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.
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.
Built for Elijah. C Emerson in 1846 this estate house in Brookline Village is one of the oldest extant in the area. Elijah Carlton Emerson (1807-1888) was New Hampshire and eventually settled in the Boston area with his family. In adulthood, Emerson became a wealthy Boston merchant as Director of the Second National Bank and President of the Middlesex Horse Railroad. Emerson established his estate on the land that is now Emerson Garden in 1846, which included the house and carriage barn and was expanded to include a cottage and a pond with a boathouse. Towards the end of his life, Emerson desired to make more money in retirement, and sold building lots from his estate to friends, retaining some for himself. Many of the lots surrounding his estate were developed as rental properties in fashionable Victorian-era styles. Upon his death in 1888, the estate went to his widow and daughters, the latter sold the estate to the Town of Brookline, who wanted to build a public park on the land. The town paid to have the Emerson house and carriage house moved across Davis Avenue, and Emerson’s granddaughter Mrs. Cullen B. Snell and her husband moved into
the relocated house.
The story behind Brookline’s Town Hall building is the story of many cities and towns all over the country in the 1960s-70s, that of Urban Renewal. Brookline Village was (and mostly still is) a vibrant commercial district of varied architectural styles and massing which together, create a patchwork that details the history of the city through design. Early wood-frame commercial buildings sit side-by-side to ornate Victorian-era buildings, with Modern infill scattered throughout. Brookline Village has long been the governmental core of the suburban town due to the location of the train station and its central location to the other neighborhoods. A grand Victorian Gothic Town Hall (the town’s third) was built in 1871 at the corner of Washington and Prospect Streets. Designed by S. J. Thayer, the building would easily rival any other building in town today. After WWII, Brookline and many other cities, through Urban Renewal, sought to restore the economic vitality of the governmental hub of town, by demolishing the “outdated” buildings and replace them with tall, sleek, modern structures with ample landscaping and parking surrounding. The town hired Anderson, Beckwith and Haible, a very prominent firm in Boston to design the International/Brutalist building. In the 1960s, a majority of the civic, commercial, and residential buildings around the former town hall were demolished and replaced with Modernist buildings, all but erasing the relative scale and history of that section of the Village.
The stunning Brookline Public Library building was constructed in 1907 is actually the second library building on the site. Before a separate library building was constructed in Brookline, a space was utilized in the Town Hall, until the city grew large enough to warrant a separate building. A Second Empire style library was built in 1869 later expanded, next door to the Town Hall. The building was later replaced for a larger structure in 1907 after an architectural competition concluded with architect R. Clipston Sturgis winning the commission. The Classical Revival building is constructed of brick with limestone trim and quoins. The amazing columned portico at the second floor is my personal favorite feature.
St. Marys Church in Brookline Village was the first Catholic Church established in Brookline. Irish immigrants originally settled in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, and mostly worked in industrial occupations including for the railroad companies. The migration of Irish to Brookline was, in part, due to the opening of the Brookline branch of the Boston and Worcester Railroad, on which many Irish were employed as construction workers. Many settled in workers housing on the periphery of what is today Brookline Village. Many Irish families started congregating at the Lyceum Hall in Brookline as a Catholic meeting space. After the Civil War, land was purchased on Harvard Street for the erection of a church by the Catholic Diocese. Renowned architects Peabody & Stearns were selected to design a church.
Completed in 1886, the Victorian Gothic church is constructed of red brick with Longmeadow brownstone trim. Gothic lancet windows and arches adorn the building, which has prominent facades on both Harvard and Linden Streets. Directly to the right of the church, a rectory was built to provide a residence for the Rector. The 3 1/2-story rectory was also designed by Peabody & Stearns and is stylistically similar to the church next door. A school and convent were later added to complete the large campus.
The area known as the Lindens in Brookline Village was once an apple and cherry orchard known as Holden Farm, owned by James Holden. Holden had married Lucy Aspinwall Davis, a widow who had multiple children from her previous marriage. After Holden and his new wife died, the Holden farmland was split between the heirs, and Thomas Aspinwall Davis bought up the shares from his brothers. He envisioned the farmland could be a subdivision in a rural setting of large homes on large lots. The result, the Lindens area is the earliest planned development in Brookline and was laid out as a “garden suburb” for those wishing to escape the growing congestion of Boston. As originally conceived in 1843, it reflected the latest ideals of planned residential development for a semi-rural setting with curvilinear streets and small parks. Many homes were built in the 1840s in prominent styles at the time, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate.
One of the largest homes, built for Davis, was located to face Linden Park. The home is a blending of Gothic Revival and Italianate styles with a central gable adorned with decorative bargeboards and belvedere at the roof. The home had a gorgeous Gothic Revival porch which was removed in 1903, when the home was turned northward to face Linden Place. The front porch was replaced with an Arts and Crafts portico and lost much of the original detailing. While the neighborhood lost the original bucolic appeal at the turn of the century due to infill construction, many of the original 1840s homes remain.
A later addition to the Lindens section of Brookline Village, this wood-frame apartment building is a great addition to the streetscape. Rising three stories, the Queen Anne building features four main bays with a mixture of oriels and bay windows to break up the facade. The multiple projections allowed for light and air to circulate in the units, a concern for many early apartment buildings. The building was constructed for J. W. Tobey, as an income property. The building has since been converted to condominium units.
Located in Brookline Village, this house on Linden Street is one of the oldest remaining from the Lindens Subdivision, the first of its type in the Village. The house was built for 24 year old Charles W. Scudder, a hardware merchant who worked in Downtown Boston. Scudder died in 1891 and the home was willed to his widow, Alicia, who died just a year later. The home is a great example of the Greek Revival style, with its pedimented gable, heavy cornice with frieze, columned porch, and pilaster cornerboards. The home was built before the train came to Brookline Village, so owners had to ride their coaches to Downtown Boston, a long distance back then.
Located at the prominent intersection of Harvard and Washington Streets in Brookline Village, the Rhodes Block commands the site with its almost cartoonish take on Georgian architecture. The structure was designed by architect William C. Collett for George Talbot, a major landowner in the Brookline Village area. As the two intersecting streets were widened for increased traffic at the turn of the century, he decided to raze the wood-frame buildings on the site and construct new, modern commercial blocks for lease. The design featured a brick building with storefronts at the chamfered corner. The eye-catching swan’s neck pediment which appears to be made of metal. The main tenant of the building was the Rhodes Brothers Company, a grocer who specialized in fresh fish, meats and produce. The building was occupied as a grocery store until the 1970s when it was occupied by a liquor store and is now a bank (which doesn’t really enhance the pedestrian realm).