By Richard Heath
FOREST HILLS is the most complex area of Jamaica Plain. Transformed by transportation over two centuries of time, Forest Hills challenges the definition of neighborhood. About a mile long and a half-mile across, Forest Hills has been shaped by geography more than any other part of Jamaica Plain. It sits in a valley at the confluence of two streams flanked by two hills on which have been landscaped two Boston landmarks and American institutions: the Arnold Arboretum and Forest Hills Cemetery. The hills that channeled the streams also channeled transportation routes, beginning in 1806 with the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike (today Washington Street).
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FOREST HILLS was for over 150 years a crossroads in an obscure corner of Roxbury known as Canterbury. Three seventeenth-century roadways converged in that valley: South Street (or the road leading out of the Dedham Highway, today called Centre Street) along John Weld’s farm, meandering along an irregular line into present-day West Roxbury; Walnut Avenue, or the road to the “Great Lotts,” which wound its way through Roxbury Highlands from Warren Street (the upper road to Dorchester and Plymouth) at present-day Dudley Square, and formed a crossroads with South Street, about where the Arborway crosses South Street today; and Walk Hill Street, that came off South Street a bit south of the crossroads, and ran to the Dorchester line at Harvard Street. At Forest Hills the traveler could go to Roxbury, Dedham or Dorchester.
Walnut Avenue and South Street crossed over on wood-plank bridges two streams that mark the valley. The largest and most influential is Stony Brook with its source at Turtle Pond in Stony Brook Reservation. Stony Brook carved its way through Forest Hills, Jamaica Plain and Roxbury before emptying out into the great salt marsh of the Back Bay under present-day Northeastern University. Along the way it turned the grist mills for the Pierpont family at Roxbury Crossing and the tanneries of the Heath family at Jackson Square. Walnut Avenue crossed Stony Brook approximately in the middle of the present-day Arborway MBTA yard. The other stream was Sawmill Brook – Bussey Brook today – and it flowed under South Street at the same location it has for three centuries, near the South Street gate of the Arnold Arboretum. A tributary of the Charles River, it winds its way out of the wet meadows of Brook Farm and was sufficiently powerful to turn a sawmill for the manufacture of shingles in the mid-17th century (the mill was located about where the wood-arch footbridge is located in the Arboretum).
Forest Hills is the center of two great Roxbury families, Weld and Seaver. The mark of these families was felt until the early decades of the 20th century.
Canterbury (old Forest Hills) was so far from Roxbury town center, hard against the Dorchester line, that for decades the town held the land as Roxbury commons land.[i] Among the earliest grants of Roxbury commons land at Forest Hills was to Captain Joseph Weld (1599-1646). Captain Joseph and his brother Rev. Thomas Weld sailed with John Winthrop on Mar. 7, 1632 and arrived in Boston in July. Rev. Weld was made pastor of Roxbury First Church and his brother became a shopkeeper and joined the Roxbury Artillery Company. Joseph Weld’s store was on Roxbury Street (Washington Street) at the corner of Vernon Street. Rev. Weld lived across the street at the corner of Ziegler Street. Captain Joseph Weld led the Roxbury Artillery Company in the Pequot War of 1634-1638. In consideration for this service in the first colonial war with the Native Americans, Capt. Weld was granted 270 acres of land on the lower road to Dedham that is today largely the Arnold Arboretum. This land, and a great deal more added over the years between Forest Hills and Brookline, would be owned by seven generations of Welds.
Colonel Ebenezer Weld, the great grandson of Captain Joseph, distinguished himself in the Revolutionary War. It is his grandson Stephen Minot Weld (1806-1867) who is of most interest in the history of Forest Hills, because he seems to be the first owner of the land between Washington Street and Forest Hills Cemetery.
Stephen Minot Weld graduated from Harvard College in 1826, and for thirty years taught at a boarding school he founded in 1827 in Jamaica Plain. He lived in a large house on one acre of land at the corner of Centre and South streets. (The house was still standing in 1924.)[ii] His first wife was Sarah Balch (1817-1854). Stephen Minot Weld was a shrewd businessman who believed in the growth and future of Jamaica Plain. In part with inherited wealth from his father, a prosperous ship owner, Stephen M. Weld bought up large tracts of undervalued land because transportation was not improved enough to encourage population growth in the area. At the time of his death in 1867, his holdings extended from Forest Hills Street to South Street along the valley that he knew would inevitably be developed because of its location; some of this land was subdivided as late as the 1920s.
He raised money to recruit soldiers for the Civil War and his son Stephen M. Weld Jr. served with valor at Appomattox. After the war he raised a great deal of the quarter of a million dollars needed to build Memorial Hall at Harvard University.
Until the middle of the 19th century there were about six homes in Forest Hills, two of which were on the southeast hillside overlooking Stony Brook, where Orchardhill Road is today. In March of 1839, Stephen M. Weld bought a house and land there for $1500 from his older brother George (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 124, fol. 27). This house and approach road (presumably the curving lower end of Orchardhill Road) was built between 1832 and 1839; it does not appear on Hale’s 1832 map of Roxbury. Stephen M. Weld soon after rented the house to Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) and her mother, who moved in on Apr. 2, 1839. In a letter to her young Boston friend Carolyn Sturgis dated Feb. 21, 1839, Fuller wrote, “I am coming to live near you. We have taken a little place called Willow Brook about five miles from Boston. You must come out and spend Sundays. And then I can come in and look over engravings at the Athenaeum with you.”[iii]
Margaret and her mother removed to Jamaica Plain from Groton. The death of her father Timothy in 1835 left the family in great debt, and Margaret sold the farm their father had bought, along with much of their household goods and his books, and removed to Forest Hills. Margaret Fuller was brilliant, well read, well spoken (and outspoken), bold, competitive and well connected socially and intellectually. Forest Hills was a turning point in her life, but why move to Forest Hills? Her mother apparently chose the location because the family wanted to live in a rural area. Boston was not unknown to the family. Margaret lived at her uncle’s house on Avon Place in 1836. Two other reasons suggest themselves. Stephen M. Weld’s wife was Sarah Balch, and the Balches were related to Timothy Fuller (Carolyn Williams Balch was Timothy Fuller’s cousin). Stephen M. Weld rented the house to the Fullers – members of his extended family – as soon as he bought it.
The second reason is Ralph Waldo Emerson, a complicated, self-absorbed man in a complicated relationship with Margaret Fuller. Emerson was friend, protégé, critic, and, to Margaret, a romance. She knew Ralph Waldo Emerson well enough to be invited to his Concord home in 1836 for induction into his select salon of Transcendentalists (in whom she never fully believed). Seven years older than Fuller, Emerson (1803-1882) lived for two years himself in Canterbury in a rented farmhouse on Walnut Avenue, less than a mile from Forest Hills. He taught at his brother’s Young Ladies School in his mother’s house on Federal Street, but enjoying neither the school nor city living, he took the advice of his aunt and rented a farmhouse from Stedman Williams in May 1823.[iv] In February 1825 Emerson left to attend Harvard University and go on to fame as a writer of pretentious philosophy. Emerson clearly loved the Roxbury countryside and he may have recommended it to the Fullers.
Margaret Fuller tutored at least two women at Willow Brook and thoroughly enjoyed walking through Bussey’s Woods, the estate of Benjamin Bussey on South Street. She loved the meadows and walks through what is today Hemlock Hill. In her letters she describes the waterfall that gave her so much pleasure; this was more than likely the ruins of the old sawmill with its crumbling stone platform for the waterwheel. On May 15, 1839 she wrote to a friend about “Blossom Sunday at Bussey’s Woods,” in which the apple trees were in full blossom and the woods bustling with violets.
Margaret moved into Jamaica Plain society soon enough (moving easily into different settings was a lifelong trait). In a letter of June 8, 1839 she wrote that she joined Joseph Balch and Dr. Christopher Weld for boating on Jamaica Pond.[v]
To support herself and her mother Margaret conceived of hosting “Conversations” in the bookstore of Elizabeth Peabody – whom she met in 1828 – located at 13 West Street (not far from today’s Brattle Bookshop). She took the idea from Bronson Alcott with whom she met to discuss her plans in August of 1839. These Conversations would be different; they would be by women on topics selected by and of concern to women. Fuller had the very revolutionary idea that women could think and talk on their own. She invited a circle of well-read and well-connected women to join the first Conversation on November 6, 1839 at Miss Peabody’s bookstore. The method was simple: a topic was chosen and the women would discuss it. Margaret kept the conversation “on topic” and encouraged everyone to speak.
Emerson planned a periodical he called The Dial that would publish critical thinkers of, and be the organ for, Transcendentalism. He asked Margaret to edit the publication, and she spent the early winter of 1839 at her Forest Hills home working on the first issue that came out in January 1840.
In 1841 Margaret declined to renew her lease, and she moved out of her Forest Hills home on April 6, 1841 with her luggage and a bundle of Dial manuscripts under her arms. After a year-and-a-half as a wandering guest in one household or another, she removed to New York City to become foreign affairs correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Herald Tribune.[vi]
On July 10, 1849 Jacob W. Seaver (1820-1914) married Sarah Abby Weld. For the rest of the century Forest Hills would be influenced by these two great Roxbury families, Weld and Seaver. In 1850 Jacob W. Seaver and his wife Abby are listed as living in Jamaica Plain. It is highly likely – although undocumented – that the home they moved into was the stately Greek revival house at no. 40 Orchardhill Road, perched on the approach drive overlooking Stony Brook. The date of the house is unknown but the “land with buildings” was surveyed by T. B. Moses on April 23, 1856, as noted in the deed when Jacob W. Seaver bought the property from Franklin Weld, Jacob’s nephew, on Jan. 1, 1872 (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 434, fol. 281).[vii] The classic Greek revival style of the house was in high vogue in 1850s America.
It does not seem that this is the same house that Margaret Fuller lived in, although it is on the same corner location. In her letters Fuller says she is moving into a “little house,” and 40 Orchardhill Road is a stately, porticoed country house. The home was probably built by William Fletcher Weld as a wedding gift for his only daughter Sarah. Sarah’s two uncles, Stephen M. and Dr. Christopher Weld, may have added to the dowry.[viii] Sarah Abby Weld (1829-1911) was the only daughter of the richest merchant/ ship owner of his day in the nation, William Fletcher Weld (1800-1881). At the height of his fortune he owned 51 merchant ships and ten steamships. When he saw merchant shipping declining he invested successfully in railroads and urban real estate. On his death in 1881 his income was listed at $20 million.
Jacob Weld Seaver was born in Roxbury on the Seaver lands above Blue Hill Avenue. Robert Seaver (1608-1685) was the first to arrive from England to Roxbury in June 1634, and his land grant extended from Warren to Walnut Avenue. The Seaver farmhouse stood near Schuyler Street and Blue Hill Avenue, where the Grove Hall Motormart garage is today, at 4-18 Cheney Street.
The most famous Roxbury Seaver was Jacob’s father Ebenezer, whose namesake grandfather was Roxbury town constable. That Ebenezer bought forty acres, a farmhouse, a mill (probably a blacksmith shop) and barn on that location in 1796. A cart path through the farm, connecting it to Walnut Avenue, was known as the Long Crouch in the 17th century, and was named Seaver Street in 1825 after Jacob’s father for his service to Roxbury, including as a federal congressman and as a state representative.
A branch of the Seaver family had been living in the Jamaica Plain (or Jamaica End) section of Roxbury as early as 1700 (see for example Ebenezer Seaver, Suffolk deeds, Lib. 19, fol. 369, 1700; and Lib. 79, fol. 151, 1701).
Jacob W. Seaver was descended from the brother of Joshua Seaver, who was born in the family’s home on Centre Street (near Thomas Street) in 1779. He established Seaver’s store in 1796, which he built on the site of an earlier general store. It would be one of the longest-lasting businesses in Jamaica Plain when it closed in 1928.[ix] The Jamaica Plain Seavers, Joshua and Jacob, were of the merchant class. Joshua owned one of the first retail, general merchandise stores in the area. Jacob was a commercial wholesale-food merchant, dealing largely in flour from a storehouse at 19 Commercial Wharf (1850 Boston Directory).
The Seaver-Weld marriage was not only the joining of two families, but of two great arms of the early American economy: shipping and commercial wholesale merchants and brokers. William Fletcher Weld, like his father William Gordon Weld, took enormous and costly risks to trade in the Mediterranean, East Indies and the southern part of the Caribbean. Pirates, privateers, European conflicts, and storms could and did cost the ship owner a fortune. The Welds required dependable home markets and trustworthy brokers to sell their goods and to trade with abroad. One of those was Jacob W. Seaver, with his warehouse and counting rooms on Commercial Wharf. He took the grains and other commodities in the holds of Weld’s ships and sold them to the retail trade, such as Seaver’s store. The shipowner and commercial wholesaler were powerful partners in the city’s economy; together they set the prices and influenced the business of Boston and surrounding towns.
When Jacob W. Seaver and his wife Sarah moved into their Orchardhill Road home in 1850, Jamaica Plain politics were in class turmoil that resulted in the formation of the separate town of Jamaica Plain, when it broke off from the parent city of Roxbury in 1851. The first town hall was on Thomas Street behind the Seaver store.
On January 1, 1872 Jacob W. Seaver bought the house and grounds on Orchardhill Road from his uncle Franklin Weld (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 434, fol. 281). The property was about ten acres from approximately Tower Street to Morton Street, and included a large mansion house that for decades was the home of Jacob W. Seaver. The 1874 G. M. Hopkins atlas shows three houses on the property, the big white house at 40 Orchardhill Road, a smaller house, and the mansion on the lower slope above Morton Street.
Presumably Jacob W. Weld built this large house for his four children; Franklin Weld may have lived in one of the other houses. A postcard from about 1910[x] shows a three-story home with mansard roof and cupola with an L-shaped wing. It was designed in the French Second Empire style, a popular design for men of wealth of the 1870s, so it is possible the house was built when Seaver bought the land. It strongly resembles the Samuel Riddle house at six Roanoke Avenue on Sumner Hill. The way the Riddle house even today sits high up on a grass lawn fringed by a stone wall resembles the Seaver mansion. The deed states that one house had been rented by “Miss Balch” since 1868, so presumably Seaver found the Greek revival house too small for their growing family. Franklin Weld died 10 months after he sold the property at the age of 71.
The Seaver mansion sat on a hill with a boundary wall (still in place today) that fronted Morton Street. The Town of Roxbury built Morton Street in 1850 from Washington Street to Canterbury Street. In 1853 abutting landowners paid to have the road extended to Harvard Street, the boundary of Roxbury and Dorchester. The road was completed to Blue Hill Avenue in 1859. The Town of Dorchester may have built the leg from Harvard to Blue Hill Avenue, in that way making Morton Street the connection between the two former turnpikes – the Norfolk and Bristol (built in 1806), and the Brush Hill Turnpike (Blue Hill Avenue) built in 1809.
Two years after Seaver took the deed to his hillside estate, Jamaica Plain was annexed to the city of Boston; the vote was taken on October 7, 1873 and took effect in January of 1874. By then the Seaver and Weld families owned vast tracts of valley and hillside land above Hyde Park Avenue as far as Walk Hill Street and along Washington Street as far as Lotus Street.
Forest Hills Becomes the Transit Hub of Jamaica Plain
When Jacob W. Seaver moved into his new home on Orchardhill Road, Forest Hills had been transformed from the crossroads known by his father to a transportation center, with the development of the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike and later the Boston and Providence Railroad. Both took advantage of the topography – the flat plain of the Stony Brook valley wedged between two hills.
At the opening of the 1802 legislative session, a group of businessmen petitioned the General Court to authorize a turnpike corporation to improve the road from the Dedham courthouse to Providence: “It is expedient that the public roads should be made smooth and easy for travelers and for the conveyance of goods and commodities as well as produce. That the road between Boston and Providence is much used and of great pubic accommodation but it is in a very bad state and it … is only to be made good by a turnpike.”[xi] In an era when government did not pay for public works, only a revenue-generating toll road could support the type of highway required to link the two cities of Boston and Providence and increase trade. The Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike was incorporated on March 8, 1802 with shares at $50 each. There were eleven incorporators, and Fisher Ames of Dedham was president.[xii] The route was extended in 1803 from Dedham courthouse through Canterbury crossroads at Walnut Avenue to Bartlett Street at Roxbury center.
In an undated letter (perhaps in the summer of 1802), five agents from the town of Roxbury wrote to the General Court stating that “the inhabitants of the town of Roxbury are desirous of the introduction of a turnpike from Dedham to Boston through the town of Roxbury.” Jacob Weld, William Heath, Thomas Williams, John Williams and William Brewer, all prominent Roxbury landowners, signed the letter.
On February 10, 1803, an additional act was passed by the Legislature that extended the turnpike from the Dedham courthouse to the “brick schoolhouse” (Roxbury Latin School, then on Guild Street). The terminus would be at Bartlett Street and present-day Washington Street, where an existing cartpath led off Roxbury Street. The road was laid out ruler straight; indeed it seemed as if the engineers placed a straightedge on a map with one end on Bartlett Street and the other at the Dedham courthouse. The roadway is a straight line today with the exception of a curve at Forest Hills through Roslindale.
Work began on the 35-mile turnpike in 1803 and the road was opened for travel in early 1806.[xiii] The right-of-way was 24 feet wide. (Interestingly, no records have been found at either Norfolk or Suffolk County showing that the turnpike corporation bought this right-of-way from landowners.) The roadbed was laid with coarse hard gravel, six inches thick, graded to a slight pitch, with twelve-foot sides to allow for drainage, and ditches for water run-off. The gravel was obtained from hillsides and slopes along the right-of-way that are impossible to locate today, but the topography of Circuit Street, Townsend Street and Union Avenue suggests places where gravel was dug out. Farmers and landowners were only too willing to get free excavation that would prepare the way for new streets and subdivisions without the added cost of site preparation. The Roxbury section of the turnpike was easy to build until teams reached the hills above present-day Adams Square in Roslindale, and then the granite ledges of Stony Brook Reservation required blasting and clearing. The Roxbury section also needed two wood-plank bridges; one to cross Stony Brook at present-day Williams Street, and the second at Sawmill Brook (where Ukraine Way is today). From Roxbury to Providence the average construction cost per mile was $5,500, or $191,168 for the entire route. The corporation was capitalized at $192,000 so the project came in barely on budget.
The first tollhouse outside Roxbury town center was south of the crossroads at South Street and Walnut Avenue, near the bridge over Sawmill Brook. The 1832 Hales map of Roxbury suggests that South Street was extended (probably by the corporation) to meet the tollhouse. There were five buildings on this extension – among which may have been the tollkeepers’ house, probably a blacksmith shop, and a perhaps a store. At the tollgate a post was set with a retractable arm; when the toll was paid the gate would be turned to allow passage (hence the name “turnpike”). Freight wagons; saddle horses; livestock such as sheep, pigs and cows; and coaches each paid a different fare. The ledger shows a typical tollhouse day for December 13, 1813, when two horse-and-wagons, two horse-and-chaises, two teams of cattle (five head), three teams of cattle (six head), and one man on a horse were given passage. On February 15, 1814, thirty-one horse-and-sleigh customers paid the fare. The Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike not only gave Canterbury crossroads[xiv] a faster way to travel to Roxbury and Dedham, but a geographic place name: it was now Tollgate.
The gatekeeper’s wages averaged about $10 a month (in 1824 the monthly wage was $14 a month) and presumably included board. Life was lonely and occasionally dangerous. Soon after the turnpike opened, gatekeeper Cyrus Knowles was the near victim of an armed robbery on March 6, 1806, when bandits brandishing handguns broke through the tollhouse windows. Only the intervention of a passing teamster saved Mr. Knowles from harm.[xv]
It was common practice for teamsters and carriages to evade the toll by slipping off the highway and taking South Street. But South Street was narrow, rutted, and littered with rocks, so the smooth and straight turnpike was worth the fare. In 1829, public coaches were authorized to travel on the Norfolk and Bristol turnpike after the Citizens’ Line was incorporated. Its fare from the Roxbury station at Bartlett Street to Providence was $2.50. The Boston Traveler reported on October 2, 1831 that a traveler could leave New York City by steamboat at 5 p.m. and land at Providence at 11 a.m. the next day. He would then take the stage on the turnpike and be in Boston at 5 p.m.[xvi] The fare was $3. In 1826 hourly coaches left Seaver’s store for the Roxbury town hall and then across the neck to Old South Church. That was how Margaret Fuller traveled to her Conversations.
The Boston and Providence Railroad was incorporated on June 22, 1831. The 44-mile route from Boston to Providence began at present-day Park Square (originally Pleasant and Broadway) straight across the Back Bay marshes to the upland at Pierpont Village (Roxbury Crossing), where it hugged the foot of Parker Hill, crossed Stony Brook at Hogg’s bridge (Jackson Square) and continued on a straight right-of-way along the brook valley through Tollgate to Readville. The tracks crossed the marshes on an earth causeway supported by thick timbers stuck in the mud bottom.
Construction began in late 1832. The Boston and Providence Railroad (B+P R/R) bought parcels of land 65 feet wide for its right-of-way, and additional land as required for stone and gravel. More than likely, much of this gravel came from the slope of Parker Hill along present-day Allegheny Street. On February 17, 1833, for example, Ebenezer Weld and Ebenezer Seaver sold three parcels of land at Tollgate 2,443 feet long and 65 feet wide (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 98, fol. 163, and Lib. 99, fol. 91). The Boston and Providence Railroad opened for travel on July 11, 1835, a distance of 44 miles between the two cities.
The B+P R/R was intended to serve long-distance travelers. The only station between Hyde Square and Readville (or Dedham Plain) was at Roxbury Crossing (Pierpont Village). Two stations were added in 1842: Jamaica Plain (at Green Street) and Tollgate. At first an open-air platform; in 1845 a waiting room was built approximately opposite present-day Tower Street. The right-of-way was at grade with timber planks only at the stations, obviously requiring constant regrading at the intersections, such as at Walnut Avenue. To avoid a grade crossing, the railroad built an extension of Walk Hill Street to Tollgate station that later became part of Hyde Park Avenue when that road was built from Cleary Square to Walk Hill Street in 1869.
Initially consisting of only one track, a second track was added to Roxbury Crossing in 1838-1839, and extended to Readville in 1845. The new track required more land, and Jacob W. Seaver sold two parcels of land to the B+P R/R in 1850 (Norfolk deeds, Mar. 11, 1850, Lib. 192, fol. 285). A third track was added for freight trains between Boston and Forest Hills in 1873 and to Readville in 1874. The first commuter train was a branch line built from Tollgate station to Dedham Center that opened in 1849. It crossed Sawmill Brook over a plank bridge and South Street before proceeding to present-day Roslindale and Dedham.
In 1873 the B+P R/R increased its service through Roxbury and Jamaica Plain to accommodate wider passenger use of the rails. Columbus Avenue was proposed to be extended to Boston Common, which would take up the old station. A new terminal was required at Park Square. Francis Minot Weld[xvii] was a director of the B+P R/R, and he arranged for his son-in-law’s brother Robert S. Peabody[xviii] (who had opened a firm with John Goddard Stearns in 1870) to design what would be an imposing Boston landmark with a soaring clock tower 150 feet high. Built at a cost of $800,000, it covered five tracks on Columbus Avenue at Park Square. (The Park Plaza Hotel is on the site today.)
Passengers traveled in cars which were nothing more than omnibus carriages set up on metal spring platforms and iron wheels. Riders (presumably first-class) traveled inside the coach while the rest sat on a canvas-covered roof. The cars – as many as eight in 1840 – were pulled by an engine that at first was only a boiler bolted to a thick platform on heavy iron wheels. Engineers drove the locomotive sitting in an open console at the rear.[xix] Trains traveled at 23 miles per hour, and the fare from Boston to Providence was $2 in 1837, reduced to $1.40 in 1840. The one-way fare from Park Square to Tollgate (the railroad station took the name of the turnpike gate which it would soon replace) was 10 cents. A three-month pass cost $6.25 from Tollgate to Park Square in 1849, a year before Jacob W. Seaver moved to Tollgate.[xx]
One illustrious passenger was President John Tyler, who came to Boston for the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument on June 17, 1843. As reported in the Bay State Democrat on June 14, 1843, “Citizens came out to greet the President at the turnpike gate in Jamaica Plain.” The procession, including fire engines, carriages and those on horseback, escorted the President down the turnpike to the Norfolk House in Roxbury (hopefully the turnpike rates were waived that day).[xxi]
The Boston and Providence Railroad paralleled the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike through Jamaica Plain – in Forest Hills only a few yards separated the tollgate from the railroad station. Indeed, the railroad crossed over the turnpike. The turnpike could not compete, and it became a free public road from Dedham to Attleboro in 1843. The Bartlett Street, Roxbury-to-Dedham route through Tollgate remained profitable in large part because it connected at Dedham with the Hartford stage that used the Hartford and Dedham Turnpike (part of that road is Hartford Street in Medfield and Dover today). It was also a more direct route through Roxbury town center to the outlying district at South Street. Nevertheless, economics prevailed and the entire road became a free public road in 1857. In 1874 the entire turnpike through to Dedham and southerly past Norwood was named Washington Street.
