Charles Perkins House // 1891

The residential neighborhood of Fisher Hill in Brookline was laid out in 1884 by Frederick Law Olmsted, – who lived nearby – and is considered a masterpiece of curvilinear planning. The neighborhood was made up of successful Boston area businessmen, including lawyers, doctors, and bankers. It was expected that the new owners would build their homes to conform to the affluent character of the neighborhood. This house built in 1891 was no different.

Located at 73 Seaver Street, this Queen Anne mansion was designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston, which operated from 1886 to 1915, growing out of the practice of Henry Hobson Richardson after his death in 1886. The house was built for Charles Perkins, a lawyer in Boston at the law firm of Perkins and Lyman. The home at the time of the photo (June 2020), is undergoing a renovation which includes yet another boring gray paint scheme… Bleh. Hopefully the interior, exterior trim, and historic windows will be restored.

Head House // 1980

If the 1980s was a house, this home in the Fisher Hill neighborhood of Brookline would be it! Located at the corner of Fisher Ave and Leicester Street, the property actually was built in 1902 for Elizabeth Head. The home was the earliest on the street and was wood frame with stucco siding. In 1980, the home was completely renovated in the Post-Modern style, fairly uncommon in this high style. The owners hired architect Tom Larson to completely reconfigure the home and add some cartoonish features which really catch the eye. The home was re-clad with multi-colored stucco, given rounded windows, and a rounded entry with colonnade.

Pollen House // 1961

Built into the side of Fisher Hill, this Mid-Century Modern home in Brookline depicts the sleek lines and materiality synonymous with the style. The home was designed by the architectural firm of Arthur H. Cohen and Abraham J. Goldberg, which lasted only a few years and was completed by 1961. Abraham Pollen, an eye doctor, and namesake of the Arthur Pollen Archives at Mass. Eye and Ear, resided in the Modern home for most of his professional life. Vertical glass panels and tongue and groove boards with batten strips characterize the home along with the prominent garage entries facing the street.

Fisher Hill Reservoir Gatehouse // 1887

Located at the center of Fisher Hill, an Olmsted-designed neighborhood in Brookline, is a 10-acre park with raised earth and a depression in the middle. At first glance you may think its just been playing fields and open space for as long as the neighborhood has been around, but upon closer inspection (and geeking out over the gatehouse), you can learn much more!

The Fisher Hill Reservoir was built in 1886-87 as an early component of the Boston Water Board’s expansion of its high service system. The gatehouse was likely designed by Boston City Architect, Arthur Vinal, who also
designed the Chestnut Hill High Service Pumping Station (now the Waterworks Museum) completed the same year. The gatehouse has a granite substructure, stone main floor, and brick second story. Brownstone is used for quoins and window heads, including the oversized voussoirs above round-arched openings in the main floor.

Aerial photograph of Fisher Hill Reservoir in 1931. Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth.

Providing water for the area for over 60 years via a large open reservoir, the land was eventually abandoned by the state as newer facilities were constructed and distribution changed after WWII. The site and gatehouse sat abandoned for decades until the Town of Brookline purchased the parcel from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for use as a municipal park. The landscape architecture firm of Klopfer Martin Design Group kept the earth structure as a historic reference to the site’s context within Brookline and greater Boston, and conveyed the site’s history as a reservoir, using both spatial and interpretive elements and signage, as well as delivering a contemporary, and programmatically rich park, worthy of its Olmstedian context.

Emile Coulon House // 1923

Built in 1923, this striking French Eclectic home is by far one of my favorites in Brookline! The home was built for Emile Coulon, a hotelier. Coulon was born in Le Mans, France and worked in several European hotels before moving to America, first settling in New York in 1901. Fluent in four languages, Coulon was also well-read and catered to the luxurious clientele many of the hotels he worked at. After one year in New York, he moved to Boston and started as a waiter at the Hotel Touraine. By 1912, he leased the Hotel Westminster and five years later, the Hotel Victoria. He later leased the Hotels Touraine, Lafayette and Vendome in the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression. Coulon was elected president of the Massachusetts Hotel Association. Emile and his wife lived in this French style home, likely designed with his French roots in mind, for just five years before they moved to a unit in the Vendome to be closer to his 24/7 job. He died in 1947 in his beloved Vendome apartment.

