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A cavernous room with a barrel ceiling, and there are rows of tables and chairs inside it. Shutterstock

Boston’s 15 most beautiful building interiors, mapped

Get inspired with these selections, including ones in Cambridge and several that are open to the public

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No doubt the Boston area includes some of the world’s most exquisite and ambitious urban architecture, whether it be of the dated federal style or of more modern fare. (It also has brutalism.)

That architecture includes striking interiors. Herewith, then, the 15 most beautiful interiors in the Boston region. Use them as you see fit—maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your own interior?

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1. Bapst Library

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Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA

Charles Donagh Maginnis designed this library in the English Collegiate Gothic style. For real: The tower at the northern end is based on Oxford’s Merton Tower.

The Bapst opened in 1922, and was majorly renovated in the mid-1980s.

2. Widener Library

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Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA

Horace Trumbauer designed Harvard’s flagship library, which opened in 1915 (and which was named for a young bibliophile who died three years earlier on the Titanic).

The Beaux Arts building’s interior includes a number of flourishes, including murals by John Singer Sargent in the Memorial Rotunda and a main reading room with a barrel ceiling 44 feet at its peak.

A capacious ceiling above a wide staircase, and there are people going up and down. Corbis via Getty Images

3. Harvard Memorial Hall

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Quincy St and Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA

Harvard alumni William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt won a blind competition to design this planned memorial to the 136 students who died fighting for the United States during the Civil War.

The hall was completed in 1877, and done in the High Gothic Victorian style.

Its Memorial Transept—one of three main parts—includes a 60-foot vaulted ceiling and 28 white tablets with the names of the dead soldiers, including two of Paul Revere’s grandsons and Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts (think Glory).

The interior of a grand hall, with an arched ceiling and commemorative plaques on the walls. Shutterstock

4. Harvard Art Museums

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32 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA
(617) 495-9400
Visit Website

Renzo Piano’s design pivots around an interior atrium that soars through four floors from the courtyard of the original Fogg Museum to a cupola that, to Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell, “looks like a glass explosion.”

There is a ton of natural light from that and other glass throughout.

The museum, a combination of the existing Fogg, Sackler, and Busch-Reisinger institutions, opened in late 2014.

An interior courtyard with a very, very high ceiling and arched walkways running above it on all sides. Getty Images

5. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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280 Fenway
Boston, MA
(617) 566-1401
Visit Website

The prime interior attraction of the Willard T. Sears-designed complex dating from 1901 is actually an exterior of sorts—namely, it’s a walled-in courtyard meant to reflect the love of horticulture of the museum’s namesake.

It’s plush year-round with seasonal blooms.

There are also other gardens at the Gardner and the rest of its interior—done as if a Venetian palace—is worth checking out.

A lush and well-organized interior courtyard with lots of plants and grass. Shutterstock

6. Boston Public Library—McKim Building

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700 Boylston St
Boston, MA
(617) 536-5400
Visit Website

Charles Follen McKim designed the building, which opened in 1895.

Its interior includes numerous gorgeous features, including carvings and sculpture by Domingo Mora and Augustus Saint-Gaudens and bronze doors by Daniel Chester French.

The coup de grace, though, for the library’s McKim Building might be the Bates Reading Room with its barrel ceiling.

A long, capacious room with several rows of tables and people sitting quietly at those tables. Shutterstock

7. Boston Public Library—Johnson Building

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700 Boylston St
Boston, MA
(617) 536-5400
Visit Website

Philip Johnson designed this modern addition to the library’s much older McKim Building. It opened in 1972, and underwent a three-year restoration that wrapped in 2016.

As one might expect from a modern design, its interior is all about the clean lines and the airiness.

As one Curbed Boston reader noted, there is a lot of Louis Kahn influence in Johnson’s design, which the restoration did a solid job of preserving.

8. Trinity Church

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206 Clarendon St
Boston, MA

Finished in 1877, the church is perhaps the best-known work of 19th-century architect Henry Hobson Richardson—indeed, it spawned what came to be called the Richardson Romanesque style.

The interior includes more than 21,500 square feet of murals, all of which American artists designed. John La Farge and Edward Burne-Jones designed some of the most striking stained-glass windows in the church.

Bill Damon/Flickr

9. The Liberty Hotel

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215 Charles St
Boston, MA
(617) 224-4000
Visit Website

The Liberty’s building began life as the Charles Street Jail.

Boston architect Gridley James Fox designed the 220-cell jail in the form of a cross, its four wings shooting off from a central, octagonal rotunda with a 90-foot atrium. The jail’s 30 arched windows were meant to provide plenty of ventilation and natural light.

Though both the cross design and the windows were supposed to render the facility more humane than the average 19th-century jail, it became notorious for overcrowding. Still, it would be nearly a century and a half before federal authorities forced its closure.

As for the Liberty Hotel there now, its design from Cambridge Seven Associates and Ann Beha Architects retains the soaring rotunda and other original details—including some cell bars.

10. Boston Athenaeum

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Beacon St
Boston, MA

Edward Clark Abbot designed this space for the now-210-year-old, members-only library in the late 1840s.

