Donald McKay House

Donald McKay House
Donald McKay House is located in Massachusetts
Location: 78-80 White St., Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°22′50.5″N 71°2′11.5″W / 42.380694°N 71.036528°W / 42.380694; -71.036528Coordinates: 42°22′50.5″N 71°2′11.5″W / 42.380694°N 71.036528°W / 42.380694; -71.036528
Area: 0.3 acres (0.12 ha)
Built: 1844
Architectural style: Greek Revival, Vernacular Greek Revival
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#:


Added to NRHP: June 02, 1982

The Donald McKay House is a historic wood-frame home at 78-80 White Street in East Boston, Massachusetts. It was the residence of Donald McKay, noted builder of clipper ships.

The house was built in 1844 in the Greek Revival architectural style and is distinguished by an A-roof with a front-facing gable resembling a Greek pediment. McKay moved into the house in 1845, and during his residence there he designed and built some of the most successful clippers ever built.

These ships include the Flying Cloud (1851), whidh made two 89-day passages from New York to San Francisco[2]; the Sovereign of the Seas (1852), which posted the fastest speed ever by a sailing ship — 22 kts. — in 1854; the Lightning (1854), which set multiple records, including sailing 436 miles in a 24-hour period and sailing from Melbourne, Australia, to Liverpool, England, in 64 days; and the James Baines (1854), which logged a speed of 21 knots on June 18, 1856.

While living in East Boston, McKay also built five large packet ships for Enoch Train's White Diamond line, which specialised in the Atlantic emigrant route from Europe to North America, between 1845-1850. These ships were the Washington Irving, the Anglo Saxon, the Anglo American, the Daniel Webster, and the Ocean Monarch.[3] The Ocean Monarch was lost to fire on 28 August 1848, soon after leaving Liverpool and within sight of Wales; over 170 of the passengers and crew perished.[4] The Washington Irving carried Patrick Kennedy to Boston in 1849.

During the American Civil War, the US Navy contracted McKay to build the USS Nausett, one of the few Casco-class monitors to be commissioned.

The Donald McKay House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. A monument to McKay on Castle Island near Fort Independence in South Boston lists all of McKay's ships.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Octavius T. Howe; Frederick G. Matthews (1986). American Clipper Ships 1833-1858. 1. New York. ISBN 0-486-25115-2. 
  3. ^ Laxton, Edward The Famine Ships The Irish Exodus to America 1846-51 London Bloomsbury 1997 pp144-5 ISBN 0-7475-3500-0
  4. ^ Laxton, Edward op cit pp91-8