Charles Owens House // 1906

This house at 11 Powell Street in North Brookline was built in 1906 for Charles H. Owens, Jr., and his wife, Nellie. Charles Owens was listed in the directory as a “house decorator”, which presumably was an early term for interior designer. The architectural firm of Loring and Phipps designed the home in the Federal Revival style with a rectangular form with shallow hipped roof. The symmetrical main facade has flushboard siding which provides the smooth texture, compared to more traditional clapboard siding. There is an elliptical portico at the entry with a large stair hall window above. While I personally am not a fan of the lemon yellow, the home is an amazing addition to the streetscape and neighborhood. Historic New England has a collection of historic images of the property’s interior and exterior which showcase Owen’s personal style.

Enoch Robinson Round House // 1854

One of the most unique homes close to Boston is the Enoch Robinson House, built in 1854 by its original owner. Enoch Robinson (1801-1888) was a noted inventor and businessman. Born in Boston, he apprenticed to his gunsmith father in a variety of trades including glass-cutting. Robinson moved to East Cambridge in 1825, and entered the New England Glass Company. He developed a patented method of pressing glass furniture knobs in 1826. In 1837, he built a furnace and factory in Boston to manufacture knobs and established a lock business in 1839. With his sons, Robinson operated the lock business for many years. He moved to Somerville in 1847 and built his unique house in 1856.

The house is located on Atherton Street in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville and stands out among traditional late-19th century homes nearby. The home diverts away from Octagon homes because who needs corners anyways. The exterior of the Round House features two flush stories, with a third stepped back behind battlements. The home was vacant by the 1970s until in 1986, a restoration program, led by students from Boston’s North Bennet Street School did a small amount of work renovating the exterior, but the project fell apart and the house remained in a state of decay. The home was purchased by a contractor in 2007 who worked with the Somerville Historical Commission to restore the home to its former glory. It is now a single family home.