LeClear House // c.1915

Waban in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a hotbed for architect-designed houses as their own residences. This Colonial Revival/Tudor Revival style estate was designed by Gifford LeClear (1874–1931), a prominent architect in the Boston area. Gifford LeClear was born in Rutherford, New Jersey to Thomas and Cornelia (King) LeClear. He was educated in the private schools in Boston before entering Harvard University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895 and Master of Arts in 1896. He then worked for a year in the engineering department of the West End Street Railway before forming his partnership with Densmore in 1897. The partnership of Densmore & LeClear was formed in April 1897, practicing as mechanical and electrical engineers. One of the firm’s major projects in this role was the design of the building systems for the new campus of the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Baker-Mason House // 1897

Eclectic homes that can not be pigeonholed to a single architectural style are among my favorite as they blend features elegantly into a single, unique composition. This house on Windsor Road in the Waban village of Newton, Massachusetts is an example of an “eclectic” late 19th century home. This old house exhibits elements of the Queen Anne and Tudor Revival styles. The house was built in 1897 for Daniel and Ida Baker. After their death, the home was purchased by a James H. Mason, who got it for an estimated $25,000 in 1909. A listing at the time mentions the property included a 14-room house and large stable, the latter still stands at the rear of the lot (since converted to a car garage).

James R. Bancroft House // 1924

At the very end of Windsor Road in Waban Village, Newton, you will find this large, stuccoed Tudor home. The property was one of the last developed on the street and was designed by Newton-based architect William J. Freethy. The first owner of the house was James R. Bancroft, a nationally known economist who taught at Boston University and for years served as President of the American Institute of Finance. The Bancroft House is a refined example of the Tudor Revival style with stucco siding without half-timbering or other masonry detailing which is seen in so many other examples nearby.

Albert Parlin School // 1931

Albert Norton Parlin (1848-1927) was born in Everett, Massachusetts to Ezra Parlin and Nancy Pickering-Parlin. At a young age, Albert lost both his parents – his mother passed in 1853 at the age of 26 and his father passed in 1858 at the age of 37, both succumbing to “consumption” (tuberculosis). At the age of nine, young Albert had become an orphan, and was raised by his grandmother at the Pickering Estate. He found his first job as a floor-sweep and errand boy in a retail cloak store. At seventeen, Albert Parlin began working with Magee Furnace Company, a Boston-based company where Mr. Parlin spent twenty-eight years of his professional career, moving up the ranks to become treasurer of the company. After he became successful, he gave back to his hometown, when in 1892, he donated his familial home and money to the City of Everett for the erection of the Parlin Memorial Library, to honor his late son. Parlin was not done giving to his hometown. He also left funds and a large piece of land to the City of Everett for a new Junior High School in 1915. The architectural firm of Desmond & Lord was commissioned to design the school which is set deep on the lot to give the building a beautiful front lawn. The 1931 building blends Art Deco and Tudor Revival styles with a large central panel.

Converse-Brown House // 1912

When walking around Boston, don’t forget to look up! When strolling around Beacon Hill, I always make a point to stop and look at details, and this towering mansard roof really caught my eye this time. In 1911, real estate developer Gerald G.E. Street purchased a brick horse stable and razed it to lay out house lots for ten townhouses. He hired architect Richard Arnold Fisher, a specialist in the ever-popular Colonial Revival style to design the houses. For this property, he veered into English/Tudor Revival with the stone frame casement windows. The house was purchased by Frederick Shepard Converse, a composer who taught at the New England Conservatory of Music in addition to composing such works at The Pipe of Desire, which in 1915 was the first American work ever performed at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. By 1927, the home was owned by Waldo H. Brown, New England manager of Colonial Air Transport Company, an early airline that flew between New York and Boston. The 32-year-old Waldo occupied the house with his wife Frances, three young children and four servants: housekeeper, cook, maid and nurse! In 1927 Brown filed a permit application to build a tall new room over a roof terrace with a slate mansard roof containing a huge studio window, possibly to house all of the servants in the home! Richard Arnold Fisher, the building’s original designer, was cited as architect.

Edmund and Ethel Sprague House // 1929

In the inter-war period, Norman Revival houses took off in popularity (though never at the same level as Tudor or Colonial Revival styles), partially due to returning soldiers who served in Normandy France in WWI. Many plans include a small round tower topped by a cone-shaped roof, resembling the grain silos of the ancient Normandy style. The architecture is characterized by steep, conical roofs or hipped roofs and round stair-towers. The style is much less common in the Boston area, but this notable example in Waban Village, Newton, was too good to pass by without snapping a photo! The home was built around 1929 for Edmund and Ethel Sprague. Edmund is listed in directories as a landscaper for trees and shrubs.

Ellis House // 1926

In the land of storybook Tudor houses, this one might just be the most magical of them all! Located on Chestnut Street in Waban Village of Newton, you’ll find this stone Tudor cottage set behind a circular drive. The house was built in 1926, in the interwar period (between WW1 and WW2), a period of rapid suburban development in this part of Newton. The house was first occupied by a Seymour Ellis, who according to newspapers, had a rabid dog! The house exhibits a strong gable to the street which incorporates a massive chimney inside. The gable also sweeps out to form a catslide roof, that incorporates an arched garden gate.

Emmett House // 1917

This refined brick Tudor Revival house in the Waban Village of Newton was built in 1917 for Lila and James Emmett. The couple hired Boston architect Edward B. Stratton to furnish plans for the home, which fits in to the early 20th century neighborhood. The symmetrical home has two gables at the facade which frame the central bay with a segmental pediment at the entrance.

Windle House // c.1912

William “Willie” Winfred Windle (yes that is a real name) was born in Millbury at the height of the town’s industrial growth and prosperity. He ran the W.W. Windle Mill just west of downtown and with his wealth, was able to buy a house lot on one of the most fashionable residential streets in town. His home was built in the early 20th century and is a stunning example of Tudor Revival architecture. In 1911, Windle traveled to England to inspect mills there and was likely inspired by some of the residential architecture he viewed on the trip. The house elegantly blends stone walls with half-timbered wood, with a prominent entry. The timber and stone entrance porch which has decorative bargeboard and corbels, has been enclosed. The home remained in the Windle family at least into the 1940s, when it was occupied by William Winfred Windle’s son, Winfred Woodward Windle. By the 1970s, the home was occupied as the Millbury Society of District Nursing.

Fairholme // 1875

One of a handful of massive summer cottages in Newport that have always remained a single-family house is this beauty, known as Fairholme. Originally built in 1875, the summer cottage was built in the popular Stick style for Philadelphia arts patron and engineer Fairman Rogers by architect Frank Furness, also of Philadelphia. The estate was purchased, expanded and modernized at the turn of the 20th century by Philadelphia banker John R. Drexel (1863-1935) and his wife, Alice Troth (1865-1947). It is likely that Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer was hired by the Drexel’s to modernize the home, as he was hired in 1903 to design their Manhattan townhome. The enlarged home in the Tudor Revival style saw a couple successive owners, all uber wealthy bankers and industrialists. The waterfront mansion which neighbors The Breakers and Anglesea (both featured on here previously), sold in 2016 for $16.1 Million!