The railroad brought commerce. The 1859 Walling Map of Boston and Vicinity shows three of the earliest stores in Forest Hills. Two were opposite the new station and a third at the intersection of South and Walk Hill Streets (about where South Street meets Washington Street today). These were probably built after Tollgate Station opened in 1845.[xxii]
The railroad also brought manufacturing. Until late in the 20th century Forest Hills south of the Arborway as far as Williams Street, was more industrial than many realize: vestiges remain, and more will be discussed later about this aspect of Forest Hills history. Among the earliest industries were the Weld and Wellington marble works, which carved and assembled cemetery monuments for Forest Hills Cemetery but also Mt. Hope. This was located about where the Arborway crosses Washington Street at the edge of the Southwest Corridor park. Down the street, along Stony Brook, was the Isaac Cary tannery (where the middle gate is today at the MBTA bus yard). Both manufacturing plants are seen on the 1874 G. W. Hopkins Atlas of West Roxbury.
Ironically, the end of the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike made it possible for private enterprise to use the well-made highway for a third different mode of transportation, the horsecar. The development of fixed rails as a means of smoother, faster transportation led logically to using it to improve the popular omnibus, by putting the carriages on steel wheels set on rails in public streets. The smooth surface of the parallel rails on which the grooved wheels sat, allowed two horses to pull a larger carriage with more paying passengers.
The Metropolitan Railroad was chartered to run between Roxbury and Boston on May 21, 1853. In 1855 tracks were laid from Boylston Market (Essex and Washington Streets) across the Neck to Eliot Square. Service was opened from Boston to Dudley Square in September of 1856. In 1885, near the end of the horsecar era, the Metropolitan had 78 miles of track serving all of present-day Boston.
Another line of horsecars through Forest Hills was authorized in June 1864, when the Dedham and West Roxbury Railroad began laying a single track to connect Dedham to Forest Hills and Egleston Square along the old turnpike. At Egleston Square it would link up with the Metropolitan, the largest horsecar line. Like the railroad, the horsecar took the construction of the omnibus – itself basically an oversized urban stagecoach – as the design of its first passenger cars. In fact, like the earliest B+P trains, it first used the omnibus chassis and set it on springs and iron wheels pulled by two horses. The horsecar line was extended over the old Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike from Dudley Square to Egleston Square in 1858. The smooth and wide right-of-way made construction faster and cheaper than on other city streets. In 1854 the line was extended to Tollgate and a waiting room was built near the rail stop. The capacity for each horsecar was 24 passengers, about double that of an omnibus. The speed was five miles per hour. The one-way fare from Boylston Market was 10 cents.
The main horse terminal, stable, car barn and machine shops were in a yard at Roxbury Crossing, first built in 1859.[xxiii] In 1867, land was purchased for a car barn and stables at Egleston Square (3134 Washington Street, the present-day YMCA and Greater Egleston High School building). This served as the main car barn on the Dudley-Square-to-Tollgate line for the next twelve years.[xxiv] About 1875 each line was given a specific color; the cars from Dudley to Tollgate were painted grey (the color would be changed again in 1965). What the horsecar lacked in speed it more than made up for in waiting time: cars ran every two minutes. In 1859, the Metropolitan owned 63 streetcars and 590 horses for the seven lines in service. In 1885 it owned 3000 horses and 720 streetcars on routes through Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.
Stephen Minot Weld invested heavily in local real estate and also worked hard to promote his home neighborhood. He petitioned the West Roxbury selectmen to allow the Metropolitan Railroad to lay tracks along Centre Street, and in 1858 he became President of the company.[xxv]
The car house for the South Street line was built in 1858 by the West Roxbury R/R and was soon leased by the Metropolitan R/R. It was a small, wooden two-track building and waiting room on South Street near Jamaica Street. In 1879 a 1.5-acre parcel of land was bought on Centre Street at the corner of Jamaica Street, next to St. Thomas Church. The land was owned by Elizabeth Weld, the widow of Stephen Minot Weld, and it was purchased to build a four-track brick car barn for twenty streetcars and machine shop. A large brick stable was built in the rear facing Jamaica Street. After electric service began, the horse barn was taken down and a new twelve-track car house built in 1891-1893; eight tracks were added in 1896 and additions to the buildings done in 1916.
The South Street car barn and terminal was in keeping with Metropolitan R/R policy of a fully integrated operation; very little besides railroad, ties and cable stays for track beds, and feed for the horses, was contracted out. There were stalls for horses, barns for hay and grain, and even a steam engine to grind it. Blacksmiths shoed horses; leather workers made and repaired harnesses, and a machine shop repaired and built breaks and ties. (There was almost certainly an in-house veterinarian to care for the horses, too.) By the end of the century it was the largest integrated industry in Jamaica Plain, in an otherwise residential neighborhood. It stood next to the largest Catholic Church in the community no less, St. Thomas, which was completed in 1873 (Patrick Charles Keely, architect).
The Boston Globe of February 5, 1884 interviewed the stableman in charge of the Grove Hall horsecar barn about street-railway horses. The man was in charge of 400 horses and forty men. Each horse took about a year to be acclimated to the work and worked an average of fourteen miles a day. The work life was about five years, after which they were sold to farmers and peddlers. The Metropolitan Railroad also had horse-drawn snowplows to clear the tracks, but if the snow was too deep the cars were placed on runners or replaced by sleighs.
On Tuesday, September 2, 1890 electric streetcars began operating from Forest Hills to downtown Boston, down Washington Street; the era of rapid commuter transit had arrived in erstwhile sleepy Canterbury. Although horsecars continued for a few years on congested neighborhood streets like those in the Back Bay, thousands of horses were sold and hundreds of stable hands found new lines of work.
Service from Forest Hills to downtown Boston began at 6:03 a.m. and departed at ten-+ to twenty-minute intervals (depending on the time of day) until 11 p.m.; it was 12 p.m. when the last train left downtown (probably from Boylston Market). There were twenty stops between Tollgate[xxvi] and Bartlett Street, the route of the old Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike.[xxvii]
In order to accommodate the increase in service cars, a new 325 x 320 foot car barn was built at South Street. Begun in September of 1900, it had a waiting room and tracks to accommodate 150 cars.[xxviii] In 1902 and 1903 new tracks were laid on South Street to Forest Hills for the Huntington Avenue line that opened in 1903.[xxix] The South Street yards were expanded over to St. Rose Street in 1916 and 1918 for storage of cars and as repair shops (on land bought from the heirs of Stephen M.Weld).
The Boston and Providence Railroad – as noted before – extended Walk Hill Street to the turnpike (Washington Street) in 1845 to provide access to the new train station. This created a triangular parcel of land that faced a wide V-shaped space between the two roads. Stony Brook had been put in an underground culvert by 1845 for the railroad (probably at its expense) and the culvert was extended to present-day Tower Street in 1873. This public land facing the new station became known as Forest Hills Square, and was for twenty years the street car terminal for all lines coming into Forest Hills. All cars coming from South Street and Washington Street converged in this open square on three or four tracks.[xxx] A platform was built at the railroad station (presumably covered) to help make an easy and quick transfer from intercity rail to local streetcars. Forest Hills as a transit hub had arrived by 1895.
TWO INSTITUTIONS: FOREST HILLS CEMETERY AND THE BUSSEY AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE
When Jacob W. Seaver and his bride moved to their new home on present-day Orchardhill Road in 1850, Forest Hills Cemetery was barely two years old. Consecrated on June 25, 1848, it was a classic example of the country or rural cemetery, a completely American invention; in fact it was only the fourth in the nation at the time. It was the first to be established by a municipality.
Forest Hills Cemetery was a new way to celebrate death and honor the past in landscaped grounds. It was established by the City of Roxbury to relieve the overcrowded and decrepit Eustis Street burial ground established in 1633. The contrast between Eustis Street and Forest Hills Cemetery is the contrast with the way Americans viewed death and the past. The Roxbury burial ground was deliberately set on the outskirts of town on poor soil, at the edge of a marsh (and later next to a tannery). This was intentional: the Puritans rejected materialism; when you were dead it was God’s will. The Puritans never visited graves, much less decorated them. The very shape of the round-arch headstone symbolized an aspect of Puritan ideology; they were shaped like portals from which every dead Puritan passed from the bright cultured world to the dark mysterious invisible world.[xxxi]
When the First Church at Jamaica Plain was established in 1769 on Centre Street at the west end of the town, its first pastor Rev. William Gordon resisted having a burial ground behind the church; he did not want death too close to his church. However, despite his objections a church cemetery was set out in 1785.
Puritanism faded by the end of the 17th century, pushed aside by the bustling rise of the merchant class. Mercantilism replaced the Bible state, and with this class came a growing desire for status and commemoration.
In the 18th century there appeared in England the concept of improving grounds of country estates, to deliberately shape and mold the land and stir emotions. These parks were meant to evoke the Garden of Eden, and one of the first was landscaped between 1715 and 1745 by the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744). On his landscaped grounds he erected an obelisk over his mother’s grave in 1719. Artificially-created landscapes with monuments to the dead were the basis of Forest Hills Cemetery.
In 1804 on a wooded hillside outside Paris, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery opened. Designed on the former Jesuit court seat of Father Francois de la Chaise by a French architect Alexandre Brongiart, the 52-acre grounds were a break from the country churchyard and the manor burial ground. In Napoleonic France, Pere Lachaise Cemetery became the resting place of heroes and ancestors; it evoked the cult of memories and pride of nation.
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Forest Hills Cemetery was among the first in the nation (and the only one in Boston) to combine memorials to heroes and past deeds, and monuments to family, with cultivated landscaped grounds designed to harmonize with art and provoke emotion. In 1848 Roxbury, this garden of memories and memorials to heroes would be created over the 56-acre farm of Joel Seaverns. The driving force for this was Henry A. S. Dearborn, self-taught landscape gardener, mayor of Roxbury, founding member and president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and designer of Mt. Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge), the first country cemetery in the nation. Henry A. S. Dearborn was a nationalist, part of the first generation of Americans. He was born in 1783, the same year that the Treaty of Paris proclaimed the United States of America as an independent nation. His father, General Henry A. S. Dearborn, served with distinction in the war that made that nation.
Dearborn lived for 25 years at Brinley Place on Tremont Street, where Mission Church is today. His father bought the 80-acre Tory estate of the British regimental colonel Francis Brinley in 1809. Brinley built the house in 1723 and landscaped the grounds in the style of an English country gentleman. Dearborn the son loved and lived that style. Henry A. S. Dearborn believed that a great country and a great city like Roxbury had to have a citizenry that was refined, cultured and intelligent. It needed monuments to remind people of their heroes. These monuments would also encourage the community to follow in their place. A great nation and city also need to learn the arts of agriculture and horticulture, not only to beautify the wild, rugged and untamed land but to make it independent of European imports of seeds and plants. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society was founded in 1829 in part to address these issues.
Mt. Auburn Cemetery was a private venture of the Horticultural Society, planned in part as a botanical garden. The Society bought the 72-acre estate Sweet Auburn and raised the funds – in part by selling burial lots – to lay out a scientifically-organized garden of the dead. Many trees and shrubs came from Dearborn’s hillside estate. Dearborn was inspired by the English landscape gardener Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) and he bought all of Repton’s books for the Horticultural Society library. Consecrated on September 24, 1831, Mt. Auburn was immediately popular. (A half-century ahead of its time, it marked the beginning of the public park movement in Boston.) When Dearborn became mayor of Roxbury in 1847, he enthusiastically picked up the call of his predecessor Mayor John J. Clark for a new city cemetery to replace the overcrowded Eustis Street burial ground. Within a year the 56-acre farm of Joel Seaverns was acquired in March 1848; fourteen additional acres were bought on July 1, 1848, giving the cemetery frontage on Morton Street (then called Scarborough Street) off Walnut Avenue. This land abutted Jacob W. Seaver’s property.[xxxii] Most of this acreage comprised the last remaining tracts of Roxbury common land.
Working with the Scottish gardener Daniel Brim, Dearborn began to lay out paths, drives, borders and terraces for the new rural cemetery. After land was acquired on Scarborough Street, an approach road was graded and Dearborn designed an imposing Egyptian Revival gate, 24 feet high and 100 feet long, built of wood cut and painted to look like stone. Enough landscaping had been accomplished to consecrate the new burial ground on June 28, 1848. On July 3, the board of cemetery commissioners selected the name Forest Hills for Roxbury’s new public cemetery. Dearborn and Brim continued landscaping and designed great stone terraces and more drives and walks. Lake Hibiscus, a four-acre artificial pond, was designed and landscaped by Brim in 1852,[xxxiii] after an additional 32 acres had been added to the cemetery, bringing the total size of Forest Hills to 156 acres. This was the last of the Seaverns farmland. Today the cemetery is 250 acres; most of the land was bought over a fifty-year period from 1848 to 1898.
Henry A. S. Dearborn died on July 29, 1851 and was buried on the crown of a rocky slope known as Mt. Dearborn.[xxxiv] This was actually an artificial hill, created on an upland portion of the Seaverns farm by piling up Roxbury conglomerate boulders dug up during road construction. These boulders were back-filled with earth and planted with trees and shrubs. Dearborn’s monument is a Corinthian marble column on a three-stepped base, topped with an orb that he had designed and planned in 1850 to be a memorial to honor Rev. John Eliot on Eliot Hill.[xxxv] After Dearborn’s death it was used for his own monument.
The city of Roxbury replaced the decaying wooden Egyptian revival gate in 1865 with a sixty-foot high Gothic gate built of Roxbury conglomerate. It was designed by Charles Panter in collaboration with Gridley J. F. Bryant. Bryant had designed the Gothic tower at Mt. Auburn Cemetery begun in 1853. The gate is composed of three arches ninety feet wide, with the central arch twenty feet high and twelve feet wide. Built at a cost of $40,000, it was completed in 1866. Gridley Bryant designed the stone gatehouse and entrance walls in 1867. One of the landscape landmarks of Boston, the approach road, gatehouse, walls and entrance gate were all completed in 1868. Landscaped in classic English picturesque style, the gate was set at a sharp angle, and only when one makes the last curve does the gate come fully into view. The office and chapel were built in 1884 and designed by Ware and Van Brunt, with a 1921 addition.
After Roxbury became part of the city of Boston on January 6, 1868, the cemetery commissioners petitioned the Commonwealth to become a private corporation, and this was approved on March 11, 1868. The principal landmark of Forest Hills, both the cemetery and its community, is the great stone Snowflake Hill Belltower, built no doubt to honor the centennial of the United States when it was completed in 1876. The wide lawn and apron in front of the tower were created in 1875 by blasting away part of a rocky ledge, then grading and loaming to create a ceremonial space at the front of the gate. Snowflake Hill Belltower is 100 feet tall, with foundations built in the solid Roxbury conglomerate ledge. It is built of cut Roxbury conglomerate trimmed with granite. It has a Gothic-style viewing pavilion made of granite. The architect is undocumented but it was more than likely the work of William G. Preston (1849-1910).[xxxvi] It is similar in materials to the Milton Hill Bridge which Preston designed in 1892.
Unlike Mt. Auburn Cemetery, one does not see a monument or headstone immediately, but has to drive or walk into the grounds for several hundred yards before they come into view, and even then the view is on a curving line. This was quite deliberate to draw the visitor into the space before its purpose opened up. It is a classic example of the English picturesque landscape design.
Forest Hills Cemetery quickly became popular. As Allison Hammerly wrote in her 2009 paper on Henry A. S. Dearborn for Simmons College, “This popularity was just as Dearborn envisioned.” In 1853 an omnibus route was established to and from Forest Hills Cemetery, presumably from downtown Boston, and perhaps with a stop at Tollgate railroad station. As early as 1851, a Guidebook of Places to See in Boston and Vicinity gushed with enthusiasm that Forest Hills is “remarkably picturesque and beautiful.”[xxxvii]
It is logical to assume that the name of the cemetery and its community became synonymous fairly quickly, probably within the lifetime of Henry A. S. Dearborn. As mayor of Roxbury he undoubtedly realized that Forest Hills sounded much nicer for that part of his city than Tollgate. The omnibus route that began more than likely from the Tremont House and was established about 1850, certainly added to the community’s new name with its destination being Forest Hills. Tollgate remained the official name of the railroad station and the community for years after, but by the mid-1890s it was referred to as Forest Hills Square.[xxxviii]
Jacob W. Seaver undoubtedly knew Henry A. S. Dearborn. He was (after all) the mayor. But Seaver and Dearborn, although of different generations, were of the same mercantile class. In 1870 Jacob W. Seaver sold eighteen acres of land called the “Walk Hill Pasture” to Forest Hills Cemetery for $18,709 (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 195, fol. 140, Plan, May 31, 1870). This he had inherited from his father Ebenezer; Jacob’s grandfather Ebenezer had acquired the land in 1806 (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 53, fol. 103). This pastureland fronted almost the whole length of the present Walk Hill Street boundary and included the present Walk Hill Street entrance of the cemetery.
Five years after Forest Hills Cemetery was consecrated, Franklin Weld bought a double lot on White Pine Avenue on January 31, 1853. He had thick granite edging and steps built into the gentle slope. Franklin Weld intended to unite the families of Seaver and Weld. The double lot was located not far from the three lots owned by the families of Robert, Joshua and Nathanial Seaver, lots 68-69 and 70 on White Pine Avenue, next to Joel Seaverns’ family lots. Franklin Weld had a tomb built on the left-hand side for his family, and he was buried there on October 29, 1872. The right half was dedicated to the Seaver family; Clarissa and Ebenezer Seaver were the first burials, both on April 27, 1867, which suggests that they were removed from the family plot at their Roxbury home or from Eustis Street. There are no headstones and only four slab markers set at grade with the turf. The lot holds 44 members of the Weld-Seaver family. Most of the Welds were buried in the tomb, but due to apparent deterioration, the tomb was covered over in 1913 by Jacob W. Seaver. Jacob W. Seaver and Sarah Abby were buried together; their daughter Susan who died in 1947 is buried next to them. A family servant named Catherine Smith, who died in 1969, is buried next to Susan. Only two of Jacob and Sarah’s four children are buried there: Susan Seaver and Jonathan Mercer Seaver.[xxxix]
The extensive family of William Fletcher Weld, Abby’s father, is buried at Mt. Warren on Linden Avenue. A marble Gothic market cross marks the grave of W. F. Weld, his wives and children, in an underground tomb. On the adjoining lot are 38 headstones of his large family, including William Gordon Weld and Christopher Minot Weld.[xl]
Speaking before the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, of which he was the founding president, on September 9, 1829, Henry A. S. Dearborn announced that “As manufactures and commerce begin to divide the labors of an increasing and more intelligent population and more accumulated wealth… it is then that horticulture assumes a station which commands not only individual interest but government consideration.” This is exactly what Benjamin Bussey (1759-1842) had in mind in 1835 when he created an endowment at Harvard University to establish an undergraduate school of agriculture and horticulture; the bequest also included his estate called Woodland at Forest Hills.[xli] In 1806 he bought the homestead and farm of Eleazer Weld totaling about fifty acres. Part of the original town grant of 270 acres to Captain Joseph Weld, the Eleazer Weld farm extended from present-day Bussey Street over Hemlock Hill and Weld Hill (Bussey Hill), and across the wet meadows to the Arborway. It crossed South Street to Sawmill Brook. Bussey added more land from Weld family members, including Ezra Davis. At the time of his death in 1842, the Benjamin Bussey estate covered two-thirds of what is today the Arnold Arboretum. Most of the land was pasture; the old-growth forest had been cleared by 1700, in part to make shingles for the sawmill run by the waterpower of Bussey Brook, but mostly for lumber, ships’ masts and firewood.[xlii]
Benjamin Bussey was born a British subject and died an American citizen. The son of a small Dedham farmer, he served in the American Revolution as quartermaster in the pivotal battles of Saratoga and Ticonderoga. He returned home in 1778 following the death of his mother. He learned the silversmith trade and earned a prosperous living at it before becoming a wholesale and retail merchant of consumer goods. He then turned to shipping and owned fifteen ships that traded in cotton, furs, tobacco, sugar and textiles. By 1800 he was a wealthy man (in 1790 alone he earned $250,000), and lived in a fine townhouse he had built on Summer Street in 1798. In 1819 he used his wealth to buy an old Dedham mill, the Norfolk Cotton Company, on Mother Brook. He formed a partnership with the start-up Lawrence mills, which turned Bussey’s wool into broadcloth.
In 1816 he built a country house on Woodland Hill, a three-story mansion facing the Stony Brook valley, and soon lived there year round. He devoted his time and attention to agriculture and his Dedham manufacturing mills. Bussey planted lilacs[xliii] around his mansion and hundreds of trees around the grounds. He was among the first farmers in Massachusetts to import and raise Merino sheep (probably from Portugal) that grazed on the hillsides above his house. His Dedham mills spun the wool for the Lawrence looms, but although a very fine wool, it was not as profitable as Bussey had anticipated. Nevertheless he was fond of his Merino sheep.[xliv]
Bussey generously opened his grounds to the community for walks and picnics. Margaret Fuller was very fond of the place and took frequent walks in “Bussey’s Woods” (as it was called for decades). In a letter of September 1840, she wrote, “I just returned from a walk through the woods and glades, among black pines and hemlocks and distant views… I walked across the railroad tracks to South Street and through the stone gates.”
Bussey lived well and entertained widely at his estate above Tollgate. He was host to Henry A. S. Dearborn, who shared Bussey’s keen interest in horticulture and agriculture, and Bussey joined the Massachusetts Horticultural Society as a charter member. Bussey died at his seat at Woodland Hill on Jan. 13, 1842 at the age of 85. He was buried not at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, for which he had been an early subscriber, but in a tomb at the Third Parish Church cemetery in Jamaica Plain.[xlv]
Benjamin Bussey was a member of the entrepreneurial urban elite that would be the backbone of 19th-century America, as it freed itself from economic dependence on Europe and Britain. Like Dearborn, he loved the English country lifestyle with its landscaped grounds and dinner parties. But unlike the British aristocrat, where land was part of the trappings of wealth and power, the landed merchant princes of Boston acquired their wealth on the sea, in the counting house, or in the mill.
In 1769 Benjamin Franklin wrote that “The only honest way for a nation to acquire wealth” was by agriculture.[xlvi] To gain this wealth in an independent America, the commercial and mercantile elite would provide for agricultural and horticultural education and scientific conservation, which would provide the fruits and grains best suited for New England soils and climate.
For a variety of reasons, the school of agriculture took almost thirty years to get underway. In the meantime, Thomas Motley, whose wife inherited the estate, imported European cattle and work horses which he bred, considering them to be better than the American stock, especially the workhorse. In 1870 the Bussey heirs turned seven acres of the property over to Harvard University, and work began on constructing classrooms, greenhouses and stables, as well as developing a curriculum.
The firm of Peabody and Stearns was hired to design the Bussey Institute building – one of their first commissions. It was located on a knoll at the higher east end of the property, built of Roxbury conglomerate in the Gothic style. It opened in the spring of 1871, with Thomas Motley as Director of Farming. (He lived in the Bussey mansion which was not included in the first seven acres. His wife had enlarged and remodeled it in the French Second Empire style about this time.) Francis Parkman was named Director of Horticulture, a position he held until succeeded by Charles Sprague Sargent in 1872. Enrollment was never high. The average was eight students. The Institute immediately suffered financial loss when many of Bussey’s rent-producing buildings were destroyed by the Great Fire of November 9-10, 1872, depriving the school of operating income. The Institute also competed with the free tuition offered by the Massachusetts Agricultural School at Amherst, founded in 1867 with fifty students. To offset expenses instructors donated their fees or were privately endowed; other revenue was raised by boarding private horses and livestock, and vegetables were grown for the undergraduate dining room at Harvard’s Memorial Hall.
Nevertheless the Institute thrived in particular as a school of landscape architecture – when that profession was yet to be established and soils, drainage and horticulture were taught. Charles Eliot (1859-1897) was educated there in 1883 and he joined the firm of F. L. Olmsted, first as an apprentice and then as a partner. Arthur Shurcliff (1870-1957) enrolled in the Institute about 1890. In a life cut too short, Eliot founded the Trustees of Reservations and the Metropolitan Park Commission (today the Department of Conservation and Recreation). Shurcliff’s extensive career included the design of the Franklin Park Zoo, Colonial Williamsburg and the Charles River Esplanade.
Benjamin Watson taught at the Bussey Institute in the Department of Horticulture. Watson was chief of horticulture at Forest Hills Cemetery from 1899-1913. He was responsible for, among other things, using soft grass slopes instead of the rock terraces preferred by Dearborn and Brim, to elevate paths and family lots.[xlvii]
In 1894 the Bussey Institute began an ongoing relationship with the Department of Public Health, particularly in providing diphtheria antitoxins in a lab built in 1904.
