Written by and provided courtesy of Richard Heath
Egleston Square is a classic example of housing development following public transit lines. It also shows how the expanded capacity of the transit lines made possible public acceptance of increased density with the development of multi-family housing between 1910 and 1930.
In 1867 the Metropolitan (Horse) Railroad Company bought a half acre of land at the corner of Washington and School Streets for a horse and car barn for the extension of their transportation route from Dudley Square to Forest Hills. Two years later, the real estate investor and contractor George Cox bought three acres of land and by 1873 there were fifty-five new homes and three new streets all clustered around the new station. A sketch of Egleston Square based on a plate from the 1874 G.M. Hopkins Atlas of Suffolk County can be viewd here.
Forty years later, Simon Hurwitz did exactly the same thing when he bought a two-acre estate at the crest of Walnut Park and built fourteen multi-family houses on it in the wake of the new Boston Elevated Railway opening at Egleston Square in 1909.
Cox created a village of two story wood frame houses on narrow lots, some of which were duplexes and many can be seen today on Weld Avenue and Beethoven Street. This type of density was unusual beyond downtown where land values were high, but Cox could justify it because there was now regularly scheduled fixed rail transportation from Egleston Square to downtown or to steam rail connections at Forest Hills and Jackson Square. He was right; almost every house lot was sold and built on in three years. All the houses were built around the station too; none were built on the north side of the Square.
Hurwitz could also justify the expense of building what was at that time a very large and dense cluster of three story brick buildings because of improved transit. The elevated trains which stopped at the new station down the hill could carry 500 to 800 people every eight to ten minutes directly into the main transit system.
The homes built on the Cox lots were in the architectural style of the day, many in the fashionable French Second Empire style. Hurwitz built apartment houses, which had only recently become socially acceptable in Boston. The concept of several unrelated families living together on the same common floor was slow to gain approval by Bostonians. One or two family hotels - as they were called - did appear, most notably the Dunbar Hotel in Dudley Square built in 1885 and the taint slowly wore off. Two of the most revolutionary buildings in Egleston Square are both four-story brick apartment houses opposite each other at 3125 and 3122 Washington Street developed by the Littlefield brothers. Built four years apart, in 1893 and 1897, they are among the first apartment buildings built in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. The Littlefields recognized that apartment living was gaining respectability but they also recognized one other factor - that the rapid electrification of the old horse car lines begun in 1887 would dramatically increase fixed rail transportation. Electrified streetcars could carry many more people much faster than the horse cars and more people could be encouraged to live out in the suburbs - only three blocks away from the new Franklin Park too. Like Cox, the Littlefields built their apartment houses next to the streetcar barn.
Both Littlefield buildings had ground floor retail space, which was also uncommon beyond downtown. The first sign of the evolution of the Square from strictly residential to mixed use came in 1882 when Francis Kittredge built 3013 Washington Street at the corner of Beethoven Street. Is was originally a double wood frame two story building with ground floor shops and apartments above. A doorway in the center gave access to the upstairs flats (half of it was razed in the late 1980’s.)
The elevated rapid transit transformed the residential landscape of Egleston Square like nothing before but along the same tends - faster trains carrying more passengers on a fixed route brought more people to live in the district who needed more housing. With the establishment of both rapid transit and apartment house living, Egleston Square was set to take advantage of its third opportunity: large lots of vacant or underused land that varied from one-half to two acres. From 1910 until 1929, thirty-eight multi-family buildings were built in the Square bounded by Westminster Avenue, Walnut Avenue, Columbus Avenue and Bragdon Street. Around these homes were built six new storefronts housing over a dozen businesses, a church, a new school, a movie theater, three public garages, a taxi company, two filling stations and a streetcar barn built adjacent to the elevated station for Grove Hall and Mattapan feeder lines; all completed by 1927.
The third phase of residential development was by government intervention through urban renewal and was marked by assembling and clearing large parcels of land for the construction of dense, high rise, low income multi-family housing. There were two in Egleston Square - Academy Homes I & II and the brick infill houses at 2010 - 2030 Columbus Avenue. Both were experiments in prefabricated interchangeable building forms developed to reduce construction costs so that rents would be affordable for the lowest income family. The third was an elderly apartment house developed by the Boston Housing Authority built right next to the elevated station in 1968. It is the only round tower residential building in Boston and is a textbook example of the tower-in-the-park concept of urban housing that originated in France in the 1920’s and advocated in America by Frank Lloyd Wright.
There are no designer name buildings in Egleston Square; although Carl Koch comes closest with Academy I & II and Westminster Court. Instead there are sets of sound multi-family housing designed by the best practitioners of apartment house design working in Boston from 1910 to 1930. Among the best of this class are Fred Norcross and CA & FN Russell. Charles Russell designed one of the two earliest apartment buildings in the Square - and among the first in the city - at 3122 Washington Street.
Fred Norcross together with David Silverman of Silverman Engineering designed four multi-family housing blocks that have defined the community since 1912, at Bancroft, Dimock-Bragdon and Wardman Apartments and 1891 Columbus Avenue; and Isodor Richmond’s elderly residents tower is the lighthouse of Egleston Square.
