In 1907, the 86-acre Bigelow Estate (featured yesterday), was purchased by Horace K. Turner, owner of an art publishing company founded in Boston about 1904. Turner moved his workshops to the estate so the artists could work in healthy country surroundings. The firm required the long wings contoured into the hillside to provide ample natural light and views to the distance for the workers. In 1920, the entire property, including the Bigelow House and the bungalow workshops, were acquired by the New England Peabody Home, which had been located in Hyde Park for 25 years. It was set up as a school and hospital for “crippled children” and this brick building was added to the center section. Architects for this addition were Coolidge and Shattuck, successors to the firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. The Peabody Home was among the first to use sun treatment as a cure for physical ills and the extensive porches were well suited to this purpose. The Peabody Home became obsolete and the property was sold off in the mid-20th century. In 1979, the Peabody Home was sold to Edward Leventhal, who converted the buildings into 22 condominiums. Architects for the project were Jung/Brannen.
William C. Strong purchased the old Wyman Farm in present day Waban Village in 1875, consisting of 93 acres of open land and rolling hills. He subdivided some of the land after the completion of the Waban Station, later developing the Strong’s Block, the premier commercial block in the village. To kick off the development along Windsor Road, he hired architect Herbert Langford Warren, the Dean of Harvard’s Architecture School (who also owned a historic farmhouse nearby) to design a couple homes for sale. This stunning house is notable for the prominent gable end gambrel roof, shingle siding, and porte-cochere.
In 1688, John Staples, settled in the untouched landscape seven miles west of Boston, now known as Waban Village in the town of Newton. John was a weaver by trade but he ended up as the first public school teacher, the town clerk, a policeman, and an alderman. John married and lived in a modest farmhouse for decades here, witnessing the birth of a new nation nearby. The couple had no children of their own but raised some of Mary’s relatives including Moses Crafts, who would eventually take over the home. Craft rebuilt the house on the original foundation around 1750, constructing a colonial farmhouse two and a half stories high with five windows and two rooms across, one room wide.
Joseph Crafts died in 1821 at the age of 85, leaving no will and considerable
debts owed. The Judge of Probate ordered the property to be auctioned, and
Joseph’s son, Moses Crafts II, made the winning bid of $5.50 for the house,
barn, and a large tract of land! In 1824, Moses Craft II sold the property to his cousin William Wiswall, who gave the house a Federal period remodeling.
By the late 19th century, the home and ample farm land were acquired by William Strong and his wife Mary. William, President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, used the property for some time as a nursery, with apple orchards and rose gardens. After his petitioning for a train station in Waban, he parceled up the farmland into large house lots for sale, seeing the neighborhood shifting to a suburban village. He soon after built the Strong Block, the first commercial building here.
Another architect-designed home for their own use in Waban Village in Newton, is this house on Chestnut Street. Built in 1892, the Colonial Revival home is set far off the street with a commanding presence and symmetrical facade. The home was designed and occupied by Lewis Howard Bacon (1857-1941), a former chairman of the Newton board of appeals and a member of the school committee and the board of aldermen in Newton, also a practicing architect. He studied architecture in the office of Samuel Lane, architect of Cleveland, 1877-80, when he moved to Boston as a draughtsman and supervisor of construction for the firm of Sturgis & Brigham, 1880-1886. For four years he was a member of the firm of Morrison & Bacon (1888-1892), before embarking on his own practice in an office in Downtown Boston. He resided in this home until his health failed and he moved to a nursing home where he died.
When an architect designs their own home, they typically focus on the minute details which can make such a difference, often because they know what works and what doesn’t! This home was designed and built for William F. Goodwin, an architect with an office in Downtown Boston. After the Waban Station was built in 1886, he sought open space and a large home in suburban Boston, to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life. Years after he moved into his home, he gifted his services to design the neighborhood’s first church, the Church of the Good Shepherd.
For the small population living in the farming village of Waban in Newton, MA, every Sunday, they had to take a horse and carriage or walk to church in a nearby village. The Waban Christian Union was the first religious organization to be established in Waban, 1894-1895 after seeing a suburbanization of the village. The church was to be for services of the Protestant Episcopal Faith, though the group claimed no allegiance to the Diocese, nor was it organized according to the laws of the church. It was independently owned by a corporation that felt the need for a religious association in the community. This church structure was constructed in the
summer of 1896 at a cost of $5000 with William F. Goodwin, a charter member of the group (and resident nearby), donating his services as the architect. The organization leased the space to a pastor for $200 a year, later selling it to the congregation, known now as the Church of the Good Shepherd.
This charming little firehouse in the Lower Falls Village in Newton, MA was built in 1900 to serve the growing industrial village along the Charles River. The station was active until 1918 when a newer station was built between Lower Falls and Waban on Beacon Street to service both developing villages. By 1923, the structure was remodeled by the city and opened as a public library. The ground floor was utilized as the library, with a room in the rear was used for voting. The second floor was converted to the janitor’s apartment who maintained the space. The library moved as the cramped space was not suitable for a growing city, and the property was sold by the city to a developer in 1979 and was converted to a multi-family dwelling.
Could you live in a converted firehouse?
Toward the middle of the 19th-century, the Newton Lower Falls Village developed into a premier paper-manufacturing center of eastern Massachusetts, largely due to the forests and water power supplied by the Charles River. One of the most successful paper mills in the area was owned by Lemuel Crehore (1791-1868), who with his success, built workers cottages for his employees and their families (imagine if businesses did that today)! This Greek Revival workers cottage was occupied by employees of the mill before it was sold when the mill closed. The house features a deep piazza with three Tuscan columns across the front and scroll-sawn bargeboards at the porch and hanging along the roof edge are later additions.
The only two-story temple-front Greek Revival home in the Upper Falls Village of Newton, MA stands on Elliot Street, on the same block as the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Catholic Church and Rectory. The home was built in 1838 at the present location of the church, but was moved in 1908 to its present location at the opposite end of the block for the erection of the large church. The original owner was Dr. Samuel Whitney, the village doctor who also operated his office out of the large house. By 1844, he moved to Dedham and sold the home and practice to Dr. Abraham D. Dearborn who ran his practice out of the home until the mid 1850s. After successive ownership by mill owners, the property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Boston who moved the home and used it as a rectory until the Colonial Revival rectory was built. The home has since been used as a parish center, but has not been well maintained over the years. Plans were unveiled in 2015 by a long-time resident to purchase the home from the Catholic Church for conversion of a community center with offices for non-profits, but it has not materialized sadly. Its future is unclear.
The first practical fire alarm system was developed in Massachusetts during the late 1840’s by Dr. William F. Channing and Moses G. Farmer, a telegraph operator. Their experimental system was installed in Boston in 1851, being the first urban fire alarm system in the country. Before this, people would have to run and notify fire stations of a fire, who then rang a bell, to rally the citizens and firefighters. John Gamewell, realizing the potential of such a system, purchased the patents and continued to improve the system. While the headquarters for the business was in New York, the units were manufactured in Newton, Massachusetts. By 1886, Gamewell systems were installed in 250 cities across America and Canada. Four years later in 1890, Gamewell systems were installed in 500 cities. To meet the growing company’s needs for space, it relocated from Newton Highlands to Upper Falls and built a new factory, a wood frame structure. As the company continued to grow, it built a brick addition in 1904 and another on the other end in 1912. The system has been used all over North America, visible by the large red boxes on street poles and buildings with the lightening bolt logo. The business remained in Upper Falls until 1970, when it became a division of Gulf and Western. The company moved out and the buildings have been restored, with many small and local businesses located inside.