In July 1896, Harvard University took possession of the Bussey mansion and used it as the home for the Bussey Institute director.[xlviii] In 1936 the Bussey Institute for all intents and purposes closed. Its staff was transferred to the Biological Laboratories in Cambridge and its funds were used to support the Arnold Arboretum. The Bussey mansion was razed in 1940. During World War II, the buildings were used by the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and in 1947 it became the Commonwealth Diagnostic Laboratories. In 1963 the Commonwealth acquired by eminent domain the seven-acre Bussey Institute land and buildings and planned for a new and more up-to-date diagnostic laboratory. This large, seven-story building designed by Desmond and Lord opened in October 11, 1974.[xlix]
On June 6, 1966 the Harvard Corporation approved the acquisition of the five acres of the Bussey mansion into the Arnold Arboretum. Over the next four years, the old mansion grounds were landscaped with pathways and plantings and folded into the Arnold Arboretum to appear as part of a whole park under the skillful design of staff arborist Gary Koller. This included the Beech Gate path beginning at the granite posts that led to Woodland. It curves down the lower slope above South Street through the bank of flame azaleas Koller planted, and comes out at the South Street gate. A stone mill wheel from Bussey’s Dedham factory was left in the ground near the mansion carriage house, the foundations of which still remain.
Abandoned and empty in the shadow of the concrete monolith laboratory, the Peabody and Stearns Bussey Institute building was destroyed by fire on April 30, 1974. Appropriately, the South Street community gardens have occupied the site since about 1980.
FOREST HILLS AND THE BOSTON PARK SYSTEM
From its very inception on April 24, 1876, the goals of the Boston Park System, designed and guided over the next twenty years by Frederick Law Olmsted, were sanitation, conservation and education. These included controlling and improving the polluted salt marshes of the Back Bay, conserving the topographic landmarks of a rapidly-growing city, notably Jamaica Pond and the woodlands and meadows of Roxbury that would become Franklin Park; and creating a living museum for the study of North American trees and other woody plants at the Arnold Arboretum. Forest Hills would be the link between the last two.
The Arnold Arboretum was built out of Benjamin Bussey’s land, James Arnold’s money, and Charles Sprague Sargent’s vision. Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)[l] was of the Civil War generation. Born in Boston from an old Roxbury family, his father was a successful India merchant, banker and railroad financier; he was on the board of directors of the Boston and Providence Railroad as early as 1841. Charles Sprague Sargent, in addition to managing his father’s investments, sat on the board of the Boston and Albany Railroad. Sargent served in the Union army as an infantry officer for three years, mainly in Louisiana, and was mustered out in 1865. He became professor of Horticulture at the Bussey Institute in May of 1872, and in June he became the first director of the Arnold Arboretum.
James Arnold (1781-1868) was, like H. A. S. Dearborn, part of the first generation of Americans born at the time America became an independent nation. Arnold was a Quaker from Providence who prospered in the New Bedford whaling trade. He spent sixty years in whaling, managing saltworks, banking, and railroads. Like Dearborn and Bussey, he was a country gentleman, and in his much-admired New Bedford estate he planted and gardened. A founding member of the New Bedford Horticultural Society in 1847, Arnold cultivated grapes and peaches. On his death in 1868, he left a substantial amount of money for the promotion of agriculture and horticulture, to be administered by three Boston trustees, among them his brother-in-law George B. Emerson. Emerson conceived the idea of an arboretum under the auspices of Harvard University. A second trustee was the banker John James Dixwell, who cultivated many varieties of trees on his Moss Hill estate overlooking the Bussey property.
In 1861 the trustees of the Bussey estate transferred the remainder of the Woodland Hill estate of about 200 acres to Harvard. For some years the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture[li] had been conducting agricultural programs under Thomas Motley’s direction. It was only logical that an agreement was made between the Bussey and Arnold trustees by which the Arnold funds would be used to develop a tree museum on the 200 acres of Bussey land. On April 10, 1874 the remainder of the Bussey estate – about ten acres – was transferred to Harvard University after Motley moved out of the mansion.
As mentioned earlier there were three foregone conclusions in the basic plan of Boston’s parks in 1874 and 1875 – to find a solution for the fetid swamp of the Back Bay, to preserve Jamaica Pond, and to conserve the last standing forest and pasture in the uplands of Roxbury.[lii] The genius of this ambitious park plan was the idea of a connecting boulevard to link these different spaces together. Such a road through Bussey’s Woods (as it was called) from Jamaica Pond to Franklin Park was described in 1876 as Bussey Woods Parkway.
Conservation of the old Roxbury landscape was in large part due to the advocacy of Roxbury alderman Hugh O’Brien (whose home was on Washington and Townsend streets). O’Brien was chair of the Special Committee on the Subject of Parks for Boston. Its report released on May 17, 1877 said in part that, “The West Roxbury Park has all the variety of woodland and meadow, hill and valley to make it a repose for thousands.”
In 1878 Charles Sprague Sargent and Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect for the Boston parks system (as well as a neighbor), agreed on a plan for the inclusion of the Arnold Arboretum into the park system. This required a unique partnership with the City of Boston because the Arnold Arboretum was part of a bequest to a private institution. Olmsted in his customary careful way, with his customary political skill, worked out an agreement approved by both the university trustees and the City of Boston on Dec. 30, 1882. The City would build roads and sewer lines on university land, which would be tax-free; it would also be able to buy and add additional land. The university would design, plant, propagate and maintain the grounds, keep the Arboretum open to the public, and reserve eleven acres on Bussey Hill to the city for picnic grounds. By this indenture the Boston park commission got a hundred acres of land it would otherwise have to buy, and the university got drives, walkways, drainage, boundary walls and gates it would otherwise have to pay for.[liii]
The first road in the Arboretum was completed in 1884 from Centre Street to the South Street gate. It separated Bussey Hill (renamed from Weld Hill) and Bussey Brook (formerly Sawmill Brook) as it skirted the hanging wood of Hemlock Hill. The boundary of the Bussey Institute and the Arboretum was thickly planted with a stand of pines in the late 1870s. In 1895 a second road was completed from the Jamaica Plain gate on the edge of the wet meadow to the Forest Hills gate – the man entrance from Forest Hills station. Two years later the retaining wall was completed from South Street to the Jamaica Plain gate.
The boundaries of Franklin Park were set on existing Roxbury roads – Forest Hills Street, Morton Street, Canterbury Street (now American Legion Highway), Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street. The first land-taking plan was 485 acres, and showed that ancient Walnut Avenue would be absorbed into, and made part of, the principle park drive. This park drive would cross Forest Hills Street and connect at a parkway through Forest Hills, called the Bussey Woods Parkway. When Mayor Hugh O’Brien was showed the revised plan of West Roxbury Park in May 1885, the site was 525 acres, and the parkway link had shifted to Morton Street and Forest Hills Street. Soon after this, the O’Brien administration named that square mile Franklin Park, in honor of Benjamin Franklin. It was hoped that funds from Benjamin Franklin’s will would be used to pay for the new park, a hope that proved false. The Franklin heirs in Philadelphia had other ideas.
The main entrance of Franklin Park was against Blue Hill Avenue, where the land was flat. The main carriageway was the Forest Hills entrance, a gently curving road that opened up to the wide meadow called the Country Park, with the rugged, rocky hardwood forest of the Wilderness on the left side. Williams Street and particularly Glen Road were planned as the main roads for entrances from the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Glen Road had been set out by a previous landowner to align with the Jamaica Plain station, so it was planned as the rail entrance to Franklin Park. [liv]
Forest Hills was the parkway link between Franklin Park, the Arnold Arboretum, and Jamaica Pond through the Muddy River valley to the Back Bay Fens. On April 29, 1892, a swath of land 150 feet wide and a half-mile long was acquired from South Street to Forest Hills Street for that portion of the Arborway[lv] between the Arboretum and Franklin Park. Most of the land taken was property of George F. Weld and Jacob W. Seaver (Suffolk Deeds, Lib. 2069, fol. 39). The cost was $38,461. The land-taking was curved to keep Morton Street open as a public way, and in so doing created a 4.6-acre oval between the parkway and Morton Street. Clearing and grading began in 1892, and included a culvert and wooden bridge over Stony Brook (replaced by a stone arch bridge in 1910).
The Arborway was completed and opened for travel on October 5, 1894 from Washington Street to Franklin Park. The connection from South Street to Washington Street was not opened until August 2, 1896 due to the construction of the great Forest Hills viaduct, to be discussed below. The Parkway at Forest Hills included two parallel roads for abutting residents. Twenty arc lamps were built and turned on for use in August 1894.[lvi] The Forest Hills entrance to Franklin Park was designed with a bridge that carried the park drive over the new public road, built largely to accommodate funeral processions from Forest Hills Street. It was lined up to the cemetery entrance drive, which itself was realigned by the cemetery to make a smooth transition. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge and completed in 1895, the bridge was built of Cape Ann granite, like the Scarborough Pond carriage bridge the firm also designed. The Forest Hills entrance bridge was 126 feet long with a low-segmented arch 45 feet wide. The bridge originally had handsome stone piers and iron swing gates, but these were removed in 1898 by the first park superintendent, and the stone used for the Forest Hills boundary wall.[lvii]
As will be discussed further in the next chapter, in 1893 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed legislation requiring railroads to eliminate grade crossings within the city of Boston – particularly those of the Boston and Providence Railroad,[lviii] — that carried trains through the most congested neighborhoods of the city.
Of the eight major bridges built by the B+P R/R, by far the grandest and the biggest was the granite arch bridge at Forest Hills. It was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (the successor firm of H. H. Richardson) with the advice of F. L. Olmsted and in collaboration with B+P R/R chief engineer C. M. Ingersoll. Plans were approved in 1892 but not until early 1895 was construction of the stone causeway completed far enough through Jamaica Plain and Roxbury to get underway at Forest Hills.
A massive stone structure 1150 feet long with granite walls six feet thick, it spanned a granite causeway eighteen to twenty feet high and was almost seventy feet wide. Built at a cost of $130,000, the bridge had five arches, twenty feet high, supported by abutments, the widest of which was 45 feet, which went over the parkway. The Morton Street span was 41 feet. The proposed South Street electric car line was planned to go under the 44-foot-wide arch close to St. Mark Street.
The Boston Globe of May 10, 1897 gave a long description of this bridge from which much of the above is taken. The Globe wrote: “These stone arches are a fine piece of work and give a magnificent effect to the surroundings…[it] is the approach from the parkway sweeping down from the direction of Jamaica Pond under the tracks by the magnificent five arch bridge towards Franklin Park … As this is Forest Hills Square the effect [is] very fine.”[lix]
RAISING THE RAILROAD
On July 30, 1890, the Ward 22 Councilman John F. Kinney introduced an order calling for a joint committee to “procure plans and estimates for raising the grade of Tremont Street and vicinity in the location of the Providence Division of the Old Colony Railroad.” A few days later State Senator Charles C. Coffin (D-Boston) introduced a similar order.[lx]
From the earliest days of the railroad, crossings over city streets had been a problem. The April 17, 1846 issue of the Boston Daily Atlas reported “the sad news of the death of Mr. Abraham Hodgdon, house carpenter and builder, who was killed by an approaching train…As he crossed the planks between the tracks at Tollgate station his foot caught on the cowscraper and he was dragged almost sixty yards.”[lxi]
Councilman Kinney’s committee recommended that the railroad be raised eleven feet at Morton Street and the street depressed four feet; further south where Washington Street crossed the tracks, the railroad would be raised twelve feet and Washington Street depressed three feet. Senator Coffin’s bill proposed that the Commonwealth pay 30% of the cost of land-takings. This legislation and the Kinney Committee report put in motion the biggest public works program in the history of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, until surpassed by the Southwest Corridor Project in 1979.
The result at Forest Hills was a granite retaining wall eighteen to twenty feet high, 1500 feet long, from present-day New Washington Street to Ukraine Way. It included the construction of two new railroad stations and the realignment of Washington and Walk Hill streets with two steel bridges on stone abutments to carry the railroad over them. The entire project extended 4.5 miles from Massachusetts Avenue to Forest Hills. It also extended about a half mile on a new earth causeway for the Dedham branch railroad across Bussey Brook meadow. The final cost of $4 million was shared three ways: 55% by the B+P R/R, 25% by the Commonwealth, and 20% by the City of Boston. The City’s contribution was for street work at the bridges, including the Arborway beneath the Forest Hills bridge.
The planning and design was done largely by the railroad company in New York. Some was done in the chief engineer’s site office at Odd Fellows Hall (670 Centre Street at the corner of Seaverns Avenue). The roadmaster’s office was at Forest Hills, perhaps at a house owned by Thomas Minton[lxii] at the end of St. Mark’s Street. A distribution yard was laid out on land largely owned by Jacob W. Seaver at the end of St. Mark’s, at Percy and Call streets, to about Boynton Street. In this big yard were stored tons of gravel and granite blocks. Switching trains would move back and forth from this yard with the required material to points on the construction line.
Plans were approved in July of 1893,[lxiii] but land-taking and clearance began in the fall of 1891. Thirty buildings – homes and businesses – were removed from Centre Street to Forest Hills to create a new railroad right-of-way for two tracks, one for a commuter rail and the other for construction trains. In all, according to the Boston Globe of December 23, 1895, over 100 homes and business buildings were taken – some moved, others demolished. The project required “that houses come down, city blocks removed, stables razed, streets widened and thousands of dollars spent changing the course of Stony Brook.”
The wood-frame Bartlett Building at the Jamaica Plain station was taken down and the station itself moved. The Forest Hills station – built in 1870 when a third track for freight was built – was also moved back to be used for commuter trains, which never stopped running during the six years of work (1891-1897). At the Jamaica Plain station the brick Sturtevant Blower Company building was moved to a new site on the east side of the embankment. The building (which still stands today) was 150 feet long and 50 feet wide, and required ten horses to move. (The Globe reported that it took two horses to move a house.)
Work began in the spring of 1895; the project involved building a stone embankment for much of the route, wide enough for four tracks, fifteen new bridges, and five new railroad stations (two buildings at each stop for inbound and outbound trains). The new stations were at Roxbury Crossing, Heath Street, Boylston Street, Jamaica Plain (today Green Street) and Forest Hills. Each included a passageway under the stone causeway to allow passengers to go from one side to the other safely. The embankment walls were built of ashlar-cut Pittsburg granite, eighteen to twenty feet high on a foundation of twelve to fourteen feet thick. The foundation was deeper and reinforced with concrete when it crossed the rebuilt Stony Brook culvert, also built of concrete.
Masonry work began in August of 1895 but sections were built over a gravel slope from Centre Street southerly,[lxiv] except at stations and bridges where granite walls were built. Boylston, Jamaica Plain and Forest Hills stations had massive walls. At the Forest Hills construction yard, granite was stockpiled, and 2500 yards of gravel were delivered and moved out daily by big engines pulling twenty gondola cars shuttling back and forth. The gravel was taken from banks in Readville, Roslindale and Sharon.
The embankment was done in sections the way new bridges are built today. One stone wall was built and backfilled against a temporary supporting timber-and-plank trestle. Trains would go over the trestle. When this half was done, trains would move to the new embankment while the second half was built. As the Globe reported in 1895, the work involved “scores of derricks, hoisting engines, dump cars, shifting engines, machine excavators and hundreds of men daily pushing the vast undertaking along.” The project used mostly Italian laborers, who were replaced in the winter months by French Canadians, who apparently were able to work better in freezing temperatures. (The Globe failed to report where the unemployed Italians found winter work.)
At the McBride Street bridge the railroad bed was raised in a gentle gravel slope rising up on an easy grade to cross over the Arborway bridge,[lxv] which was built nineteen feet high and seventy feet across. A huge masonry wall was built with two bridges at Forest Hills that required diverting Stony Brook in a 1400-foot long concrete culvert, thirteen feet wide and fifteen feet below ground. The Walk Hill Street bridge (later renamed St. Ann Street) was a graceful iron arch fifty feet wide and sixteen feet high, a smaller version of the much bigger Tremont Street bridge. There was a seven-foot headroom on the two sidewalks. The Walk Hill Street bridge was just south of the new Forest Hills station.
The new Forest Hills station structures were low, hip-roof brick buildings 75 feet long, designed as suburban stations. The northbound station was one story at trackside and dropped down to the offices and baggage rooms on Washington Street. It was approached by a low ramp for carriages. The entrance to the station was at the south side, not the center of the Washington Street elevation. The southbound station on Walk Hill (St. Ann) Street was one story with a wide elevated space supported by stone walls for baggage carts, delivery wagons and carriages, and later motorized trucks and cars.[lxvi] Steps from the outbound station led down to the Walk Hill Street Bridge. An underpass at the south end of each station went beneath the stone embankment to connect the two stations. Passengers waiting on the platforms were protected with a long canopy. The platform and station roofs were covered with terracotta tiles.
Washington Street, the old Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike, was for almost a century a straight line through Forest Hills, as befitting its significance as the main thoroughfare through Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. Yet railroad planners, apparently in collaboration with the City’s street department, decided for reasons unclear to rebuild the road at two awkward right angles, to pass under a fifteen-foot high bridge sixty feet wide (opposite of where no. 56 Hyde Park Avenue is today).
All five new stations were opened for passengers on June 1, 1897, and the project was completed at the end of 1897. There were four tracks. Tracks for passenger trains to Readville and Dedham were powered by electricity through a third rail. The other two tracks were built for express intercity and interstate steam locomotive trains.
Raising the trains over city streets did not prevent tragedies. The Boston Globe reported on July 23, 1910 that nine-year-old Thomas Keville of Jamaica Plain, a pupil at the Margaret Fuller School, was killed crossing the tracks just beyond Forest Hills station. He and his chums were off to swim in Bussey Brook pond. His friends could run faster.
The Forest Hills station together with all the others in Jamaica Plain were closed on September 29, 1940 due to lack of passengers. For a few years the old station was used as a bicycle shop where park users and others could rent bikes. The illustrator Jack Frost, in his regular Boston Herald feature “Fancy This,” drew the station for the Herald on September 22, 1936. The station was demolished probably in 1941 and the space was used by Forest Hills Taxi Company. Their distinctive turquoise-and-red cabs were a well-known feature throughout Jamaica Plain for forty years, until the cab company closed its Forest Hills stand about 1980.[lxvii]
After 1897 the construction yard between Mc Bride and St. Mark’s streets was now owned by the railroad company, and it built fifteen tracks and three sidings leased in part to various rail freight companies and local businesses.
Forest Hills was more industrial than is understood today because most of it is gone. Yet for over a century Forest Hills just north of the train station on Washington Street was a regional center of the energy industry, with large facilities for the storage and transfer of coal, kerosene, gasoline and natural gas between Williams Street and the Arborway.
In 1852 David S. Greenough sold a tract of land on the railroad tracks at McBride Street to the Jamaica Plain Gaslight Company. Stephen M. Weld was on its board of directors and built a coal storage bin and round-brick gasometer with conical roof for the storage and sale of coal and natural gas to homes and businesses. In 1860 it had the City contract for streetlights.[lxviii] This became the Boston Gas Company, and in 1932 it tore down the gasometer to build its main building for offices and trucks. In 1978 the building was converted into the new Jamaica Plain High School that is today Boston English High School.
Benjamin Sturtevant, the Hyde Park inventor and manufacturer, opened a factory in 1878 on Stony Brook near Green Street for the production of ventilation equipment for factories and steamships. Over the years it became a sprawling complex with the brook streaming through it in a stone channel. Sturtevant employed 500 men by the mid-1890s. Some of the buildings remain today next to the English High athletic fields.
The tracks widened into ten lines after Hall Street. Two of the tracks went to coal sheds at the end of Hall Street. The H. P. Hood Company had a milk-wagon shed on Percy Street and later a distribution garage and freezer building. Milk trains pulled onto the sidings each night. The Hood facility extended from St. Mark’s Street to Anson Street. In 1939 a larger refrigerator building was built near its garage at the end of Anson Street.[lxix]
By the 1920s there were eight major factories and fuel-storage farms located in the freight yards between Green Street and the Arborway, including: the Sturtevant Blower Works, Oakes Sweater Factory (which became the Forest Hills Factory Outlet and today is the English High athletic field), Boston Gas Company and its adjoining truck yard, Kinney Pump Works and Machine Shops at Burnett and McBride Streets, and Whittemore Coal Company (served by a siding at Burnett Street).
Behind the triple-deckers on Burnett Street was the Gulf Refinery Company with three storage tanks, a machine shop, and a filling station along Washington Street (today the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America at 3607 Washington Street). This Gulf station was one of five filling stations in Forest Hills by the 1930s. An early one was located at the Arborway bridge on Morton Street; it probably closed when the Casey Overpass was built. Next to the Gulf Oil yard was the oldest business in Forest Hills, the Metropolitan Coal Company, with its enormous wood-frame coal bin fed by a long chute. The land was on the original right-of-way of the B+P R/R. It was more than likely used in part as a coal yard during construction. After the bridges were built the coal yard probably served freight trains. The Old Colony Railroad sold its coal yard by 1924. For many years it was the site of the Hughes Oil Company that provided home heating oil. The property was sold to a development company and the storage tanks were removed in April 2009.[lxx]
THOMAS MINTON AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOREST HILLS BUSINESS DISTRICT
Thomas Minton (1847-1916) was known as “the man who has been a great factor in the development of Forest Hills.” Born in County Roscommon, Ireland, he immigrated to Boston at age 17 in 1861. He began his career as a road builder in the 1870s.[lxxi] Minton lived in a home with a huge barn for his teams and wagons at 14 Union Avenue. He may have gotten started as a contractor to extend Hyde Park Avenue through Forest Hills to Morton Street in 1878. He was prosperous enough to own a house on St. Mark’s Street (one of two) that he could have leased to the B+P R/R as the roadmaster office since it was adjacent to the huge supply depot. Minton’s crews built Tower Street in 1892, Weld Hill Street in 1893, and in 1897 Woodlawn Street. The Minton contracting company almost certainly received contracts to build the new city streets under the railroad bridges in Jamaica Plain in 1895-1897; he may even have done work on the Arborway. With the amount of road excavation and grading going on in the mid-to-late 1890s, every man with a team was no doubt employed.
Apparently unhappy that a parkway cut through his estate, by the mid-1890s Jacob W. Seaver began spending most of the year at his Duxbury summer home. (See Note lviii p. 63). On May 16, 1895, he sold about one-third of his hillside property to Thomas Minton (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2281, fol. 587). The parcel was almost two acres, and included the Greek revival house that Minton soon removed to Union Avenue. The land sloped down from about present-day Bremen Terrace to Stony Brook (about where the rear of 3702-3710 Washington Street is today). This parcel also included, either through lease or sale, the right-of-way through Seaver’s estate, with the big mansion house out to Morton Street (Orchardhill Road, Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2281, fol. 561). The land abutted the enormous hillside parcel owned by Edwin Weld in joint trust that extended from Washington Street to Forest Hills Cemetery, and included present-day Tower, Woodland, and Weld Hill streets. The Weld Trust began subdividing Tower Street beginning in 1894. Seven lots were sold by July of 1894 (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2213, fol. 537 & 557).
Thomas Minton obviously was prosperous by the end of the 1890s. He built two homes for his children opposite his own on Orchardhill Road. The first was at no. 41, a full-blown colonial revival home designed by Erwin S. Wester for Mary Elizabeth Minton (building permit, June 5, 1899). Two years later in 1901, Minton built no. 45 for his son John M. Minton who took title to the land in 1897 (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 296, fol. 51). This was designed by James G. Hutchinson, who over the next quarter-century would have an illustrious architectural career in Forest Hills.[lxxii] Number 41 is a dignified Queen Anne-style house with hip roof and a long porch with central pediment (building permit, Aug. 19, 1901).
When the B+P R/R built an extension of Walk Hill Street to its new Tollgate station in 1845, a one-acre oval space was created between the turnpike, Walk Hill Street and the station (roughly where the current MBTA parking lot is today). This oval was owned by Edwin Weld et al., who subdivided it into seventeen building lots, the largest of which were at either end. On January 3, 1888, Thomas Minton bought the largest parcel, a 10,000 square-foot lot that curved around Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 1805, fol. 331 and Lib. 1808, fol. 638).
Thomas Minton built the Forest Hills business district with four significant commercial/rental buildings; only one and one-half remain today. Clearly anticipating the imminent electrification of the Jamaica Plain streetcar lines, Minton built a three-story, wood-frame building with four storefronts and two floors of apartments above. It had three bays; the two on each corner had tall mansard roofs, and the middle bay had a pyramid roof topped with a pole. Each bay had broad windows facing the morning light. This was Morton’s Market, owned by Michael S. Morton, who opened the doors in 1890.[lxxiii] This building was probably designed by George A. Cahill, who designed two buildings for Minton across Washington Street in 1894 and 1897. Cahill’s earliest documented building was the imposing brick Romanesque revival office-and-retail building at 701-705 Centre Street, long the home of, and probably built for, Rogers Drug Store (built in 1888). Cahill had his office at the Hotel McKinley, 190-191 Green Street (built in 1890), at the corner of Union Avenue, within sight of Thomas Minton’s home. It was a finely designed panel-brick building showing remarkable similarities to the Minton block, especially in the attached brick piers and bays. It still contains a corner office which may have been Cahill’s drafting room. The McKinley was a four-story apartment hotel of six flats designed for Patrick Meehan (building permit, May 19, 1890).
