At the edge of the Charles River at the far edge of Newton, Massachusetts, homeless working boys of the Boston area had a place to rest their head. The Working Boys Home was established in 1883, as a new Catholic charity in Boston. Its mission was to provide a home for working adolescent boys (messenger boys, newsboys, boot blacks, etc.) who had no place to call home and often slept in abandoned buildings, alleys, stables, and other such places. The Working Boys Home was open to homeless boys between 12 and 17 years of age, and all were expected to work and contribute a part of their wages to the support of the home. The original space in Jamaica Plain and subsequent Bennett Street (North End) locations were deemed too inadequate. In 1890, the 48-acre estate in the Oak Hill section of Newton was purchased and this four-story brick building built from plans by William H. McGinty. After WWII, city prosperity other services reduced childhood homelessness, and the last group of boys moved out of the Working Boys Home in 1961. The property was sold in 1979 to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston to be used as a center for activities meeting cross-generational needs, now known as JCC Greater Boston.
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 This, the already outdated station, was converted to a village library on the ground floor with a janitor’s apartment and storage above.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.
My favorite of all workers cottages/houses in Newton’s Lower Falls village is this home, a c.1840 dwelling which is a vernacular Greek Revival style home with excellent proportions and design. 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 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! This home was occupied by Nathaniel Wales and his wife Abigail (Jackson). Nathaniel was from Watertown and came to Newton to work in the paper industry. He left and went to Canada in 1802 to create a paper mill there, soon after returning to marry Abigail. The home features a full-length front porch with tapered columns, pilasters at the entry, and Victorian-era windows in a 2-over-2 configuration.
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, to a house painter. The modest house stands out for the gorgeous wrap-around porch supported by fluted Doric columns, an off-center entrance with sidelights, and corner pilasters.
Toward the middle of the 19th-century, the Newton Lower Falls Village developed into a premier paper-manufacturing center of eastern Massachusetts, largely due 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, and was sold off after the mill shut down. 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, giving it a slight Gothic Revival element.
Thought to be the oldest extant house in Newton Lower Falls, this historic mansion has seen a lot of change over its nearly 300 years in the village. The house believed to have been built around 1755 by John Parker (1687-1761) for his son Ezra (b. 1731) after his marriage. William Hoogs, a ship carpenter from Boston, took ownership of the house in 1781 from his father-in-law (and boss), Aster Stoddard, who had bought it from the Parker family. William Hoogs was a sole-owner of a paper mill in the village and made a good name for himself. The house was likely modified during this period in the Federal style, with a third floor added. The home was possibly passed to his son, also William, who was written about in papers as fleeing town to Canada with the family maid, who was late in her pregnancy and their two-year-old child together. Hoogs had debtors looking for him. Hoogs had a change of heart and sent for his eight children to live with him in Quebec that same year. Sadly, the ship bringing them up sunk on Lake Champlain and all perished. By 1813, the property was purchased by Samuel Brown of Boston, a wealthy merchant who was a strong financial supporter of Saint Mary’s Church. By 1825, he officially bequeathed the property to Dr. Alfred Louis Baury (1764-1865) rector of Saint Mary’s Church. By 1917, the Lucy Jackson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution operated it as a chapter house and a museum for antiques. In 1971, the Newton Redevelopment Authority bought the property and sold it to a developer for conversion into office space, it was rotated 90 degrees to face Concord Street at this time.
Lower Falls Village in Newton, Massachusetts was first settled in the early 18th century by colonists due to the area’s natural waterfalls and rapids which was perfect for early industry. By the early 19th century, up to four paper mills lined the Charles River here at a dam which provided power and steady water supply for their facilities. The village saw a large population increase from that point until the end of the 19th century when larger mills in the state were built. One of the major community spaces for the growing village was it’s main church, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which is the oldest extant church in Newton and the first Episcopal church built immediately west of Boston. The cornerstone for the building was laid in September 1813 containing a package of coins and a silver plate. Previously services had been held in the Lower Falls schoolhouse, with the first Episcopal service held in 1811. The land for the church was donated by Samuel Brown a wealthy Boston merchant who invested in the paper mills in Lower Falls. Many of the founding members and parishioners were in the paper making business in Lower Falls and buried in the adjacent cemetery. The Federal style church was altered in 1838 and given Gothic detailing, including lancet windows and finials at the steeple. In 1954, the bell tower was altered with the gothic finials replaced with the current urns on the balustrade, the gothic arched openings were changed to the current arched shape, and entablature, pilasters, and a cross were added.
This Colonial Revival house on Pine Ridge Road in Waban Village, Newton, is one of a handful of the brick houses in the neighborhood, and one of the more refined examples of the style in the neighborhood without architectural embellishments from other styles. The home was built around 1915 for Winslow Blanchard and his wife Winona. Winslow was an engineer who served as President of the Blanchard Machine Company in Cambridge. It is probable that the couple hired Dorchester-based architect Edwin J. Lewis to design the home; as Winona grew up in the Ashmont section of town where Lewis lived. Additionally, the couple hired Lewis to make alterations to their recently completed home in 1919. The house retains its original slate roof, front door with pedimented entry, and is covered in climbing ivy, which isn’t great for the masonry but looks so good!
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.
Waban in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a hotbed for architect-designed houses as their own residences. This Colonial Revival/Tudor Revival style estate was designed by Gifford LeClear (1874–1931), a prominent architect in the Boston area. Gifford LeClear was born in Rutherford, New Jersey to Thomas and Cornelia (King) LeClear. He was educated in the private schools in Boston before entering Harvard University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895 and Master of Arts in 1896. He then worked for a year in the engineering department of the West End Street Railway before forming his partnership with Densmore in 1897. The partnership of Densmore & LeClear was formed in April 1897, practicing as mechanical and electrical engineers. One of the firm’s major projects in this role was the design of the building systems for the new campus of the Harvard Medical School in Boston.