A Love Letter to Boston’s Art Deco Dunkin’ Donuts

I see you there, with your chevron motif and polished marble details.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Dear Art Deco Dunkin’ Donuts,

The thing I like about you most is that you’re unexpected. There you are, nestled in a small-scale 1930s Art Deco office building, flaunting polished marble and geometric ornamentation, while suits and pencil skirts pass you by.

You’re not like other Dunkin’s. You don’t need bubbly magenta-and-orange flourishes to grab anyone’s attention. You’re elegant, you’re subdued. You, as one of the last remaining Art Deco structures in Boston’s Central Business District, according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, take design cues from Egyptian and Mayan art, Cubism, Fauvism, and Expressionism. And even though you’re high-culture, you’re still down-to-earth—architecturally stunning on the outside, yet sweetly familiar on the inside.

In your building’s earlier days, part of Western Union’s headquarters took up residence here. In addition to a central office space, there was an accounting center and an automatic switching station inside. But now the ground level of 230 Congress St. serves an equally important purpose: serving up coffee and doughnuts to the finance bros of Boston.

It’s possible the sleepy-eyed office dwellers marching to their iced mochas don’t even notice your patterned brickwork or recessed spandrels. They probably haven’t given a second thought to your beveled corners, either. But I see you there. You, with your vertical marquee that juts out into a triangle.

You’re a rare breed, all 12 stories of you. You’re something to be preserved—and respected.

Who cares if your bricks and windows above the first floor were updated in 2004? That your facade materials aren’t original? Not me. Suffolk Construction was even kind enough to gift you new exterior signage and light fixtures during the update. “The restored building envelope is extraordinarily faithful to the original design,” echoes the Historical Commission.

I mean, how many Dunkin’ Donuts establishments have a chevron motif? Just you do. And that’s why I love you.

Sincerely,
Madeline

Photo by Madeline Bilis