Morton’s Market was the anchor store at Forest Hills for decades. At the turn of the 20th century, and for years following, urban Americans walked to the grocer. Like most stores of that day, Morton’s store was probably twenty feet wide and forty feet deep. Markets had wooden floors strewn with sawdust, dark wooden counters, and tall wooden shelves, packed to the ceiling with canned goods, cleaners and packaged teas. Glass cases in front displayed candies, cigars and cigarettes. Any perishables were kept cold with huge blocks of ice in barrels or wooden crates in the back. Refrigerated display cases did not arrive until the early 1920s. Bushel baskets and wooden cracker barrels held whatever articles of produce were in season from area farmers. Coffee, tea, sugar, slabs of bacon hanging on hooks, and wheels of cheese were all available in the rear of the store, with the scale, coffee mill and cutting board. The housewife (and it always was she) asked the usually mustachioed man with straw hat and stained chest-high apron for whatever she wanted. He would grab the top-shelf items with a long pole and clasp. Boys would make after-school deliveries when an order was called in (for those who had, or could borrow a phone). This was Morton’s Market at Forest Hills.[lxxiv]
Between 1890 and 1899, twenty mostly wood-frame buildings were built in the Morton business block. The other anchor businesses were the Forest Hills Hotel and the Hotel Meyer. The Forest Hills Hotel was a three-story wood-frame building with bays on the upper two stories. Due to the sharpness of the angle of Walk Hill Street and Hyde Park Avenue, the main entrance was in the street level of a circular bay topped with a tall conical roof almost one story high.
Attached to both the Morton Market and Forest Hills Hotel were three-story wood-frame buildings with bay windows. These were apartments over retail stores. Adjoining the Morton block, and built a year or two later, the three-story buildings had pitched-roof bays on the second and third floors. Cahill probably designed the apartment houses with ground-floor stores adjoining the Morton block. It was a distinctive row with rhythmic bays, the design of which was apparently given a lot of thought by a skilled architect/builder.
Behind the Morton block was a two-story building with a central gable that may have been the Forest Hills Funeral Parlor. Hatoff’s Amaco filling station was built by 1929 near Walk Hill Street behind the Forest Hills Hotel.[lxxv] On a short street just past the Hotel Meyer was a string of stores leased to the type of businesses that would be required by travelers, perhaps a dry cleaner and laundry, shoe repair, barber shop, 5&10 cents store and a package store. These were two-story buildings and perhaps had offices on the second floor.
The most colorful establishment in the bustling Forest Hills business district was the Tollgate Inn, more than likely built by one of Boston’s best-known brewery owners, Henry Rueter (1832-1899), whose beer vats and bottling plants were at 31 Heath Street and 146-148 Terrace Street. On June 29, 1898 Rueter, with two other beer makers, opened the Coffee Tree Inn at 16 Keyes Street. This inn was designed by J. Williams Beal in half-timber English Tudor style with high-pitched gable, steep overhanging eaves, and carved bargeboards painted green.[lxxvi] The Tollgate Inn was designed in the same style and more than likely by the architect J. Williams Beal, and built probably in 1898 shortly after the railroad embankment, bridges, and new stations were completed.[lxxvii] The Rueter Beer Company owned the building until the brewery closed in 1919. Beer hall and social club, the Tollgate Inn shared hospitality with Walsh’s saloon, a large, wide building next to the Hotel Meyer. Itself a victim of Prohibition, the building was razed in the early 1920s and replaced by the street of stores and Hatoff’s gas station.
The brook that so attracted Margaret Fuller was not only a polluted nuisance by 1890 but also incompatible with a new business district. Rerouting and covering Stony Brook was the single biggest expense of the railroad embankment project, as was frequently mentioned in the press. It was expensive for the City of Boston too, and it was not until the Commonwealth agreed to pay part of the cost that an adequate culvert was built through Jamaica Plain. The project began at Forest Hills in 1873, when land was taken from Jacob W. Seaver to improve Stony Brook (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 449, fol. 286, Dec. 22, 1873). Additional land was taken for covering Stony Brook when the railroad embankment was built through Forest Hills in 1896-1897. Significant work was begun in1910 and continued through 1921 when the City of Boston received state funding to build a reinforced concrete culvert, 17’ x 13’9”, from Walk Hill Street and Hyde Park Avenue to Williams Street. In 1920-21, due to the frequent flooding of Bussey Brook, 1170 feet of reinforced concrete culvert, 10 feet in circumference, was built south of Forest Hills.[lxxviii]
The second commercial/rental building Thomas Minton built was 18-36 Hyde Park Avenue between Weld Hill and Woodlawn streets. It was a three-story wood-frame building with bays with conical caps at each street corner. The building had five storefronts and six apartments on the upper two floors. It was designed by George A. Cahill in 1894 (building permit, Feb. 13, 1894). For many years until the late 1980s, no. 18 was Donegan’s Market. In 1962 half the block – nos. 24-36 – were razed, and in 1964 the Fireside Tavern with a small parking lot was built on the site.
The most prominent building in Forest Hills was and remains the Minton Building, a three-story brick building that extends from Tower to Woodlawn streets, nos. 4-16 Hyde Park Avenue.[lxxix] It was designed by George A. Cahill in 1897 with storefronts on the street level and twelve apartments on the upper two floors (building permit, Feb. 10, 1897). A modern building for its time and even for today, it has twelve attached-brick columns delineating thirteen bays with wide windows. The brick is trimmed with limestone. It was totally different and more expensive than any other commercial/rental building in Forest Hills. Minton put his name on it and obviously planned it as the “town hall” for Forest Hills. He included an auditorium on the Tower Street side (and extended it beyond the rest of the building) that he called Minton Hall. The hall is approached by its own doors and apparently had offices on the second floor. The corner space, no. 10 Hyde Park Avenue, became Minton’s contractor’s office after 1897 (in 1900 he was listed in the Boston Directory at that address as Real Estate). For decades Minton Hall (or Metropolitan Hall as it was known in the 1960s through the 1980s, with its shamrock sign) was host to social events, dances, public meetings and political rallies.[lxxx] Between 1918 and 1924 founding pastor William J. Casey of St Andrew’s Church said mass there while raising funds for his new church at 40 Walk Hill Street. Fr. Casey lived first at a rectory at 27 Asticou Road and later at 76 Hyde Park Avenue. He celebrated the first mass at the new church[lxxxi] on May 11, 1924. The social hall has been leased to the International Outreach Ministries since 1999. At this writing, their pastor is Rev. Isaac O. Adeyemi.
The business block most familiar to Forest Hills today is the string of one-story storefronts from the Fitzgerald parking lot to Tower Street, nos. 3604-3724 Washington Street. Most of it was built between 1897 and 1898 by Jacob W. and Sarah Seaver. The section numbered 3704-3798 was built in 1897 by Jacob W. Seaver. M. H. Fassett was the architect/builder (building permit, May 8, 1897). Next door, no. 3710 was built by Mrs. Seaver in 1898. The architect was J. H. Smith (building permit, July 5, 1898). In 1900, J. H. Smith designed four storefronts at 3604-3702 Washington Street for Mrs. Seaver (building permit, April 3, 1900). The Seaver family – her son J. Mercer Seaver – owned the block until after 1925. The lot lines extended back to the edge of Stony Brook – an open stream in a stone-lined culvert that was dredged periodically by the city Public Works Department until set underground between 1910 and 1914. The Seaver block was no sooner completed than it was picked up and moved back – storefront-by-storefront – to allow for the widening of Forest Hills Square.
Congestion caused by the terminus of three horsecar lines had been a growing concern of merchants and residents alike by the mid-1890s. The main reason the Square could not accommodate the traffic was its shape. At the southerly end (at Morton’s block) it was 150 feet wide; at Morton Street it tapered off to 60 feet. At the center of the Square was a turn-out for streetcars to change direction. Streetcar lines – owned at the time by different companies – also ran on approximately the same schedule, complicating movement of the electric cars.
The Boston Globe of October 22, 1899 reported that “Traffic has greatly increased and congestion has been of such a nature as to cause great inconvenience…the steady growth of years was changed a short time ago by a sudden boom which entirely changed the character of the place. The elevating of the New York, New Haven and Hartford RR and the advent of the new electric car lines put new life into the community until it is now one of the bustling sections of the ward… four tracks in the street… are so close together that teams on the way to Boston cannot go through the Square without running over the tracks of the electric roads…bad as this would be with passing cars there are always crowds passing between the suburban lines and the Boston elevated.”[lxxxii]
The solution, reported the Globe, was to widen the Square, a decision made over the previous twelve months. To accomplish this, all the storefronts would be moved back on new foundations beginning at the Magner property (no. 3710 Washington St.) in a slant 1300 feet long to curve around Morton Street, giving the Square a width of 120 feet. The accompanying line drawing depicts a square jammed with streetcars and thronged with people. On the right is the ramp to the new Forest Hills train station and a corner of the stone arch bridge. There is a diagram showing the land-taking of 1300 feet long. It also shows a two-story, wood-frame, pitch-roofed building with a wide street veranda next to the Stony Brook culvert near Tower Street. This building was built in 1897, and its ground-floor tenant was the Brady Funeral Parlor (founded in Jamaica Plain in 1876).
Click here for a gallery of images that accompany this article ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The widening of the Square began in the early spring of 1900. The Globe of April 14, 1900 reported that “at last much needed improvement has come to Forest Hills…evident in the past few days by the work going on in the construction of new foundations for the row of buildings on the old street line.” The Globe added that residents were “jubilant” with the changes. “The Square is directly in the line of the great thoroughfares, Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street. It is also the termini of three lines of electric roads. The Square was large enough but it’s been [in recent years] totally inadequate.”
New foundations were built at the rear of the storefronts, and when completed each store was moved back. The building numbered 3694-3996 was permitted on April 24, 1900 so it was built on the new street line. As shown in the accompanying drawing to the April 14 Globe, the building is under construction back from the old lot line. The drawing shows the rest of the block built two and three years earlier, waiting for its new foundations. The recently-completed home at 41 Orchardhill Road is also shown looming over the storefronts.[lxxxiii]
At Tower Street there were two buildings built on both sides of the culvert: the Magner Building, and a steel dining car (a rail car converted to a lunchroom), with stools and soda fountain set up about 1900. This was replaced by 1914 by a storefront. About 1921 the City of Boston took the Magner Building and 12,000 feet of land to build an underground culvert for Stony Brook. In 1924 Thomas J. Brady[lxxxiv] razed the wooden stores and in 1928, erected the Brady Block, designed by Brink and Larsen (building permit, Sep. 30, 1928). In 1925 Brady built two concrete-block garages, each seventy feet long, on the rear of the property as rental auto storage. Brady built his block of stores in brick and cast stone 126 feet long, and moved his new funeral home into number 3770. The building was built over the Stony Brook culvert.[lxxxv] Liggett Rexall drugstore was located on the corner for many years at 3724 Washington Street. In 1945 Thomas Brady took down the two parking garages he built behind the stores and constructed a new funeral home on Tower Street, designed by James C. Martin (building permit, Oct. 10, 1945). The cost to build was $15,000. The Forest Hills Savings Bank was in that location by 1948. In May 1963, the Forest Hills Cooperative Bank renovated the interior and modernized the front. The Boston Five Cents Savings Bank was the last financial tenant; it moved out about 1995.
The reason why the land between the storefronts and Orchardhill Road was never built on, was in part because Stony Brook ran through it.[lxxxvi] But after the brook was set underground in 1914, it proved ideal as a parking lot for commuters taking the elevated, a use it performs to this day. It could be the oldest surfaced parking lot in Boston. By 1924 it was in use as a parking lot when R. W. Ramsdell, who lived at 56 Hampstead Road, operated it together with a Shell Oil filling station. The gas station was built about 1919 by Standard Oil Company. In 1931 Ramsdell built a large cinder-block building at the rear of 3694-3698 Washington Street (which he owned) as the Ramsdell Garage and Carwash. Another garage was built behind no. 3712 in 1925, on the site of the present-day Dogwood Café kitchen. The Ramsdell Shell (and later Mobil) gas station was one of four filling stations in Forest Hills. Gulf Oil had pumps on its property at 3607 Washington Street, and a small station was built on the terminal side of Morton Street at the bridge. Hatoff’s was established about 1925 behind the Forest Hills Hotel and occupied this corner lot until about 1980.
In October 1929, Matthew Killian of Orchardhill Road converted the storefront at 3702 Washington Street into a retail florist. Architect Albin Brodin renovated the building and added a 50’x 50’ greenhouse at the rear. In 1937 the brick front with picture windows was added. The business was changed to the Grenier Print Shop in 1974. The refrigerators used to keep floral arrangements and cut flowers are still in place and used as storage space.
In 1923 Harry Yarris, who lived in Dorchester at 59 Lucerne Street, built a series of eight storefronts at nos. 38-54 Hyde Park Avenue. The block was 131 feet long and 45 feet wide (building permits, June 23, 1923 and Aug. 1, 1923). The construction cost was $21,000.[lxxxvii] In 1928 the architects Eisenberg and Feer remodeled the storefronts into one large building for the grocery chain First National Stores (building permit, March 1, 1928). Six years later the building was remodeled with skylights, bigger sidewalk windows, and a rear addition built as a loading dock. Sumner Schein was the architect who went on to become a noted designer of early shopping centers (building permit, April 18, 1934).
If Morton’s was your grandmother’s market, First National was your mother’s. The First National at Forest Hills was an example of the trend known as the “combination store,” which grew up in the 1920s, especially with the appearance of commercial refrigeration and Birdseye’s frozen vegetables. The customer could now serve herself with the invention of the shopping cart, which required wider aisle space covered in bright linoleum. She had a choice of canned and packaged foods as well as fruits, vegetables, meats,[lxxxviii] cosmetics, and other consumer goods unknown a generation before at Morton’s, with its sawdust floors, down the block. She took her self-selected items, stacked in the cart, to another innovation that required a different store layout – the front cashier with mechanized rubber mat. The cashier offered coupons based on the purchase amount, which could be redeemed for the dishware, glassware, irons and pans displayed on the top shelves. In 1985 the storefront – long used for other purposes – was converted into Yang’s Martial Arts Academy.
Morton’s Market and First National Stores have been gone for decades but as this is written (summer 2012) a new market is being built, the first new market in Forest Hills since 1928. Harvest Food Co-Op is under construction at 3840 Washington Street on land originally taken for the Southwest Corridor project. The land[lxxxix] was sold by the MBTA to WCI Realty in 2010, and WCI selected Harvest Foods as the anchor tenant. This will be Harvest’s second store; its original store at 57 South Street opened on May 29, 1999. The new grocery is an 8000-square-foot, steel-frame, three-story building of metal and brick veneer designed by Jamaica Plain architect Edward Forte. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2012, Harvest Foods presumably will offer special coupons for glassware and saucepans.
FOREST HILLS TERMINAL
The second elevated transportation line in Forest Hills opened on November 22, 1909. On that morning the 2.5 mile extension of the Boston Elevated Railway from Dudley Square was completed after three years of work. The Boston Elevated Railway (BERy) began operation from Sullivan Square, Charlestown to Dudley Square on June 10, 1901. On January 4, 1904 the BERy was authorized to extend the structure to Forest Hills.[xc] Elevated rapid-transit cars rumbled overhead and electric streetcars entered the new terminal below. As the Boston Herald reported on June 11, 1901, when the Dudley terminal opened: “Boston is now riding above ground, on the ground and underground” (the Park Square subway had opened in 1897). “Early yesterday morning she saw the inauguration of five miles of railway on stilts,” from Sullivan Square in Charlestown to Dudley Square.
Those stilts now continued down the old Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike route beginning where the turnpike originated at Guild Street, when construction started on May 2, 1906. In its enthusiastic opening-day story the November 22, 1909 Boston Herald reported that more than 3500 patrons flocked to take seats in the first two opening hours beginning at 5:15 a.m. Mr. John H. Bell of 14 Varney Street was the second person to buy a ticket. The trains from Forest Hills to Sullivan Square began at 5:15 a.m. daily, and ran every six to eight minutes. The last train out of Sullivan Square was at 12:18 a.m. Running time from Forest Hills to Charlestown was twenty-six minutes.
The Forest Hills community was becoming increasingly important as an outer city and suburban transfer point for trolleys and trains after the electrification of streetcars in 1890.[xci] As we will see in the next chapter, the residential subdivision of much of Forest Hills took place between 1900 and 1910. The governing body of the BERy, the Massachusetts Railway Commission, wanted a terminal at Forest Hills to be the main connection with Forest Hills commuter trains and the West Roxbury branch railroad. The biggest boosters for the Forest Hills extension were Roslindale businessmen, realtors and civic leaders who saw a boon for their community with a five-cents transfer fare from the elevated train (for which they successfully advocated). Recognizing this support, The BERy gave Roslindale civic groups a special preview ride of the new elevated.
Robert S. Peabody (1845-1917) was the chief architect for the BERy, and he chaired a group of the most distinguished architects in Boston at that time to advise on the design of the main line stations: Charles A. Coolidge, Charles D. Maginnis, Clarence T. Blackall, Ralph Adams Cram[xcii] and Edmund M. Wheelwright.
Edmund M. Wheelwright (1854-1912) was the chief architect for Forest Hills terminal. Born in Roxbury and educated at MIT, he worked for Peabody and Stearns before opening his own practice in 1883. In 1889 he designed a huge carriage house in Norman-chateau style for the William Fletcher Weld estate in Brookline (today the Larz Anderson Auto Museum). Wheelwright served as Boston city architect from 1891 to 1895 and designed the Margaret Fuller school (1891-1892) on Green Street, among a number of other city schools. But his greatest design was the Longfellow Bridge, dedicated in 1907.
As noted earlier, in addition to being related by marriage to Francis Minot Weld, Stephen M. Weld’s brother, Robert S. Peabody (after designing the B+P R/R terminal at Park Square) went on to become one of the leading architects of the post-Civil War era. One of his last commissions was the Boston Custom House tower (1915). Mayor John F. Fitzgerald appointed Peabody park commissioner and in 1910 proposed that a zoo be built on the “greeting” of Franklin Park, the main promenade to the park. In May 1910 he commissioned Arthur Shurcliff (a Bussey Institute graduate) to draw up a master plan for a zoo that was presented to the mayor in October of 1910. Work began the next year and the first phase opened in October 1912; additional exhibits and landscaping followed in 1913, 1914, 1920 and 1932. When Shurcliff designed the parking area at the Blue Bill Avenue entrance in 1924, it was named Peabody Circle after Robert S. Peabody.
Considerable thought was given to the design of the terminal and elevated platform because it needed to harmonize with the Arborway and the great stone viaduct built just over a decade earlier. The architects arrived at a plan to support the elevated tracks on single massive steel piers encased in concrete eleven feet thick, set in a foundation twelve feet deep. The piers supported a concrete viaduct with a sleek concave balustrade. It carried a track bed forty-eight feet wide and twenty feet high. An additional $100,000 was appropriated for this viaduct, which was built by the Hugh Nawn Construction Company of Roxbury. Work began in July of 1909. BERy chief engineer George Kimball was in charge of construction and Harry Nawn supervised the pouring of reinforced concrete for the six piers and balustrade.[xciii]
Work progressed faster on the Forest Hills extension because Washington Street was narrower here than where it ran through the South End, and by early 1908 the elevated train platform was nearing Forest Hills. Ground was broken for the terminal in March 1908. The BERy rented a triple-decker just north of the Arborway for a construction office. It was located on the Arborway yard side, near land already owned by the streetcar line. This building and two others were razed in 1921 for the long, brick streetcar barn that abutted Washington Street for over eighty years.
There appears to have been long debate over the location of the terminal, which at first was planned to be on Hyde Park Avenue about where Ukraine Way is today. After protest and petition, the station was placed in the only logical location, at the widened Forest Hills Square between Tower Street and the train station.
Forest Hills terminal was 357 feet long, seventy feet wide, and about sixty feet high from road bed to roofline. Trains approached over the concrete viaduct and under a pavilion joined by long double platforms, supported by a massive arcade of reinforced concrete, with enormous double-hung glass windows that flooded the streetcar bays and waiting decks with light. There were pavilions at the north and south ends; the south end had offices and waiting rooms. The platforms were covered with copper canopies supported by posts, braces and diaphragm arches.[xciv] The trains extended beyond the south pavilion over a diamond-shaped crossover track that enabled cars to return over the inbound track. A tall hip-roof switching tower over Walk Hill Street guided trains. This track was long enough to accommodate eight trains (which were wooden until 1928, when steel cars were introduced).
The most important benefit of all to Forest Hills was the organization and rescheduling of wheeled traffic. At first motorcars and horse-and-wagons moved through the station, but when that proved impractical a new section of Washington Street was built between the station and the railroad depot in June of 1916 (Boston Globe, June 10, 1916). This required taking railroad land parallel to the depot. A new and much-needed passenger platform was built inside the terminal in place of the road. The elevated terminal was essentially a box built over the streetcar lanes, which entered and exited through at-grade portals on the north and south ends. Streetcars that once clogged the Square were routed through the station to separate berths based on route. It was in stark contrast to the streetcar corral of which the press had complained a decade earlier.
Accidents did occur, however, as the Boston Globe reported on April 12, 1911. A laundry wagon driven by Joseph Farrell collided with an electric streetcar near Morton’s Market the day before. Farrell was thrown to the ground and the frightened horse broke away from the chassis and raced madly through elevated posts and streetcars until caught at School Street.
Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street were two of the first one-way streets in Jamaica Plain; cars and teams wishing to change direction used Walk Hill Street. Hyde Park Avenue traffic going north was one way from about Weld Hill; southbound traffic ran from the Arborway to Walk Hill Street. This traffic pattern existed for the next eighty years.
Forest Hills terminal was City Beautiful architecture, a period of great optimism in American culture and architecture that began with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. (Peabody and Stearns designed the Massachusetts State Building for the fair.) The color scheme was white and the style Classical Revival. At Forest Hills the material was light tan concrete and the proportions were classical lines straight and elegant; it was not the fussy building of a generation earlier. The form showed the function (to paraphrase the architect Louis Sullivan). A stately building even in its last years, the terminal was a light and airy building with platforms open to the sky, and heavy canopies that kept out the wet weather. The ground-floor streetcar concourse was filled with light from the huge glass windows.
The longest and most heavily used streetcar line was the Arborway service begun in 1902-1903, when new tracks were laid from Forest Hills to the South Street car barns. The Arborway line opened in 1903. It was shut down on December 27, 1985, the last streetcar service to Forest Hills. By 1920 there were five streetcar lines coming out of Forest Hills, including routes to Roslindale, the Dedham line, Mattapan Square, Cleary Square and the famous “back and forth” line from Forest Hills to Egleston Square.
A large amount of land was acquired by the BERy Company on the east side of Washington Street between Lotus Place (Brookley Road) and the Arborway. On Dec. 12, 1895 a twelve-track wooden car house opened. Station operations (located on the site of the old bus ramp at Egleston Center) were transferred from Egleston Square. A second car barn was built in 1897, a long brick-and-steel building with eleven tracks. As of March 1, 1901 eight lines operated out of the Forest Hills Yard (changed to Arborway Yard in 1924), and in 1903 eight more were added. In 1962, at about the height of its service, eighteen bus lines ran out of the Arborway Yard.
By 1914 the BERy owned a sprawling nineteen-acre facility. Stony Brook ran through the land in a fifty-foot wide stone line channel. The 1895 car house was built along the edge of the channel. The brook had been placed in an underground culvert by 1924. When the Amory Street car house near Centre Street burned in 1921, all streetcars in the Jamaica Plain area began to be consolidated at Forest Hills.
In the summer of 1924 construction began on the modern Arborway bus and streetcar yard, which many residents remember until the turn of the twentyfirst century. A two-bay, six-track car house was built together with extensive track switchbacks and turnarounds at Lotus Street, extending back to Forest Hills Street. This opened in 1924. In addition, a modern bus garage, 151 x 125,’ for 47 buses, was opened in 1925. Facing the parkway, a nice Arts-and-Crafts style office building and carmen’s lobby was built in 1924. It was a low-roof building with distinctive eyebrow windows. This was what the Arborway Yard looked like until it was all razed in 2001.
