The Professional Building of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is neither here nor there. That is to say, this minor location truly exists, just not where Hal Incandenza, prince of E.T.A., says it does during one of his typically cagey land-line telephone calls (!) with older brother Orin:
‛The therapy ended up taking place in that Professional Building right up Comm. Ave. past the Sunstrand Plaza by Lake Street, the one with bricks the color of Thousand Island dressing we all run by four days a week. Who was to know one of the continent’s top grief-men was right up the street.’
Unlike most every other location explored in this series, I came across this one quite by accident, even though it was in my itinerary from the start. I first noticed the bright blue sign (see first photo above) from across Washington Street while circumnavigating the western base of the Brighton hill on which St. Elizabeth’s proper sits. As you’ll see, the building behind the sign doesn’t match the novel’s description in any way save for its name and general purpose.
The second photo is what one will actually find a mile’s walk away, at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Lake Street: a severe, single-story, columnized Boston College-affiliated building almost kitty-corner to the school’s main entrance. It’s not really the color of Thousand Island dressing—maybe Thousand Island dressing left out in the sun a bit too long—but it is brick, and it is certainly there.
Other locations in the book have key certain key details obscured, but only this one has been transformed into a semi-fictional location by a discrepancy of a few city blocks.