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.


Boston Map c. 1985

Boston Map c. 1895

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.


39-45 Newbury Street Sketch

Sketch of 39-45 Newbury Street

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.


Public Garden

Public Garden


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.


Present-day 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. In recent times, the Castle was home to Lighthouse ArtSpace Boston, which showed innovative, immersive art exhibits, including Immersive Frida Kahlo, Immersive Monet & the Impressionists and Immersive Klimt. These art shows featured enormous displays, with 500,000 cubic feet of art, 90,000,000 pixels and 1,200,000 frames of video.

Currently at The Saunders Castle: The exhibition “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.” has brought together an extensive collection of artifacts from Auschwitz, which are of great significance to world history and humanity.  To learn more about this exhibition, view coverage from



Newbury Street, the Back Bay & Beyond


The company’s current office and retail tenants include Valentino, Loro Piana, Shreve, Crump & Low, AKRIS, M.J. O’Connor’s, Thos. Moser, Cheryl Richard Photography Studio, Emerson College, Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, American Heart Association, and many more.