Skip navigation

Timeless Design

TIMELY AND TASTY: Vintage clocks and original architectural features work together in this space where the kitchen and dining room are separated by a glass wall.

FLAGSHIP DINING: Smith & Wollensky in Boston occupies a space that once served as a gunroom, social hall and museum.

CULINARY CASTLE: Guests enter a building constructed in the 1890s and enjoy a meal that's up to new millennium standards. The first floor gunroom now serves as a bar and dining area; the mezzanine features framed vintage American flags; the second floor offers a more formal dining area with a wine collection; the third provides a more intimate dining space with an overscaled fireplace; and the fourth floor houses a banquet hall.

UNIFORMLY APPEALING: This third floor dining area is replete with rich colors, eye-catching artifacts and inviting lighting.

WARM AND WELCOMING: The idea was to create a sense of intimate spaces within the larger area. This second floor tower dining room features restored original lighting fixtures, and a portrait of John Hancock.

NOT SO LONG AGO AND NOT SO FAR AWAY, a place called "The Castle" became a restaurant. Specifically, Haverson Architecture and Design of Greenwich, CT, adapted the Armory of the First Corps of Cadets in Boston to its present incarnation as a 400-seat Smith & Wollensky restaurant. The classic New York steakhouse, located adjacent to the Boston Common in a 20,000 sq. ft. space with 400 dining seats on four floors, opened in September 2004.

Vintage, authentic and original are concepts that work as well with design as they do with dining. At this Smith & Wollensky, aged steaks and vintage wines are served in a Medievel Romanesque structure featuring a tower, turrets and parapet walls. Built in the 1890s, the space headquartered the First Corps of Cadets, the country's oldest continuously operating military unit.

But while a sense of history lingers, this is every bit a contemporary restaurant. The design team included architect Jay Haverson and interior designer Carolyn Haverson, who pulled off the balancing act. Says Jay Haverson, "It was necessary to reaccentuate the pieces and parts, and to pull together color schemes from two eras. Every room has its own distinction." Colors include appetizing shades of buttery yellow, tangerine and raspberry, along with metallic paints that accentuate original architectural details.

Haverson continues, "We wanted to make the space feel like a 'found space.' We didn't want to repair every broken or missing piece of molding." The idea was to make the restaurant feel whole, without hurling diners back through a time machine to the early 20th century.

CEO Alan Stillman of Smith & Wollensky put together a collection of art and artifacts that has been combined with artifacts from the First Corps of Army Cadets Museum, resulting in an authentic collection of military lore and American Folk Art. Stillman explains, "We collect artwork and Early American antiques and put them in warehouses until we build a restaurant where they will fit." On display are historical American flags, large clocks, portraiture, and other elements that enhance the restaurant's personality.

Because the building received National Historic Register status in 1973, Haverson also worked with the local landmarks group. More than 150 historical lighting fixtures in the space were restored and incorporated as design elements.

Among Haverson Architecture and Design's other recently completed projects are The Uncas American Indian Grill at Mohegan Sun and The Wine Bar at the Griswold Inn, Essex, both in Conn.; Vong; Harley-Davidson Cafe in Las Vegas; Motown Cafe at Citiwalk in Universal Studios Orlando, and Smith & Wollensky's in Chicago, Philadelphia, Columbus, Dallas and Houston.

The original Smith & Wollensky, a traditional New York steakhouse, opened in 1977. Today's Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group encompasses 17 restaurants. In addition to the Boston operation, Smith & Wollensky has locations in Miami Beach, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Columbus, Dallas and Houston.

Founder and CEO Alan Stillman sums up the Boston Smith & Wollensky: "The customer response has been over the top, and the critics' response has been over the top. The restaurant is really quite unique¯ except possibly for Europe, where there are restaurants more than 300 years old."

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.