Egleston Square needs to be looked at as a whole to understand its significance. It has lessons of how to create low income and market rate housing mixed with retail to make maximum use of the large vacant parcels of public and privately owned land around transit stations.
The Origins of the Name
On November 16, 1848, a land surveyor acting on behalf of the Roxbury Latin School produced a plan of house lots and a new street on an eighteen-acre sloping tract of land bounded by School Street, Washington Street and Walnut Avenue (Norfolk County Deeds, Book 231, p. 19; Plan Book 250, p. 77).
This was part of one of the largest bequests ever received by the school, founded in 1645, the oldest grammar school in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, and one of the oldest in British North America. At his death in 1672, the merchant Thomas Bell gave all his landed estate in Roxbury, where he had lived from 1635 until his return to England in late 1647, to the Roxbury Latin School. Bell’s home was near the corner of Boylston and Lamartine streets where 179 Amory Street is today. Part of this land stretched from about Lamartine Street to Walnut Avenue. School Street was laid out through his estate in January 1662. A rare cross-town street, it was unnamed until 1825 when it was called School Street after the owner of the land, the Roxbury Latin School. The land was rented out to local farmers for annual operating income. Writing in 1847, Charles Ellis described it as “smooth open field on the brow of the hill with great apple orchards.”
In 1848 the School looked to sell the land to increase its endowment. On December 3, 1848 a Boston merchant and real estate broker named Thomas Lord bought the eighteen-acre hillside tract. Lord lived at Pinckney Street on Beacon Hill but he apparently moved to Roxbury in 1850, because in that year he joined Roxbury First Church and was a pew owner. This was about the time he completed his home on the highest part of his property facing Walnut Avenue, a three-acre parcel at the corner of School Street.
When Lord confirmed his deed and subdivision on September 15, 1853, presumably to pay off the mortgage, the document stated that it included a house and stable on “Walnut and Seaver Street or Egliston [sic] Square.” The property extended over to the “land of Aaron Davis Williams called Walnut Park.”
This is the earliest documented evidence of the name Egleston (or Egliston) Square, and it was apparently laid out at the expense of Thomas Lord, a very common practice by property owners who planned to subdivide their lands into house lots.
On March 6, 1866 the Board of Selectmen of the town of West Roxbury voted to approve the “petition of WBS Gray and others to have Eggleston [sic] square so called laid out and accepted as a town way.” Indicating that this square had already been built, the selectmen went on to state that as “the street has been found to be the requisite width and in good condition for public use, we have therefore laid out the street.” It was forty-eight feet wide and nine-hundred feet long. The cost was $2000. Walnut Park was apparently built by A. D. Williams but not accepted as a Roxbury town road until 1863.
Thomas Lord lived in his Walnut Avenue house first as a citizen of Roxbury, and after West Roxbury broke away, as a citizen of that town until his death in January of 1860. The 1853 deed shows the property divided into house lots. The earliest houses built were numbers 38, 44 and 46 School Street, completed in 1851 and still standing. Built by house wrights, number 38 is the most unusual: it is an L-shaped gambrel-roof cottage, built by Nathaniel Dorsey, a very rare style for the time period. Three fine ample mansions had been built on Egleston Square by 1873, one year before West Roxbury was annexed to the City of Boston. Lord’s house was bought by Edward Rice, a dye-stuff factory owner, by 1873. He remodeled it in the French style in 1876. It was acquired by the Home for Aged Couples on May 1, 1887.
For forty years Egleston Square ended at Washington Street, which was originally constructed in 1806 as the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike, and was known as Shawmut Avenue until 1866. It was renamed Washington Street for the 1876 Centennial.
Egleston Square ceased to exist when it became absorbed in the extension of Columbus Avenue in 1895. By then it had long changed from a public way to the name of the community that connected Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.
Who or what Egleston was named for remains a mystery, except it apparently was significant to Thomas Lord, who was responsible for investing in and subdividing the eighteen acres that became Egleston Square.
Egleston Square Architecture
1. 3134 Washington Street. - 82 School Street.
Egleston Square YMCA, Greater Egleston Community High School & Our Place Theater.
Originally built as a horsecar barn for the Metropolitan Railway Company which opened for service to Dudley Square in Sept., 1856. Service was extended to Forest Hills through Egleston Square in 1865. On August 6, 1867 this parcel was bought by the MRCo for $3000 and the barn was built shortly thereafter. (Norfolk County deeds. Bk. 357. Pg. 95).
Enlarged with a brick addition replacing a wooded building by John Donnelly & Sons Outdoor Advertising. Office, studio shop and garage. Permit Sept. 30, 1921. W, M. Stone, architect.
The YMCA is housed in the 1921 billboard shop addition; the school and theater are in the ca. 1865 brick carbarn.
Acquired by Urban Edge in 1991, the billboard shop was renovated for offices in 1992 and expanded to a youth center, after school program and YMCA in 1996.
The upper floors of the sign shop were reconfigured for the Greater Egleston Community High School in 1999.
From March to November, 2002 the school was expanded into the carbarn building and its existing classrooms in the upper floors of the sign shop were renovated. Gail Sullivan Associates, architects. Estimated cost $1.8 million.
2. 3118 – 3122 Washington Street – 87 School Street.
