Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church is the oldest extant church in Newton and the first Episcopal church built immediately west of Boston. The cornerstone for the building was laid in September 1813 containing a package of coins and a silver plate. Previously services had been held in the Lower Falls schoolhouse, with the first Episcopal service held in 1811. The land for the church was donated by Samuel Brown a wealthy Boston merchant who invested in the paper mills in Lower Falls. Many of the founding members and parishioners were in the paper making business in Lower Falls and buried in the adjacent cemetery. The Federal style church was altered in 1838 and given Gothic detailing, including lancet windows and finials at the steeple. In 1954, the bell tower was altered with the gothic finials replaced with the current urns on the balustrade, the gothic arched openings were changed to the current arched shape, and entablature, pilasters, and a cross were added.
This charming little firehouse in the Lower Falls Village in Newton, MA was built in 1900 to serve the growing industrial village along the Charles River. The station was active until 1918 when a newer station was built between Lower Falls and Waban on Beacon Street to service both developing villages. By 1923, the structure was remodeled by the city and opened as a public library. The ground floor was utilized as the library, with a room in the rear was used for voting. The second floor was converted to the janitor’s apartment who maintained the space. The library moved as the cramped space was not suitable for a growing city, and the property was sold by the city to a developer in 1979 and was converted to a multi-family dwelling.
Toward the middle of the 19th-century, the Newton Lower Falls Village developed into a premier paper-manufacturing center of eastern Massachusetts, largely due to the forests and water power supplied by the Charles River. One of the most successful paper mills in the area was owned by Lemuel Crehore (1791-1868), who with his success, built workers cottages for his employees and their families (imagine if businesses did that today)! This Greek Revival workers cottage was occupied by employees of the mill before it was sold when the mill closed. The house features a deep piazza with three Tuscan columns across the front and scroll-sawn bargeboards at the porch and hanging along the roof edge are later additions.
Toward the middle of the 19th-century, the Newton Lower Falls Village developed into a premier paper-manufacturing center of eastern Massachusetts, largely due to the forests and water power supplied by the Charles River. One of the most successful paper mills in the area was owned by Lemuel Crehore (1791-1868), who with his success, built workers cottages for his employees and their families (imagine if businesses did that today)! This Greek Revival workers cottage was occupied by employees of the mill before it was sold when the mill closed, to a house painter. The modest house stands out for the gorgeous wrap-around porch supported by fluted Doric columns, an off-center entrance with sidelights, and corner pilasters.
The only two-story temple-front Greek Revival home in the Upper Falls Village of Newton, MA stands on Elliot Street, on the same block as the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Catholic Church and Rectory. The home was built in 1838 at the present location of the church, but was moved in 1908 to its present location at the opposite end of the block for the erection of the large church. The original owner was Dr. Samuel Whitney, the village doctor who also operated his office out of the large house. By 1844, he moved to Dedham and sold the home and practice to Dr. Abraham D. Dearborn who ran his practice out of the home until the mid 1850s. After successive ownership by mill owners, the property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Boston who moved the home and used it as a rectory until the Colonial Revival rectory was built. The home has since been used as a parish center, but has not been well maintained over the years. Plans were unveiled in 2015 by a long-time resident to purchase the home from the Catholic Church for conversion of a community center with offices for non-profits, but it has not materialized sadly. Its future is unclear.
The first practical fire alarm system was developed in Massachusetts during the late 1840’s by Dr. William F. Channing and Moses G. Farmer, a telegraph operator. Their experimental system was installed in Boston in 1851, being the first urban fire alarm system in the country. Before this, people would have to run and notify fire stations of a fire, who then rang a bell, to rally the citizens and firefighters. John Gamewell, realizing the potential of such a system, purchased the patents and continued to improve the system. While the headquarters for the business was in New York, the units were manufactured in Newton, Massachusetts. By 1886, Gamewell systems were installed in 250 cities across America and Canada. Four years later in 1890, Gamewell systems were installed in 500 cities. To meet the growing company’s needs for space, it relocated from Newton Highlands to Upper Falls and built a new factory, a wood frame structure. As the company continued to grow, it built a brick addition in 1904 and another on the other end in 1912. The system has been used all over North America, visible by the large red boxes on street poles and buildings with the lightening bolt logo. The business remained in Upper Falls until 1970, when it became a division of Gulf and Western. The company moved out and the buildings have been restored, with many small and local businesses located inside.
Located adjacent to the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Upper Falls, this rectory building, built in 1938 adds much to the streetscape. Although the building permit for this building was issued in 1938, it was not occupied until 1943, according to City Directories. The building was designed by architect Timothy G. O’Connell of Boston, who specialized in ecclesiastical design. The 3 1/2-story gambrel Colonial Revival building has a center entrance with projecting balustraded porch with turned balusters and urn finials.
One of the grandest churches around Boston, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes R.C. Church, is in Upper Falls Newton, a working class village which developed around industrial mills in the 19th century. The church, built in 1909, towers above the workers cottages and smaller frame homes in the neighborhood showing the wealth and importance of the Catholic Church to Irish immigrants who worked and lived nearby. This parish was the first in the town of Newton and it comprised of multiple villages along with parts of Wellesley and Needham. The parish was formed in the 1840s and eventually grew so much it petitioned the Archdiocese to construct a new house of worship worthy of the population. In the early 20th century, a site was secured, and the house on the lot was moved for the erection of a new church. Edward T. P. Graham was selected as the architect, who designed this Renaissance Revival church. The commanding monumental columned portico rises over two stories and supports a projecting pediment which has decorative modillion blocks, cast figures within depicting religious figures. A campanile (bell tower) is located at the rear corner and is of Italian Renaissance design. In 2004, the Archdiocese had put Mary Immaculate on the closing list of churches; however, in 2006, the Cardinal had reconsidered his plan to close the church and decided to close a church in nearby Waban Village instead.
Built adjacent to the stone cottage, this stone barn was also constructed in around 1840 by Otis Pettee (1795-1853) as part of his business venture. Pettee was a major mill owner in the Upper Falls Village of Newton and was a major silk manufacturer in the area. The stone barn was used as a warehouse and later as the location for raising silk worms for the silk mills down the street. As with the adjacent stone cottage/shop, Pettee likely built the barn of mostly stone on the site as a fireproof design to protect his valuable product. It is now home to Danish Country & Modern, an amazing furniture shop which sells Scandinavian furniture and accessories.
One of the rare early stone cottages in Newton, this charming building in Upper Falls Village has an interesting history! The stone cottage was built around 1840 by Otis Pettee (1795-1853), a major mill owner in town. This cottage specifically served as a shop and later as the residence of the caretaker of the silk mill a couple blocks away. Pettee likely had this building and the adjacent barn constructed with stone to limit the chance of a fire, destroying any valuable silk inside.