Queer Places:
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
83 Bay State Rd, Boston, MA 02215
Steeles Hill, Sanbornton, N H
40 East Corning st, Beverly

Charles Hitchcock Tyler (October 11, 1863 - December 6, 1931) was a Boston lawyer, sportsman, dog fancier and collector of antiques. He was a member of the Horace Walpole Society, elected in 1910.

Charles Hitchcock Tyler was born in Cambridge, to Joseph How Tyler, registrar of probate, and Abble Little Hitchcock. He graduated from Harvard in the class of 1886, and took his law degree at Boston University Law School. Perhaps the new law school in the city appealed to him more than Harvard. After his graduation he taught the law of landlord and tenant there for a few years, and was no sooner admitted to the bar, in 1889, than he set up his own office, in the Sears Building at 199 Washington Street.

He was successful from the first, for success was natural to him. By the time he hired Owen D. Young, in the fall of 1896, he was doing a thriving business. Hard-driving, active, tenacious, he was described by contemporaries as a "dynamo" and a "go-getter," and it was said of him that he was almost as much of a son-of-a-bitch to have on your side as on the opposing one. Many years later he wrote Young, "As you know, I have always played with the Results Family and they are a pretty good family to play with." "I know," his former clerk had answered to a similar remark, "how important 'now' always is to you." It was typical of him that when Boston's first skyscraper was built—the Ames Building of twelve stories—he moved in, in 1901, and eventually took the two top floors.

Tyler was a big man, 215 pounds, with the height to carry it, but his energy was inexhaustible. He worked long hours—and in those days the workweek included all day Saturday—and expected his staff to do the same. Brilliant and impatient, he could be sharp, but his life-long confidential secretary, Karl Singer, told the authors that he was always fair. He was also meticulous about detail; no letter went out of the office without being read and approved by him and he never talked on the telephone without Singer on an extension.

But Charles Tyler's life was not only that of a hardworking and successful corporation lawyer. He was a connoisseur and collector in many fields, and became one of the first great collectors of eighteenth-century American furniture. He had the taste and acumen to buy beautiful pieces at a time when they were readily available, and his houses—in Boston at 83 Bay State Road, his estate in Beverly, even his little farmhouse at Sanbornton. New Hampshire—were full of elegant old furniture and objets d'art. He was an amateur of prints and engravings, rare china and silver, books and ship models. Intuitively selective, he always demanded excellence, and in later years applied his talents to several living collections, breeding handsome brahma poultry. English setters and Guernsey cattle, all champions of their kind.

Charles Tyler never married. He admired and adored his mother, with whom he lived until the end of her long life. He told Young in later years that he had never been able to find anyone to equal her and had given up the search. When he was away from Boston he called her every night—an attention more unusual in her day than in ours. A lady of the old school, intelligent, amusing and charming. herself a connoisseur, Mrs. Tyler lived into her nineties and her son was desolate at her death.

His gentleness and devotion to her, the kindness he showed from the beginning to Owen and Jo, with his remarkable appreciation of things of beauty and his constant and durable sense of humor, made up the other side of the "go-getter.' Young was to stay with him until the end of 1912, to continue to be his friend until his death in 1932, and never to forget—or forget to say to him—what he owed him. They corresponded and met fairly often in later years, exchanging jokes and stories as well as information and professional advice. Tyler wrote Young in 1926: "I have just taken a young man into the office who, they say, is the ablest man graduated from the Law School with one exception and you were named as the exception. He is better looking than you are." A postscript says, "Than you were."

For Tyler, Owen Young was an apt pupil from the first, to be taught the nitty-gritty of the daily practice of the law, to be worked to the limit of endurance—long hours, few or no vacations—to be given responsibility as fast as he could handle it, which indeed was almost from the very first day. But he was also to be taught the collecting of old furniture and fine prints and rare books, the appreciation of good food and wine, good clothes, above all the necessity for excellence in all things.

Tyler, who was considerable of a sportsman and dog fancier, bought a farm on Steeles Hill, Sanbornton, NH, overlooking Lake Winnisquam, converted it into a practical farm and built a small house on the summit for himself which he wanted to become a museum for china dogs, antiques, guns, books and trinkets of all sorts. In addition, he maintained a beautiful home at Beverly, and another winter home in the Carolinas.

He was an enthusiastic collector and antiquarian. His collection of Americana was especially notable and valuable, and of the widest possible range. He had one of the best collections of clocks to this part of the country, while the collection of picture frames, covering some centuries of development, was unusually complete. As a lawyer much of his practice was as counsel for trustees to Boston, and his clients included many of those who handled the largest estates to the city.

Charles Hitchcock Tyler died on December 6, 1931, at his home at 40 East Corning St, Beverly.


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