Daniel.F. and S.Walter. Littlefield, owners.
Charles A. Russell, architect.
13 families and one store. Permit May 6, 1897.
Completed Dec., 1897.
Estimated cost $40,000.
With his brother Frederick, CA Russell designed many important apartment houses in Roxbury such as 296 – 300 Seaver Street and 575-577 Blue Hill Avenue.
3. 3115 – 3125 Washington Street.
D.F. and S,W. Littlefield. Owner.
J.F. and J.S. Smith, architect.
6 families and stores.
Permit May 4, 1893.
Estimated cost $19,000
Changed to 12 families in 1900.
The first apartment building in Egleston Square and one of the first built in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.
4. 103 School Street
105 - 107 School Street
The Littlefield brothers owned two adjacent lots on School Street directly behind
3125 Washington Street.
Number 103 is a woodframe duplex with a hip roof and very distinctive scroll bracketed porch. This was built by 1890 and it appears that it was moved over to create a larger lot for its neighboring building at number 105- 107.
105 - 107 School Street
Ralph E. Sawyer, architect
6 family brick duplex apartment building “ The Georgian”
Distinctive Colonial Revival doorways.
Permit April 3, 1905
Completed March 27, 1906.
5. 3103 – 3113 Washington Street.
The Kittredge Block
Francis W. Kittredge, owner.
Waite and Cutler, architect.
2 story wood frame dwelling and store.
Permit May 19, 1882.
The earliest documented housing- over- retail-stores block in Egleston Square. It marked for the first time the change from residential to commercial. Originally a duplex, one half of it – that contained the Egleston Hardware Store for many years - was taken down for the present parking lot in the late 1980’s. Francis Kittredge, a Justice of the Peace, bought two parcels for this building from George Cox on May 5, 1870. Kittredge lived in a large house on Columbus Avenue where number 2030 is today. He commuted by train to his office at 33 School Street.
6. 3106 - 3108 Washington Street
A unique, three-story wood frame building with ground floor commercial and two upper floors housing, it was built by 1890. It is a companion to the Kittredge Block directly opposite and was probably built after that was completed. Together they predicted the commercial future of Egleston Square.
7. 3096 - 3104 Washington Street
Highland Businessmen’s Association, owner.
A.J. Carpenter, architect
Permit May 25, 1908.
Grocery and restaurant
Combined into one storefront in 1948.
Permit Oct. 8, 1947
Completed May 24, 1948.
The earliest documented one story building built exclusively for business.
Carpenter designed the public garage at 3050 Washington Street in 1919.
8. 3089 - 3091 Washington Street at Beethoven Street
Littlefield Trust, owner.
Densmore, LeClear and Robbins, architect.
Theater and stores.
Permit Feb. 26, 1925.
Completed May 1, 1926.
New box office and poster cases built in 1937 and a new marquee was built
in 1947. Closed in April,1961.
On the site of the wood frame Egleston Methodist Episcopal Church dedicated on June 13,1872.
Densmore. LeClear and Robbins were involved at the same time with their design of Beth Israel Hospital on Brookline Avenue.
Razed in July and August, 2003 to make way for 20 units of affordable rental housing developed by Urban Edge. Icon Architects, designer.
9. 3080 Washington Street and 1986 - 1987 Columbus Ave.
Permit April 29, 1925.
A. John Halferstein. architect.
Permit for removal of woodframe two family house July 16, 1925.
The last storefront built until Egleston Center opened 71 years later in 1996.
10. 1971 – 1979 Columbus Avenue
C.G.Maguire Realty Co., owner.
Samuel S. Levy, architect.
2 brick stores.
Permit March 4, 1915.
Completed Dec. 5, 1917.
This storefront was built around number 1 Weld Avenue a duplex woodframe house built about 1871.
Two years after the Metropolitan Railway Company built its horsecar barn at the corner of School Street, George Cox bought 2.7 acres of land between School Street, the new Egleston Square and Washington Street on Sept. 8, 1869 for $13,639. ( Norfolk County Deeds. Bk. 384. Pg. 33).This was part of the 18 acres sold by the Roxbury Latin School in 1848. Predicting an increase in population due to improved transportation, he had the land divided into 30 houselots. ( Norfolk County deeds. Plan Bk. 325. End).Twenty one were sold in the first year and Cox built Weld Avenue at his expense in 1871 to connect the new homes that were soon built to Egleston Square (such as numbers 1- 3, 6,7 and 9 – 11 Weld Avenue, all of which are s till standing today). By the end of 1872 he had sold 58 houselots on Weld Ave., School Street, Washington Street as well as on land he owned on Beethoven Street and Atherton Street ; 55 of which had homes on them in the 1873 real estate atlas. Beethoven Street is an intact street of homes built on Cox land between 1870 and 1872. An entirely new community had been built within two years of single or duplex woodframe homes built close together on narrow lots.
11. 1989 - 1991 Columbus Avenue and 7 - 13 Dixwell Street.
Morris Weinstein, owner.
David Silverman, Silverman Engineering, architect.
Three story brick apartments for 18 families.
Permit July 9, 1911.