The original elevated structure had a spur line to the Arborway yard on which elevated trains could be moved for repair. It was a three-track ramp built on an earth berm connected to the main line by iron posts and beams. Rapid-transit cars moved down the ramp and onto long parallel tracks. It was called the Shea Yard (named for previous landowner, Daniel Shea, who sold eleven acres to the BERy). The ramp opened in 1913. Never successful, it was in fact dangerous, and was shut after six months. The Shea Yard was then used as a streetcar junkyard; 2000 cars were scrapped there between 1917 and 1920 alone. The ramp was removed and the main spur cut off in 1922, after the Hyde Park Avenue storage-and-repair yard was opened.
The South Street passenger station was closed in 1926 and the streetcar barns razed in the mid-1930s, but the yard served trolley buses and the motorbuses for the Dudley Square line until 1949.[xcv],[xcvi]
On July 30, 1962 the new MBTA Headquarters building opened at 500 Arborway, designed by Desmond and Lord. This took up a streetcar wash barn and several lines of layover tracks.
Motorbuses began operating on streetcar lines in 1924, and a bus garage was built at the Arborway Yard that opened in 1925. “The trolley is giving way to the motor bus,” predicted the Boston News Bureau in its July 14, 1924 issue. Buses replaced streetcars on lines terminating at Forest Hills between 1949 and 1956.[xcvii] By 1958 only buses traveled the old streetcar network, except for the heavily traveled Arborway line. It remained in service because it entered the mainline subway system at Copley Square over the Huntington Avenue streetcar reservation, yet it too was finally shut down as noted earlier.
In 2001, the MBTA demolished every building on the site except for the administration building (now the MBTA Engineering Office). The tracks were ripped up and paved over, and temporary facilities built to store and fuel a fleet of 118 liquid-natural-gas-powered buses. Long metal garages were built at Brookley Road and tanks with overhead pumps, under which buses were driven to refuel, were built along Washington Street. This was completed in 2003-2004.
On January 11, 1921 work began on the new elevated storage-and-repair yards on Hyde Park Avenue. This work included extending the elevated train platform so that it curved around the Morton Block and Forest Hills Hotel and over Walk Hill Street. A 500-foot-long brick garage was built behind a brick wall flush to the sidewalk along Hyde Park Avenue. Switching tracks extended about 800 feet beyond the barn to the Tollgate Way footbridge. The facility opened in November 1921. This required removal of ten, three-family houses, half of which were built by 1899. Six were moved: numbers 160, 168, 172, 176 and 178 Hyde Park Avenue[xcviii] were bought and moved across the street by Ann McTernan in 1920. They were set up on new stone foundations. Alice Donahue moved a house in 1922 to 235 Wachusett Street. As the Globe reported on October 22, 1922, “Beginning today and continuing for three weeks streetcar service will be interrupted on Hyde Park Avenue due to moving of buildings.” Number 235 Wachusett Street was built originally at 135 Hyde Park Avenue by 1914.
The topographic change created by the new elevated line was complete in 1921 and would stand for the next sixty years. There were two administrative changes in the interim. On August 29, 1947 the newly-created Metropolitan Transit Authority bought the BERy for $20 million. (To avoid acronym confusion with the Mass. Turnpike Authority, the transit agency changed its name to Mass Bay Transportation Authority in 1964.) Second, on August 26, 1965 the rapid transit and trolley trains were given a color scheme designed by Cambridge Seven Associates. The Forest Hills-to-Sullivan Square elevated line would now be the Orange Line, so named because it traveled over what was originally Orange Street.[xcix]
Click here for a gallery of images that accompany this article ___________________________________________________________________________________________
THE RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION OF FOREST HILLS
Forest Hills was a streetcar suburb built mostly between 1890 and 1910. Four new streets were cut through the estates – Weld Hill, Woodlawn, Tower and Asticou; a fifth, Orchardhill Road, evolved from the approach drive to the city street. In addition to these three new streets, two older streets, Hyde Park Avenue and South Street, were also built up with housing.
The elevated terminal of 1909 dramatically increased population growth and housing construction largely in Roslindale and West Roxbury. The Stony Brook neighborhood (Williams, Brookley and Forest Hills Streets to Lotus Street) was built mainly in the late 1920s. The only subdivision directly related to the opening of the Forest Hills extension was Woodbourne, a subdivision off Walk Hill Street consisting of Bourne Street, Southbourne Road and Florian Street, built by the Boston Dwellinghouse Company. Its proximity within a fifteen-minute walk of the rapid transit station was promoted in its advertising when the first phase was built between 1910 and 1914. Yet after WWI, when housing construction resumed, it became an automobile suburb. Most houses had garages built with the house or added a year later. Orchardhill Road was planned as an automobile suburb when it was built up in 1929, even though it was five minutes from the elevated line.
The apartment house[c] is rare in Forest Hills, unlike Egleston Square, which is also located at a streetcar and elevated station. (Woodbourne was built with a cluster of wood-frame stucco apartment houses on Hyde Park Avenue, but far outside the boundaries set for this study.) The Minton Building was a very early apartment house in Jamaica Plain (1897) and it remains one of only two apartment buildings in Forest Hills today. Two other apartment houses were built, directly related to the opening of the Forest Hills elevated: Arborway Court (demolished) and Fordham Court, both developed by Joseph Lannin. The predominant housing style in Forest Hills is the two- and three-family wood-frame house on a small lot, designed by skilled housewrights and architects who specialized in housing.
Hyde Park Avenue was extended to Forest Hills in 1878, by taking up a section of Walk Hill Street. Half the homes built on that section were constructed between 1881 and 1890, largely by 1884. The rest were built between 1893 and 1897, with one exception: number 110-112 Hyde Park Avenue, built in 1928.
In May 1849, St. Joseph’s Church in Roxbury bought a triangular plot of land over an acre in size, formerly owned by Franklin Weld, to use as a church cemetery. St. Joseph’s Church was the first Catholic Church in Roxbury; it opened in 1845 on the turnpike at Circuit Street. The triangular plot of land (55,000 square feet) cost $4400. The first internment was in 1854 and the last took place on June 16, 1897. At first a parish cemetery, the Archdiocese of Boston took ownership in 1872, and still holds the deed today. In 1911 when the NYNH & H RR proposed taking the land as a freight yard, there were three hundred headstones. The railroad dropped the plans when next of kin could not be located. It was always known as Tollgate Cemetery, not St. Joseph’s cemetery.[ci] About 1912 an iron footbridge was built at the edge of the cemetery to carry people from Hyde Park Avenue to Washington Street. It was called Tollgate Way, and used largely by students going to the Washington Street School (where DB & S Lumber is today) and later to St. Andrew’s Church. The bridge was razed in 2012.
Most of the houses built on that part of Hyde Park Avenue (originally Walk Hill Street) were built on a ridge and supported by retaining walls with steps. Three distinctive single-family homes at numbers 56, 92, and 124 feature a gable-fronted farmhouse style. No building permits have been located, but nos. 92 and 124 were built by 1884, and no. 56 by 1890. Well-proportioned and -crafted, each was obviously built by a skilled housewright.
The street was mainly built up with two- and three-family wood-frame houses. The earliest three-family home was at 64 Hyde Park Avenue, built in 1893 and designed by Roderick L. McDonald (building permit, Apr. 19, 1893). Some were attached, three-family buildings; a very distinctive duplex was built by 1884 at 116-118 Hyde Park Avenue. It has two gambrel-roofed side wings set at an angle to the main house and connected by a porch with center pediment. Built as an attached two-family house, it has an oddly asymmetrical dormer window with pediment on the no. 116 side of the building. The second distinctive house is at 76 Hyde Park Avenue, with two barrel-fronts connected by a Gothic gable. It was designed in 1895 by John A. McEarchen, a carpenter-builder we will meet again later (building permit, June 14, 1895). This was built as two attached, three-family houses, designed to look like a duplex.
Number 106-108 Hyde Park Avenue was built in 1893 and designed by the skilled Jamaica Plain architect Jacob Luippold, who lived at 89 Mozart Street. Number 106-108 Hyde Park Avenue is a big six-family house, with the type of façade detail for which Luippold was noted. Jacob Luippold (1846-1917) was a German immigrant carpenter-craftsmen-architect who opened his practice in 1892 at the age of 46. He practiced until 1914 and specialized in three-family housing. Number 105-109 Hyde Park Avenue is an early design. We will see some of his best work on Tower Street done a decade later.[cii]
The last house built on this section of Hyde Park Avenue was a six-family house at no. 110, built in 1928 and designed by Weinbaum and Wexler.
Weld Hill, Woodlawn and Tower streets were built on a nine-acre tract of land owned by Edwin Weld and William Browne. It abutted the Jacob W. Seaver property, and Stony Brook passed through a corner of it. Of the 117 mostly two-family homes built on these three streets, about one third were built between 1895 and 1898.
Weld Hill Street
Thomas Minton, contractor, built the street in 1893, and nineteen homes were built between 1895 and 1898 (almost half of the forty houses on the street). The first house was 26 Weld Hill, built in 1894 by Edward Coan. In 1895 Martin J. Flynn, who was often listed as architect-builder, built numbers 15-24 Weld Hill. Two parallel streets intersected with Weld Hill: Wachusett and Wenham streets. The parcel of land between Wachusett Street and the Forest Hills Cemetery boundary was built up with four multi-family homes. Number 65-71 was built on land sold by the Roxbury Latin School. (It was common for benefactors of the school to give land from which it could gain rental income.) The land was a bequest from Thomas Bell in 1672. Number 75, a 2½ story house, was built by Erick Peterson in 1894. Arthur Olsen, architect/builder, designed the house in the Queen Anne shingle style (building permit, Oct. 22, 1894).
The first six houses on the even side of Weld Hill, numbers 6-36, are all the same basic style of 2½ story, wood-frame, pitch-roof house with front porch and dormer window. These were built by different owners and designed by different architects/housewrights between 1894 and 1896. They are the earliest homes in the business district. Opposite these were built three, three-family houses with pitch roofs, probably by John A. Flynn in 1904. Flynn also developed no. 28 in 1897 across the street, opposite that end of Wenham Street. The three-deckers behind no. 38 Hyde Park Avenue were built in 1927.
There are some grand houses on Weld Hill Street. Alex Fraser the architect/builder designed a Queen Ann shingle home in 1901 at no. 49. It has an arch window with a turned rail set in a steep pediment, and stained-glass window on the first floor. Like almost every house on the street it is set in a small lot. Houses on the sloping south side are built up behind retaining walls. Number 50 is a beautifully-detailed three-family house with a handsome porch window designed by Harris Etter and completed in September 1914. Number 57 is a large house with an off-center porch and inset-penthouse in the wide pediment under a big bay window. This house was designed in 1897 by James Murray (who would form a brief partnership with James Hutchinson). The most interesting home of all is the undocumented no. 76 at the top of the street. It has a wide overhanging jerkinhead roof in Arts and Crafts style. An otherwise plain building, the roof sets it apart. It was completed by 1895.
The street was built by competent architect/builders familiar with popular 1890s streetcar suburb house styles. But one name does stand out: James G. Hutchinson, who designed no. 74 Weld Hill for Peter McLaughlin in 1901 (building permit, Nov. 23, 1901; deed, Lib. 2773, fol. 455, 1901). The house has been much altered by aluminum siding (as this is written in 2012). James G. Hutchinson was just beginning a 25-year career during which he designed sixteen documented houses in Forest Hills, eleven of them in Woodbourne for the Boston Dwellinghouse Company.[ciii] Number 74 Weld Hill was built near the start of his career, which began auspiciously with the design of the Forest Hills Methodist Church (Upham Memorial Methodist Church) at 156-168 Wachusett Street in 1899. His office was at 3710 Washington Street.[civ]
Woodlawn Street was built by Minton’s construction company in 1897. The road was built between the two rental-over-retail blocks built by Minton discussed above. The Minton Building was built at the same time as the street. The first home was completed in 1897 by Martin Flynn (building permit, Dec. 16, 1896). Thirty-five homes were built on Woodlawn Street by a variety of architects and builders. The street opens up on the odd-number side with two exceptionally-designed, three-family houses, at numbers 7 and 11. Number 7 is undocumented but may have been designed by James G. Hutchinson, who designed no. 11 in 1901 for A. B. Root. Hutchinson also designed numbers 15 and 17 (both 1901) and no. 25 (1901) all for A. B. Root. A decade later, Hutchinson designed a beautifully-crafted house at no. 32 for the Lannin Realty Company. It is a three-family house with pitch roof (building permit, Mar. 24, 1911). Hutchinson and Lannin collaborated on other significant buildings in Forest Hills that will be discussed later. Joseph C. Lannin owned and probably developed five houses on Woodlawn Street before 1914, according to the Bromley Real Estate Atlas, but they are undocumented, and one has been demolished (no. 51-55).
The highly accomplished architect Albin Brodin designed no. 78 at the top of the hill in 1925 (building permit, Oct. 27, 1925), and probably no. 63 (1923) as well. Brodin was a very active architect of two- and three-family homes, as well as single-family homes in the 1920s and 1930s in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury. He designed sixteen homes in the Woodbourne development between 1924 and 1933, including his own home at no. 30 Bourne Street in 1930.
The most interesting house on Woodlawn Street is a small dwelling at the top of the hill, hard against the cemetery fence, at no. 80 Woodlawn. A one-story house with a mansard roof, a style popular in the 1870s, it first appears on the real estate atlas in 1899. It was almost certainly moved to the site when the Forest Hills viaduct was built in 1896. The bridge took up a commercial nursery at Washington Street and Morton Street. The 1890 atlas shows a house or more likely an office next to a set of wood-frame greenhouses. Local history has it that the building – which resembles an office inside – was owned by Forest Hills cemetery and used as a guardhouse for security to sleep in between shifts.[cv] The house is very close to the walkways in the cemetery that lead to the administration building, and although obscure today, they are wide enough for a horse and carriage.
Tower Street was authorized to be built by the City Street Department in 1892, but not completed and accepted until October 1901. However, the oldest houses were built in 1897 at numbers 31 and 32 Tower Street,[cvi] across from each other. Numbers 59, 69 and 79 were built in 1897-1898. There is some evidence that the street was developed by Thomas Minton, who lived on the adjoining land. The houses he built for his children at numbers 41 and 45 Orchardhill Road back up to numbers 26 and 32 Tower Street. Minton’s construction company certainly built the street, and he developed four houses, all built in 1901 and designed by Jacob Luippold (numbers 15, 33, 39 and 46). Minton may have named the new street too, presumably after the Snowflake Hill belltower at the top of the hill. In 1911 Forest Hills Cemetery built the Tower Street entrance gate when it constructed new boundary fencing.
The first documented subdivision of Tower Hill by Thomas Minton is a plan drawn on November 18, 1893 for no. 39 Tower Street (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2174, fol. 65) and on July 20, 1894 for no. 33 Tower Street. Both parcels were bought from Edwin Weld. Minton did not build on these lots until 1901. By that time Minton’s profession was listed in the Boston City Directory as Real Estate, with the office at 4 Hyde Park Avenue in the Minton Block.
Forty-two homes were built on Tower Street, almost all two- and three-families, and most by 1905. Jacob Luippold designed two handsome three-family houses at the foot of the street, numbers 15 and 16. Number 15 was owned by Thomas Minton (building permit, Sep. 21, 1901, with Minton is listed as the builder). Opposite is no. 16, a house Liuppold designed for Annie Wipperman in 1902 (building permit, July 2, 1902).[cvii] Number 17 is a very handsome, pitch-roof, three-family house designed by Murray and Hutchinson (building permit, Mar. 28, 1905). A well-crafted, wood-frame home, it has a wide-overhang gable roof and three-story side bay, probably one of their best works.
Working independently, Hutchinson designed a very handsome 2½ half story, two-family home for Joseph Lannin at 43-45 Tower Street in 1904 (building permit, July 25, 1904). Number 43-45 is a bold design of a large house on a small lot, midway up the steep street. This is the earliest-documented collaboration between Joseph Lannin and the architect James G. Hutchinson. They would later plan and build the only two apartment houses in Jamaica Plain, Arborway Court and Fordham Court, that will be discussed later.
Joseph C. Lannin was born in Quebec of Irish immigrants in 1866. He was orphaned at fourteen and walked 410 miles through New Hampshire, working his way along, looking for a trade until he got to Boston. There he took a job as a hotel bellboy. The 1893 Boston Directory lists him as employed at the Charlesgate Hotel and living at a South Boston boarding house. His wife Hannah worked as a milliner. Lannin learned the investment trade by listening to, and talking with successful businessmen and bankers at the hotels. He used that advice wisely, invested shrewdly and earned a great deal of money, which he then invested in real estate, mainly hotels. His teenage and young-adult years working at Boston hotels apparently inspired him to buy, build, and own at least three in Brooklyn and Long Island. He also moved frequently like a hotel guest.
Lannin’s first documented house was no. 77 Tower Street on land he bought from Thomas Minton in 1897. E. R. McLane was the architect/builder. It was the first of five homes Lannin and McLane would build. (McLane lived in the two-family house at no. 43-45 Tower Street.)
After living in, and developing hotels and golf courses in Garden City, Long Island, Lannin returned to Jamaica Plain about 1910. He became the owner of the Boston Red Sox in 1913, and brought Babe Ruth to play for the team. After the 1916 season he sold the team for $500,000. After WWI he bought Roosevelt Airfield in Garden City, New Jersey, from the Department of the Army, which was rapidly demobilizing and selling off assets after the Great War. Charles Lindberg used that field for his historic transatlantic solo flight on May 20, 1928. He stayed at the Garden City Hotel that Lannin owned. Joseph C. Lannin died on May 15, 1928, in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the age of 62.[cviii]
The finest house on Tower Street is number 33, designed by Jacob Luippold in 1901 for Thomas Minton. Minton is also listed as the builder on the permit, but more than likely Luippold, the carpenter/craftsman, built it. The house was designed in the shingle style with a distinctive, oval first-floor window, and a Palladian window on the second floor.
A unique, Colonial Revival design is a double-gambrel, L-shaped house built in 1923 at 47-49 Tower Street. It was planned as a three-family house by the architect/builder J. J. Dahill (building permit, May 21, 1923).
The noted architects C. A. and F. N. Russell designed no. 26 Tower Street in 1910 (building permit, Oct. 3, 1910). The house apparently was a minor project for this firm, noted for its handsome apartment buildings at Egleston Square, Grove Hall and Codman Square. In 1986 a one-story, wood-frame addition to the first-floor condominium was skillfully designed.
The Dorchester architect William H. Sherman designed the three-family, wood-frame house at no. 24 Tower Street, completed in January of 1913. Sherman lived at Thetford in Codman Square; he was better known for his carefully-designed, brick apartment buildings at Codman Square: for example, no. 544-546 Washington Street, built in 1904.
The last home built on Tower Street was no. 53-65, a three-family house designed by John Mission in 1928 (building permit, Apr. 23, 1928). Thirty years earlier, E. R. McLane built no. 59 (building permit, June 27, 1899). Joseph C. Lannin was the broker.
Fordham Court and its Neighborhood
In 1912, Lannin built Fordham Court, a 56-unit apartment house at 226-228 South Street, at the corner of St. Mark’s. He bought two parcels of land totaling about an acre through his firm the Lannin Realty Company, and commissioned the architect James G. Hutchinson to design a courtyard apartment hotel, consisting of five attached brick buildings trimmed with sandstone in the Academic Tudor style.[cix] Lannin called it Fordham Court after Fordham University in the Bronx, the first Catholic College in the northeast. The Fordham was one of the many apartment hotels throughout Boston in which flats were rented for short-term stays. (After Lannin bought the Red Sox in 1913, local lore has it that the players lived at the Fordham.) It will be recalled that Thomas Minton owned a house on St. Mark’s Street when the railroad causeway was being built fifteen years earlier. That house does not appear on the 1905 Bromley Atlas, however. Next to the Fordham at the corner of St. Mark’s Street are two wood-frame, gable-fronted homes completed in 1892. Number 236 was built by M. S. and S. A. Chesley, and designed by J. D. Campbell, completed on June 9, 1902 (building permit at Boston Public Library, Fine Arts Dept.).
Opposite Fordham Court is a row of seven attached brick three-family apartment houses built in two blocks, which were developed by B. J. Connolly in 1901-1902. Numbers 213-221 were designed in panel-brick style with round-arch doors and small stoops by J. H. Smith, whose office was at 15 School Street at Egleston Square. The corner building at no. 225-227 had a two-story bay window of wood covered with pressed metal. It included a storefront/office, and access to the upstairs apartments was through a recessed doorway. The building was designed by John J. Foley (building permit, June 26, 1902).[cx] The blocks adjoined the Harvey Company Garage at 213 South Street built in 1909. It was a 50 x 120 foot brick-and-steel rental auto storage garage, probably with gas pumps just inside the double-wide, in/out doors. This was a very early example of the type of auto storage building that would dot the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester. In 1966 H. P. Hood owned the garage as storage for its refrigerator trucks. This suggests that their Anson Street buildings had been razed for the proposed I-95 extension to be discussed in the final chapter. Today it is the well-known Arborway Auto Service Center.
On the other side of the parkway Lannin built Arborway Court by 1910, a much larger, four-story brick building at 278-282 South Street and the corner of St. Ann Street, directly opposite the southbound railroad station. It was a courtyard apartment building with 72 apartments and possibly ground floor stores.[cxi] Lannin had his office there in 1910; the Boston Directory for 1910 listed him living at 234 South Street near Fordham Court. Arborway Court was more than likely designed by James G. Hutchinson. It was destroyed about 1967 for the I-95 extension, so the building permits are lost. Based on a few existing photographs of the area, it seemed to be designed in a similar style. In 1915 Lannin built a 10,000 square foot, one-story brick garage at the end of Asticou Road adjoining Arborway Court, for its residents and no doubt as rental spaces for the neighbors. It was Tully’s garage in 1924. In its edition of Oct. 14, 1912, the Boston Globe listed four- to six-room apartments available at Arborway Court for $30-$45 a month. Interested parties were directed to “the owner’s office on premises Lannin Realty Company.”
Arborway Court was on the site of the ca. 1806 house and barn owned by Abraham Hodgden, who bought four acres in September 1827. Hodgdon was a builder. His landholdings skirted the hillside below the Peters house on South Street. (It will be recalled that he was killed by a railroad train in 1846.) The 1859 Walling map of Roxbury shows three buildings on this corner parcel.
The Boston Globe of October 18, 1908 reported nostalgically that “the march of improvement in the Forest Hills section has made necessary the demolition of one of the old landmarks that has stood for nearly one hundred years at the junction of South Street and Walk Hill Street known as the old Hodgdon House. The land has been bought by New York parties to make room for a large modern apartment house.” The house was razed in 1908 and the Globe described it as a two-story, hip-roofed, eight-room house, and that “before the railroad was constructed at the foot of the hill, it was an important crossroads residence,”[cxii] suggesting it may have been a roadhouse tavern (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 83, fol. 219 and Lib. 9, fol. 22).
The land for Arborway Court (35,000 square feet) was bought from Andrew J. Peters (1872-1936, mayor of Boston 1918-1922).[cxiii] The brick home in which he was born and lived all his life, was located about where 40 Asticou Road is today. This mansion, with hip roof, dormers, and shady veranda was built in 1799 by William Gordon Weld (1775-1825), fifth son of Colonel Eleazer Weld. He was the owner of a fleet of clipper ships trading with China and the Mediterranean. During the early years of the War of 1812 one of his prize ships was captured and plundered. As both ship and cargo were uninsured, Weld lost his fortune. He grew tired of merchant shipping and retired to a home in Lancaster, Mass. He was the father of William Fletcher Weld and Stephen Minot Weld.
Edward D. Peters bought the land as a summer house in 1829, and the family extended the estate in 1840 and 1844. The 1874 Atlas of West Roxbury shows the estate extending from about Martinwood Road to Walk Hill Street (later St. Ann Street, and today Washington Street). The land sloped down to the edge of the Dedham branch railroad.
Between 1905 and 1910 fourteen two-family homes were built on a new city street completed in May 1901, called Asticou Road,[cxiv] which cut the Peters estate in half (to about two acres). The road was lined up in a curve from South Street to connect with Walk Hill Street at the railroad bridge below the switching tower. In this parcel seventeen homes were built, four on South Street. The street is distinguished by a line of gambrel-roofed houses with broad, overhanging third stories and wide porches. Numbers 18 (1909) and 22 (1906) are particularly handsome, with big porches under a broad, third-story gambrel roof. The third story of no. 18 extends well over the house with a canopied gambrel roof.
Eight of the homes were developed by the Arborway Trust and built by the Metropolitan Lumber Company. All but two were designed by Eugene Schwender. A. W. West is listed as the architect for nos. 31 and 35, built in different styles in 1905. Number 31 is a large corner house distinguished by broad, Prairie-style hip roof. The architectural style created a very uniform street of well-crafted, wood-frame homes. The best is no. 27, which Schwender designed in 1906. It has more careful detailing than the other houses, particularly the second-story brackets, and especially the way in which the third-story coupled windows jut out from the façade, creating a nice rhythm. It is a superior house among a group of large homes on small lots, a classic streetcar suburb.
