Bernard Jenney House // 1908

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!

Frederick Sears House // 1851

The oldest extant house (and my favorite) in the Cottage Farm development of Brookline is the Frederick Sears House. This house is significant as one of the major surviving examples of Gothic Revival domestic architecture that was part of the original Cottage Farm development. David Sears laid out the parks and squares in the Cottage Farm neighborhood in 1849 on land he acquired from Uriah Cotting in 1818. He also built houses for himself and his children. His own house, erected in 1843, stood at the comer of Pleasant Street and Freeman Street. Sears built houses for his daughters, Ellen, Harriet, Anna, and Grace, all of which are no longer extant. Only the house he built for his son Frederick at 24 Cottage Farm Road survives among the Sears family houses.The large Gothic Revival home was constructed from Roxbury Puddingstone with granite trim. Possibly a work by George Minot Dexter, it is the highest style Gothic home, equipped with bargeboards, quoins and trefoil and quatrefoil windows.

Dexter-Hall House // 1851

The stunning Dexter House at 156 Ivy Street in Cottage Farm was designed by renowned architect George Minot Dexter as his own residence. Dexter was hired by Amos A. Lawrence who subdivided his large land holding in Brookline to develop cottages on large lots for rent. Lawrence hired Dexter to design multiple homes in the area and even sold him a lot, as opposed to renting a building on the grounds. Dexter built this Gothic Cottage in 1851, and used local Roxbury Puddingstone and brick with a slate gambrel roof. By the 1870s, it became home to Minna B. Hall, a founding member of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Hall became an advocate for the comings and goings of birds at the pond behind her house and plotted a strategy with her cousin, (and neighbor) Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, to halt the cruelty to birds and end the use of plumes adorning women’s hats. Before her death, Hall sought to conserve the pond behind her house and offered it to the Town of Brookline, who refused. It was partly developed and reduced in size, and nearly subdivided into four house lots in the 1970s, until a group of citizens rallied to have the land be preserved through federal and state grants. It was the first acquisition of land by the town for conservation purposes, fulfilling Minna’s last wish. It is called Hall’s Pond.

Edward P. Rowe House // 1911

This Colonial Revival house was built in 1911 for Edward P. Rowe and is an excellent example of the style. The architect on record was Henry W. Rowe, who was based out of an office at 161 Devonshire Street in Downtown Boston. Due to the shared last name between Edward and Henry, it can be assumed that they were related and thus, why his firm was hired for the design. Edward Rowe also worked at 161 Devonshire Street, but as a Treasurer and Director of the Massachusetts Accident Company, an insurance company. Rowe’s gorgeous home at 11 Mason Street in Cottage Farm features somewhat odd proportions, yet is one of the most prominent houses in the area. The 2 1/2 story gambrel house has four massive chimneys and shed dormers at the roof and a projecting enclosed portico with transom and side lights. The symmetrical facade is divided by large pilasters which segment the elongated windows.

Chaplin Cottage // 1855

One of a handful of Gothic style cottages remaining in the appropriately named Cottage Farm neighborhood of Brookline, the Chaplin Cottage is the only extant constructed of brick. This cottage, along with many others were constructed in the 1850s as detached homes on the Lawrence Estate and rented to Amos A. Lawrence’s friends. This home was rented out by William Chaplin and his family for many years before it was sold off like many others by the heirs of the Lawrence estate. The house features a steep roof, pointed arch gables, verandah with gothic posts, and multiple chimneys with chimney pots.

John Wales House // c.1886

The whimsical house at 71 Carlton Street in the Cottage Farm neighborhood in Brookline was built for John Wales in around 1886. George Wales worked as treasurer of John Wales & Company, a hardware business located on High Street in Boston. The home was designed by architect William Whitney Lewis, an English born architect who attended school at MIT and later worked in the office of Cummings & Sears, where he held many commissions for houses in the Back Bay. The Wales House features an asymmetrical facade with exceptional decorative effects through the use of brick and terra cotta ornament, corner oriel, and shingles.

Williams House // 1935

The Williams House on Carlton Street in the Cottage Farm neighborhood of Brookline was built in 1935 and is a great example of a Tudor Revival residential design. The home was designed by architect Harry Morton Ramsay, who completed over 75 residential commissions in the town of Brookline alone. He specialized in Tudor and Colonial Revival designs prior to WWII and after, he practiced in Ranch and split-level homes. This property is a late Tudor Revival constructed of red brick with stone detailing. The small oriel above the front door, decorative bargeboards at the gable and metal casement windows add much texture to the building.

Judge Wells House // 1870

The Cottage Farm neighborhood of Brookline developed as a suburban community with the growth of Boston and the opening of the Boston-Worcester Railroad in the 19th century. The man primarily responsible for this development was Amos A. Lawrence (1814-1886). In 1850, Lawrence purchased 200 acres from David Sears, developer of Longwood and
moved his family from Boston to Brookline. By this time, many wealthy Bostonians built estate houses in the suburbs and also held large homes in Beacon Hill, closer to their businesses. Amos and his brother William soon began to subdivide and build up the Cottage Farm area, selling lots to their friends and esteemed members of society.

One of the buildings constructed in the second wave of development after the Civil War was the large brick Second Empire home for Judge Jonathan Wells (1819-1875). Wells was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts and served until his death. After his death, residing at the home for just 5 years, the property appears to have been purchased next by Amos Lawrence’s widow Sarah E. Appleton where she lived until her death. Today, the home stands on one of the largest lots in Cottage Farm and features amazing brickwork with the corbeling, belt course, and staggered quoins at the corners.

Almy-Palfrey House // 1853

This house on Ivy Street in the Cottage Farm neighborhood of Brookline, MA was built in 1853 as one of many single-family rental properties on the former Lawrence estate. This house was rented by the Amos Lawrence under the supervision of his attorney until his death in 1886, to friends as Lawrence did not want to sell the properties near his home and have bad neighbors! It appears the home was often rented to Frederick Almy (1841-1898) from the time it was built into the 1870s. Almy was an attorney who had an office in Downtown Boston. The original home was of a two-story brick mansard design, later altered in the 1920s for owner John G. Palfrey, also an attorney who later worked at the Harvard Law School. Palfrey hired architect R.A. Fisher to box out the third story where the mansard roof was with brick veneer and give the home a Federal Revival design. In 1925, architects Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch & Abbott were hired to construct a one story playroom on the front corner of the house.

Harry Cotton House // 1905

This unique home at 44 Amory Street in Brookline, MA was built in 1905 for Harry Cotton. Harry Cotton was worked in a senior position for the American Tube Works Company, established in 1851 in Somerville. The home is an interesting blend of architectural styles, perfected by the architect William Gibbons Rantoul. Colonial Revival massing and roof dormers, Arts and Crafts stucco siding and entry portico, and a Flemish gable on the central bay, all strangely work together perfectly! The home was even featured in American Architect & Building News Journal in 1907 with a great image.