Completed Jan. 12, 1912
Weinstein built 1- 11 Bancroft, 1871 Columbus Avenue, 58- 60 Bragdon Street and 2- 12 Ernst Street in 1912.
12. 12 - 20 Dixwell Street.
Two, 6 - family brick apartment buildings built adjacent to the Hernandez Schoolyard
Originally three duplicate buildings. A small corner sitting area occupies the location of 4- 8 Dixwell St.
Morris Weinstein, owner.
Fred Norcross, architect.
Permit May 11, 1911.
Completed Dec 23 + 26 . 1912.
Estimated cost $32,000 for two buildings.
Acquired by Urban Edge in 1982. Complete rehab with new roof, windows, new kitchen and baths, repaired ceilings and walls, new electrical systems, heating and plumbing. Permit May 5, 1983. Estimated cost $180,000.
13. 17 - 21 Dixwell Street
Elizabeth Gleason, owner.
Henry F. Keyes, architect.
3 family brick bowfront apartment house.
Permit June 6, 1904.
Henry F. Keyes designed the Boston Fish Pier in 1914.
14. 61 School Street
Rafael Hernandez School.
Originally built as the Theodore Roosevelt School in 1923.
Joseph A. Driscoll, architect.
The school sits on a large 69,374 square foot lot (about 1.5 acre). It replaced the first school in Egleston Square, a 3 story brick building completed in 1881. It was named the George Putnam School after the pastor of Roxbury First Church in Eliot Square who died in 1878. As a sign of how quickly the 19th century was being forgotten, when the school was replaced 40 years later it was named after the swashbuckling President Theodore Roosevelt who died in 1919. When the Hernadez School removed to the building in 1987 from its original quarters at 370 Columbia Road, the schoolhouse got its third name after the Puerto Rican composer and poet Rafael Hernandez reflecting the demographic changes around the Square.
The Putnam School faced Egleston Square (today Columbus Avenue) where the schoolyard is located. The original granite wall of the 1881 school is still there.
15. 48 - 54 School Street
William Holmes, architect.
12 family, 3 story yellow brick apartment block with pressed metal bays above the first story on the Grenada Street side and distinctive Venetian windows along School Street.
Permit Nov 28, 1896
16. 71 & 73 School Street
A pair of wood frame three family houses.
Theodora Kraft, owner.
J. McIsaac, architect and builder.
Permit July 1, 1895.
Completed May 20, 1896.
Estimated cost $5000 each.
17. 45 – 47 School Street
Two 3 family attached brick bowfront apartment houses.
Theodora Kraft, owner and contractor.
George A Fuller, architect
Permit Aug.13,1897. Completed Jan. 26,1898.
1990 Columbus Avenue
Washington Park High Rise for the Elderly
20 story, 168-unit tower.
Boston Housing Authority with the Boston Redevelopment Authority
Built as part of the Washington Park Urban Renewal Program
Isidor Richmond and Arnold Jacobson, architect.
Plans submitted April, 1968.
Opened and occupied June 23,1970.
The only circular tower building in Boston. A classic example of the tower- in – the- park concept so popular among International Style architects beginning in the 1920’s with Le Corbusier. The old Prudential Center is the apotheosis of this idea. Stull & Lee architects used the same concept with their design of the $6 million, 16 story Council Towers at 2875 Washington Street completed on Jan.14, 1986.
2000 – 2030 Columbus Avenue
Housing Innovations, developer with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Washington Park Urban Renewal project.
Four, 3-story concrete block buildings on a 58,000 square foot lot.
Plans dated March 6, 1971.
Sepp Firnkas Engineering Inc, architects with Stull Associates.
Partially completed by the end of 1972.
Project abandoned due to lack of financing.
Acquired by Urban Edge in 1984 using one of the first Boston Housing Partnership grants.
Partially rebuilt and rehabilitated by Tennant Gadd, architects
Permit Sept. 19, 1984
Occupied in June of 1987.
Principle funding was through the Mass. Housing Finance Agency (today MassHousing) and Fannie Mae.
Building low cost housing affordable for families of low and moderate income using prefabricated materials and construction systems has been a goal of progressive American architects for a century. The most famous of them was Frank Lloyd Wright who invented two; the first was American System Built Houses of 1915 and the second the Usonion home in 1936
Egleston Square has two examples of prefabricated low cost housing types: Academy Homes I + II and 2000- 2030 Columbus Avenue. The latter is an example of what was called infill block housing. Sepp Firinkas was involved with both; he was the structural engineer with Carl Koch on Academy Homes I + II. Academy Homes II failed because of structural problems caused by poor construction. The infill blocks failed because of the economic recession of the early 1970’s.
They started with great promise in 1968 when the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority Hale Champion announced a plan to build “ instant housing” on 300 scattered city -owned parcels using a construction system devised by architect Don Stull of prefabricated concrete or wood slabs notched together. One of the largest sites was adjacent to the elderly housing tower. Many masonry and wood homes were built in one year on sites around Roxbury and Dorchester and three in Jamaica Plain. All of the masonry houses were left incomplete when the investors went bankrupt in 1972 because Fereral funding ended. Some were torn down; but most lay vacant for 15 years such as the cluster on Columbus Ave. A trio of wood frame duplex infill houses were completed and occupied on Ennis Road off School Street. Owned and managed by the Boston Housing Authority, they were awarded to Urban Edge in 2001 which rehabilitated them in 2003. Rehabilitation plans by Mostue and Associates, architects.