Malcolm Eaton House // 1915

This grand Colonial Revival mansion in Brookline was built for Malcolm H. Eaton (1890-1932), a restauranteur who co-owned the renowned Thompson’s Spa chain in Boston with his father Charles. Thompson’s Spa, a since long-gone chain in Boston that grew to about a dozen units in the 1930s, began as a soda fountain – a “spa” — selling non-alcoholic “temperance drinks.” Open year round, it provided both cold and hot drinks from lemonade and orangeade to “beef tea” whatever that is. Charles Eaton was a graduate of MIT who in 1880, after briefly practicing as an architect in his home town of Lowell MA, had invented an electric telephone signaling device that he sold to Bell Telephone. For some odd reason he chucked that career and joined his brother-in-law (named Thompson) in running a wholesale drug store in Boston, which later evolved to the Thompson’s Spa chain. When Charles died in 1917, Malcolm and his two brothers helped oversee the expansion of the chain and brought it to the neighborhoods of Boston. Malcolm with his earnings from the successful spa, hired the architectural firm Chapman & Frazer to design this high-style Colonial Revival home when he was just 25 years old.

Clarke House // 1897

Contributing to the collection of Jacobethan architecture in Brookline with a Dutch flair, the Clarke House stands out as one of the finest. Designed in 1897 for William H. Clarke and his wife Charlotte, the mansion is prominently sited at the intersection of Dean Road and Druce Street. William Whitney Lewis, the architect, was commissioned to design the home for the merchant and his wife. William Whitney Lewis came to the United States at an early age.  He studied at Boston Boys’ High School in Philadelphia and then at MIT.  From 1868 to 1875 he was a draftsman with Cummings and Sears.  He formed his own practice in 1876, specializing in residential architecture, including homes in Boston, Lowell, and Manchester-by-the-Sea. His design for the Clarke’s includes: curvilinear Dutch gables with pediments, red brick with Indiana limestone trim exterior, and an arched entrance. The house has since had some pretty uninspired alterations to the windows, but overall it is still a statement piece. Oh and it has a later garage that mimics the style!

Ralph Stewart House // 1907

This Colonial Revival home facing the corner of Dean Road and Druce Street was built in 1907 for Stewart and Mary Stewart in the Fisher Hill area of Brookline. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were friends of Walter H . Kilham, senior partner in the firm of Kilham & Hopkins, who designed this home for them. Stewart was an attorney who worked at Choate, Hall & Stewart law firm (still active) in Boston. The architectural firm of Kilham & Hopkins designed a large number of residences and schools in and around Brookline, where Kilham lived. The Stewart House is an excellent example of their historically sensitive interpretations of Colonial Revival style design. Of particular note with this home is the large, arched stair-hall window over the front door and the entry treatment.

Ellery Residence // 1918

This mansion was built in 1918 for William and Bessie Ellery and is located on Fisher Avenue in Brookline. Mr. Ellery was direct descendant of William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and worked as a wool dealer and made a fortune in Boston. During WWI, Ellery served as colonel in the Quartermaster Corps and in WWII, he served as a wool appraiser for the Department of Agriculture. Before all this, he and his wife sought an escape from the ills of the city by building a home in the streetcar suburb of Fisher Hill, to get away from Downtown Boston. The couple hired Edward Nichols, an architect who has fallen so under the radar, I have not been able to locate much about him! He designed this stunning stuccoed Spanish Revival mansion that features a large entry with central pergola, a rounded arch veranda at the second floor, and a hipped tile roof with dormers. The interior is pretty great too from the listing photos!!

Rogerson House // 1928

This stunning Colonial Revival home was designed in 1928 by noted Boston architect Royal Barry Wills in the New England Colonial Style. Wills, who I have featured on this blog before, embraced the historic motif of Colonial architecture, later conceding to Modernist projects. This design is of carefully crafted medieval fashion in a two story, garrison form, with a large center chimney and small paned windows of 17th-century inspiration. The house was purchased by Henry Rogerson, a stock broker, just before the stock market crash in 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, remaining in the family through the Second World War.