This stunning home in Brookline’s Cottage Farm neighborhood was built in 1908 for Bernard Jenney, the assistant treasurer of the Jenney Oil Company. Stephen Jenney, had founded Jenney Oil Company in Boston in 1812, as a kerosene, coal and whale oil producer. By the 1860s, Bernard Sr. and his brother Francis took over the company which became known as the Jenney Manufacturing Company. The newly established company focused primarily on production and distribution of petroleum products for factories and businesses. The Jenney Manufacturing Company took off in the early 1900s due to the proliferation of personal automobiles in Boston and they expanded a new manufacturing center in City Point, South Boston, which had a capacity of 500 barrels of oil a day. Jenney auto oil and gasoline became a major supplier and after Bernard Sr.’s death in 1918, under Bernard Jr.’s leadership, the company began to develop gas stations in New England. The company continued into the 1960s when it was acquired by Cities Service, later rebranding as Citgo. Jenney resided here until his death in 1939. According to the 1935 Brookline street list, the occupants included his daughter’s family Mary & Francis Brewer, three maids and a laundress. The house was acquired by Boston University in 1963 and has long served as the home of former president John Silber.
The architectural firm of Kilham & Hopkins was hired to design the home, which is French Renaissance Revival in style. The home itself is an architectural landmark. When it was published in ‘The American Architect’ in 1910, the house was described as, “A Study in French design of the Louis XVI period”. Additionally, the home (of course) featured a vehicle garage as the family must have had some cars based on the line of work. The home is now listed for sale for a cool $4,888,000 price tag!
Located on the appropriately named Netherlands Road in Brookline, MA, this house was actually designed as a temporary structure as part of the 1893 World’s Fair, also known as the World’s Columbian Exposition or the White City, depicted in the great book, Devil in the White City. The Dutch House was constructed in 1893 by the Van Houten Cocoa Company of the Netherlands, as a display pavilion and cocoa house. It was located at one end of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building (the largest building ever constructed at the time). The Dutch House as we know of it today, was greatly inspired in design by the Franeker City Hall (c. 1591) in the Netherlands. While attending the World’s Fair, Captain Charles Brooks Appleton of Brookline be.came so captivated with the structure that after the Fair, he purchased the building and had it dismantled and transported to Brookline. By the early 2000s, much of the amazing carvings on the building had fallen off, until a new homeowner had them all restored from drawings and images of the building, to the iconic landmark we see today.
Echoing some design motifs from the nearby Gahm House (last post), this home showcases the Tudor Revival style, but mixed with Arts and Crafts and Colonial Revival details. Adapted from a house built in the 1850s, the home was enlarged in 1906, from plans by Andrews, Jaques and Rantoul an architectural firm of wide acclaim. Adolph Ehrlich (1868-1952) and Marion Ratchesky Ehrlich (1877-1966) had the home built as a refuge from the hustle-and-bustle of busy Boston. Adolph was born in Boston and at the age of 11, began work in the textile business. He climbed the ranks and became a partner in a clothing company before becoming director of the Jordan Marsh Department Store Company from 1925 until his death in 1952. His wife Marion was heavily involved in social causes until her death, including the Louisa May Alcott Club, a settlement house in Boston for young, predominantly immigrant girls.
Located in the stunning Longwood neighborhood of Brookline, MA, the Gahm House stands out not only for its size, but stunning details and architectural design. This house was designed in 1907 by the architectural firm of Hartwell, Richardson & Driver, one of the premier firms of the region at the time. Joseph and Mary Gahm hired the firm to design their new home the same year the firm designed a bottling plant (no longer extant) in South Boston for Mr. Gahm’s business. Joseph Gahm was a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, who emigrated to Boston in 1854 and initially worked as a tailor. In the early 1860s, Gahm opened a restaurant in Charlestown, by the late 1860s he added a small bottling operation to this business. The bottling business soon expanded to such an extent that he was able to give up the restaurant business and open a large bottling plant in 1888. He eventually moved operations to South Boston where there was more room for transportation and shipping capabilities. Their stuccoed house in Brookline is especially notable for the well preserved carvings at the entrance, which include: faces, floral details, lions, and owls perched atop the newel posts. What do you think of this beauty?
This stunning Queen Anne house in Brookline showcases everything that is synonymous with the term “Victorian” in architecture. This home was built in 1890 for William Boynton, a flour merchant who had offices in downtown Boston. The home features an assortment of siding types, sunburst motifs, an asymmetrical facade, and a large corner tower with an onion dome. The home is painted to showcase all the fine details and intricacies seen in the design.