The writer has found nothing about the Metropolitan Lumber Company aside from the fact that its office was located at 24 Milk Street. It is all conjecture, but it appears to have been a pattern-book company like the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan. These firms were very active from 1900 to about 1930, and had direct contracts with Midwestern lumber companies, providing house plans in certain styles and ready-made stock milled to those styles for house builders. Neither Schwender nor West appears in the Boston directories. The Arborway Trust probably chose Metropolitan Lumber Company because the costs were considerably less and the quality high. Ready-made stock delivered by freight cars and common architectural styles made it possible to build Asticou Road in two years.
Five homes were built on the South Street side of the Peters subdivision, of which four stand today. Numbers 300 and 296 were built by James T. Lyons in 1910. The homes may have been designed by Murdock and Boyle,[cxv] because that firm was responsible for no. 14 Asticou Road, also built by Lyons in 1910. Three lots were sold to Joseph T. Lyons on June 3, 1910 (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 3082, fol. 120 and Lib. 3133, end).
The first Asticou Road lots were sold on February 26, 1903 to Frederick Gleason (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2899, fol. 53). In 1904, Mary Murphy bought a lot on South Street (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 2964, fol. 417). The lot was next to a house Gleason had just built and apparently lived in. Murphy commissioned James G. Hutchinson to design the finest house on South Street, a 2½-story, one-family, Craftsman shingle-style home, with Prairie-style porch and dormers (building permit, June 14, 1904).
About 1908 the Arborway Trust sold the Hodgdon house corner lot to the Lannin Realty Company for Arborway Court. The Gleason house was razed together with Arborway Court about 1967 for the planned I-95 extension. After being displaced about 1980 for the Southwest Corridor Project, American Legion Post no. 76 was relocated to the house lot and a new, one-story building of no distinction was built and completed in 1983 (building permit, June 10, 1982, Peter J. Carroll architect). The parking lot is partly on the site of the old Arborway Court.
In 1953 Mrs. Martha Peters, the widow of Mayor Peters, offered the old Weld house and two acres of land to the Arnold Arboretum. The house proved impractical to renovate as a staff residence and it was razed and the land sold in 1957 to James C. Martin.[cxvi] Martin subdivided the land into thirteen small, Cape Cod and Ranch-style homes in 1958. Martin laid out the new road as a continuation of Asticou and named it Martinwood. But he never built sidewalks, curbs or gutters so the road was never accepted by the city street department; it has been a dirt road ever since (at this writing, for 64 years). R. I. Williams was the architect of the homes designed in two styles. A typical building permit was dated July 30, 1958 and the house cost $5000 to build.
PARKWAYS TO MOTORWAYS AND ORCHARDHILL ROAD
At the time that Mayor Andrew Peters was converting his horse-and-carriage stable into an automobile garage, the Boston Parks Department was planning significant changes to the parkways, adapting them to motorcars. In its July 10, 1924 issue, the Boston News Bureau complained about the “divine right of the motorcar…nothing shall inconvenience automobilists.” First the hard-packed gravel parkways were paved; originally they were designed in much the same way as the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike, suitable for horse-and-carriage but not for heavy chassis and hard wheels of faster-moving motor vehicles.
Writing in the September 29, 1923 magazine section of the Boston Evening Transcript, Sylvester Baxter, for twenty years a leading advocate for Boston parks and first secretary of the Metropolitan Park Commission, lamented the invasion of motor vehicles in the City’s parkways: “The parkways were intended to be strictly subordinate to the reservations. They were to make the reservations easily accessible from all parts of Boston. They are serving it so well as to have become the primary factor in the scheme of the park system. The service of motor traffic, recreational only to a minor degree, has become the main consideration.”
Between 1924 and 1925 the Riverway, Jamaicaway and the Arborway were widened by seven feet and curves straightened out wherever possible. Circuit Drive in Franklin Park was widened to forty feet, with many curves straightened. Intersections were widened and plantings removed at Valley Gates and Hagbourne Hill. The grotto at the curve of Circuit Drive below the Resting Place was filled in, and the west-side bridle path reduced in width, putting riders closer to what was now a motorway. The Arborway was also realigned, and to make the flow of traffic move better, a rotary was built at the Forest Hills entrance to Franklin Park. It was named for James B. Shea, the park commissioner at the time the roads were rebuilt.
The rotary was a French design of a circle with intersecting spokes of boulevards taking the driver in different directions. F. L. Olmsted first used the design in his plan for the Greeting at Franklin Park, a half-mile-long promenade coming off two circles, one at the Playstead and the other at Blue Hill Avenue. The Greeting was never built as planned, and the only circus was at Blue Hill Avenue with its intersection at Glen Road. But unlike the French boulevard circus, the Blue Hill Avenue circle (named for Park Commissioner Robert S. Peabody) was never a circular roadway but a terminus for park users.
The first circular traffic rotary – called a roundabout in Britain where it was made popular – was planned by Charles Eliot (a graduate of the Bussey Institute) at Revere Beach Parkway in 1893. Eliot saw the roundabouts in Britain and adapted the design as a terminus for existing highways and a planned parkway to Revere Beach (the largest ocean beach in metropolitan Boston) built in 1895-1896. It is called Eliot Circle today. Arthur Shurcliff (also a Bussey Institute graduate) was the landscape architect responsible for adapting F. L. Olmsted’s carefully planned parkways into motorways. He used Eliot’s Revere Beach Parkway circus concept to move traffic through Morton Street and the Arborway at Franklin Park, and at Centre Street and the Jamaicaway on the edge of the Arboretum.
To accomplish this, five acres were taken up for the Franklin Park rotary and the original park bridle path and boundary walls were set back on Circuit Drive, Morton Street, and along Forest Hills Street. At the Blue Hill Avenue entrance Shurcliff hollowed out the circus as a zoo parking lot and directed traffic to go around it. Glen Lane was widened and curved around the wall of Refectory Hill to connect with Glenway Street and Blue Hill Avenue going east. Glen Lane was a through-crosstown traffic road from Green Street to Blue Hill Avenue until the fall of 1981, when it was shut to all but Parks Department vehicles. In 1984 the new Glen Lane gates were built near Sigourney Street. The new motor road from Peabody Circle to Shea Circle was open for travel in August 1925.[cxvii] The Peabody Circle parking lot was probably the first one designed in a Boston park.
In its original design, the Arborway connected directly into Franklin Park, and Morton Street was a separate roadway traveling south. All that changed in 1925, when all traffic moved through the rotary and went either into the park or took the Morton Street spoke to travel southbound. Motorists quickly discovered – as they do to this day – how easy it was to drive from Forest Hills to Blue Hill Avenue and Columbia Road by cutting through Franklin Park. In his Report on the Future Parks, Playgrounds, and Parkways, of November 1925, Arthur Shurcliff warned that motor traffic in parks would have to be strictly limited:[cxviii] “The interior roadways of the large parks should not be developed beyond limits which would jeopardize the value of the park for recreational use or interfere with the enjoyment of the landscape. Parkways should not be developed to a degree which will make them dangerous for pleasure use or mar the appearance of the parks.”
The Parks Department was happy. It had been for some time concerned about the lack of use of Franklin Park (confusing passive strolling with “doing something”) and it felt that more attractions were needed. And so a zoo and a golf course and a rose garden were built, and then motor roads added to make it easier to drive to the park to get to these attractions. The principal motor vehicle entrance to these attractions in Franklin Park was along the Arborway through Forest Hills.
The public was not happy. Representatives from four Roxbury civic associations met with Park Commissioner James H. Shea in May of 1923 to protest against opening Franklin Park to automobiles. Commissioner Shea was unconvinced and unconcerned. He stated frankly, that “a few motorists requested a short, safe and convenient route to City Point” (the Boston Globe, May 4, 1923).
On February 14, 1914, J. Mercer Seaver, Jacob W. Seaver’s son, sold a two-acre parcel of the family’s Orchardhill estate to Dr. Alonzo Shadman (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 378, fol. 303-308). The land extended down to the Stony Brook channel behind the Seaver block of stores. The land was adjacent to the Minton property and included one of the wood-frame houses Jacob W. Seaver built. The large mansion facing Morton Street was apparently leased to Dr. Shadman at least until 1925. Shadman converted the large old Seaver mansion on Morton Street into the 150-bed Forest Hills Hospital. The other Seaver house facing Orchardhill Road was converted to nurses’ quarters. Little has been found about Dr. Shadman or his hospital, but he was apparently successful. He built a new hospital building at no. 41 Morton Street in 1923. It was a four-story, flat-roofed brick building, 167 feet long, designed by Shepherd and Stearns.[cxix] In 1929 Shadman built a house for himself in a very shady grove behind the hospital at 49 Morton Street (with a driveway off Bremen Terrace). It was designed by John Jay (building permit, Dec. 12, 1929). It is today the Reverend’s house of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Massachusetts Memorial Hospital bought Forest Hills Hospital in December 1946 as a medical facility for private patients.[cxx] In May of 1947 it received permits for extensive improvements, including a new entrance, x-ray rooms, and operating suites. About 1968 it opened as the Washingtonian Hospital for Alcohol Addictions. In 1980 the Washingtonian closed its facility, largely due to community opposition to program expansion plans, and sold the building and land (about two acres) around 1984. It was converted to the Washingtonian Condominiums in 1987 for $924,000, housing 28 apartments. The architects were Eckart Associates.
There is no record of when the two Seaver mansions were torn down; neither building was standing in 1970. More than likely the owner (possibly the Washington Hospital) realized a massive highway interchange was coming to Forest Hills, and decided it was not feasible to hold onto two large, wood-frame buildings in that uncertain era. When the new Forest Hills terminal opened in May 1987, the time was again right for investment, and within six months a condominium cluster of three wood-frame buildings was planned on the property, designed by Eckert and Associates and completed in December 1989 (building permit, Jan. 25, 1988). Three stories high, mostly walk-ups with two townhouses, the buildings sit on about 1/3 of the 1873 Seaver estate.
Orchardhill Road was largely built by Dennis O’Connell in 1928-1929. This street and the short dead-end roads Bremen and Lennoco, were built on a four-acre tract owned by J. Mercer Seaver. Eleven of the seventeen homes were developed and constructed by O’Connell, who lived at 86 Tower Street at the top of the hill. Nine of the O’Connell homes were designed by the architect Harold Duffie.[cxxi] The two men had collaborated as early as 1926 on 204-208 Wachusett Street. Most of the homes are wood-frame with brick veneer. Six are designed as a variation of the Colonial Revival saltbox style, with the higher endwall turned to face the street, and a longer sloping sidewall. This Colonial Revival variation may have been introduced by James G. Hutchinson in 1922, when he designed no. 59 Bourne Street for the Boston Dwellinghouse Company, using the turned-around saltbox style (it is the earliest documented building in that style called by this writer the “Woodbourne saltbox” style). A perfect example is no. 59 Orchardhill Road, built in 1928 (building permit, July 6, 1928). O’Connell built his own home in that style at no. 55, also in 1928. A row of Colonial Revival saltbox-style homes marched up the hillside to Lennoco Road. Number 72 Orchardhill and no. 7 Bremen were built in that style. There is no building permit for no. 7 Bremen, but no. 6 was built by O’Connell in 1928, so it is logical to assume no. 7 was built then too. Number 7 Bremen is a duplicate of no. 59 Orchardhill Road. Duffie designed 62 and 66 Orchardhill Road in hip-roof, flat-front Colonial Revival style, because these were two-family duplex homes. Number 66 was built in 1929.
These were expensive homes. The average construction cost was $6000, suggesting that they were probably sold for $8500. All had garages added. Number 50 Orchardhill Road was designed by Duffie in 1928 as a single-family home for Matthew Killian, the owner of the Forest Hills florist (see previous) at a cost of $7000 (building permit, July 6, 1928).[cxxii]
Bremen Terrace had two homes built by O’Connell in 1928-1929. Number 3-5 was developed by Thomas Lawler as a two-family home designed by Albin Brodin in 1929. Lennoco Road was the last street built. (“Lennoco” is O’Connell spelled backward, a fact this writer learned from Orchardhill resident Trish Allen.) Four homes were built on this street in 1928-1929, mostly a collaboration of developer Thomas Lawler and architect Albin Brodin. All but one home was developed by Lawler (who lived in no. 71 Tower Street, a brand new home that had been completed in 1928).
The finest home in the Orchardhill neighborhood is no. one Lennoco, in the Arts and Crafts style at which Brodin was a master. Completed in 1931, no. one Lennoco is a unique house with a Tudor Revival gable and a ridge beam that seeps down to cover a round-arch garden gate (heavily borrowed from Sir Edwin Lutyens). The architect liked the style so much that he duplicated it at 50 Northbourne Road in 1932. Number one Lennoco may have been influenced by the owner because next-door at no. 5, Brodin designed a restrained, foursquare, hip-roof house in 1932 (the type he designed for himself on Bourne Street).
After most of the homes were completed, Orchardhill Road was built from Morton Street to Lennoco Road and accepted by the street commissioners on September 28, 1930. The last homes built on Orchardhill Road were three small, Cape Cod styles, nos. 29, 33 and 37, all built in 1960 and designed by R. I. Williams (building permit, Apr. 6, 1960).
On December 14, 1958 St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church was dedicated on Orchardhill Road. This was the second St. Andrew’s church in Forest Hills. The first was the Catholic church on Walk Hill Street. The second St. Andrew’s constituted the merger of two Ukrainian congregations who chose Forest Hills to build a new church on their own land. On January 16, 1955 the Ukrainian Church of the Holy Trinity in Boston merged with St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in East Cambridge, to form St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Ukrainians first arrived in Boston between 1898 and 1905, mostly from Galacia in Western Ukraine. In 1914 the Ukrainian Church of the Holy Trinity bought the First Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church at 136 Arlington Street. (The First Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church had been there since 1889.) A committee from the Boston and Cambridge churches agreed to merge and build their own church in 1954. On December 28, 1954 the new St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church bought 30,000 square feet of hillside land from the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital. The parcel cost $1 per square foot and was chosen for two reasons, transportation mainly. The new Casey Overpass allowed for quick crosstown transportation; Washington Street connected to the western suburbs, and the elevated train terminal was within an easy walk. The hillside location also made it possible to site the church on high ground above housetops, bridge and train tracks.
Under the leadership of the Very Rev. John Danylevych (who served from 1952-1968), the merger was completed, land acquired, and on April 24, 1955, groundbreaking took place on the hill once owned by Jacob W. Seaver. At the time of the merger there were two hundred families in the church membership, and from these families a building committee was formed that raised a quarter million dollars to build one of the largest church buildings in Forest Hills. Fundraising included the sale of bricks in the form of key chains (Mayor John B. Hynes bought the first one). The rest of the money was raised in the same way many churches and synagogues were built: rummage sales, bingo games and church suppers; the altar boys had their own fund, and raffle tickets were sold for a new Buick Six, and Ukrainian members of the Boston Bruins contributed.
George Kodak, a Ukrainian architect of Ottawa, Canada was hired on March 31, 1955 in large part because he had experience as a church architect. There was considerable discussion about what the church should look like, and building committee members visited Ukraine to look at churches there. Finally it was determined to base the design on St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev, a Baroque building with corner columns capped with cupolas and majestic double dome in the center. It was built in 1747-1753 and designed by the Imperial Russian architect Francisco Rastrelli.
Kodak took advantage of the Orchardhill elevation and planned a wide platform surmounted by central stairs on which the church would sit like the Kiev church. Also like the Kiev St. Andrew’s, it was built on high ground overlooking rooftops to emphasize its significance. The church was designed for a seating capacity of 250 with full basement. It was designed in a sleek International Style that emphasized the vertical and made the building appear taller. The choice of yellow Roman brick as building material was inspired by St. Andrew’s at Kiev, which is a white church trimmed in gold with green cupolas. The St. Andrew’s Ukrainian cupolas are also painted green. The wide platform church foundation also serves as a promenade for processions around the church during special services, also like the Kiev church. The four corner cupolas represent saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four evangelists. The central dome has a polygonal-shaped structure supporting a second dome, on top of which is the cross of St. Andrew of Kiev, a sunburst design at the intersection of horizontal and vertical bars of the cross.
A landmark now for over half a century, St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church today (2012) has a membership of three hundred families; most of them are from Okovinya Province of Ukraine. The pastor is the Very Reverend Roman Tarnavsky, who took the altar in 2003. He lives in the former Shadman house behind the church. The congregation comes from all over Massachusetts and even New Hampshire and Maine, to worship and connect with families and friends every Sunday, with volunteer day each Tuesday. Services are in Ukrainian and English.[cxxiii]
In the four-acre oval created by Morton Street and the Arborway, another church was built over twenty years earlier. The Swedish Congregational Church broke ground on April 13, 1935 and was completed on October 22, 1936 (building permit, July 26, 1935; see also the Boston Herald of Apr. 14, 1935). Today it is the Covenant Congregational Church. It was designed by Allen, Collins and Willis; Harold B. Willis was the principal architect. It was built in part by Swedish carpenters and masons who were church members. Built on a roughly triangular parcel in Art Moderne style, it is an L-shaped building with bell tower at the center of the nave and church house. A one-story brick schoolhouse was added in 1965. Johnson and Haynes of Pawtucket, R. I. were the architects. One of the most active and involved churches in Forest Hills, it is pastored by Rev. Fred Elliott Hart. It includes the Arbor Ministries which serve monthly dinners to the women at the HopeFound shelter at nearby Shattuck Hospital. It also has an active weekly youth ministry taught by Rev. Christine Tanglof.
On June 7, 1923 Mayor James M. Curley accepted the keys to the new West Roxbury courthouse built on a one-acre triangular lot. Richard Shaw was the architect of this full-blown Georgian Revival judicial chamber, with broad stairs and tall rooftop cupola. Over the entrance is a tablet with broken pediment over the city seal. In 1991 David Manfredi of Elkus-Manfredi architects designed two wings, completed in 1992. The wings are skillfully integrated into the older building, using the same yellow brick; the longer wing faces Morton Street.
Housing was severely acute for returning veterans after WW II, and in response the Boston Housing Authority acquired the three-acre parcel at Morton, Arborway and Forest Hills Street in 1948 for servicemen’s housing. This was arranged under a $20 million bond issue authorized by Chapter 372, Acts of 1946, the State Housing Program for Veterans Housing. The land was taken on July 9, 1948 (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 6445, fol. 122). Arthur Blaisdel was commissioned to design a seven-building development for 120 units, mostly two- and three-bedroom apartments. It was clustered around private ways and interior parking spaces. It was built of brick and limestone and completed on June 12, 1950.[cxxiv] The development was built with the proviso in the legislation that it be sold after five years to a private owner.[cxxv] It was sold on November 30, 1955 to PIK Record Inc., New York City (Suffolk deeds, Lib. 7112, fol. 124). In 1973 it was sold to Arborway Garden Trust for $800,000.
A second housing development on the Arborway opened on April 4, 2003, called Franklin Park Villa, at 131 Morton Street. It was a 61-unit rental development for low-income seniors. This was the site of the Meehan Home built in 1884. In 1932 it became the Franklin Park Golf Club, and then the Heidelberg Restaurant. In April of 1940 the property was bought by the Howard Johnson Company (HoJos), and it built its 28-flavor ice cream emporium in 1941 (William Werner was the architect). Howard Johnson’s sold its building in the late 1980s and after unhappy times as two restaurants, it closed in 1993. The property had long been owned by the Dearborn Realty Trust, the investment arm of Forest Hills Cemetery, as a way to control what was developed at its elegant entrance, as well as for income. The Dearborn Trust leased the (by then) empty and run-down building to Cooperative Services Inc. for fifty years, and in July 2000 the old HoJos was razed. The groundbreaking ceremony for the three-story building was held on August 16, 2001. The $7.9 million senior housing development was financed in part by the federal funding program 202 for senior housing. The Architectural Team served as architect for the project. They designed a building made of wood with brick veneer that twists around the site. It has a conventional hip-roof broken by a row of gable pediments that relieve the size of the building. To add to the harmony of the street created by Franklin Park Villa, Forest Hills Cemetery built a granite entrance sign designed and landscaped by Blair Hines and completed in June 2012.
In 1964 the Deane Monument Company at the corner of Morton Street and Yale Terrace, opposite the old Howard Johnson’s, sold its display yard to the Mutual of Omaha Insurance Corp., which promptly erected a three-story office building. In 2006 this was enlarged by the Bicon Dental Company. At a cost of $1 million, Gary Sandler of Millennium Design added an additional wing, clock tower and Romanesque door, all in Flemish bond brickwork.
The Casey Overpass
Forest Hills is the only neighborhood in Boston with a bridge going over it. As early as 1929, the city council proposed a bridge through Forest Hills that would carry traffic in a tunnel beneath the elevated and the railroad bridge. In 1944, 1947 and 1951, City Councilor Thomas L. McCormack introduced a bill for a Forest Hills bridge. In November 1950 a preliminary report by Hugh Dufill of Dufill Associates made a convincing case that an overpass bridge was feasible. In July of 1951 the Metropolitan District Commission Park Engineering Department announced plans to erect a $2.5 million bridge.[cxxvi]
Construction began in 1952 that required the removal of about two hundred red oak trees planted over a half-century earlier for the parkway. In June of 1952 it was announced that the bridge would be named for Monsignor William J. Casey (1872-1949), founding pastor of St. Andrew’s (Catholic) church and from 1934 until his death pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church. The bridge was opened for travel in September 1953. The iron roadbed platform is supported by twenty enormous T-shaped piers, seven feet thick, built of poured concrete. As it crossed the railroad viaduct at its highest point, Dufill designed five thick U-shaped piers, sixty feet wide. The bridge rises and curves as it follows the original line of the Arborway from South Street to Forest Hills Street. The original travel lanes between Washington Street and Forest Hills Street and between Orchardhill Road and Morton Street were retained; a few original trees were kept on the west side. A rotary was added underneath the bridge for new ramps connecting with South Street to allow the flow of traffic to move in several directions. At Franklin Park the Shea Rotary was enlarged and Forest Hills Street widened, and the park wall moved back up to Williams Street. Forest Hills Street originally curved around the Williams Street foot entrance, which led up to Ellicott Arch. This was taken up and Forest Hills Street was widened and[cxxvii] straightened up the hill. The wall was not rebuilt past Williams Street but was replaced by a chain-link fence. This work was completed in September of 1956. In 1956 the Arborway and Shea Circle were transferred to the Metropolitan District Commission (DCR today), taking the parkway out of City jurisdiction – which built it – and placing it under state jurisdiction.
From Forest Hills Street the Casey Overpass rises 790 feet before leveling off for 380 feet, and descends 480 feet to the Arnold Arboretum. To allow for an inbound ramp, the original slope of the Arborway against Hampstead Road was sliced off, and a granite retaining wall built. The Arborway was widened and raised in grade between the Jamaica Plain and Forest Hills gates of the Arboretum.
As this is written in the summer of 2012, plans have been proposed to remove the outdated Casey Overpass and replace it with a seven-lane, at-grade parkway. The plans also call for the elimination of Shea Circle at Franklin Park, to be replaced by a square intersection. A similar square intersection is proposed for the South Street junction with the Arborway.
I-95 and The Transformation of Forest Hills
The I-95 story has entered into Boston mythology as half-fact and half-fiction. It was the greatest saga in the history of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury although Roxbury was impacted the most, because the highway coincided with the Madison Park Urban Renewal Project. In one enormous swoop the highway obliterated the Forest Hills viaduct and the elevated rapid-transit line and terminal that had defined Forest Hills for over eighty years. In this planned extension of I-95, was both the apotheosis of the automobile and its repudiation: “People Before Highways.” In the end Forest Hills was unrecognizable, as was Jackson Square and Roxbury Crossing (which was literally erased). But Forest Hills did not suffer the displacement of these two neighborhoods.
Hundreds of families lost their homes in Jamaica Plain. The worst demolition was between Centre Street and Green Street along Lamartine Street. Forest Hills escaped that: Arborway Court and the Morton Block were cleared, but demolition came to a halt at Forest Hills, because in 1969 people stood up and stopped I-95 at the moment when the wreckers were bearing down on Hyde Park Avenue.
The proposed I-95 extension was unnecessary and unconscionable, designed by madmen in planning offices; so much of it is tragic, yet much of it was inevitable too. First and foremost, people were leaving the older city neighborhoods. Second, they loved their cars and finally, they loved shopping malls. The American Legion shopping center at 666 American Legion Highway, opened in September of 1956. The first stores were Zayres, Sherbros Department Store, Woolworth’s and Anderson Little Clothing. The first McDonald’s in Boston opened at the far end of the mall in 1965. The new mall was built on a divided roadway built in 1931, custom-made for the automobile. The shopping mall with its variety of stores for one-stop shopping also had the crown jewel – a large parking lot. American Legion Stores marked the end of Morton’s Market and First National stores at Forest Hills (if they had not already closed). Without conclusive evidence it is nevertheless safe to say that the Morton Block was doomed anyway; it was too centrally located in the Square not to be a parking lot for the Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street merchants.
