Founded in 1888, The Park School, one of the premier private schools in the Boston area began off Walnut Street in Brookline in half of a house. Founded by Miss Caroline Pierce, the school was officially incorporated in 1923 and named to commemorate Julia Park, principal from 1910-1922. The school occupied the former Hill Estate before the school board voted in 1967 to look for a new campus, with space to grow. James and Mary Faulkner donated 14-acres of rolling fields and woods to the school for their new campus. The Park School hired architect Earl Flansburgh of Cambridge to design the new, Modern school building. The Brutalist building allowed for large, open classrooms with the flexibility for the school to adapt as its needs changed. The school is built of reinforced precast concrete as a stack of modular classroom and office spaces with wall-length windows for more natural illumination of rooms. Since the 1970s, the school has expanded a couple more times, notably with a 1990s addition by Graham Gund. The school remains one of the most desired in the region and fits well within its landscape.
Located across the street from each other in Brookline, the Pastan Houses are an excellent example of how architectural tastes can change from one generation to another. The William Pastan House was constructed in 1936, and is Tudor Revival in style. The home has a projecting square entry tower with castellated roofline and interesting mixture of materials and textures. The first owner, William Pastan raised his family in the home, attending the synagogue a couple blocks away. By 1963, Pastan’s son, Harvey became a successful engineer and built a home near his parents for his own family, though in a very different aesthetic. The Modern home features boxy forms, prominent covered parking spaces, and expanses of glass.
Which house would you prefer, William’s (1936) or Harvey’s (1963)?
Tucked away on an un-assuming side street in South Brookline, you will find this oddly fascinating home. Without architectural history knowledge, you may think it is just a normal 1940s house, but it’s actually a Lustron House! Between 1948 and 1950, the Lustron Corp. built prefabricated metal homes across the U.S. as part of an effort to combat the housing shortage for returning soldiers post–World War II. Despite these futuristic homes being considered low-maintenance and highly durable, only about 2,500 were constructed, as the structures were seen as too costly and complex to manufacture and assemble. The homes came in just three models and came in four available colors: “Surf Blue,” “Dove Gray,” “Maize Yellow,” and “Desert Tan”. The home is covered in porcelain enamel metal panels set into a steel frame which can be replaced when damaged. At the interior, the homes had metal-paneled interior walls with mostly pocket-doors for space saving. This home in Brookline was built for Edmond and Helen Jennings, in the Westchester model in the Desert Tan color. The only major alteration is the enclosure of the porch, but it retains a high degree of integrity from when it was assembled in 1949.
What do you think of this iconic 1940s home and style?
One of my favorite Contemporary residential designs in the Boston area is the Levi House in Brookline. Completed in 2001, the six-story home is sited in a way to minimize height from the street, but provide ample space towards the rear of the property. Designed by Boston-based architect Jonathan Levi as his own residence, the home showcases how thoughtful Modern design can in fact, contribute to historic streetscapes. Where the site slopes off from the street, a footbridge connects a passage adjoining an existing concrete block garage to the third floor entry level. The tower-like residence is small in footprint and provides privacy on all floors through creative window placement in the wood exterior. The small footprint of the property allows for the natural scenery of the site to take command.
The story behind Brookline’s Town Hall building is the story of many cities and towns all over the country in the 1960s-70s, that of Urban Renewal. Brookline Village was (and mostly still is) a vibrant commercial district of varied architectural styles and massing which together, create a patchwork that details the history of the city through design. Early wood-frame commercial buildings sit side-by-side to ornate Victorian-era buildings, with Modern infill scattered throughout. Brookline Village has long been the governmental core of the suburban town due to the location of the train station and its central location to the other neighborhoods. A grand Victorian Gothic Town Hall (the town’s third) was built in 1871 at the corner of Washington and Prospect Streets. Designed by S. J. Thayer, the building would easily rival any other building in town today. After WWII, Brookline and many other cities, through Urban Renewal, sought to restore the economic vitality of the governmental hub of town, by demolishing the “outdated” buildings and replace them with tall, sleek, modern structures with ample landscaping and parking surrounding. The town hired Anderson, Beckwith and Haible, a very prominent firm in Boston to design the International/Brutalist building. In the 1960s, a majority of the civic, commercial, and residential buildings around the former town hall were demolished and replaced with Modernist buildings, all but erasing the relative scale and history of that section of the Village.
These apartments in Brookline were built in 1938 and designed by Saul Moffie. The Art Deco design is refined yet elegant with just the use of brick coursing. The amazing brickwork includes header courses, soldier courses and chevrons. This example shows that good design does not require the most expensive or foreign materials to stand out! Oh and there are steel casement windows!
One of my favorite homes in Brookline has to be the Katz House, located on Kent Street, opposite the Longwood Mall. The home was designed and built in 1947 by Samuel Glaser (1902-1983) was born in Latvia and at the age of four came to the United States with his family, settling in Brookline. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with an architecture degree in 1925. Glaser worked in the New York architecture firm of Clarence Stein before returning to Brookline by 1933. He established his own firm in Boston, seeking a niche as a designer of moderately priced homes, particularly in the expanding suburbs where young Jewish
families had begun living. Glaser is a relatively unknown architect who could design iconic Tudor homes as well as Contemporary Modern homes. His most notable building (that gets the most traffic) is the Star Market built over the Mass Pike, just west of Boston, that building was possibly the first to build using air rights over a street.
The Modern home was built for Max Katz, a Lithuanian-born businessman who founded the Merchant Tire Company in Boston in 1922. He likely met Glaser at the nearby Jewish Temple on Beacon Street.