Colony depot in Boston that has been the rough model for many of the finest depots in the country since that was completed, designed and built a great many of the school-houses in Boston, and in 1853-4 he added a fireproof extension to the rear of the Massachusetts state-house. In Rhode Island he remodeled the custom-houses at Providence, Newport and Bristol; in Connecticut remodeled the custom-houses at New Haven and New London; at Hartford he built a bank building and a mammoth building for an insurance company; at Philadelphia remodeled buildings for the United States, in which for many years, from 1862, the post office and United States courts were located.

He designed and built churches now belonging to prominent parishes in all parts of New England, accomplishing most of his work between his 30th and 40th year. he was consulted by the national government in all sorts of building plans and had been supervising architect of the treasury department. His handiwork in residences and small structures was famous for many years. In 1872, the big fire that visited Boston swept away his labor of years, 152 business blocks of his building being reduced to ashes. He was commissioned to rebuild 110 of these. His wife died in 1883. By the time he was 30 years old, he was reputed to have great wealth, but he died in poverty. A few years ago, through kindness of friends, he was placed in the Home for Aged Men [on Springfield Street, a building he himself had designed in 1855 as the Lying-in Hospital].

[See also longer page-one obituary in the Boston Herald of the same date. A recent study of Bryant's architecture is contained in Roger G. Reed, Building Victorian Boston: The Architecture of Gridley J. F. Bryant (2007).]


Extensive funeral services were held for Bryant at the Home for Aged Men on June 11, described in the Boston Journal. On the Monday following, the body was taken by train to North Scituate for interment in the Bryant lot beside his wife.

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  • Created by: pstott
  • Added: 28 Aug 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 134999195
  • pstott
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gridley James Fox Bryant (29 Aug 1816–8 Jun 1899), Find A Grave Memorial no. 134999195, citing Groveland Cemetery, Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by pstott (contributor 47527072) .