2044 Columbus Avenue - Egleston Square Branch Library
Isidor Richmond, Carney + Goldberg, architect
Landscaped by Olmsted Associates, the successor firm of Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Franklin Park.
Plans completed March 6, 1952. Opened July, 1953.
A unique example of the International Style.
The library occupied the site of the Katherina Dahl house, a 3-story wood home built after Egleston Square was laid out in 1866.. The dwelling, carriage house greenhouse and gardens on the 25,000 square foot parcel were all standing when the city acquired the estate in 1951.
2054 Columbus Avenue / 377 Walnut Avenue
St. Mary of the Angels Church
Edward T.P. Graham, architect.
Permit for lower church and basement Aug 2, 1907.
Completed March 2, 1908.
Original roof removed and replaced with steel truss pitch roof.
Harry Keefe, architect.
Permit Sept. 25, 1987.
Estimated cost $100,000.
The parish house was built about 1867 as the home of Joseph Howard an executive with the South Boston Iron Company. His estate extended along the new Egleston Square for almost two acres and may have been one of the landowners who donated land for the new square when the Town of West Roxbury laid it out. The Howard house faces Walnut Avenue which suggests it was built before Egleston Square was built.
St. Mary of the Angels Church was carved out of the parish of St. Joseph’s Church on May 26, 1906. (St Josephs Church on Washington street and Circuit Street just west of Dudley Square was built in 1844).
For the first two years while the church hall was being built, the parish celebrated mass at the West End Street Railway barn.
Architect Edward T. P. Graham designed many Boston buildings and churches; City Hall Annex, which houses the School Department and Neighborhood Department of Development, Our Lady of Lourdes and Holy Name Church are three of his buildings. His plans called for a granite block Gothic church with square tower (published in the Boston Herald on Oct. 6, 1907) and it was assumed that as the parish grew funds would be available to complete it. But the neighborhood demographics became Jewish after 1910 and remained that way for the next 50 years so the church remained small. The parish flourished though.
2061 – 2055 Columbus Avenue / 409 Walnut Avenue
Home for Aged Couples
a. Walnut Avenue Building. Corner of School Street. John A.Fox , architect.
Cornerstone laid on July 21, 1892.
b. Badger Building. Corner of Columbus Ave. John A. Fox, architect
Permit March 29, 1910. Fox designed two buildings for Dimock Community Health Center during this same period.
c. 2055 Columbus Ave, Coolidge, Shepley, Richardson & Abbott, architect.
Permit May 23, 1927.
Completed May 2, 1929.
This was the Edward Rice estate, the owner of a dyestuff factory who built his house on 3 acres of land in 1876; it was the largest estate in Egleston Square. The Home for Aged Couples bought the estate and removed from their cramped Shawmut Avenue home on May 1, 1887 no doubt in part to take advantage of the new Franklin Park then under construction just across the street. The Rice estate boundary wall frames the property to this day.
2031 – 2041 Columbus Avenue
Two sets of yellow brick bowfront apartments with distinctive round arch doorways.
W. H. Smith, owner
W. Booth, architect.
Permit: Oct 30, 1900
Completed in 1902.
This group of ten, three family apartments was the earliest subdivision of a complete estate, the Thomas Robinson estate of over an acre built about 1869. When Columbus Avenue was extended through the original Egleston Square in 1895 it gave direct electric streetcar access from the Square to the downtown business district for the first time and encouraged increased residential growth; Cleaves Court separates the two blocks and likely predates the yellow brickfronts although no building permit exist.
Cleaves Court is a parallel group of 12 red brick three family homes reached by a set of stairs from Columbus Avenue almost exactly where the Robinson house stood. The four blocks of flats total 66 units of rental housing and fill up the entire Robinson parcel in an efficient use of space. They are the earliest example of dense multi family cluster housing in Egleston Square followed by Wardman Road a decade later.
The sculpture in the center of the court is by George Greenameyer and was set up in 1973 when Cleaves Court was completed renovated.
1. 24 Walnut Park.
14 family apartment house. Brick and stone
Harvey and Paul Rubin, owner
Saul Moffie, architect.
Permit Nov 28, 1928.
Completed Dec. 24, 1929
Estimated cost $56,000.
2. 30 Walnut Park
23 family apartment house. Brick and stone.
Harvey Rubin, owner
Saul Moffie, architect,
Completed Dec. 24, 1929
3. 38 Walnut Park
Barney Swartz, owner
Saul Moffie, architect
12 family apartment house, Brick and stone
Permit Dec. 8, 1925.
Completed June 18, 1926.
Estimated cost $45,000
Urban Edge acquired the housing by Nov. 1987 as part of the Boston Housing Partnership/HUD Granite Properties disposition.
Complete renovation of the building
Tennant Gadd Associates, architect, Permit Feb. 8, 1989.
Estimated cost $500,551
4. 50 Walnut Park
5. 15 Waldren Road
Simon Hurwitz, owner and developer.
Thomas M. James. Architect.