The Renaissance Revival architecture houses not only more than 480,000 volumes, but exhibits and other bookish draws (including regular architectural tours of the place).

A cavernous reading room with an open upper level visible via balconies, and tables and chairs on the lower level’s floor. Corbis via Getty Images

11. Cutler Majestic Theatre

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219 Tremont St
Boston, MA
(617) 824-8000
Visit Website

John Galen Howard designed the approximately 1,200-seat theater in the Beaux Arts style, though subsequent renovations a half-century later to accommodate movie-goers covered up a lot of that elegance.

Emerson College purchased the Cutler Majestic in 1983, and set about restoring some of its past grandeur (as well as bringing it up to code).

A packed classical theater with sloping rows of seats, balconies, and a very high ceiling. Boston Globe via Getty Images

12. Wang Theatre

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270 Tremont St
Boston, MA
(617) 482-9393
Visit Website

Now part of the Boch Center, the Wang Theatre’s building dates from 1925, when Clarence Howard Blackall designed it in the grand Beaux Arts style popular for such houses at the time.

The interior of the 3,500-seat venue has shown up in the movies American Hustle and The Witches of Eastwick (part of Jack Nicholson’s house in the film).

A capacious lobby with lots of marble, and the lobby leads to a grand staircase. Shutterstock

13. Massachusetts State House

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1 Ashburton Pl
Boston, MA

Charles Bulfinch designed the original portion of what’s now the fourth-oldest state capitol in the union. Finished in 1798 and built on land that John Hancock donated, it’s a grand example of the federal style.

The 10-column Doric Hall and the Hall of Flags dominate the interior as does stained glass toward the peak of the State House’s golden dome. Edward Brodney won a competition in the 1930s to design the main murals.

Also notable? The Sacred Cod suspended over the House chamber as a reminder of the importance of fishing to Massachusetts (and, really, for yuks, too).

Looking up at a high-ceilinged cupola with stained glass at the center. Shutterstock

14. 75 State Street

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75 State St
Boston, MA

The 31-story building, which a collaboration of Boston’s Graham Gund Architects and New York’s Skidmore Owings and Merrill designed, contains perhaps the grandest office lobby in New England.

The tower was completed in 1988.

15. Custom House Tower

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3 McKinley Square
Boston, MA
(617) 310-6300

Now a Marriott vacation property, the tower was the result of an addition in the 1910s to the existing federal custom house.

The 495-foot spire, which architect Richard Peabody based on the campanile in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, was Boston’s tallest building from its completion in 1915 to the Pru in 1964 (this photo shows it looming over Boston in 1956).

In 1960, a painting of the U.S. seal went up in the tower’s interior, on the underside of the original dome.

View of an old city skyline with one lone, thin tower towering over everything. Boston Globe via Getty Images

1. Bapst Library

Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

Charles Donagh Maginnis designed this library in the English Collegiate Gothic style. For real: The tower at the northern end is based on Oxford’s Merton Tower.

The Bapst opened in 1922, and was majorly renovated in the mid-1980s.

Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA

2. Widener Library

Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA
A capacious ceiling above a wide staircase, and there are people going up and down. Corbis via Getty Images

Horace Trumbauer designed Harvard’s flagship library, which opened in 1915 (and which was named for a young bibliophile who died three years earlier on the Titanic).

The Beaux Arts building’s interior includes a number of flourishes, including murals by John Singer Sargent in the Memorial Rotunda and a main reading room with a barrel ceiling 44 feet at its peak.

Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA

3. Harvard Memorial Hall

Quincy St and Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA
The interior of a grand hall, with an arched ceiling and commemorative plaques on the walls. Shutterstock

Harvard alumni William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt won a blind competition to design this planned memorial to the 136 students who died fighting for the United States during the Civil War.

The hall was completed in 1877, and done in the High Gothic Victorian style.

Its Memorial Transept—one of three main parts—includes a 60-foot vaulted ceiling and 28 white tablets with the names of the dead soldiers, including two of Paul Revere’s grandsons and Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts (think Glory).

Quincy St and Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA

4. Harvard Art Museums

32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA
An interior courtyard with a very, very high ceiling and arched walkways running above it on all sides. Getty Images

Renzo Piano’s design pivots around an interior atrium that soars through four floors from the courtyard of the original Fogg Museum to a cupola that, to Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell, “looks like a glass explosion.”

There is a ton of natural light from that and other glass throughout.

The museum, a combination of the existing Fogg, Sackler, and Busch-Reisinger institutions, opened in late 2014.

32 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA

5. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

280 Fenway, Boston, MA
A lush and well-organized interior courtyard with lots of plants and grass. Shutterstock

The prime interior attraction of the Willard T. Sears-designed complex dating from 1901 is actually an exterior of sorts—namely, it’s a walled-in courtyard meant to reflect the love of horticulture of the museum’s namesake.

It’s plush year-round with seasonal blooms.

There are also other gardens at the Gardner and the rest of its interior—done as if a Venetian palace—is worth checking out.

