Webster-Jenkins Mansion // 1875

One of my favorite homes in Jamaica Plain is this gorgeous old Victorian-era home, perched high on Sumner Hill. The house was built in 1875 seemingly for John L Webster and his wife Henrietta with John as the architect/builder. John built other homes in the neighborhood, and clearly did well for himself as he acquired one of the most prominent sites in the area for his own home. After his death in 1890, the home was willed to his daughter and her husband, Augustus T. Jenkins, who worked as a Clerk in Downtown Boston. The house blends many mid-to-late 19th century styles including Second Empire, Stick, and Victorian Gothic, and is among one of the most architecturally pleasing I have seen. The central tower, obscured in my photos by trees, probably provides some amazing views of the growing city in the distance.

Powers-Rosenthal House // c.1877

This gorgeous stone house was built circa 1877 by Phillip M. Powers (1814-1889), who served as President of the Millstone granite quarry in Waterford, Connecticut. The home is said to have been built off an earlier 1700s home, but all was constructed in ashlar granite to showcase Mr. Powers’ quality stone. It is said that Phillip went bankrupt not long after the construction of this home. In 1930, the house was purchased by Beatrice H. Rosenthal and her husband. Ms. Rosenthal served as both a delegate and as a committeewoman of the Democratic National party, and a staunch advocate for women’s rights. She was also active in women’s educational institutions around New England. The old home and barn are now available for rentals for events or overnight stays.

George L. Allen Summer Residence // c.1895

This massive summer “cottage” in Rye Beach, NH, was built around 1895 for St. Louis businessman George L. Allen. The massive Colonial Revival home features a gambrel roof with a series of gabled, hipped and shed dormers to break it up. A circular driveway would have allowed visitors for Great Gatsby-esque parties to get dropped off by their driver and enter right into the home’s large stair-hall. The most stunning facade is the rear, which faces a lawn with views out to the Atlantic Ocean. A full-length porch on the first floor sits recessed under the floor above to provide shelter from the harsh summer sun. Sadly, the mansion has seen better days and appears to be a shadow of its former self. Luckily, almost all of the historic windows remain and the home can definitely be saved. Fingers and toes are crossed to see this beauty preserved.

Bernard Jenney House // 1908

This stunning home in Brookline’s Cottage Farm neighborhood was built in 1908 for Bernard Jenney, the assistant treasurer of the Jenney Oil Company. Stephen Jenney, had founded Jenney Oil Company in Boston in 1812, as a kerosene, coal and whale oil producer. By the 1860s, Bernard Sr. and his brother Francis took over the company which became known as the Jenney Manufacturing Company. The newly established company focused primarily on production and distribution of petroleum products for factories and businesses. The Jenney Manufacturing Company took off in the early 1900s due to the proliferation of personal automobiles in Boston and they expanded a new manufacturing center in City Point, South Boston, which had a capacity of 500 barrels of oil a day. Jenney auto oil and gasoline became a major supplier and after Bernard Sr.’s death in 1918, under Bernard Jr.’s leadership, the company began to develop gas stations in New England. The company continued into the 1960s when it was acquired by Cities Service, later rebranding as Citgo. Jenney resided here until his death in 1939. According to the 1935 Brookline street list, the occupants included his daughter’s family Mary & Francis Brewer, three maids and a laundress. The house was acquired by Boston University in 1963 and has long served as the home of former president John Silber.

The architectural firm of Kilham & Hopkins was hired to design the home, which is French Renaissance Revival in style. The home itself is an architectural landmark. When it was published in ‘The American Architect’ in 1910, the house was described as, “A Study in French design of the Louis XVI period”. Additionally, the home (of course) featured a vehicle garage as the family must have had some cars based on the line of work. The home is now listed for sale for a cool $4,888,000 price tag!

Robbins “Lottery” House // 1800

Government-sanctioned lotteries originated in Massachusetts as an alternative to taxation, but soon expanded as a fundraising tool to help fund building projects and support charities. In 1765, the General Court passed the first legislation allowing Harvard College to run a lottery to support dormitory building projects. Before Harvard University accepted multi-million dollar donations, they drew lotteries between 1794 and 1797 to build the second Stoughton Hall and in the early 1800s, for the building of Holworthy Hall. In Harvard’s lottery of 1794-1796 which John Robbins, a farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, entered, together with three friends, each of whom purchased a quarter-share in one ticket. They won! This Federal style home with hipped roof and symmetrical facade is one of four built in Acton.

