Lower Falls Firehouse // 1900

The Newton Lower Falls Firehouse was built in 1900 to serve the village’s fire prevention needs. As nearby Waban Village’s population surged (along with a stronger tax base) the City of Newton constructed a new fire station in 1918, that could serve both areas. This, the already outdated station, was converted to a village library on the ground floor with a janitor’s apartment and storage above. The space was determined to be surplus by the City and was sold off in 1979, quickly converted to housing by a developer. The building retains much of its original character, down to the hose-drying tower.

Thomas M. James House // c.1900

When the Waban section of Newton got a rail line connecting it to Boston, development boomed! Architects who lived in other parts of the Boston area saw an immense opportunity, not only for work, but for a bucolic setting where they could also reside. One of these architects that lived and worked in Waban was Thomas Marriott James, who in the early 20th century, designed and moved into this house on Pine Ridge Road. James was also born in Cambridge but received no academic architectural training. By 1893, Boston directories record that he was a draftsman at the office of Eugene L. Clark, a prolific
designer of suburban homes. His residence in Waban blends the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles under a broad gambrel roof. The verandah is inset and has segmental bays with shingle posts as supports. The kneewall is also shingled, adding to the composition.

Benjamin H. Davidson House // 1897

Benjamin H. Davidson, a wool merchant had this stunning property built in Waban for his family in 1897. Benjamin and his architect envisioned a large, Shingle style mansion, set back off the street. The house obviously exhibits shingle cladding along all surfaces including stone piers coming up from the ground at the porch, giving the house an organic feeling. The design also includes a large stairhall Palladian window, which is obscured from the street by a balustrade.

Oscar and Maud Rice House // 1895

In 1895, when the Queen Anne style was no longer in vogue among architects and builders in the Boston area, the Allston Real Estate Company took a gamble and built this house in a scarcely developed section of Waban Village in Newton on spec, hoping to find a buyer. They found one in Oscar Raymond Rice and his wife Maud Lois Sargent Rice. Oscar worked as a salesman, and Maud volunteered locally with various causes. The family home is a great example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture with varied siding styles, asymmetry, a tower, rounded bay window, porch with turned posts, and applied decoration in the gables. The house underwent a large renovation about five years ago and it still looks great! The listing from 2017 gives me serious house envy.

Baker-Mason House // 1897

Eclectic homes that can not be pigeonholed to a single architectural style are among my favorite as they blend features elegantly into a single, unique composition. This house on Windsor Road in the Waban village of Newton, Massachusetts is an example of an “eclectic” late 19th century home. This old house exhibits elements of the Queen Anne and Tudor Revival styles. The house was built in 1897 for Daniel and Ida Baker. After their death, the home was purchased by a James H. Mason, who got it for an estimated $25,000 in 1909. A listing at the time mentions the property included a 14-room house and large stable, the latter still stands at the rear of the lot (since converted to a car garage).

John Parry House // 1895

In 1895, Waban Village was in the middle of its massive development period, when half of the homes in the neighborhood were built within 10 years. One of the earliest in this neighborhood was this investment property by John E. Parry, a businessman and major developer. This house appears to have been rented at first, but was listed as vacant for some time in the city directories. Eventually it was purchased and has been lovingly maintained to this day. The design is a regional take on the transitional Shingle and Colonial Revival styles, this one with a really unique cross gambrel roof.

Louis K. Harlow House // 1888

One of the best houses in Waban Village in Newton is this absolutely stunning Shingle style/Queen Anne home perched high on Moffat Hill. This house was built in 1888 for Louis K. Harlow, who began his career as a professional artist in 1880 and traveled Europe to study the work of prominent painters. Back in the Boston area, Harlow painted nature and landscapes and produced etchings that were shown in the Boston Art Club and sold worldwide. He later got into poetry and published multiple works. Harlow hired the firm of Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow, to design his country retreat. I assume there is a relation between Louis K. and the architect Alfred Branch Harlow, but I would love to find out the connection! The design is quintessentially Queen Anne, with the asymmetry, complex roof form, varied siding types, and diamond window sashes. The shingled second floor overhangs the fieldstone first floor which to me, evokes the Shingle style where the house seems to have grown out from the earth. I can only imagine how spectacular the interior is!

Dr. Sarah Crawford House // 1897

Dr. Sarah Marcy Crawford was a graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and long devoted herself to her patients. She eventually settled in the Boston area, working in Roxbury as a physician until she took up a residence in Waban Village of Newton. She worked locally at the New England Hospital for Women and Children and served as a deputy superintendent of the State’s minor wards for the old Massachusetts Board of Charity and was an active member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. She had this eclectic home built for her and her family, but they later relocated to another home in town. The house is a great example of the convergence of architectural styles, common at the end of the 19th century, this one being a blending of Shingle, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles.

Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow House // 1886

The Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow House, sitting high on Oak Hill in Newton, is among the last designs (1886) of architectural icon Henry Hobson Richardson. If you already didn’t know, Richardson was one of the foremost architects of his day and is known both for bold Richardsonian Romanesque and Shingle style designs. He was hired by Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow to provide plans for a sprawling country retreat from the noisy and cramped conditions in Boston. Dr. Bigelow was an eminent surgeon in Boston who earlier, helped facilitate the first public dose of ether as anesthesia on a patient, a breakthrough that led to the stunning Ether Monument in the Boston Public Garden. Bigelow only got to enjoy the country estate for a couple years until he died in the home in 1890. Years later, the estate (and nearby buildings) became home to the Peabody Home of Crippled Children, which worked as a sort of open-air hospital. Eventually, the home was vacated and sat, deteriorating on the hill. It was saved from demolition through the efforts of preservationists in Newton, and was restored as a part of “This Old House” with Bob Vila. It was restored as a set of five condominiums sited in a sunny interior courtyard.

Frederick Collins House // 1847

This house was built in 1847 by Frederick A. Collins on land owned by his father, Mathias Collins III. Frederick Collins (1818-1892) had this house built just after his marriage the same year to Amelia M. Revere, purportedly a grandniece of Paul Revere. Prior to his marriage, Frederick A. Collins lived in Newton Upper Falls and started a glue factory with his brother, which
by 1855, had grown to three three factories and which folded upon the death of his brother Edward Collins in 1879. Collins was active in local affairs, serving in later life on the City Council. The home remains a significant monumental temple-front Greek Revival house in the Boston area. It was designated as a Newton Landmark, meaning it will be preserved for future generations to appreciate.