In preparation for an architectural career he entered the Lawrence Scientific School at Cambridge and graduated with the class of 1863, but did not continue his studies until after the end of the Civil War.
He entered the Boston office of Ware & Van Brunt, and for several years continued his training under Mr. Ware's direction.
In 1870 he joined Robert S. Peabody (see) in a partnership which was maintained until his own death in 1917, and less than a month after Mr. Peabody passed away.
In the extensive practice of the firm during the late 19th and early 20th century, many notable buildings were designed in the office of Peabody 6 Stearns, including the Exchange Building, #53 State Street, one of the largest buildings in Boston, and headquarters of the firm for many years. Unitarian Association Building; Wentworth Institute: Simmons College Building, and the tower of the Custom House, all in Boston; Mathews Hall and the Hemen way Gymnasium at Harvard University; The Boy’s School at Groton, Mass.; City Halls in Worcester and Chelsea, Mass., and many fine residences in suburban locations in Lenox, Mass., and Newport, R. I.
In addition Peabody & Stearns designed the Church of the Messiah and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Louis, Mo. (*), and in 1892, the Massachusetts Building and Hall of Machinery, a monumental group about the grand court at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.