Dutch House // 1893

Located on the appropriately named Netherlands Road in Brookline, MA, this house was actually designed as a temporary structure as part of the 1893 World’s Fair, also known as the World’s Columbian Exposition or the White City, depicted in the great book, Devil in the White City. The Dutch House was constructed in 1893 by the Van Houten Cocoa Company of the Netherlands, as a display pavilion and cocoa house. It was located at one end of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building (the largest building ever constructed at the time). The Dutch House as we know of it today, was greatly inspired in design by the Franeker City Hall (c. 1591) in the Netherlands. While attending the World’s Fair, Captain Charles Brooks Appleton of Brookline be.came so captivated with the structure that after the Fair, he purchased the building and had it dismantled and transported to Brookline. By the early 2000s, much of the amazing carvings on the building had fallen off, until a new homeowner had them all restored from drawings and images of the building, to the iconic landmark we see today.

George Lee House // c.1865

This Italianate mansion was built in the 1860s for George E. Lee, a tanner. Lee lived in this home for a few decades until his death, before which, we had a stable or carriage house built to house his horses and carriage. There is a belvedere at the roof which could have been used by George or his wife to oversee the tannery business just blocks away! The home was willed to his son William after his father’s death, who sold off land across the street for new development. Interestingly, land behind the house was sold off in the early 2000s for townhouse development, possibly to provide funding to restore the home, currently undergoing renovations. The street that the townhomes sit on… Preservation Lane.

Rev. Sampson Spaulding House // 1737

Sampson Spaulding (1711-1796) studied at Harvard University to become a minister. At the age of just 23, he was called to be the first minister at the new First Congregational Church in 1736. To entice the young minister to the rural new town of Tewksbury, this Georgian mansion was constructed, probably with help from his new congregation. He married Mehetable Hunt, a local woman, and they had six children. Rev. Spaulding was
stricken with paralysis in 1791 in the middle of a church service, and he died five years later. He became one of the first burials in the new cemetery in town, now known as the Tewksbury Cemetery. The gambrel-roofed Georgian mansion stands today as one of the oldest homes in Tewksbury.

Murdock-Wiswall House // c.1718

Another of Oak Hill Village’s pre-Revolution homes is this stunner! This home was built some years before 1718 and was eventually occupied by Robert Murdock (1663-1754) and wife Hannah Stedman. Murdock emigrated from Scotland to Plymouth, MA in 1688 with his brother, later settling in Roxbury. In 1703, Robert bought a house and 120-acres of land here, and worked as a housewright. Like the King House (last post), the house was likely rebuilt or modified substantially at this time. Robert also served as a selectman, Constable, Surveyor of Highways, and Assessor in town until his death; and his son, Robert Murdock Jr., took over the property. By the mid-18th century, the estate was purchased by Jeremiah Wiswall (1725-1807). Wiswall served as Captain of the militia at the battle at Concord and Dorchester Heights during the Revolution and held a number of positions in the community including Overseer of the Poor, Constable, Selectman and as a hogreeve (person charted with the prevention or appraising of damages by stray swine). He was very involved in the events leading up to the Revolution including the committee on the tea embargo and drilled with the militia. He also lent money to the town to hire soldiers and owned a house designated as a place to receive smallpox inoculations in 1777, though it is unclear if it was this house he used. The house was eventually slated for demolition in the 1960s, but was saved by Dr. Roy Carlson, President of nearby Mount Ida College (now owned by UMass. For $1, he purchased the home from a developer and paid for it to be moved from its original location at the corner of Brookline and Dedham streets a ¼ mile southwest to its current location, on Carlson Ave, and it served as the President’s House.

Martin Kellogg House // c.1762

In 1762, Martin Kellogg, 22, whose his great-grandfather was one of the first settlers of Norwalk, bought a 110-acre apple farm for himself and his wife, Mercy Benedict of Danbury. It is likely he built his home at that time. By 1812, Kellogg owned 500 acres in New Fairfield, land that would be annexed into Brookfield in the 1960s. The couple had five children in the home – Ira, Hanford, Polly, Rachel, Abigail and Mercy Maria. Five generations of Kelloggs would eventually live in their colonial house. When Martin died in 1824, the home was willed to his eldest surviving son, Ira. It is probable that when Ira inherited the home, he modernized it with the federal fanlight above the front door. The present owner purchased the home in 1970 and has preserved the home in all of its Colonial glory!