One of the oldest homes in Brookline is the Edward Devotion House just north of Coolidge Corner. Built in 1745, the home is a traditional example of a Georgian wood-frame home built prior to the American Revolution. Edward Devotion (1621-85) settled in Brookline around 1645. At that time, Brookline was a farming community known as Muddy River. Devotion’s acreage along Harvard Street included apple orchards and pastureland for sheep and cattle. His son, also Edward Devotion, left a bequest to the town for public schooling in his 1744 will and the home was willed to his son Solomon Hill (not sure why the name change). Edward Devotion (the second) was a slave-owner; an accounting of his possessions at his death included “one Negrow” valued at £30. The Edward Devotion School, which today surrounds the house on three sides, was named for him in 1892 in recognition of his earlier bequest for a school.
The home that stands today on Harvard Street was built by around 1745, not by a Devotion, but by Solomon Hill. Through research by the Brookline Historical Society, some wood beams in the home were dated and are estimated to be from the 1680s. While it is unclear as to if the home was demolished and a new one built or just altered by Hill, the home is clearly a significant structure to tell the story of Brookline’s humble beginnings as a town known as “Muddy River” to the affluent suburb it is today. The home is owned by the Brookline Historical Society who wrote much of this amazing history.