690 Commercial Street

Bay Colony Condominium

In 1976, when the 18 buildings that compose the Bay Colony complex were so new that the siding hadn’t yet weathered, Josephine Del Deo took the photograph above for the Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory. She captioned it rhetorically, “Along the Harbor Shore — The Future?” She didn’t mean this hopefully. More than 35 years later, we can answer her: yes and no. Yes, in the sense that high-density, multi-unit condominium compounds like this have indeed proliferated. But no in the sense that a little more time and care is now given to the architecture, landscaping and siting of these private enclaves. There is a kind of bare-bones quality to Bay Colony that is at once off-putting and disarming, with its courtyard given over entirely to the automobile. It doesn’t pretend to be cute, quaint, or ye olde anythinge. It’s really a late 20th-century cottage colony on steroids: simple, unpretentious housing. And a lot of it.

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