Perched high on Green Hill in Brookline, this house (named after the landscape feature) was built by Nathaniel Ingersoll in 1806. Ingersoll, born in Salem in 1778, was a ship captain and merchant, which perhaps explains why the house was built in the “Jamaica Planters” or “West Indies” idiom, a sub-type of Federal style. The style, fairly unique to this little area of Brookline features an overhanging roof supported by light columns to create a two-story arcade, once covered by climbing vines. The large Federal style carriage house once on the site was moved from its site to the grounds of the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury in the 1990s. In 1842, the estate was purchased by John Lowell Gardner who later willed the home to his son, John “Jack” Gardner and his wife, Isabella Stewart Gardner. The estate served as a summer getaway for the couple, who’s primary residence was on Beacon Street in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston (since demolished).
Built c.1803 by Samuel Gardner Perkins, a Boston merchant and avid horticulturist as a summer escape from the city, this house with its two-story columned porch and a natural ravine at the rear, was one of a handful of so-called “Jamaica Planter” style houses unique to Brookline. After a subsequent owner, the home was purchased in 1864 by Edward W. Hooper as a summer estate. In May 1874, the renowned Henry Hobson Richardson moved to Brookline, Mass., to supervise construction of Trinity Church. He rented this home from his Harvard classmate and fellow Harvard Porcellian Club member, Edward Hooper. The house, it is said, reminded Richardson of the plantation houses of his native Louisiana. Richardson established his office in the home, adding wings at the rear and sides for drafting rooms and a library (demolished after his death in 1886). In the home, dozens of fledgling young architects worked under one of the greats, including: George Shepley, Charles Rutan, and Charles Coolidge, who later would grow out of Richardson’s practice after his death. Just down the street, world-renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for designing Central Park in Manhattan, lived and worked in his own office/home setting, with the two often collaborating on important projects. Richardson died in 1886 at the age of 47, with substantial debts even being one of the premier architects of the country; his widow stayed in the house at a nominal rent until she acquired it in 1891. The Richardson family owned the home until 2000, following the 1998 death of his grandson, H. H. Richardson III. Presently, the home, and two other significant homes sit on a single, 4.5+acre lot currently being eyed for redevelopment. The current owner is petitioning to have all three homes on the lot demolished for a single family home. A demolition delay is almost guaranteed, but all three homes’ future is very uncertain.
Located adjacent to the former H.H. Richardson House (also threatened with demolition), this home in Brookline may eventually face the wrecking ball… The rear ell of the building appears to have been constructed prior to 1844, possibly as an outbuilding or the main house as part of Samuel Perkins’ estate. The property was later subdivided and had numerous owners who bought and sold it in quick succession until 1858, when it was purchased by Francis A. White (1825-1910) a partner of Frederick Guild (1826- ) in the Boston tanning firm of Guild & White, Co., until 1871, when White retired to devote full time to his real-estate investments in the Boston area. It is likely that White updated and enlarged the home in the 1870s, with the massive corner tower, as a testament to his proficiency in real estate development and design. Francis lived in the home with his wife and four children until his death in 1910, when the home was willed to his late wife Caroline. After her death, the home was owned by their daughter Sophia, who had married John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), a prominent landscape architect and nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted, who lived just down the street. John and Sophia lived in the home, renovating and enlarging the home at least once, and John would walk down the street to his office, now the Olmsted National Historic Site. John was the first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, founded in 1899, and was active in the formation of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Sadly, a demolition permit has been applied for to raze this home, the Richardson House and a Techbuilt house by a developer. It is likely a demolition delay will be enacted, but advocacy on the two older houses preservation should be the first and only option for the site.
Overlooking the Brookline Reservoir, this stunning eclectic Victorian home and matching carriage house showcase the wealth seen in the town lasting centuries. This home was built in 1896 for Frank Sweetser, then President of the Boylston Insurance Company in Boston. He previously lived in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and craved more space, moving to suburban Brookline. Sweetser hired the architectural firm of Winslow and Wetherell, who that same year designed the iconic Steinert Hall in Boston. This home is a glorious mix of Queen Anne and Shingle styles, with the irregular massing, projecting bays and dormers, massive chimneys and continuous shingled siding.
On October 25th, 1848, an estimated one hundred thousand people gathered on the Boston Common and saw a 95-foot high geyser of water from the Brookline Reservoir of the Cochituate Aqueduct gush into the air from the Frog Pond. This was the success of Boston’s first public water supply and aqueduct, and the second major municipally owned aqueduct in the U.S. At that time, beer was often more pure than most urban water, therefore with the introduction of clean drinking water into the city of Boston, it was an opportunity for celebration. This granite gatehouse structure at the Brookline Reservoir housed valve-like “gates,” screens, and meters controlling and measuring the flow of water from the reservoir into three large cast iron pipes which supplied other reservoirs in Boston, and especially one behind the statehouse on Beacon Hill (since demolished for the statehouse additions). The gatehouse was designed by Charles Edward Parker, an architect who was just 20 years old at the time! The surrounding reservoir is now a public park where you can walk on the elevated edge of the water source while learning about local history, whats not to love?!