Permit: Sept. 21, 1910. Completed: March 29, 1912.
6. 11 Waldren Road
Simon Hurwitz, owner and developer.
Fred Norcross, architect.
Permit: Dec. 10, 1910.
Completed Dec. 23, 1910.
Fred A. Norcross (1871 - 1929 ) was probably the most prolific designer of apartment buildings in Boston. An informal list totals 110 multi family houses he designed between 1900 and 1929 in the North End, Beacon Hill, the Fenway, Back Bay, Roxbury, Brighton and Brookline; by far the most were in Roxbury. He was one of a select group of Boston architects who specialized in multi family housing at the height of its popularity between 1910 and 1930; Saul Moffie and C.A. + F.N. Russell were two others. Norcross collaborated with Hurwitz in 1906 on a long imposing Romanesque Revival block at 367 – 395 Blue Hill Avenue between Brunswick and Intervale Streets. In 1905, Norcross designed the enormous twin towered synagogue at 397 Blue Hill Avenue and Brunswick Street completed in Sept, 1906. (today it is the First Haitian Baptist Church). This no doubt brought him to the attention of Hurwitz.
7. 60 Walnut Park & 19 Wardman Road
Simon Hurwitz, owner and developer
Fred Norcross, architect
Permit June 6, 1911.
Completed Sept. 28, 1912.
Estimated cost $42,000.
Two attached apartment houses. Number 60 has a distinctive high porch with cast turn knob posts. Cut into the architrave is the name “Westminster Chambers”. The same porch and name was duplicated at 71 Westminster Avenue.
8. 7 - 17 Wardman Road
27 apartments in 3 attached buildings.
Simon Hurwitz, owner and developer.
Fred Norcoss, architect
Permit: June 6, 1911.
Completed Sept 12, 1912.
Estimated cost: number 7 – 9 Wardman was estimated to cost $38,000.
This long row is characterized by rhythmic window bays and classical revival porches with round arch doors below broken pediments flanked by compound pilasters.
9. 8 - 20 Wardman Road.
6 attached. 3 family brick houses.
Phillip Glazer, owner.
Samuel S.Levy, architect.
Permit March 4, 1917.
An unusual development because very little was being built during WW I..
10. 71 & 73 Walnut Park
Twin wood frame three family houses.
Louis Greenblatt, owner and contractor
Fred Norcoss, architect.
Permit; March 14, 1910.
These are unique buildings for two reasons. They are the only woodframe buildings built after 1900 in Egleston Square and they are the first documented woodframe buildings designed by Norcross who worked exclusively in brick. Number 73 has its original distinctive carved wood porch; number 71 includes a steel prefabricated portable garage by the Brooks Skinner Company of Quincy built in the spring of 1918. This is the earliest documented portable metal garage in Egleston Square. Brooks Skinner was a major manufacturer of
prefabricated metal buildings and garages were a specialty, although few appear to be built in Egleston Square. The second documented portable garage delivered and set up by Brooks Skinner was built in 1925 at 39 Atherton Street. It was a 2-car model and cost $500.
11. 72 - 76 Walnut Park.
10 family yellow brick apartment.
Castlegate Realty Corp, owner.
Saul Moffie, architect.
Permit: May 6, 1926.
Completed: Oct. 14, 1926.
Estimated cost $30,000.
12. 79 Walnut Park
14 -family, yellow brick and stone apartment house with red tile band at the cornice. A duplicate building built at right angles to this was razed in the mid 1970’s.
Henry Dinner, owner and developer
Silverman & Brown, architects.
Permit: Feb. 13, 1929
Estimated cost $56,000
Enlarged to 15 families
Permit: Sept. 24, 1951
Completed Jan. 29, 1952
Silverman liked his grand architectural flourishes as can be seen at his earlier building at 1889 - 1991 Columbus Avenue. At number 79 he added a dramatic two-story classical revival entrance of attached white columns supporting a broken pediment and urn.
Rehabilitation of all apartments and exterior of the building by Urban Edge similar to that described for number 50 Walnut Park. The red tile cornice band was removed in July, 2001.Permit April 9, 2001. Estimated cost $828,000. Icon Architects, architect.
13. 81 Walnut ParkHenry Dinner, owner and developer.Samuel S. Levy, architect.10 family brick apartment house.Permit: Sept 12, 1924Completed May 25, 1925.Estimated cost $40,000.This was approximately on the site of the W. Dudley Cotton house built in 1881. Dinner bought the Cotton estate in three lots on March 22, 1922 for $36,000. ( Suffolk County Deeds. Bk. 4384. Pg. 461).Number 79 Walnut Park and 361 – 363 Walnut Avenue was also part of the Cotton estate.
15. 358 - 360 Walnut Ave corner of Homestead St.6-family, 2 attached brick apartment housesJoseph Herman, ownerArhur Rosenstein, architectPermit July 26, 1916Estimated cost: $28,000 total.
19. 60 - 74 Westminster Avenue, 78 - 109 Westminster Avenue & 301 Walnut Avenue - Westminster Court
Two cluster blocks of 41 apartmentsDevelopment Corporation of America owner and developer.
Carl Koch & Associates, architect.
Property acquired Oct 1, 1965.
