Boston’s History of Craft Makes It a Great Place To Live

May 20, 2024
Amanda Gray



Much like exposure to nature, urban design and architecture can considerably affect our mental health and make us feel more connected to the places we call home. 

While Boston is known for its green spaces (the Common is the oldest public park in the United States, after all), it is also brimming with beautiful facades inspired by various styles, including Georgian, Greek Revival, and Victorian. 

Boston boasts a thriving maker community due to its rich history of craft, resulting in a unique blend of beauty and creative energy that makes it a great place to live.

From Victorian England to today: The Craft movement that built Boston

The Arts and Crafts movement, which occurred from 1870 to 1920, was a response to the overly ornate and impractical design of everyday household items, often made by machines in the Victorian era in England.

Established in 1897, The Society of Arts and Crafts pushed the movement forward, aiming to instill in future craftspeople “an appreciation of the dignity and the value of good design.” Through training and education, the Society nurtured a future generation of makers and doers. Its commitment to embracing new materials and techniques reflected a dedication to tradition and progress, which can still be seen throughout Boston today. 

Best places (inside and out) to explore Boston’s creative history

Even a casual walk around Boston’s neighborhoods will introduce you to some of the nation’s most unique structures, such as the well-preserved Harriswood Crescent rowhouses in Roxbury, built in 1890, and the Georgian-style Old State House, the former seat of the Colonial Government. 

View of the Paul Revere house and downtown Boston
The Paul Revere House, on the Freedom Trail, is an important site of Boston and craft history.

Get to know Boston through guided walking tours, maker communities, and museums.

Guided Tours

For those new to Boston, consider joining a guided tour, such as this art and architecture-focused tour or the famous Freedom Trail tour, which visits 16 historical sites throughout the city.

Museums and exhibitions

Following the footsteps of makers who came before, the Fuller Craft Museum expands upon Boston’s rich history, offering exhibitions, classes, and tours to nurture the city’s growing community. Over at the Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a dedicated space for craft, taking visitors through the various periods of craft history, documenting the movements that led to establishing some of New England’s most celebrated craft institutions.

Aerial view of the Fuller Craft Museum
Image courtesy Fuller Craft Museum

Maker spaces

Boston Makers is a membership-based nonprofit organization that offers monthly workshops for people to come and use equipment, attend classes, and participate in field trips that focus on craft applications in the area. The Brickyard Collaborative offers boat-building courses for those looking to learn a new craft. This maker space on the North Shore utilizes community resources to access expensive technology, supporting talent and innovation.

Honing your craft at North Bennet Street School: America’s first trade school

Founded in 1881, North Bennet Street School has supported makers from all walks of life. NBSS has contributed significantly to its hometown’s creative legacy by educating students in historical and contemporary applications through hands-on training in common trades such as carpentry and locksmithing, and traditional craft applications like violin making, furniture making, and jewelry making. In addition to career training programs, anyone can take one of our short classes geared toward brand-new makers and experienced ones alike.

While there’s much to love about living in Boston, what truly makes it a great city to call home is the city’s hand-built history and continued dedication to nurturing the thriving Boston craft community.