It’s the day before Halloween, so I wanted to share the spookiest house in Brookline, Massachusetts, the Edward Stanwood House. Completed in 1879, this English Queen Anne home may look like just any other gorgeous mansion in Brookline, but upon closer inspection, you can see some oddities on the facade. First of all, the siding on the second floor is actually hung tile, overlaid to give the appearance of fish scales. Also characteristic of the English Queen Anne style, are the decorative terra cotta and carved wood panels, and the typical Queen Anne sunflower design. Contrasting with the delicate sunflower motifs, are gargoyles and demonic figures, effectively giving this home the nickname, “The House of the Sunflowers and Devils”. It was designed by architect Clarence S. Luce, a very underrated designer, was a prominent architect who had offices in Boston, Newport, and later, NYC. The home’s owner was Edward Stanwood (1841-), a Senior Editor of the Youth’s Companion, a children’s magazine based out of Boston.
One of the coolest Stick Style homes in the Boston area is this home in the Pill Hill area of Brookline. It was designed by the architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt. It was built for E.S. Philbrick as a rental property, all designed by the firm. The symmetrical home features deeply overhanging eaves at the roof and porch, the latter with stick work as supports. At the central gable, the use of board-and-batten siding with hammer-beam trim adds a great deal of craftsmanship to the house. By the early 20th century, the house was purchased by John F. Buerkel, who was the President of Buerkel & Co., a furnace company in Boston.
This distinguished Shingle style home in the Pill Hill neighborhood of Brookline, MA was designed in 1882 and completed two years later for Thatcher Loring. Mr. Loring worked as the Treasurer of the National Dock & Warehouse Company in Boston. Loring’s house was designed by William Ralph Emerson, who at the time, was at the peak of a career that specialized in Shingle Style houses, particularly large summer cottages, primarily in New England. The home features a brick first floor with shingle siding above, and a recessed entrance with stunning wood paneling.
Built on the former Edward Philbrick estate, this home was constructed circa 1877 as a rental property, still owned by the Philbrick family. Ten years after the home was constructed, it was purchased by Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and wife, Mabel, bought and enlarged it using desired local architect Carl Fehmer, their neighbor at the time. Foster organized the Brookline National Bank in 1886, later becoming President, and also served as treasurer of Chickering & Sons, a piano manufacturer. The house was later owned by Isadore Braggiotti, and his wife Lily (formerly Baroness de Relbnitz). They were both singers who maintained a singular Hindu-vegetarian bohemian household with eight musical children, often hosting lavish parties in their music pavilion in the home. Their children all went on to do amazing things.
Located on the old Philbrick estate in Brookline, this house was constructed by Edward Philbrick as a brick Victorian Gothic home for rent. It appears that within a year of its completion, the home was purchased by William W. Swan, a lawyer. Swan soon after, hired architect Arthur Little to make alterations to the house, adding the very unique Shingle style porches, dormers, and bays, which really elevate this home’s design. After Swan’s death, his widow lived in the home with their son until the home was purchased by a Dr. Henry R. Stedman. Stedman was a physician, with offices in Boston, and was also the superintendent of the Stedman-Bournewood Hospital, a Brookline psychiatric facility.
Boston’s Free Hospital for Women was founded in 1875 by Dr. William Henry Baker. Baker wanted a hospital dedicated to treating diseases that inflicted women, offering free medical care to poor women and serving as a teaching hospital to Harvard Medical School. In the beginning, the hospital sat on East Springfield Street in the South End and was home to one of the first cancer wards in the country. Due to increased demand, it moved to a larger facility in Brookline in 1895. It was designed by architects Shaw and Hunnewell. Trimmed in limestone, details include string coursing, arched windows, carved keystones are seen all over. The hospital campus was sited perched on a ledge overlooking the Muddy River and the Frederick Law Olmsted Emerald Necklace park system on the Brookline side. In 1980, the Boston Hospital for Women merged with Peter Bent Brigham Hospital to form Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The former site of the hospital in Brookline was converted into luxury condos in 1989, which it remains as to this day.
Charles Storrow (1809-1904) was a wealthy engineer who first brought water power to and developed mills at the industrial scale in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He started his own cotton mills in the city of Lawrence and laid out streets radiating from those mills on the river, allowing him to become the first mayor of Lawrence in 1853. He married Lydia Cabot Jackson in 1836 and they eventually built a country home in the Pill Hill neighborhood Brookline to get away from the dense housing and pollution of the cities. It appears he gifted this house (adjacent to his own house) to his son, also Charles. The home was designed by architect Edward Clarke Cabot, Lydia’s father, who was a partner in the firm Cabot & Chandler. Charles Storrow’s grandson James, is the namesake of Storrow Drive, the highway that runs along the Charles River in Boston.
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.
The only church in the Pill Hill neighborhood of Brookline, the former Swedenborgian Church, while fairly small, makes a large architectural statement. This Gothic Revival church, designed by William Ware (of Ware and Van Brunt) and Edward Philbrick, is one of the few non-residential buildings in this area. The simple rectangular chapel and 3-sided apse are constructed in Roxbury pudding stone and trimmed with limestone. The Stick style bracketed porch and porte-cochere were added in the 1870s. The Swedenborg faith ‘followed a rational approach to love, wisdom, and order, and a belief that salvation was not possible through faith alone but must also be based on good works. Swedenborg also believed that Africans were particularly attuned to the Deity — thus part of the appeal of Swedenborgianism for Abolitionists’. The church is now occupied by the Latvian Lutheran Church of Boston.
Dr. Augustine Shurtleff (1828-1901) was a Brookline-based doctor and esteemed citizen in town. He grew up in Boston and Brookline before attending Brown University, graduating in 1846. He pursued the study of medicine at Harvard and received his diploma three years later. After two years of practice in Paris and London, he returned to Boston and an active practice Downtown, before moving his office to Brookline a year later. He had this Queen Anne home built in the Pill Hill neighborhood of Brookline, known as a neighborhood of medical professionals and large late 19th century homes. Dr. Shurtleff never married so it appears he lived in this massive home by himself until his death. In his free time, Shurtleff collected historic coins from all around the world, a large collection was gifted to the MFA in a collection in his name.