In 1962 the State Department of Public Works (DPW) determined that the route for I-95 would follow the old Boston and Providence Railroad right-of-way, after coming off Rt. 128 and plowing through Fowl Meadow in Dedham/Hyde Park at the foot of the Blue Hills. It would be a ten-mile long, 400-foot-wide, elevated-platform highway going through Cleary Square (in Hyde Park) to an interchange at Columbus Avenue and Ruggles Street. Traffic would be moved through four, twelve-foot-wide lanes in each direction. In the center would be a fifty-foot median for the replaced Orange Line. Suburban motorists would be able to drive unimpeded on an elevated highway over a thousand homes from Readville to Lower Roxbury.[cxxviii]
After the 1962 decision the State DPW began to map out and assemble the necessary land. Discussions with Jamaica Plain property owners (most of whom lived outside the community) began in 1966 and 1967. It could be said that demolition and relocation began then, as property owners sold or abandoned buildings and renters and homeowners moved away ahead of the bulldozers. Owners who remained had no incentive to renovate or improve, and as in the case of 24-36 Hyde Park Avenue, found it cheaper to tear down rather than pay the property taxes. Urban blight followed that 1962 decision that has taken fifty years to combat.
Two miles of the 4.7-mile I-95 route proposed through the city of Boston would cut into Jamaica Plain. The highway right-of-way was from 300 to 400 feet wide with eight travel lanes. Two interchanges were planned in Jamaica Plain, one at Forest Hills and the other at Jackson Square, and there would only be two Orange Line stations, one at each interchange.
At Forest Hills the roads would be at three levels. The Casey Overpass would pass over the ribbon of roads. An iron viaduct carrying the expressway would be the second level below the Casey. This viaduct with north/south ramps would be built of steel. The rest of the highway would rise up on an earth berm. Below the viaduct at grade would be a huge traffic rotary for traffic coming from South Street, Morton Street, Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street.
The north and southbound ramps would pass in the middle of the viaduct, parallel with the Orange Line. The southbound exit would go behind Fordham Court to St. Mark’s Street and curve around to South Street. The northbound ramp would exit at Burnett Street. To construct this viaduct and interchange would require the removal of every building north of Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street beyond Walk Hill Street[cxxix] (Impact of the Proposed Southwest Corridor Project on Jamaica Plain, Jan. 1968). At the time of the Jamaica Plain report (researched and written in the fall if 1967), the highway plans were inchoate; in fact that was one of the concerns of the report. It noted for example that negotiations with the HYNH+H RR were still incomplete. Also unclear was the connection to the at-grade busways from the new Orange Line; presumably this would have been by an overpass and elevators. The report also noted that each new bridge over neighborhood streets would be 200 wide under the roadway, four times wider than the 1896 bridges – a long, dark walk as the paper stated.
Two other issues raised by the Report were:
1. Difficulty in getting mortgages, insurance and improvement loans for properties in or near the expressway path [which] “has hastened the deterioration of the residential area.”
2. “Boston’s shortage of low and moderate income housing will mean that residents displaced by the highway will have great difficulty finding comparable relocation housing at rents or home prices they can afford.”
The Report said that 400 Jamaica Plain families would be displaced for highway land-takings (out of a total in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury of 735 families affected). One hundred and nine of those 400 were elderly families or seniors living alone. Twenty percent lived below the poverty line of that day. The expressway would impact the lives of 80,000 people who lived near the highway route in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The report added that forty businesses would be displaced in Jamaica Plain, including every business in Forest Hills Square plus Hughes Oil and the Gulf Oil yards to Burnett Street. In the end, by the close of 1969, the Mass. DPW had demolished 645 buildings and cleared between 110 and 130 acres of land in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.
In 1968, relocation notices were sent from the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which was contracted to manage the task of finding replacement housing for families and new sites for businesses. The Jamaica Plain Citizen of July 13, 1968 ran a relocation fact sheet. The BRA (which set up a Jamaica Plain site office) arrived in the Lamartine Street neighborhood in the spring of 1968; demolition of that neighborhood began over the summer of 1968.
In April of 1968, City Councilor Thomas I. Atkins convened a public meeting at the Curley School during which Jamaica Plain residents demanded a sunken highway (Boston Globe, Apr. 7, 1968). This was only the beginning. In 1969 and 1970 groups from Cambridge to Milton were demanding that I-95 be stopped. In February of 1970 Representative Michael Dukakis introduced a bill calling for a moratorium on highway construction. On February 10, 1970 Governor Francis W. Sargent toured the I-95 corridor – which was by then nothing but a flat, empty, windswept wasteland. On February 11, 1970 Governor Sargent went on television to announce a moratorium on highway construction. He ordered a freeze on property-takings along the corridor, and called for a new federal policy that would allow greater flexibility for states using highway funds.[cxxx]
In 1972 Governor Sargent cancelled the I-95 extension. Forest Hills was spared, and so was Hyde Park, but a wasteland remained from Green Street to Warwick Street. On July 23, 1973, speaking at a press conference, Governor Sargent said that the five-mile strip of Boston land intended for the interstate highway was “now a savage wasteland, but we will turn it into a real asset.” He named a 28-year-old architect and city planner Anthony Pangaro to be the coordinator of southwest transportation and land use development (Boston Globe, July 24, 1973). Pangaro was a New Jersey native who had worked for eighteen months in 1969-1970 at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
According to Sargent, “the possibilities in the Southwest Corridor surpass the imagination.” A large part of the success of the Southwest Corridor Project (SWCP, with which this writer was closely involved for twelve years) had to do with the seven years that Tony Pangaro served as SWC Development Coordinator. He resigned in the fall of 1980 as construction got underway. Governor Michael Dukakis made him SWC Project Manager and put him under the Secretary of Transportation Frederick Salvucci, about 1975. In that year, after intense lobbying by Senator Edward W. Brooke and Congressman John J. (Joe) Moakley, federal highway funds were authorized to be transferred for public transportation.
The Southwest Corridor Project began in 1978 when $750 million from the Highway Trust Fund was moved to the Urban Mass Transit Administration to reclaim 120 acres of land owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Between 1975 and 1980 Pangaro worked at the task of coordinating various community groups and interests from the South End to Forest Hills into a cohesive community process, with the umbrella group the Southwest Corridor Coalition. Pangaro and this community group divided the Southwest Corridor into three design-and-construction sections, each with its own paid professional staffer.
As early as the 1968 Jamaica Plain Report,[cxxxi] residents had called for a depressed highway. Out of this logically evolved the concept of a depressed transit line, but with the revolutionary idea of covering portions with a tree-lined park. From this consensus came the plan of a rapid-transit commuter-rail corridor depressed in boat deck twenty feet below grade, 4.7 miles long, running from Dartmouth Street to Forest Hills. Sections would be covered with a parkland deck of walkways, trees, gardens, lawns and recreation areas. The park would total 52 acres.
On Tuesday, December 4, 1979, Governor Edward King presided over the groundbreaking for the new $669 million Orange Line at a ceremony held at Lamartine and Centre streets. The old granite railroad walls from Ruggles Street to Boylston Street were gone by June of 1980.[cxxxii] The Orange Line opened on May 2, 1987. Its final cost was $743 million, and at the time it was the largest public works project in the state’s history. It was the largest construction project ever seen in Jamaica Plain. Forest Hills was accustomed to great change, but the vast topographic transformation between 1983 and 1989 changed the face of Forest Hills completely.
The depressed Orange Line duplicated every station in Jamaica Plain on the old B+P RR, with the exception of Heath Street, which was moved and changed to Jackson Square. In Jamaica Plain those stations would be Stony Brook (in place of Boylston Station), Green Street (in place of Jamaica Plain Station) and Forest Hills.
Construction began at Forest Hills on November 12, 1983 when the massive Forest Hills viaduct was demolished by a controlled explosion which loosened the great granite piers and arches for easier removal. (The iron Walk Hill Street bridge had been removed in July-Aug. 1980.) A great deal of the granite was trucked to Franklin Park where it was used in a running block wall landscaped by V. Michael Weinmayr, which stretched from Refectory Hill to Schoolmaster Hill, and at the Valley Gates. This work was completed in 1984.
By the mid-1970s, the Pandora’s Box opened in 1924 with the introduction of automobiles into Franklin Park, had wreaked havoc on the landscape and was a severe public safety problem in Franklin Park. In his 1978 Master Plan for Franklin Park, Michael Weinmayr recommended a low stone wall on the park’s interior roadsides, dotted with swing gates to confine vehicles to the Circuit Drive. Weinmayr first used this design in Phase I (1981) of the Franklin Park improvement, around the Wilderness and Scarborough Pond. This stone was bought. In the second phase three years later, the reuse of the donated Forest Hills bridge stone completely solved that problem by preserving the golf links, Schoolmaster Hill and especially the Playstead. The stone was donated at the request of the Franklin Park Coalition. That saved the SWC Project money because of the short turnaround trips to remove tons of blocks off site. Also at the request of the Coalition, more blocks were trucked to Franklin Field to be used for the same purpose on the playground borders at Talbot Avenue and Westview Street.
The gravel from the embankment between Ruggles Street and Forest Hills was trucked to many landfills, but some of it was also reused at the Arnold Arboretum. In 1978, when the initial plan for the new Forest Hills premiered, the Arnold Arboretum anticipated that more visitors would come from the new Orange Line terminal. It accordingly planned for a new entrance through Bussey Brook meadow that would connect the station with a possible new visitors’ center. The SWC Project Manager Anthony Pangaro supported the Arboretum and in the design of New Washington Street, an entrance-way was included opposite the busway.
In 1985, at the request of the Boston Natural Areas Fund (today the Boston Natural Areas Network), gravel from the Forest Hills viaduct was trucked over and a new lane-bed was laid down and raised just above flood plain through the Bussey Brook meadow, skirting the edge of the wetland. John Frey, landscape architect for the Forest Hills Station, helped with the grading specifications and dimensions. New Washington Street was raised higher, in part to accommodate the larger culvert for Bussey Brook, and also to raise it above the depressed Needham-branch train tracks and adjacent storage yard for out-of-service Orange Line cars. After years of effort by the Arboretum Park Conservancy, led by its director the late John Blackwell, this rough lane was relandscaped as a foot entrance to the South Street Gate from Forest Hills in 2001. A new gate of Chelmsford granite was built opposite Forest Hills Station, designed to replace the old chain-link fence. The landscape architects were Brown, Richardson and Rowe. It was dedicated on May 4, 2002, as the Blackwell Footpath.[cxxxiii]
As early as 1972, automobile abuse in the Arnold Arboretum was creating a public safety problem, exactly as at Franklin Park, and also just as in the latter, the Boston police would not enforce park regulations against off-road motor vehicles. The Arboretum shut its gates and for a time hired private security. The worst problems were at Peters Hill, where throughout the 1970s joy riders in stolen cars would drive up on the railroad bed to trash and burn vehicles in the Arboretum, near Bussey Bridge. In 1985, at the request of the Arnold Arboretum Director Peter Ashton, the SWC Project authorized DeMatteo Construction – which had been awarded the bridge demolition contract – to truck gravel from the Forest Hills viaduct and build a berm ten feet above the railroad property, from Bussey Bridge to the Arboretum boundary near Arborbough Road. Under the direction of Arboretum arborist Gary Koller this berm was sodded, seeded and planted.
Orange line elevated service was uninterrupted throughout the years of work at Forest Hills, because the station and roadwork were designed in two sections. The rapid transit/commuter rail headhouse and upper busway were built first over the old B+P RR right-of-way. When they were completed and opened for service, the 1909 terminal and connecting elevated track were razed, and the lower Hyde Park Avenue busway built.
On November 17, 1983 bids were invited to build the new Forest Hills Station, railroad platforms and busway. Groundbreaking for the $38 million station was held on June 1, 1984. The architects of the new Forest Hills terminal were Cambridge Seven Associates, commissioned in 1977. Their first scheme was completed in 1978 and substantially revised in 1982. Charles Redmon was the principal architect. Essentially the architects put a station and busway on top of a 1000-foot-long boat deck. Built of glass and tubular steel, the station is 100 feet long and 250 feet wide, with a 130-foot-tall clock tower. The signature clock tower, now after a quarter century a Forest Hills landmark, cost $120,000 and was made by the Electric Time Company of Natick. It was intended to duplicate the clock towers on 19th-century railroad terminals, such as the one at Park Square for the Boston and Providence Railroad. The four faces are fifteen feet in diameter and the hands are six feet and five feet long.[cxxxiv]
The station headhouse, Washington Street busway, and the New Washington Street parkland and streetcar transfer building were built over a concrete poured-in-place boat, 20 to 24 feet deep; the commuter rail tracks are set deeper. The boat deck at the south end rests on a new and much larger Stony Brook culvert sunk even deeper. The station is cruciform in shape, with the clock tower at the center of intersecting gables thirty feet long. The cruciform plan makes for two pedestrian flows from train to bus, and from bus to exits under the clock tower. The space is flooded with natural light, provided by sheets of glass and reflecting tubular steel. A four-face clock is suspended in the center of the lobby. The headhouse is connected to the Washington Street busway by a long cantilevered canopy. The gable modules on the busways and the headhouse are a signature element in the 1982 revised station design. The 1978 plan showed a flat roof, not unlike the 1909 terminal. In 1982 the architects picked up on the steep gable roofs that dotted the hillside streets of Tower, Woodlawn and Weld Hill, and adapted this as a motif for the new station. Adding to the brightness of the station, on December 11, 1989 artist Dan George installed nine aluminum polychrome sculptures in the shape and color of park leaves. These were attached to the west-side concrete support pillars.
The opening day ceremony for Forest Hills Terminal was held on May 2, 1987 and the whole new Orange Line was opened. Over 700 community residents, Southwest Corridor Coalition advocates (this writer and his wife included), Congressman Joe Moakley, Governor Michael Dukakis, Mayor Raymond Flynn, MBTA general manager James F. O’Leary, the architect Charles Redmon and others jammed the lobby of the terminal to congratulate each other on a job well done. When Governor Dukakis cut the orange ribbon, everyone rushed for the stairs to take the trains into the other new stations.
The first elevated train out of the new terminal left at 5:16 a.m. Monday morning, May 4, 1987. But there was still two more years of work to transform Forest Hills. Demolition of the elevated tracks at Forest Hills began in August of 1987; by October work had reached McBride Street. By the end of 1989 the elevated structure was gone. The demolition of the 1909 terminal began with site preparation on November 12, 1987, and the concrete wall was knocked in at the Walk Hill Street end in January of 1988. By March the structure was gone. A covered busway 125 feet long, on Hyde Park Avenue, was attached to the headhouse and built over concrete-and-brick stairs that led from the busway to the lobby. This was completed in August of 1989. The Ukraine Way/MBTA parking lot – on the site of Morton’s Market, the Tollgate Inn, and Forest Hills Hotel – was built and landscaped with granite block walls and trees in the summer of 1989. This is the only area along the Orange Line where the boat-deck wall is exposed, because of the higher elevation of Washington Street. For this reason the wall is faced in brick and covered with vines, which (over the past 25 years) have created a green wall in summertime.
At the end of July 1989 the plaza with raised planting beds was built at 3896–3702 Washington Street, and the block wall built along the old Ramsdell parking lot. In this same month, streetcar tracks were laid down under the Casey Overpass and the east plaza of the terminal, near the vent stack and the brick shed-roof exit. This was a doomed effort from the beginning, as the MBTA had “temporarily” discontinued the Arborway trains in December 1985. In 2008 “temporary” became permanent.
The landscape of Forest Hills Station was designed and coordinated by John Frey of the firm Mason and Frey, the landscape architects for all the SWC parkland in Jamaica Plain. The centerpiece is a large brick plaza rimmed with grass lawns and dotted with shade trees at the east end of the terminal that faces the parkland. The trees frame the steep gable-roof terminal entrance. An elegant flight of granite stairs leads from the plaza to the busway. Some of this work had been graded, seeded, planted and completed in 1987; it was all completed in 1989 from New Washington Street to Ukraine Way. Frey used granite from the old causeway viaduct as boundary walls for all his Jamaica Plain landscaping. At Forest Hills, granite-block walls frame the entire transit complex; some (along Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street) were backfilled and used to provide ample soil for shade trees.
The east entrance plaza was soon changed into an ad hoc driveway and parking lot by the cars of MBTA personnel, MBTA police and station merchants. The automobile continues to be king at Forest Hills.
The elevated platform tracks, repair shop and brick walls along Hyde Park Avenue were removed beginning in 1984 as far as Tollgate Way. New Orange Line repair shops had opened at Wellington Circle in Medford in 1983 (the Orange Line was extended from Charlestown to Malden in 1975–1977). The old track yard was graded over and landscaped with sloping lawn, shrubs and shade trees, especially a summertime fragrant line of linden trees.[cxxxv] Hyde Park Avenue was straightened and widened from Walk Hill Street to Morton Street, with street trees and new sidewalks. The Seaver storefronts have been enhanced by a wide plaza with raised planting beds.
Washington Street was raised about eight to ten feet to accommodate the grade change through Forest Hills, in part to maintain the same elevation of that section called New Washington Street which parallels the terminal plaza and parkland. This grade change was to accommodate commuter trains. It will be recalled that there was a steep downslope at this point, as the original Arborway went under the Forest Hills viaduct; now the grade was the same as that at South Street, and the Casey Overpass ramps were raised in grade to meet South Street.
The most dramatic change was at Asticou Road. Here a new straight, level road was built where St. Ann Street once sloped to go under the stone causeway. For all intents and purposes it is a continuation of South Street, except that South Street comes out at a junction opposite the bus exit. The grade here is raised to level the roadbed but also to go over the Needham Branch railroad, which was placed in a boat deck about 500 feet long. A larger Bussey Brook culvert was built under the trackbed. The Needham branch right-of-way was widened about forty feet as a siding for out-of-service Orange Line cars. A long and steep earth berm separates this depressed trackbed from the Bussey Brook meadow, and slopes down to the Blackwell Footpath gate.
By the end of 1990 Forest Hills had been transfigured. It had been redesigned as essentially two 60-foot-wide parallel roads, separated by a 1000-foot-long train-and-bus terminal. Two connecting roads, Ukraine Way and New Washington Street, created a new Forest Hills Square, in which all modes of transit were centered: bus, train, commuter rail, taxi and automobile. All commerce and residential use are on one side only. Forest Hills had never been more organized and rationalized in two centuries. It was open, it was bright, it was green and shady, and almost sleek.
FOREST HILLS has never been able to master its own destiny. Transportation requirements of the city and region as a whole have transformed and remade Forest Hills since the railroad arrived in 1834. However, the railroad, the streetcar and the elevated trains were at least mass transportation – public transportation. Since the Casey Overpass opened and especially since the I-95 project, it has been the private automobile that has transformed Forest Hills. People wanted an easy way to go somewhere else. As this is written in the summer of 2012, more change is coming again to rearrange Forest Hills, less than a quarter century after Forest Hills was rebuilt in 1990. Yet this change was inevitable.
In March of 2012 the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it would demolish the Casey Overpass, which had deteriorated to the point of being unsafe. The DOT had two choices that it studied for many months, with the advice and opinions of many community residents: to rebuild a new bridge or rebuild the old parkway. For a variety of reasons the decision was made to replace the overpass with a six- or seven-lane surface highway at a cost of $53 million. It would include four major transportation changes to Forest Hills:
1. Redesign of the Washington-Morton intersection.
2. Redesign of the Arborway-South Street intersection.
3. New exit headhouse and vent stack and new parks at New Washington Street and the terminal plaza.
4. New busway at Washington Street and Asticou Road.
In addition there would be new parkland landscaped on the new surface roads, much like the old Arborway, and it will change Shea Circle. The new parkway will add far more light and more green and shade to Forest Hills, but the automobile is still king of Tollgate.
Richard Heath, July 18, 2012
Copyright © Richard Heath, 2012
All rights reserved.
Click here for a gallery of images that accompany this article ___________________________________________________________________________________________
[i]Into the 19th century. The Canterbury line was Harvard Street, called Back Street for many years because it was the back of both Roxbury and Dorchester.
[ii]Stephen’s father William Gordon Weld married Hannah Minot (whose uncle was the historian George Richards Minot) in 1798, thus joining two great families of Roxbury and Dorchester. The Minot family subsequently owned what is today the Woodbourne neighborhood. For the Weld family see Geneology of the Weld Family, En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/weld/family. Also Lambert, Craig, The Seven Weld Brothers of Harvard Yard, iuniverse, 2004.
[iii]The Letters of Margaret Fuller, Vol I, ed. by Robert Hudspeth (Cornel University Press, Ithaca NY, 1983).
[iv]A bronze plaque commemorates Ralph Waldo Emerson on Schoolmaster Hill in Franklin Park, which was named after Emerson’s profession when he lived there (he never taught school there).
[v]An outing she seemed to regret; even today it is a long walk from Forest Hills to Jamaica Pond. Dr. Christopher Weld was Stephen M. Weld’s brother. Dr. Weld bought the house Fuller lived in from his brother on Oct. 6, 1840 (Norfolk deeds, Lib. 129, fol. 30).
[vi]Matteson, John, The Lives of Margaret Fuller (W.W. Norton, New York, 2012).
[vii]Franklin Weld died on Oct. 27, 1872. Files of Forest Hills Cemetery.
[viii]Stephen M. and Christopher were William Fletcher Weld’s brothers. W. F. Weld was the grandfather of Mary Bryant Pratt, who with her husband Charles Sprague built the Faulkner Farm country house in 1899, more commonly known as the Brandegee estate after Mary’s second husband, Edward D. Brandegee. In 1841 W. F. Weld purchased a hilltop home in Brookline where he lived for the rest of his life. It is today Larz Anderson Park, after his second granddaughter Isabel Perkins Anderson (Mrs. Larz Anderson).
[ix]For the Seaver genealogy see Family Pursuit, Community Family Tree, http://www.familypursuit.com/genealogy/seaver_jacob/jacob-weld-seaver.
[x]Courtesy of Mark Bulger.
[xi]Wood. Frederick J., The Turnpikes of New England (Marshall James & Co., Boston, 1909), p. 53.
[xii]Papers of the Norfolk & Bristol Turnplike Corp., Dedham Historical Society, boxes 6, 7, 8. The other incorporators were John Brown of Providence; from Boston, Thomas Amory, Samuel Eliot and Samuel Parkman (the grandfather of the historian Francis Parkman). One of the investors was Benjamin Bussey, whose estate overlooked the Tollgate at Forest Hills.
[xiii]In June 1874 the entire length of the turnpike was named Washington Street after Jamaica Plain had been annexed to Boston.
[xiv]A name invented for this paper.
[xv]Wood, Turnpikes of New England, p. 61.
[xvi]The coach line probably terminated at the Tremont House, opened in 1830 as Boston’s premier hotel. The best New York-to-Providence steamships were operated by Cornelius Vanderbilt of Staten Island.
[xvii]Stephen M. Weld’s younger brother. He lived on a large estate at 177-179 Forest Hills St.
[xviii]1845-1917. Peabody designed the terminal when he was 28 years old. He was one of America’s most distinguished architects. We will meet Robert S. Peabody later when the elevated terminal at Forest Hills is built. The terminal was completed in 1873, replaced by South Station in 1898. Peabody lived to see the train shed turned into an auto parking garage in 1902 and ultimately its destruction by fire in 1909.
[xix] A photograph of this early engine, “The Atlantic,” built in 1832 at Pennsylvania, is illustrated in Mike’s Railway History, http://mikes.railhistory.railfan.net/. Accessed Mar. 30, 2012. Thanks to Mark Bulger for locating this photograph.
[xx]Most of the information on the B+P RR was provided by Thomas J. Humphrey, MassBay Railroad Enthusiasts, in a long letter to the author dated April 7, 2012.
[xxi]Thanks to Mark Bulger for finding this article.
[xxii]Thanks to Mark Bulger who made an enlargement of this section of the map.
[xxiii]Most of the information in this section on the street railway is based on Bower, Beth Anne, Woodard Openo, et al, The Metropolitan Street Railway Company Complex at Roxbury Crossing (MBTA/Kaiser Engineering, Boston, Mass., Jan. 1986).
[xxiv]Heath, Richard The Architectural History of Egleston Square, May 2003; http://jphs.squarespace.com/locales/2005/9/30/egleston-square-by-richard-heath.html.
[xxv]Von Hoffman, Alex, Local Attachments (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, 1994), p. 111. To increase ridership on the Centre Street-to-Dudley Square line, Weld urged that Jamaica Pond be preserved as a public park. He advertised ice skating at the Pond on the streetcars (Von Hoffman).
[xxvi]Which the station was still called, although (as we will see later) Forest Hills had replaced that name by the 1850s.
[xxvii]Boston Globe, Aug. 28, 1890, “Electrics Supercede Horsecars Tuesday.”
[xxviii]Boston Globe, Jan. 14, 1901.
