Cyclorama Building

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Cyclorama Building
Cyclorama Building is located in Massachusetts
Cyclorama Building
Cyclorama Building is located in the United States
Cyclorama Building
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°20′40″N 71°4′19″W / 42.34444°N 71.07194°W / 42.34444; -71.07194Coordinates: 42°20′40″N 71°4′19″W / 42.34444°N 71.07194°W / 42.34444; -71.07194
ArchitectCummings and Sears
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Late Victorian, Other
Part ofSouth End District (#73000324)
NRHP reference #73000318 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 13, 1973
Designated CPMay 8, 1973

The Cyclorama Building is an 1884 building at 543-547 Tremont Street in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts that is operated by the Boston Center for the Arts.


The Classical Revival style Victorian building was commissioned by Charles F. Willoughby's Boston Cyclorama Company to house the Cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburg, a 400-by-50 foot cyclorama painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was designed by Charles Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears. The central space is a 127'-diameter steel-trussed dome which, when it was built, was the largest dome in the country after the United States Capitol building. Visitors entered through the crenelated archway, proceeded along a dark winding passage, and then ascended a winding staircase to an elevated viewing platform. Skylights lit the scene by day, and it was illuminated by a system of 25 arc lamps by night.[2]

In 1889, a new cyclorama painting Custer's Last Fight, was installed, but by 1890, the fashion for cycloramas had ended, and the new owner of the building, John Gardner (father-in-law of Isabella Stewart Gardner), converted it to a venue for popular entertainment, including a carousel, roller skating, boxing tournaments (including an 1894 fight of John L. Sullivan), horseback riding, bicycling, and so on.

By 1899, it had become an industrial space, used by the New England Electric Vehicle Company, the Tremont Garage, the Buick Automobile Agency, and Albert Champion Company. Albert Champion is said to have invented the spark plug here before he moved to Flint, Michigan.

When the Boston Flower Exchange bought the building in 1923, it added a new entrance and covered central dome with a skylight. The Flower Exchange occupied the building until 1970.

Boston Center for the Arts[edit]

The Boston Redevelopment Authority designated the Boston Center for the Arts as the developer for the Cyclorama and the surrounding buildings in 1970.

The Cyclorama was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Bunker Hill Cyclorama[edit]

Another, competing cyclorama building was built two blocks from the first, and displayed a cyclorama of The Battle of Bunker Hill.[3]

1889 engraving
The competing Battle of Bunker Hill Cyclorama, 1889

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Appelbaum, Yoni (8 February 2012). "The Half-Life of Illusion: On the Brief and Glorious Heyday of the Cyclorama". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  3. ^ Illustrated Boston, the metropolis of New England, 1889, p. 118

External links[edit]