280 Fenway
Boston, MA

6. Boston Public Library—McKim Building

700 Boylston St, Boston, MA
A long, capacious room with several rows of tables and people sitting quietly at those tables. Shutterstock

Charles Follen McKim designed the building, which opened in 1895.

Its interior includes numerous gorgeous features, including carvings and sculpture by Domingo Mora and Augustus Saint-Gaudens and bronze doors by Daniel Chester French.

The coup de grace, though, for the library’s McKim Building might be the Bates Reading Room with its barrel ceiling.

700 Boylston St
Boston, MA

7. Boston Public Library—Johnson Building

700 Boylston St, Boston, MA

Philip Johnson designed this modern addition to the library’s much older McKim Building. It opened in 1972, and underwent a three-year restoration that wrapped in 2016.

As one might expect from a modern design, its interior is all about the clean lines and the airiness.

As one Curbed Boston reader noted, there is a lot of Louis Kahn influence in Johnson’s design, which the restoration did a solid job of preserving.

700 Boylston St
Boston, MA

8. Trinity Church

206 Clarendon St, Boston, MA
Bill Damon/Flickr

Finished in 1877, the church is perhaps the best-known work of 19th-century architect Henry Hobson Richardson—indeed, it spawned what came to be called the Richardson Romanesque style.

The interior includes more than 21,500 square feet of murals, all of which American artists designed. John La Farge and Edward Burne-Jones designed some of the most striking stained-glass windows in the church.

206 Clarendon St
Boston, MA

9. The Liberty Hotel

215 Charles St, Boston, MA

The Liberty’s building began life as the Charles Street Jail.

Boston architect Gridley James Fox designed the 220-cell jail in the form of a cross, its four wings shooting off from a central, octagonal rotunda with a 90-foot atrium. The jail’s 30 arched windows were meant to provide plenty of ventilation and natural light.

Though both the cross design and the windows were supposed to render the facility more humane than the average 19th-century jail, it became notorious for overcrowding. Still, it would be nearly a century and a half before federal authorities forced its closure.

As for the Liberty Hotel there now, its design from Cambridge Seven Associates and Ann Beha Architects retains the soaring rotunda and other original details—including some cell bars.

215 Charles St
Boston, MA

10. Boston Athenaeum

Beacon St, Boston, MA
A cavernous reading room with an open upper level visible via balconies, and tables and chairs on the lower level’s floor. Corbis via Getty Images

Edward Clark Abbot designed this space for the now-210-year-old, members-only library in the late 1840s.

The Renaissance Revival architecture houses not only more than 480,000 volumes, but exhibits and other bookish draws (including regular architectural tours of the place).

Beacon St
Boston, MA

11. Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont St, Boston, MA
A packed classical theater with sloping rows of seats, balconies, and a very high ceiling. Boston Globe via Getty Images

John Galen Howard designed the approximately 1,200-seat theater in the Beaux Arts style, though subsequent renovations a half-century later to accommodate movie-goers covered up a lot of that elegance.

Emerson College purchased the Cutler Majestic in 1983, and set about restoring some of its past grandeur (as well as bringing it up to code).

219 Tremont St
Boston, MA

12. Wang Theatre

270 Tremont St, Boston, MA
A capacious lobby with lots of marble, and the lobby leads to a grand staircase. Shutterstock

Now part of the Boch Center, the Wang Theatre’s building dates from 1925, when Clarence Howard Blackall designed it in the grand Beaux Arts style popular for such houses at the time.

The interior of the 3,500-seat venue has shown up in the movies American Hustle and The Witches of Eastwick (part of Jack Nicholson’s house in the film).

270 Tremont St
Boston, MA

13. Massachusetts State House

1 Ashburton Pl, Boston, MA
Looking up at a high-ceilinged cupola with stained glass at the center. Shutterstock

Charles Bulfinch designed the original portion of what’s now the fourth-oldest state capitol in the union. Finished in 1798 and built on land that John Hancock donated, it’s a grand example of the federal style.

The 10-column Doric Hall and the Hall of Flags dominate the interior as does stained glass toward the peak of the State House’s golden dome. Edward Brodney won a competition in the 1930s to design the main murals.

Also notable? The Sacred Cod suspended over the House chamber as a reminder of the importance of fishing to Massachusetts (and, really, for yuks, too).

1 Ashburton Pl
Boston, MA

14. 75 State Street

75 State St, Boston, MA

The 31-story building, which a collaboration of Boston’s Graham Gund Architects and New York’s Skidmore Owings and Merrill designed, contains perhaps the grandest office lobby in New England.

The tower was completed in 1988.

75 State St
Boston, MA

15. Custom House Tower

3 McKinley Square, Boston, MA
View of an old city skyline with one lone, thin tower towering over everything. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Now a Marriott vacation property, the tower was the result of an addition in the 1910s to the existing federal custom house.

The 495-foot spire, which architect Richard Peabody based on the campanile in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, was Boston’s tallest building from its completion in 1915 to the Pru in 1964 (this photo shows it looming over Boston in 1956).

In 1960, a painting of the U.S. seal went up in the tower’s interior, on the underside of the original dome.

3 McKinley Square
Boston, MA