Boston, MA, USA - June 25, 2017: view of the architecture of Boston in Massachusetts, USA at night showcasing the Kenmore Square with its famous landmark the CitGo neon sign and red brick pavement by the Fenway Park Stadium.

What: The Rat Demolished
When: October 2000
Where: Boston 

From 1974 to 1997, Kenmore Square’s Rathskeller club, affectionately known as “The Rat” served as the rowdy, punk-infused and beer-soaked beating heart of Boston’s music scene, launching the careers of famed local acts like The Cars and hosting then-edgy, out-of-town acts like The Police and The Talking Heads. 

Three developers and Boston University bought up, then tore down a dozen buildings on the south side of Kenmore Square, including The Rat’s former home, in October 2000. In their place rose a historicist façade containing the 149-room, luxury Hotel Commonwealth. University executives were clear that they wanted to copy Harvard University’s playbook and give their school a tamer and more genteel milieu. 

Two decades on, BU draws elite students from around the world, few if any local institutions of higher learning sit side-by-side with urban grit and The Rat’s only earthly remains in Kenmore Square are memorabilia in an eponymous suite that the Hotel Commonwealth bills as “reinterpreting Rock’n Roll inspirations with an eye toward luxury.” 

“It has been a priority of ours to help elevate the quality of life in Kenmore Square. It’s a very important area that happens to be adjacent to the BU campus and it’s an important part of the university.”
— Joe Mercurio, executive vice president, Boston University, to the Boston Globe in 1999 

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Banker & Tradesman is highlighting significant moments in the history of Massachusetts’ real estate and banking industries. To suggest a topic, email

This Month in History: A Symbolic Change in Kenmore Square

by James Sanna time to read: 1 min