[xxix]Since the mid-17th century, Heath Street was the only connection from Centre Street (at present-day Jackson Square) below Parker Hill to the Brookline line; after the 1851 succession, it was the approximate line between West Roxbury and Roxbury. In 1901 the city street commissioners authorized the construction of a new road from Centre Street to Heath Street, which paralleled the Jamaicaway (and allowed for residential and institutional expansion of that end of Jamaica Plain). Thanks to Mark Bulger for this information in his blog Remember Jamaica Plain?, Jan. 8, 2002.
[xxx]Just like the streetcars today, the trains had motorized cars at either end, and after taking on passengers at Forest Hills, motormen would switch to the rear car for the return trip.
[xxxi]The center of the Eustis Street burial ground is the Ministers’ Tomb, where John Eliot was buried with his wife and other pastors who followed him at Roxbury First Church. Eliot’s colleague and neighbor was Rev. Thomas Weld. They lived a block away from each other in houses opposite the present-day Citizens Bank building. Weld was excommunicated by the Anglican Archbishop and he fled to Roxbury. He and Rev. Eliot laid the foundations of Puritan ideology in Roxbury First Church for nine years. In 1641 Weld returned to England as an emissary of Gov. John Winthrop and never returned. Eliot bought Weld’s library of 197 books, which became the basis of the Roxbury Latin School library. Rev Eliot served Roxbury First Church – and Roxbury – until his death in 1690.
[xxxii]For the history of Forest Hills Cemetery, see the National Register form, July, 2004, by Shary Page Berg, http://archive.org/stream/forest_hills_cemetery/forest-hills - page/n0/mode/1up. Also Wilson, Susan, Garden of Memories: A Guide to Forest Hills Cemetery (Forest Hills Educational Trust, Jamaica Plain, 1998).
[xxxiii]Lake Hibiscus was completed in 1861.
[xxxiv]The first burials at Forest Hills were on this slope in July, 1848 when Dearborn had the remains of his mother and father removed from Mt Auburn.
[xxxv]Dearborn admired the lines of John Milton from Paradise Lost (1667), Book XI, Line 323: “In arched walks of twilight groves/ So many grateful alters I would rear in memory…”
[xxxvi]An interesting, busy and eclectic architect, Preston also designed the bridge in the Public Garden, a miniature suspension span, in 1867 when he was twenty eight.
[xxxvii]Homans, Isaac Smith, “Roxbury,”part 2 in Sketches of Boston Past and Present, and Some Few Places in the Vicinity (Boston, Phillips Samson and Co., 1851). Homans was careful to note that the Field of Machpelah is made “available for free to persons unable to afford the sixty dollar lots.” Quoted in Hammerly, p. 32.
[xxxviii]The 1859 Walling Map of Roxbury shows the estate of S. W. Bodman on South Street, above the railroad station labeled “Forest Hill.” There was a house on this site as early as 1832. There is some indication that the Bodman House was built in 1852. The land today is a vacant city-owned parcel adjacent to Martinwood Road.
[xxxix]Forest Hills Cemetery, files of Franklin Weld. Thanks to former staff member Elise Ciregna for all her help.
[xl]Twenty-eight headstones in a modern style are alike suggesting that a uniform design was selected about 1950. My thanks to Elise Cirgna and Sally Alves for help in research at Forest Hills Cemetery. Ms. Alves helped me understand that Stephen Minot Weld is not buried at Forest Hills but more likely in the Weld tomb at First Church at Jamaica Plain. Captain Joseph Weld (1590-1646) is at First Church burial ground, probably moved from Eustis Street.
[xli]Bussey Institute Collection, 1872-2001 Guide, Lisa Pearson, K. Hinckley and Sheila Connor, 2001, 2012. Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, 2012. Thanks to former Arboretum librarian Sheila Connor for all of her help: http://arboretum.harvard.edu/wpcontent/uploads/VI_BI_2012.pdf
[xlii]“Notes on the Early Uses of Land Now in the Arnold Arboretum,” Hugh M. Raup, Arnold Arboretum, Journal of Popular Information, Dec. 23, 1935.
[xliii]Cuttings from these original lilacs were propagated in the Arboretum’s Centre Street greenhouses and about 1997 planted in a hedge on a slope of Bussey Hill, above where his house stood.
[xliv]Wilson, Mary Jane, Master of Woodland Hill: Benjamin Bussey of Boston, Arnold Arboretum publication, Boston, 2006. Also, Records of Benjamin Bussey Collection, Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, processed by Lisa Pearson, May, 2001: Bussey, Benjamin, 1757-18#ABE5E0. Dedham Historical Register, Vol. X, No. 3, July 1899, includes a memoir by Bussey. He stated that he began work as a silversmith in April 1788, and remained in that craft for about 13 years. He made most of his income selling spurs and spoons. His house on Summer Street included a stable on Arch St. Gilbert Stuart painted his portrait in 1809 which has hung at University Hall at Harvard since 1895. It is reprinted in the Register: Dedham historical regist#ABEB67.
[xlv]See Master of Woodland Hill. Today, the First Church of Jamaica Plain. The tomb is unmarked; it is number two on the back boundary abutting the Eliot School.
[xlvi]Wulf, Andrea, Founding Gardeners, Knopff, New York, 2011.
[xlvii]Bussey Institute Collections. Also, “Harvard Making Farmers,” Boston Globe, Sep. 17, 1899: http://proxy.bostonathenaeum.org:2165/hnpnewyorkbostonglobe/docview/499193031/136028396841517FE5B/56?accountid=35416
[xlviii]In 1922 the Arboretum built the brick house on land it owned at 380 South Street, for the home of the assistant director Ernest H Wilson. Designed by Little and Wilson, it is arguably the narrowest house in Boston. Thanks to Sheila Connor for providing the name of the architect.
[xlix]The State Labs were incorporated into the University of Massachusetts – originally the Agricultural College – in 1997.
[l]Two brief biographies of Charles Sprague Sargent are: “The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Charles Sprague Sargent,” Arnoldia, Apr. 24, 1941, and“Biographical Portrait: Charles Sprague Sargent,” by Karen Hovde, Forest History Today, spring 2002.
[li]Established in 1792 and dedicated to increase the diversity of fruit, vegetables and livestock in New England. One of its first members was President John Adams.
[lii]This last was in large part due to the advocacy of Roxbury alderman Hugh O’Brien, chairman of the Special Committee on the Subject of Parks for Boston. Released on May 17, 1877: “The West Roxbury Park,” it said in part using the original name, “has all the variety of wood and meadow, hill and valley to make it a resort for thousands.”
[liii]Geary, Sheila Connor, and B. June Hutchinson, The Original Design of the Arnold Arboretum: A Chronology. Typescript, Library of the Arnold Arboretum, April, 1981. Hay, Ida, Science in the Pleasure Ground, A History of the Arnold Arboretum, Northeastern University Press, 1995., esp. pp. 79-89.
[liv]Olmsted in Notes on the Plan of Franklin Park (1885), wrote that the Boylston Station would be the rail connection to the Playstead. Apparently land could not be acquired to build the connection from Boylston and Washington over what is today the cul-de-sac Chilcott Place. Glen Road was already built. When the new Green Street station was opened in 1987 signs were added at the request of the Franklin Park Coalition pointing the way to Franklin Park.
[lv]That name was adapted in 1892 for that section of the parkway 3.4 miles long from Prince Street to Franklin Park.
[lvi]As this is written in June of 2012, Forest Hills Cemetery is completing the erection of acorn- style lamps on the approach road to the Cemetery gate. The road had never been lighted, and the lights ares similar to the Arborway lights.
[lvii]The City of Boston was very proud of the park system. On Dec. 3, 1895 the Boston Globe praised Mayor Nathan Matthews for his enthusiasm and leadership in completing the park system. The Globe called the Forest Hills Entrance bridge “the finest of any the park commission has attempted.” It went on to say that, “Hardly a day goes by that the mayor does not mount his horse and cantor over the bridle paths of the great park system funded under a democratic administration by democrats.” Not everyone was pleased. There is some evidence that Jacob W. Seaver was not too happy about the parkway at the foot of his house slicing his property in half. He retired most of the year to his summer home in Duxbury after 1895.
[lviii]By the mid-1890s this was now the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, Old Colony Division. For the sake of brevity and consistency we will continue to call it the Boston and Providence RR.
[lix]There is almost no scholarship on this great bridge, as well as the other bridges of the 1895-1896 B+P RR causeway project. The best article is the Boston Globe of May 10, 1897, p. 5, “Under Arches.” It includes a very nice line drawing of the bridge. Also the Boston Globe, Aug. 20, 1896, p. 7: “On Elevated Tracks.” My great thanks to Mark Bulger for locating these very important contemporary articles. The bridge replaced a large wholesale and perhaps retail greenhouse business which was built (more than likely) to serve the cemeteries.
[lx]Boston Globe, Feb. 17 and Mar. 10, 1890. Thanks to Mark Bulger for finding the Mar. 10 article. Councilman Kinney lived at 174 Ward Street. Senator Coffin lived at 81 Dartmouth Street and was a member of the Senate Railroad Committee.
[lxi]Thanks to Mark Bulger for finding this news story.
[lxii]We will learn more about Thomas Minton in the next chapter.
[lxiii]Boston Globe, July 7, 1893. The best contemporary descriptive stories on raising the elevated tracks are in the Boston Globe of Aug. 20, 1896 and particularly the Boston Herald of Mar. 22, 1896. Thanks to Mark Bulger for finding the very informative Aug. 20, 1896 Boston Globe story.
[lxiv]Portions of this slope can still be seen along Amory Street.
[lxv]The grade here was similar to Massachusetts Avenue where the railroad was five feet high and rose gently to cross the Ruggles Street bridge, a thirteen foot-high double-span steel bridge with a granite support pier.
[lxvi]The Thomas J. Dodd Archives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut has drawings of Forest Hills. station: http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/nhrr_stations/MSS19910138.html. I’m grateful to Ms. Laura Smith, Curator of Railroad Collections, for providing me with digital copies of a site plan and elevations of these two passenger stations.
[lxvii]The taxi stand is still at Forest Hills station.
[lxviii]Von Hoffman, Alex, Local Attachments, p. 56.
[lxix]Built about 1900, the street was named after the landowner J. Anson Guild.
[lxx]In 2011 the 3.5-acre Kinney Manufacturing site was proposed for mixed use development. The corner location was recently the Flanagan and Seaton Motorcar Company. As of this writing in summer 2012 the development plans have been stopped because of contaminated soil.
[lxxi]This chapter is based on the following sources: Sammaarco, Anthony, Images of America: Jamaica Plain (Arcadia Publishing Company, 1997), p. 117; Roslindale and West Roxbury Project Completion Report, Kathleen Kelly Brown (Boston Landmarks Commission, July, 1989); Building permits; Suffolk County deeds; Bromley Atlases, 1890, 1905, 1914, 1924; Mark Bulger, Remember Jamaica Plain?; Jeff Ramondi, Grenier Printers, Forest Hills.
[lxxii]Hutchinson’s first documented building was the Uphams Memorial Church at 156 Wachusett Street, corner of Patten, that he designed in 1899.
[lxxiii]For a photograph of the building and of Michael Morton, see Images of America, Jamaica Plain, p. 116. Both photos are from the West Roxbury Historical Society.
[lxxiv]Levinson, Marc, The Great A+P, Hill and Wang, New York, 2011.
[lxxv]Hatoffs would remain at that location until about 1980, when a newer, much larger Hatoffs was built at 3440 Washington Street.
[lxxvi]Peter O’Brien, “Coffee Tree on McBride Street,” an article posted at www.jphs.org (the Jamaica Plain Historical Society website).
[lxxvii]The 1899 Bromley Atlas shows a building on this site. A story in the Boston Globe, Sep. 24, 1896 describes a much larger Tollgate Inn for the site, which was not built. For a photograph of the Tollgate Inn see Images of America, Jamaica Plain, p. 115. For a photograph of the Coffee Tree Inn, see Peter O’Brien’s “Coffee Tree on Mc Bride Street.”
[lxxviii]http://www.bpl.org/online/govdocs/engineers_and_public_works_reports.html. Report of the Public Works Dept, 1910-1927, Boston Public Library.
[lxxix]Although confusing to anyone looking for an address today, No 4 Hyde Park Avenue marks the line of the old Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike as it turned to go across the Bussey Brook meadow to Roslindale Square (then called Taft’s Tavern).When Hyde Park Avenue was extended it ended at this junction.
[lxxx]The Mar. 14, 1900 issue of the Boston Globe reported that a public meeting was scheduled at Minton Hall to discuss the condition of the old Washington School (where DB & S Lumber is today). In his successful l910 bid for mayor, John F. Fitzgerald held rallies at Minton Hall. For Thomas Minton’s obituary see the Boston Globe, July 7, 1916.
[lxxxi]Designed by Richard Shaw, who was also architect of the West Roxbury Courthouse.
[lxxxii]Thanks to Mark Bulger for locating this fascinating story with a fine illustration.
[lxxxiii]For this section about moving the storefronts, I’m grateful to Jeff Ramondi for giving me a tip, and to Mark Bulger for finding a lead newspaper story that confirmed it.
[lxxxiv]Patrick J. Brady lived in a huge house at 97 Morton Street. Razed by 1970, only the graceful granite steps remain today, next to the office building at 123 Morton Street.
[lxxxv]In the summer of 2012, if you’re standing in line at Forest Hills Check Cashers, you’re on top of the culvert. It also goes under part of the dining room of Dogwood Café.
[lxxxvi]The topography of the land and the way it appears dug out of the Orchardhill Road slope suggest it may have been a gravel pit for road construction.
[lxxxvii]To make way for these stores the wood-frame house and stable owned by Edwin Weld, were both razed by 1884. Weld Hill takes its name from that property.
[lxxxviii]The earliest meat counter was built by A & P in 1924. See Levinon, The Great A & P.
[lxxxix]The land was originally the site of the shop and showrooms of the F. P. Davis monument works which was relocated to a new building at 3859 Washington Street in 1982, about the same year Hatoff’s reopened at its new location.
[xc]Zaitzevsky, Cynthia with Christine Carvajaly, Calvin Optiz and Nikita Zaitzevsky, Historic Documentation, Boston Elevated Railway Company, Elevated Mainline Structure, Kaiser Engineers, July 1987. The principal source for this chapter.
[xci]Von Hoffman, Local Attachments, p. 54.
[xcii]Coolidge was a partner in Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, the architects of the Forest Hills viaduct; Charles Maginnis, lead drafstman for Wheelwright, founded Maginnis & Walsh and became a major church architect (St. Teresa’s Church in West Roxbury is a noted example). Blackall became a major designer of theaters, most notably the Metropolitan Theater in Boston, and Cram went on to national fame.
[xciii]Peabody designed a very similar elevated bridge for electric cars crossing the Charles River at Leverett Circle, that carries the Green line today, made entirely of poured-in-place concrete. An elegant structure, it was completed in 1912.
[xciv]Zaitzevsky, p. 48.
[xcv]The land was sold for $143,000 on Feb. 7, 1950 to the Boston Housing Authority, to construct South Street Homes. The streetcar buildings had been removed before the sale. South Street Homes opened on Aug. 13, 1953, with 130 apartments. They were designed by A. J. Schumacher (neighbors wanted a playground, but Mayor John B. Hynes disagreed).
[xcvi]I am indebted to Frank Cheney for the above information on the Arborway Yard, South Street carbarn and the rapid transit ramp: Cheney, Frank, “Ninety Years at Arborway,” Rollsign, Sep./Oct. 1984. My thanks to Joe Cosgrove of the MBTA for providing me with an online copy of this important history.
[xcvii]Jamaica Plain to Dudley Square in 1949, Mattapan Square and the Dedham line in 1953. Egleston Square was changed to buses in 1956.
[xcviii]These are the present-day house numbers.
[xcix]Named after King William II of the House of Orange, under whose reign Massachusetts became a crown colony in 1689. Cambridge Seven went on to make dramatic improvements to Forest Hills as we will see later.
[c]Defined as six or more apartments. The triple-decker is common.
[ci]St Joseph’s Church was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1845 and razed in February 2005. In July 2007, the Archdiocese, acting on old rumors, authorized an archeological dig on the church grounds and discovered a cemetery containing six hundred unmarked burial places. Boston Globe, July 10, 2007; Boston Herald, July 7, 2007.
[cii]Luippold’s first documented building was the panel-brick Gloucester Memorial, originally the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church on Parker Street, dedicated on May 20, 1892. It has a brick steeple 115 feet tall. Also St. Andrew’s German Methodist Church, at 169 Amory Street, built of stone in 1900. See Historic New England, Jacob Luippold Archiectural Collection, http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/collections-access/collection-object/capobject?gusn=GUSN-181071&searchterm=jacob luippold.
[ciii]Woodbourne houses by Hutchinson: 65 Walk Hill St (1902), 10 Bournedale (1924), 44 Bournedale (1926), 41 Bournedale (1926), 90 Bourne Street (1924) 58 Bourne Street (1922), 60 Bourne Street (1924), 16-18 Bourne Street (1925), 25 Bourne Street (1925), 111 Wachusett Street, (1926) and 25 Bournedale (1929).
[civ]Currently Fazenda’s coffee shop in 2012.
[cv]Letter to the author from Woodlawn resident Kate Hutchinson, June 8, 2012.
[cvi]No. 32 Tower Street was built by Michael McClusky, D. J. Sullivan architect. A 2½-story pitch-roof house, a common style on Tower Street (building permit, Dec. 4, 1896).
[cvii]Historic New England holds the drawings of Jacob Liuppold. There are four ink-on-linen drawings of this house in that collection: http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/collections. It is difficult to be accurate about these two buildings. Nos. 15 and 16 are both built in the same proportions, but no. 16 has been altered with aluminum siding (as this is written in summer 2012). The carved wooden details appear to have been removed. The building permits do not list a street number: the permit for no. 15 states it is for a one-family house. The permit for no. 16 states it is for a two-family house. The drawing at Historic New England looks exactly like no. 15 Tower Street, built in 1902.
[cviii]The Garden City Hotel was built in 1901, perhaps by Lannin. The 1905 Boston Directory lists him as living at Garden City. Lannin lived there at the time of his death. However, he reportedly died after a fall from the 9th floor of the Hotel Granada in Brooklyn (which he owned and built in 1927). At his death he owned over 1000 acres of land along parkways on Long Island as well as the Salisbury Golf Course that he built in 1918. His real-estate holdings were worth a half million dollars. His wife Hannah died (apparently penniless) on Apr. 10, 1954 at Pilgrim State Hospital at Brentwood Long Island. Despite having two children and at least one grandchild, she was buried in a potters’ field because no next-of-kin could be located. Lannin’s great-grandson Christopher Turnstall has a blog at: http://www.lanninwalk.com/the-walk/ Accessed June 10, 2012. Also Wikipedia entry for Joseph C Lannin: Joseph Lannin - Wikipedi#AD1DF0.
[cix]American Architect & Building News, Nov., 20, 1912, p. 10: “Plans prepared by James G. Hutchinson for a four story apartment house at South Street.”
[cx]As if to emphasize that the history of Forest Hills is one of constant removal and change, in May 2012 the storefront windows and door were removed and bricked over with new windows. The writer had only photographed the building two weeks earlier.
[cxi]In its issue of Nov. 20, 1909, the West Roxbury News reported that after a preview ride over the new elevated extension, seventy business and civic leaders enjoyed a banquet at “the newly opened Arborway Restaurant.”
[cxii]Thanks to Mark Bulger for finding this story, posted at Remember Jamaica Plain? May 16, 2012.
[cxiii]Whether or not Peters Hill in the Arnold Arboretum is named after the Peters family is undocumented by this writer, but more than likely. The hill was known as Peters Hill as early as 1896, when plans for the drives were being made. The hill is the second highest in Boston at 237 feet. Belleview Hill in Stony Brook Reservation is the highest at 338 feet.
[cxiv]Probably named for the Penobscot Indian chief Asticou, who in 1613 first greeted the French at what is today Frenchman’s Bay in Acadia National Park. Peters had a summer home on North Haven Island in Penobscot Bay, and may have named the street after the Indian.
[cxv]In 1921 Murdock and Boyle altered the brick stable at the rear of the Peters estate into a garage. Peters was mayor of Boston at the time.
[cxvi]James C. Martin lived at 84 Bourne Street and got his prolific housebuilding business started in the late 1930s, building homes on Eastland and other streets in the Woodbourne neighborhood.
[cxvii]Annual Report of the Boston Parks Dept., 1925. See also Boston Parks Dept., engineering files, 11259A (Aug. 18, 1924), 11254A (Aug. 24, 1924) and 11OOMA#4.
[cxviii]Writing in 1910, John Charles Olmsted, the stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted and principal designer of many of the features of Franklin Park, recommended that motor vehicles carry a special license to be used in parks.
[cxix]Harold Field Kellogg was the original architect but his plan was abandoned.
[cxx]Jamaica Plain Citizen, Dec. 15, 1946. Thanks to Mark Bulger.
[cxxi]Duffie’s earliest documented buildings are a three-family house at 303 Hyde Park Avenue and a house at 46 Patten Street, both built in 1916.
[cxxii]The home was changed to a three-family in 1988, when Michael Epp designed a three-story wood-frame addition facing Bremen Terrace.
[cxxiii]Primary source is the dedication booklet of Dec. 1958. This was kindly lent to me by the church board president Jane Yavarow. I am grateful for several hours of conversation with her and church member – and Orchardhill resident – William Stan on May 8, 2012. St. Andrew’s is a colorful church. The interior is bright and decorated in gold, blue and white; the walls are covered with frescoes. Two tall stained-glass windows representing St. Olha, first Christian ruler of Ukraine and her grandson, and St. Volodymtr, the 19th-century king of Ukraine, flood the sanctuary with light. These were installed in 1978 and were a gift of Stephanie Yavarow in memory of Andrew and Katherine Yavarow.
[cxxiv]Known as Arborway Chapter 372 Housing Development. The address is 461-493 Arborway, 100 Morton Street, 2-4-6 O’Leary Way (building permit, Mar. 9, 1949).
[cxxv] See Boston Herald, Oct. 15, 1955, “Under Sale by the City of Boston Arborway Apartments.”
[cxxvi]Description and elevations, Jamaica Plain Citizen, Dec. 6 and 27, 1951.
[cxxvii]See Park Dept. Engineering Plan, Sep. 22, 1954. This change now made it possible for cars to drive straight up Williams Street and into Franklin Park, driving under Ellicott Arch. At the request of the Franklin Park Coalition, a traffic light was added at this intersection about 1977. Also at the request of the Coalition, in 1981 a new Williams Street entrance was built that used some details from the original design, namely a curved puddingstone wall with granite bollards that kept out vehicles. V. Michael Weinmayr was the landscape architect.
[cxxviii]Source: I 95 Southwest Expressway (unbuilt): http://www.bostonroads.com/roads/southwest/. Unattributed and undated. Accessed Apr. 20, 2012.
[cxxix]Impact of the Proposed Southwest Corridor Project on Jamaica Plain, Jan. 1968. Jamaica Plain Planning Council, Jamaica Plain Area Planning Action Council, Mendell Neighborhood Association and the Brookside Neighborhood Association.
[cxxx]Lupo. Alan, Frank Colcord, Edward Fowler, Rites of Passage (Little Brown, Boston,1971).
[cxxxi]One committee member was Ron Hafer who founded Urban Edge in 1974. Originally the Housing Committee of the Ecumenical Social Acton Committee, its office was a storefront at 612 Centre Street. Another member was Erling Hanson, President of Hanson Construction. (The Hanson Construction Co. building still stands at Green Street.)
[cxxxii]For the groundbreaking see Jamaica Plain Citizen, Dec. 6, 1979. For an aerial photo of the causeway removal see the Boston Globe, June 4, 1980.
[cxxxiii]John Blackwell (1912-2010) was co-founder of the Boston Natural Areas Fund. The footpath was made possible in March of 1996 when the South Street tract, as it was commonly called, was incorporated into the Arnold Arboretum-City Of Boston indenture of 1882, thus making it possible to apply for and be awarded $900,000 in federal funding for the footpath. The gates were built with $35,000 raised by the Conservancy. The Bussey Brook/South Street tract was acquired by Harvard University in 1919 with funds from the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture. It was originally the farmland of Benjamin Davis and was planned as a nursery for willows. The Arboretum made a pond and some paths in 1924-1925. But it was never included in the 1882 indenture which was amended in 1996 to include these 24 acres. It was erroneously reported in 2002 that the city donated the land; it did not. The city agreed to accept and be jointly responsible for more land under the terms of the1882 indenture.
[cxxxiv]Boston Globe, Feb. 7, 1986. Details of the station design are from a telephone conversation with Charles Redmon of Cambridge Seven on April 9, 2012.
[cxxxv]This three-acre parcel was unsuccessfully advertised by the MBTA for sale and development in 2006, and put out to bid again in late 2011 with a minimum price of $1million. As of summer 2012 there has been no response.