The Saunders family’s legacy in Boston began in 1898, when Jacob Sanderowitch (Saunders), a recent immigrant from Lithuania, started a residential real estate business with offices at 617 Columbus Avenue. From the beginning, Jacob prioritized meticulous care of the properties in his portfolio, and that is a tradition the Saunders family continues today.
Jacob’s son, Irving M. Saunders, expanded the family business into commercial real estate. One of his first projects was the purchase and development of a piece of Back Bay land at the intersection of Berkeley Street and Columbus Avenue, the contemporary 147 Berkeley Street. Irving loved taking on new projects and new properties, adding more and more buildings to the company’s portfolio.
Searching for the latest booms in the real estate market at that time, Irving began to target the hospitality industry. During the 1940s he took on the management of Tanglewood resort in Falmouth, Massachusetts, a vast Cape Cod property surrounded by 26 acres. In 1949, Irving acquired the Copley Square Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay, beginning the Saunders family’s legacy as Boston hoteliers.
Irving’s sons Donald and Roger continued the family’s tradition, joining the company as principals. Donald L. Saunders greatly expanded the company’s commercial real estate portfolio, acquiring 229 Newbury Street, 39-45 Newbury Street, 29-33 Newbury Street, 35 Newbury Street, 18-19 Arlington Street, and other notable Boston buildings.
In 1976, Donald and Roger were instrumental in purchasing and improving a trio of landmark properties: The Armory of the First Corp of Cadets (now The Saunders Castle), Boston Park Plaza Hotel, and the adjoining office building at 20 Park Plaza (now The Saunders Building). The family’s bold investment in these properties was credited with helping to revitalize the Park Square neighborhood of Boston’s Back Bay.
Today, the Back Bay is a bustling home to the finest hotels, restaurants and retail. The Saunders family continues to exclusively lease and manage its portfolio of properties in the Back Bay and beyond, carefully stewarding and improving its properties and looking intently toward the future.
Saunders Real Estate is headed by Donald L. Saunders, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Saunders has been an active member of New England’s real estate industry for more than six decades. Mr. Saunders is a Certified Property Manager (CPM) of the Institute of Real Estate Management. His other professional affiliations include the Building Owners & Managers Association, Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers, Real Estate Board of New York, National Association of Realtors, and International Hotel Association.
Lisa M. Saunders, Senior Vice President & Director of Real Estate, represents the company’s fourth generation. Lisa currently oversees all aspects of the company’s portfolio, which includes approximately 2,000,000 square feet of commercial, retail, event, exhibition and residential space throughout New England. She serves as a Commissioner with the Back Bay Architectural Commission, and she is a member of numerous organizations including the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, New England Women in Real Estate, Back Bay Association, Newbury Street League, and many more.
Recent milestones from Saunders Real Estate include significant events at The Saunders Castle. In 2019, the Castle was host to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, an immensely successful experience enjoyed by more than 80,000 visitors.
Exciting happenings at the Castle in 2021 and beyond include an innovative art exhibition and the filming of a major motion picture. We look forward to sharing photos and further details on these and other events in the near future.
Current office and retail tenants include Valentino, Loro Piana, Shreve, Crump & Low, AKRIS, Au Bon Pain, M.J. O’Connor’s, Third Rock Ventures, Emerson College, Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, American Heart Association, Newbury Fine Arts, and many more.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has affected our region, nation and world on an unprecedented level, we at Saunders Real Estate remain focused on the wellbeing of our building communities. We continue to provide certified, custom cleaning, social distancing opportunities, and offices with individual HVAC air filtration. We wish all the best for our communities and beyond as we eagerly anticipate the post-Covid future.