Located on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Hooper Mansion represents one of the most elegant examples of Second Empire architecture style in the city. This home was actually constructed as a double-house for Samuel Hooper and his wife Anne, with a separate, semi-detached home for his son and his own family. The double-mansion was designed by esteemed architect Arthur Gilman, who used pressed brick contrasted with the tan sandstone on the home. Additionally, he designed the dentillated cornice, lavish door and window surrounds, and octagonal bays, all capped with a mansard roof with many windows laid inset to the roof, a stunning feature. The house was designed symmetrically, with entrances on each side elevation. In the early 1890s, later owners extended the eastern half of the façade so that it would be on the same plane as the western half, with an entrance at street level (seen in the right of this photo). Today, the double house is broken up into four large condominium units. When the conversion was approved, the developer wrote into the deed that the open space at the corner, used as a garden, would remain open space in perpetuity.
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.
This late mansard brick house in Spring Hill, Somerville was developed by Charles Bradshaw, a developer who later developed Westwood Road nearby shortly after. The home at 175 Summer Street, was designed by George Loring, an architect who also lived in Somerville.
The home is interesting in that it’s a late example of a Second Empire Home in the region. It features a Flemish gable and turned porch stick work.