Barrows-Goddard House // 1898

Happy Halloween! To celebrate I wanted to feature one of the more creatively decorated houses in the Boston area, which blends spookiness with architecture! This is the Barrows-Goddard House, so named after its first two owners. The house is located in Newton and was built in 1898 as an eclectic Queen Anne/Shingle style home. The original owner was Joseph Barrows, who developed the property and sold it within a year, relocating to a new home on a less busy street. The property was owned next by Christopher Goddard, an insurance agent with offices in Boston. Architecturally, the gable roof of the main block is intersected by an over-scaled gambrel cross-gable clad in patterned cut wood shingles. The focal point of the design is the Syrian-arched entrance porch of coursed, dressed fieldstone which this time of year, eats trick-o-treaters!

Joshua Bennett Townhouse // 1834

Just steps from the iconic Louisburg Square in Boston’s exclusive Beacon Hill neighborhood, a man named Joshua Bennett in 1834, purchased two recently completed townhouses built by housewrights Samuel H. Mitchell and Loring Dunbar. Joshua Holden Bennett (1792-1865) was born in Billerica, Massachusetts and split his time between his hometown and Boston. Bennett and his family owned the two identical bowfront houses until about 1930, likely renting them out to middle-upper class families. The home on the right (pictured) was later purchased by Benjamin B. Gillette an organist at a local church. After WWII, property values in Beacon Hill began to falter and this property and its neighbor became lodging houses of rented rooms to a more wealthy clientele than those on the North Slope of the hill. The home last sold in 1989 for $753,000 and is estimated at a value today at over $4,000,000!

Kate and Charles Page House // 1888-2001

C.1888 photo courtesy of BPL collections

In 1888, Kate and Charles Page purchased a house lot in the sparsely developed Fenway section of Boston. The corner lot at Westland and Parker (renamed Hemenway) provided views to natural scenery and access to many Boston amenities. The couple worked with architect Herbert Langford Warren, who had previously apprenticed under the great H. H. Richardson. Warren took many of the common motifs seen in Richardson’s own style, but he was also a fan of the Arts and Crafts Movement, with its love of fine handicraft. You can see that in the elaborate diaper-patterned brick and in the stepped gables. The gables were a revival of a motif from old Flemish, Dutch, and Scottish architecture, sometimes called corbie-step gables, because corbies (crows) liked to stand on the steps. The interior was just as stunning, with massive brick arches, fanciful woodwork, and a prominent stairhall at the entrance. The couple was likely inspired to hire Warren by their son, Walter Gilman Page, a young artist who maintained a studio space in the home for some time. The home was sold out of the family by 1912. In 1917, the whole house was lifted up one story and a strip of retail stores was inserted beneath it. The original arched entryway then became a second-floor window. It was replaced with a taller building by 2003. Interestingly, upon the opening, the Commissioner of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and long-time Boston Preservation Alliance Executive Director stated that the 1888 house “looked like a missing front tooth” and was happy to see it demolished.

Thomas M. James House // c.1900

When the Waban section of Newton got a rail line connecting it to Boston, development boomed! Architects who lived in other parts of the Boston area saw an immense opportunity, not only for work, but for a bucolic setting where they could also reside. One of these architects that lived and worked in Waban was Thomas Marriott James, who in the early 20th century, designed and moved into this house on Pine Ridge Road. James was also born in Cambridge but received no academic architectural training. By 1893, Boston directories record that he was a draftsman at the office of Eugene L. Clark, a prolific
designer of suburban homes. His residence in Waban blends the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles under a broad gambrel roof. The verandah is inset and has segmental bays with shingle posts as supports. The kneewall is also shingled, adding to the composition.

Eva Southwick House // 1898

Okay, there is just something about this house that is so intriguing and unique and stands out among all the other (thousands) of Colonial Revival style houses I have seen. I just can’t quite put my finger on it! This late 19th century beauty was built in 1898 for Eva Bailey and Francis Southwick eight years after their marriage and after the birth of their children. It is unclear who the young family hired as an architect to design the home, but they definitely went with a loose adaptation of the Colonial Revival style in an American Foursquare form. The house has a large Palladian window and a minimal front portico supported by Doric columns.

Ernest Zeiss House // 1897

Another eclectic house in Waban is this beauty, a blending of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles under an impressive gambrel roof. The home was occupied by Ernest L. Zeiss, a salesman. Waban, which was once a neighborhood within the reach of the middle-class, has since become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in one of the most exclusive towns in the Boston metro. It is safe to say an ordinary 9-5 salesman would not be able to afford a house like this today!

Toy Theatre // 1914-1922

When the Toy Theatre on Lime Street in Beacon Hill (last post) was formed in the early 20th century, the members of the small (but growing) theatre group of well-connected artists and actors had their sights on something with permanence. By 1914, the group had funding and acquired land on Dartmouth street, a block away from Copley Square, and ground was broken to build a large new theatre. The fashionable Colonial Revival style building featured a large rounded bay and was constructed of brick and limestone. The theatre group could not support the building, and it was rebranded as the Copley Theatre within a couple years. Continuing the bad luck, the City of Boston decided to extend Stuart Street by 1921, and this building was along the proposed route. The street was extended and a new “Copley Theatre” was built on Stuart Street, a stone’s throw from this building. And so goes the short-lived history of the Toy Theatre.

Little-Byrd House // 1888

What sets Beacon Hill apart is that almost every home is unique to its neighbors. This townhouse on Brimmer Street stands out in a big way architecturally and does not remotely try to fit in with the red brick and traditional massing of the Greek Revival and Italianate rows on the surrounding streets. This home was built in 1888 on the last undeveloped parcel on the street. The house was built by Seth Russell Baker and Henry Wilson Savage, real estate developers and sold to a J. Little. By 1900 four families are listed as occupying the house, which was rented out by that time. By 1917 Marie Ames Byrd, wife of polar explorer Richard E. Byrd, had acquired the building, which she owned through at least 1938 according to atlas’. Byrd lived at and owned 9 Brimmer Street, and her mother, Helen A. Ames, owned 7 Brimmer. This house at 5 Brimmer was rented to upper class residents who sought apartment living in a desirable area of the city. Among them was Caroline P. Atkinson, the daughter of Edward Atkinson of Brookline, a successful antebellum cotton mill executive and, ironically, a major figure in the Boston-area abolitionist movement. William Coombs Codman and his son John also lived at 5 Brimmer Street, the former was a merchant trader with dealings in the East Indies and Calcutta. Architecturally, the building is unique with the use of rough-faced brownstone façade and copper at the entablature and parapet. Would you live here?