Parker-Hoogs-Baury House // c.1755

Thought to be the oldest extant house in Newton Lower Falls, this historic mansion has seen a lot of change over its nearly 300 years in the village. The house believed to have been built around 1755 by John Parker (1687-1761) for his son Ezra (b. 1731) after his marriage. William Hoogs, a ship carpenter from Boston, took ownership of the house in 1781 from his father-in-law (and boss), Aster Stoddard, who had bought it from the Parker family. William Hoogs was a sole-owner of a paper mill in the village and made a good name for himself. The house was likely modified during this period in the Federal style, with a third floor added. The home was possibly passed to his son, also William, who was written about in papers as fleeing town to Canada with the family maid, who was late in her pregnancy and their two-year-old child together. Hoogs had debtors looking for him. Hoogs had a change of heart and sent for his eight children to live with him in Quebec that same year. Sadly, the ship bringing them up sunk on Lake Champlain and all perished. By 1813, the property was purchased by Samuel Brown of Boston, a wealthy merchant who was a strong financial supporter of Saint Mary’s Church. By 1825, he officially bequeathed the property to Dr. Alfred Louis Baury (1764-1865) rector of Saint Mary’s Church. By 1917, the Lucy Jackson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution operated it as a chapter house and a museum for antiques. In 1971, the Newton Redevelopment Authority bought the property and sold it to a developer for conversion into office space, it was rotated 90 degrees to face Concord Street at this time.

Thayer Stable – Toy Theatre // 1865

Built in 1865, this gorgeous building in Beacon Hill shows how perfectly imperfect historic structures are. The stable building was first occupied by Samuel Neal, a carpenter, and Jonathan Dow, a blacksmith. Within a decade, the stable’s owner Nathaniel Thayer, appears to have kept his carriage in the building. By 1911, architect Harold S. Graves was hired to renovate the former stable which would soon become the Toy Theatre. The Toy Theatre was founded in 1911 by an amateur theatrical group to present plays that had not been presented professionally in Boston. That included both works written by members of the group itself and playwrights as far away as Europe. The founding group included many members of Boston’s high-society who were involved in the arts. The group desired a new, modern space and pooled together resources to build a more appropriate theatre in the Back Bay just a few years later (next post). This building was then converted to a residence.

Chickering and Sons Piano Factory // 1853

Jonas Chickering (1798-1853) was born in New Hampshire and eventually moved to Boston to work as a cabinet-maker. In 1823, Chickering formed a partnership with piano maker James Stewart and they began production of high-quality pianos. The partnership dissolved and Jonas partnered with wealthy shipbuilder and merchant John Mackay, using his factory for piano and organ production. John Mackay was lost at sea in 1841, and Chickering mortgaged the factory and bought out the Mackay’s shares, taking full ownership of the operation. In 1852, the factory burned, and was a complete loss. Undeterred, Chickering rebuilt, but in the rapidly developing South End neighborhood of Boston, hiring Edwin Payson to design a massive new steam-powered factory of fireproof construction. Jonas Chickering died before he could see the completion of his new factory, which opened in 1853 to great fanfare. The Italianate style building was bustling with over 400 employees when Chickering & Co. was the largest piano manufacturer in the United States in the middle of the 19th century, but was later surpassed in the 1860s by Steinway. From 1860-1868 space in the building was the location of the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company, who made over 100,000 rifles for the U.S. Army around the time of the Civil War. The Chickering and Sons Company moved out of the building by 1928 and the structure was occupied until 1973-4; when the building was rehabilitated by Brunner/Cott and Associates and subdivided into apartments and work and exhibit spaces for musicians, artists, and craftsmen, making this one of the earliest examples of adaptive reuse of an industrial building in Boston.