10 Kearney Square, Lowell

10 Kearney Square

Photo-blogger Tony Sampas captured this view of the Fairburn Building at 10 Kearney Square in Lowell. I’ve passed by this building thousands of times (and have been inside hundreds of times – my dad’s law office was on the fourth floor for twenty years) and never before noticed this architectural detail.

3 Responses to 10 Kearney Square, Lowell

  1. Martha says:

    What I love about the this building are the dolphins, ropes, anchors, and other nautical embellishments.

    From the Lowell Open Doors website:

    Fairburn Building aka Runels’ Block

    Building History
    George Runels, a prominent businessman, and civic leader, built this prominent building, which originally bore his name, ca. 1892. Like the Howe Building across the street, the Runels Building was part of a general expansion of the central business district in the late 19th century. Since about 1840, the corner site had been occupied by two of the Massachusetts Mills boardinghouses that formed part of the earlier residential zone between the original downtown commercial core and the ring of mills beyond. Its large mass and highly visible site make the building a downtown focal point.

    The building is eclectic in style combining various architectural motifs to create a late Victorian style commercial building. The masonry structure is four stories in height, decorated with granite and “cast stone” terra cotta against red brick walls. The ocher-colored terra cotta is a most interesting feature, trimming out most of the building, especially the panels in the accented window bays of the second floor and the brackets and friezes just below them.

    The original owner and builder, George Runels, came to Lowell in 1840 and led an adventurous life. He soon left on a South Seas whaling adventure that included a shipwreck off the Fiji Islands, and then sailed to Asian ports. He returned to Lowell in 1845 and entered the granite cutting business. In 1850, he left again, following the Gold Rush to California as a trader. He returned to Lowell in 1851, then left to pursue agriculture in Vermont for four years. When he came back to Lowell, he organized the Lowell firm of Runels, Clough, and Company, granite cutters, supplying stone for the State Prison in Concord as the Thatcher Island Light Houses at Rockport, Masonic Temple in Boston, and Booth’s Theater in New York. Runels was a successful businessman and an active and respected civic leader. He served on the Common Council and Board of Aldermen, and in 1882 was elected to a term as Mayor of Lowell.

    By 1906, the Runels Building was owned by B.F. Keith and around 1922, the building became known as the Fairburn Building after the owner at the time. At about the same time, the area was renamed Lt. Paul T. Kearney Square. Through the years the building served an important function downtown as the location of various retail and commercial tenants.