Permit: Feb.1, 1966.
Certificate of occupancy: March 14, 1967.
Built on the 2.75 acre Howard-Hersey estate, the low-rise homes are made of prefabricated pieces just like Academy Homes I & II but designed at a lower scale and much better built. The housing is arranged carefully around massive outcrops of Roxbury conglomerate. Acquired by Urban Edge/Westminster Community LP. Rehabilitation of all units. Mostue Associates, architect.
Permit: July 16, 1996.
Estimated cost $2,286,426.
21. 65 Westminster Avenue
Six family detached brick and stone apartment house.
Simon Hurwitz, owner
Thomas M. James, architect
Permit: Nov. 23, 1910.
Completed Dec. 21, 1911.
Estimated cost $20,000.
Change of occupancy to 14 families
Permit March 30, 1936
Owned by Urban Edge. Interior and exterior rehabilitation same as described for 50 Walnut Park.
Permit: October 12, 2000.
Estimated cost $828,000.
The west façade facing Washington Street was built without windows in a cheaper quality of brick; that and the fact that the building is built right on the property line suggests Hurwitz may have planned to build a duplicate attached apartment house on the next lot.
23. 3 - 5 Westminster Terrace
A.Russell, owner and contractor
New England Cement Stone Company
2, 3 family cement stone apartment houses
Permit: March 25, 1911.
Estimated cost $10,000 each
Two matching attached houses number 7 - 9 have been razed. This is a very rare concrete block building with a cement stucco finish.It is set at a right angle to Westminster Avenue with a flamboyant Dutch Gable facing both the street and the private way. Putting the apartment houses at right angle to the street made maximum use of the lot but also created the illusion of a smaller building in a neighborhood that may not have been in favor of multi family houses.
1. 3068 Washington Street - Egleston Center
Urban Edge, owner and developer
Stull + Lee architect.
Plans first proposed in Nov. 1991. Opened Nov. 28, 1996.
On site of the Egleston Square streetcar and bus barn and waiting area built in 1916 adjacent to and connected with the elevated station completed in 1908.Razed in the spring and summer of 1989.Two wings of the new building are connected by an arcade supported by steel beams designed to duplicate the structure of the old elevated trestle.
3. 3050 - 2058 Washington Street corner of Walnut Park.
Public garage and stores. Brick.
George Kimball, owner
A. J. Carpenter, architect
Permit May 7, 1919.
Estimated cost $40,000.
This building adjacent to what was at the time the elevated railroad streetcar barn took advantage of the grade change and put stores on the lower level facing Washington Street and the garage entrance at the Walnut Park side.
5. 3012 Washington Street corner of Westminster Avenue
Public garage. Concrete.
Exchange Realty Trust, owner
Saul Moffie, architect.
Permit Nov, 25, 1925
Completed Jan. 27, 1927.
This building has gone from housing private cars in rented spaces by residents in the apartment houses on Westminster Avenue and Wardman Road to an automobile dealership (Westminster Motors which sold Dodges. Now on Morrissey Blvd.) to a Moxie Company and then a hosiery shipping warehouse, and finally a sign shop.
This 14,00 square foot lot at the corner of Cobden Street was cleared as part of the Washington Park Urban Renewal program in 1965 when 6 woodframe 3 family houses were taken and razed by the BRA, which had planned that corner site for retail/commercial use.Taken by the city for back taxes in 1991, it was sold to NICE Day Care which moved into its new building in 2000 from its older quarters shared with the Brookside Health Center at 3297 Washington Street.
8. 2969 - 2975 Washington Street
4 attached brick apartments for 12 families.
Louis F. Abbott, owner
C.A.+ F. N. Russell, architect
Permit July 26, 1911
Estimated cost $30,000
Notable for the courtyard and projecting bowfronts of the interior houses.
10. Academy Homes II
3 story woodframe buildings built in clusters on three sites totaling 7.5 acres.
A. Codman Park, Washington Street and Townsend Street. Twelve row house blocks.
B. Washington Street and Dimock Street. Nine row house clusters
C. Ritchie Street. Three row house clusters.
MassHousing Agency, owner and developer
Elton Associates and Chia Ming Sze, architect
Paula Collins of Chia Ming Sze, Project Architect
Plans filed Feb. 27, 2000
Building Permit: Jan. 11, 2001
Groundbreaking Sept. 28, 2001
Estimated construction cost $45 million.
All three sites cleared of old buildings between Feb. 28, 2000 and Feb 1, 2001. All homes fully framed by April, 2003. Ritchie Street clusters nearly ready for occupancy in April, 2003. These homes replaced the original Academy Homes II which was made up of 10 concrete slab, 3 story cluster blocks, some of enormous size, designed by Carl Koch. Washington Park Urban Renewal Program. Parcel B 3. Permit: June 6, 1966 .Occupied in October, 1968.
1. 1895 -1905 Columbus Ave. corner of West Walnut Park
C.J. Spenceley Block
6 apartment buildings and one storefront
Christopher J. Spenceley, owner
Patrick J. Tracy, architect
Permit July 19, 1898.
