In 1824, the Town of Brookline voted to build a two story “Town House” to accommodate many functions including schooling, town meetings, religious services, and temperance lectures to serve the growing town. The structure was to replace an older brick schoolhouse which served as a school and housed some town functions. The structure was built in the manner of earlier European town or market halls, with a meeting room on the second floor and other public functions (in this case a school) on the first. Its location near the former town green was later deemed unfit for the town’s population center, which shifted closer towards Boston before the Civil War. Brookline built a second town hall in the 1840s, and the original structure was converted to the high school (the current building was constructed in 1965). Eventually, the former town hall was purchased by the First Parish Church in 1890, eventually connected to it by 1906.
Located next to the Jeremiah Hill House on Kennard Street in Brookline, this home appears to have taken its architectural cues from its older neighbor. The home was built in 1897 for Francis and Sarah Swan, in the Neo-Classical style, which employed design from Classical Roman and Greek architecture and saw its resurgence in the late 19th-early 20th centuries as a revival from the Greek Revival period in the early-mid 19th century. Mr. Swan, the first owner of this home was vice-president of the Brookline National Bank (later
the Brookline Trust). He sold the home just three years after it was completed, to Francis H. Davenport, a physician. The home was designed by architect Frank Manton Wakefield, who previously trained in the offices of Henry Hobson Richardson and lived nearby in town.
Located across the street from Larz Anderson Park and the former Larz Anderson Estate, this stunning Spanish Revival home, built in 1927, was constructed as a guest house for visitors of Larz and Isabel Anderson. Between 1925-29 the Andersons constructed three guest houses outside the estate on Goddard Avenue. The designs were intended to call to mind places the Anderson’s had visited. “Puddingstone”, was named for a nearby outcropping of puddingstone on the Anderson estate, and was modeled after a house the couple had seen in Santa Monica, California. The Andersons used the buildings occasionally as guesthouses for relatives or friends who came for long stays at Weld, especially when Larz and Isabel were not in residence there. But for the most part, the houses remained empty and it was only after Larz’s death in 1937 that Isabel disposed of them. She donated them to Boston University for use as the Brookline Campus, who in turn, sold them off as private residences years later. Built in a Spanish Colonial style, it features a red terra cotta tile roof, adobe-colored stucco walls, and a center entrance framed by an elaborate cast stone surround in a Spanish Baroque style. To the right of the front door, a clathri (grid/lattice in architecture) over a window can be found in a blind arch.
This large and imposing brick and stone structure, located in Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, was once the carriage house of “Weld”, the estate owned by Larz and Isabel Weld Anderson. Constructed in 1888, it was inspired by the Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire in France and designed by Edmund M. Wheelwright, the city architect of Boston. First constructed to house a working stable, it later served to house and maintain the Andersons’ growing automobile collection. After Isabel Anderson’s passing in 1948, the collection was entrusted, at Isabel’s bequest, to the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. The VMCCA then established the nonprofit organization that is now known as the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. The former mansion suffered from vandalism in the 1950s and caught fire, later demolished by the Town, who could not afford to rebuild the home.
Located in South Brookline, the former estate of Anna Sears stands high on a hill, surrounded by later buildings of the ever-growing Dexter Southfield School. The Sears Estate was built for Anna Sears, a widow who was married to the late Richard Sears, a photographer. The home was designed in 1922 by Walter Kirby as part of a 49-acre estate which, in addition to the main house, included three guest cottages, garages, and a barn. The estate remained a private residence until 1945, when it became a seminary for the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. The campus was acquired by the Dexter Southfield School in the 1960s who relocated from the Cottage Farm area of Brookline. The stuccoed exterior, red tile roof, door surround, balconies and iron window grilles and sconces are characteristic of the Spanish Revival style.
Located across the street from each other in Brookline, the Pastan Houses are an excellent example of how architectural tastes can change from one generation to another. The William Pastan House was constructed in 1936, and is Tudor Revival in style. The home has a projecting square entry tower with castellated roofline and interesting mixture of materials and textures. The first owner, William Pastan raised his family in the home, attending the synagogue a couple blocks away. By 1963, Pastan’s son, Harvey became a successful engineer and built a home near his parents for his own family, though in a very different aesthetic. The Modern home features boxy forms, prominent covered parking spaces, and expanses of glass.
Which house would you prefer, William’s (1936) or Harvey’s (1963)?
Tucked away on an un-assuming side street in South Brookline, you will find this oddly fascinating home. Without architectural history knowledge, you may think it is just a normal 1940s house, but it’s actually a Lustron House! Between 1948 and 1950, the Lustron Corp. built prefabricated metal homes across the U.S. as part of an effort to combat the housing shortage for returning soldiers post–World War II. Despite these futuristic homes being considered low-maintenance and highly durable, only about 2,500 were constructed, as the structures were seen as too costly and complex to manufacture and assemble. The homes came in just three models and came in four available colors: “Surf Blue,” “Dove Gray,” “Maize Yellow,” and “Desert Tan”. The home is covered in porcelain enamel metal panels set into a steel frame which can be replaced when damaged. At the interior, the homes had metal-paneled interior walls with mostly pocket-doors for space saving. This home in Brookline was built for Edmond and Helen Jennings, in the Westchester model in the Desert Tan color. The only major alteration is the enclosure of the porch, but it retains a high degree of integrity from when it was assembled in 1949.
What do you think of this iconic 1940s home and style?
Residential architecture of the early decades of the 20th century is among my favorites as the Tudor Revival movement took off and was sometimes mixed with other revival styles at the time, creating really unique homes. The Glacy House in South Brookline, MA was built in 1930 as one of the earlier homes in the Walnut Hill development. It was likely designed and built by Walter L. Fernandez, a contractor who appears to have design-built a handful of spec homes to help get the neighborhood’s development going in the early stages. This home was originally occupied by George and Mary Glacy. George later worked as Vice President of the Boston & Maine Railroad, though he later got into legal trouble for hiring companies for railroad projects where he had financial interests, becoming indicted in an antitrust case by a Federal grand jury. The home features a first floor constructed of stone and brick with half-timbering on the floor above. The building is topped by a terracotta red tile roof, which is fairly uncommon for the region.
At a time when many public school buildings around Boston were designed in the Art Deco or early Modern styles, the Edith C. Baker School in South Brookline went back to basics and represents a nod back to Colonial era design. The whitewashed red brick building was designed and built in phases as the neighborhood surged in population, tied in with the re-emergence of the economy after the Great Depression. The opening of the West Roxbury Parkway in 1919 and the Hammond Pond Parkway in 1932, both precipitated subdivision of the farms in South Brookline for residential development. The first section was completed in 1937 (what is shown in the photo) by plans from the local architecture firm of Kilham, Hopkins and Greeley, who also designed an addition just a year later for the un-forecasted growth in the neighborhood. More additions were added in the decades following WWII, thankfully just as additions and not a scraping of the site which seems to be all the rage now. The school was named as a tribute to Edith C. Baker, a longtime member of the Brookline School Committee from 1900 to her death in 1942.
Located in South Brookline, a neighborhood of mostly early-mid 20th century architecture, you can find amazing residential designs for middle-class suburban families in the Boston area. This home was built in 1935 for Max and Rebeccah Webber in the Garrison Colonial Revival style. The home, designed by architect Harry Morton Ramsay, is characterized by a second-story shingled overhang with decorative pendants reminiscent of 17th century American homes. Adding some extra flair, an eyebrow dormer can be found at the roof, as well as a glazed projecting entry porch with a broad pediment and corner pilasters.