Williams-Sears House // 1905

Why cant we all have siblings this generous??

Located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, this home was actually constructed as two attached homes for Ralph Blake Williams and his sister, Ruth (Williams) Sears, the wife of Dr. George Gray Sears. In 1905, Ralph B. Williams hired architect Julius A. Schweinfurth, who trained in the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, to design a double-townhouse, for him and his sister. After completion, Williams lived in the larger side (right three bays) with his widowed mother, and Ruth lived in the smaller home (left two bays) with her husband. After successive ownership, the buildings were and turned into a lodging house, soon after purchased together in 1955 and turned into a school, the Chandler School for Women. The homes remained separate until 1959, when the school demolished the interior party wall, effectively combining the two properties into one, this is likely when the Sears’ front door was filled in, leaving one front door in the center bay. In 1971, the New England College of Optometry purchased the building and occupies it to this day for classrooms and offices.

Moorfield Storey House // c.1876

This home was designed by Robert S. Peabody of the firm Peabody & Stearns for his good friend Moorfield Storey. Peabody lived just next door. Moorfield Storey established a law practice in Boston, Massachusetts, eventually elected President of the American Bar Association in 1896. Storey served as the founding president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving from 1909 to his death in 1929. Storey was known to work 16-hour days, even into his later years. He was a fighter for unpopular issues, usually in the minority at any given time. Storey himself was quoted as saying “It is not success to fight on the winning side. It is success to fight bravely for a principle even if one does not live to see it triumph”. He moved out of this home in the early 20th century, relocating to Fenway which was seeing a massive surge in development.

Mills-Castle House // 1883

Look up perfection in the dictionary, and a picture of this Victorian home would be shown. Built in 1883, the Mills-Castle House exhibits the Shingle Style with a high-style Queen Anne detailing. Designed by the architectural powerhouse firm of Peabody & Stearns for Arthur Mills, the home is a significant addition to the already beautiful Pill Hill neighborhood of Brookline. Arthur Mills was an executive of the Boston & Albany Railroad. A subsequent owner of the house, Louise Castle, was Brookline’s first Selectwoman. Her husband, Dr. William Castle helped discover the cause of and cure for pernicious anemia.

St. Mary the Assumption Church & Rectory // 1886 & 1892

St. Marys Church in Brookline Village was the first Catholic Church established in Brookline. Irish immigrants originally settled in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, and mostly worked in industrial occupations including for the railroad companies. The migration of Irish to Brookline was, in part, due to the opening of the Brookline branch of the Boston and Worcester Railroad, on which many Irish were employed as construction workers. Many settled in workers housing on the periphery of what is today Brookline Village. Many Irish families started congregating at the Lyceum Hall in Brookline as a Catholic meeting space. After the Civil War, land was purchased on Harvard Street for the erection of a church by the Catholic Diocese. Renowned architects Peabody & Stearns were selected to design a church.

Completed in 1886, the Victorian Gothic church is constructed of red brick with Longmeadow brownstone trim. Gothic lancet windows and arches adorn the building, which has prominent facades on both Harvard and Linden Streets. Directly to the right of the church, a rectory was built to provide a residence for the Rector. The 3 1/2-story rectory was also designed by Peabody & Stearns and is stylistically similar to the church next door. A school and convent were later added to complete the large campus.

Church Rectory (1892)

Hotel Bellevue // 1899

The Hotel Bellevue exemplifies the luxurious “apartment hotels,” catering mostly to permanent residents, that sprang up in Boston in the late 19th century. While this structure is located in Beacon Hill, the majority of apartment/hotels in Boston were being built in the Back Bay neighborhood. The original Beaux-Arts structure was designed by Peabody & Stearns, prolific architects who designed many iconic buildings in the region and beyond. The new Hotel Bellevue was described as having a commodious library, handsome dining room and good management. Early brochures showed luxurious interiors and praised the quietness of the area and
its proximity to Boston attractions.

Image courtesy of Brandon Bartoszek showing addition, original building to right.

As the population in Boston continued to grow into the 20th century, the ownership saw an opportunity to double the amount of rooms in their establishment. As the American Unitarian Association Building (1886) next door went up for sale, they decided to buy the building and raze it for a large addition. The addition was built in 1925 by Putnam & Cox architects in Boston. The addition is clearly similar to that designed by Peabody & Stearns, but reads as an addition as intended. There are decorative mascarons (faces) on the addition which appear to be of Hercules and Athena. The building is now occupied as a condominium with retail at the ground level.