Located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this home was actually constructed as two attached homes for Ralph Blake Williams and his sister, Ruth (Williams) Sears, the wife of Dr. George Gray Sears. In 1905, Ralph B. Williams hired architect Julius A. Schweinfurth, who trained in the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, to design a double-townhouse, for him and his sister. After completion, Williams lived in the larger side (right three bays) with his widowed mother, and Ruth lived in the smaller home (left two bays) with her husband. After successive ownership, the buildings were and turned into a lodging house, soon after purchased together in 1955 and turned into a school, the Chandler School for Women. The homes remained separate until 1959, when the school demolished the interior party wall, effectively combining the two properties into one, this is likely when the Sears’ front door was filled in, leaving one front door in the center bay. In 1971, the New England College of Optometry purchased the building and occupies it to this day for classrooms and offices.
Adjacent to the Warren House (last post) on Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this massive mansion is one of my favorites on the street. Built in 1905, and designed by architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr. an amazing local architect, and nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The grand mansion was the home of Eben Sumner Draper and his wife, Nancy. Eben Draper was a manufacturer of cotton machinery in the Draper Corporation, founded by his father in Hopedale, MA. Draper graduated from MIT and entered his fathers business, which upon the time of his graduation, was the largest plant for manufacturing cotton machinery in the world. In 1905, Draper was nominated and elected as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, the same year he had this mansion constructed. In 1908, Draper was elected Governor, and served two terms under the Republican Party, pushing a pro-business, and anti-reform agenda, a bill legalizing the merger of the Boston and Maine Railroad with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, signaling approval of what was seen as monopolistic business practices, something the Draper Corporation was known for in Hopedale. The former single-family home was converted to six condominium units in 2000. Fun fact: the Draper Mansion replaced the 1860 home David Stewart, a merchant from New York, built as a wedding present for his daughter, Isabella Stewart, and John (Jack) Lowell Gardner. Isabella would later create the beloved and iconic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The couple purchased the adjacent townhome in 1880 to store their growing art collection.