Bancroft St., West Walnut Park and Columbus Ave. create a scalene triangle and the Spenceley Block was built at the tip facing Egleston Square. C. J. Spenceley was a carpenter/contractor who lived in the South End. He owned the land since at least 1873. At that time it faced West Walnut Park. When Columbus Avenue was laid out, it cut diagonally through his square parcel leaving him with a triangular shaped lot. It was the first building built in Egleston Square after Columbus Avenue was extended to Seaver Street in 1895. The building is a distinctive flatiron apartment block made of yellow brick with a heavy overhanging cornice and six metal bays between round arch doorways. It’s also the only building in Egleston Square named for the owner: a limestone plaque at the West Walnut Park corner reads “C. J. Spenceley Block. 1898”
2. 1891 Columbus Ave at Bancroft Street
Two bay automobile garage and office.
Filling station built by and for J.F. Delancy
Permit: Sept 27, 1927.
Expanded for the Roxbury Gas Tap Company for the storage and sale of range oil for home heating. Permit: July 26, 1929.
Present building was built as concrete block and stucco gas station for the Miller Oil Company.
Phillip Miller, owner
Weinbaum & Wexler, architect.
Permit: March 15, 1940
Completed Nov. 9, 1940.
Change of occupancy to auto repair shop by Rafael Benzan, owner for Santana Tire and Auto. Permit: Oct 7, 1997.
This is a large 12,000 square foot triangular parcel within the larger scalene triangle and is the first documented filling station in Egleston Square The large lots around the Square which were ideal for multi family housing were also perfect for gas stations and automotive garages which needed space for storage tanks, pump islands, parking, buildings and space for tanker trucks to make deliveries; especially corner lots like this one. When housing production resumed after 1922, the motor vehicle was a fact of urban life and land use was changing to accommodate it. Not only in street widening and straightening, but architecture too: auto and truck showrooms, gas stations, service garages and parking garages – mostly unknown a decade earlier — were now part of the urban streetscape. Range oil for home heating became increasingly popular in the 1920’s and gas stations were used as storage and transfer stations for this fuel because they already had the storage space and were permitted to hold flammable material.
3. 1900 Columbus Avenue - Grace & Hope Mission.
1. Radio supply retail store “Gerber Radio Supply”.
Sarah Gerber, owner.
Saul Moffie, architect.
Concrete and brick
Permit: May 28, 1948.
Second story added in 1952. Permit May 21, 1952.
2. Change of occupancy to Grace & Hope Mission June. 1968.
Conversion architects Beaver Corporation. Permit: Nov. 8, 1967. Completed June 10, 1968.
One story addition and garage added at 1910 Columbus Avenue in 1992 by LeBeau Co., architects. Permit: Sept. 4, 1992.
4. 1890 Columbus Avenue at Bragdon St. Walgreen’s
1. Originally built as a garage and service station by Reardon Building Trust.
James H.McHaughton, architect.
Permit July 1, 1924.
This served as a truck rental business and for several taxi companies, the last of which was Yellow Cab in the 1960’s, The Yellow Cab dispatch waiting room was at 1967 Columbus Avenue.
Mark Investment Company (Bernard Shadrawy, principle).
Combined three parcels into one 65, 255 square foot area.
Asfour Associates, architect.
Permit: April 4, 1996.
Completed Nov. 12, 1997.
Estimated cost 41.2 million.
5. 1 - 11 Bancroft Street
1671 Columbus Avenue
58 - 60 Bragdon Street
2 - 12 Ernst Street
This ensemble of seven buildings was built together by the developer Morris Weinstein and designed by N. L. Silverman of Silverman Engineering in 1912. (Weinstein and Silverman also collaborated in the design and construction of 1889 - 1991 Columbus Avenue).
Although designed at the same, each apartment house is a distinct building grouped around an interior courtyard.
Permit for 1 -11 Bancroft St and 1871 Columbus Ave dated Dec. 20,1911
Completed on Oct 17 and Dec 11, 1912. These are identical buildings. The cornice of 1871 has been removed.
Permit for 59 - 60 Bragdon Street and 2 - 4 Ernst Street dated March 8, 1912. Completed Dec. 17, 1912.
Like Simon Hurwitz at Walnut Park and Westminster Avenue and Max Wulf who developed the adjacent Dimock-Bragdon Apartments, Weinstein bought up one of the big parcels of land that were so numerous around Egleston Square, in this case two parcels totaling 35,000 square feet (about 3/4 acre) for $90,000 on Feb. 8, 1911.
The parcel on which he built 2 -12 Ernst and 58 - 60 Bragdon Streets were acquired from the Roxbury Latin School. It was part of the land bequeathed to the school in 1672 by Thomas Bell. ( See “Notes on the origins of the name Egleston Square”).
6. 15 Bancroft Street
Israel Gordon, owner and contractor
Miller & Levy, architect.
2 story, 2 family wood frame house.
Permit: Feb. 13,1929
Completed Oct 14, 1930
Estimated cost $8000.
Change of occupancy to 3 families in 1947
Completed Sept. 25, 1947.
7. 14 Ernst Street.
Hyman Silverstein, owner and contractor
Miller & Levy, architect
2 family, 2 story, wood frame pitch roof house
Permit: June 14, 1929
Completes Oct. 15, 1930
Estimated cost $8000.
8. 70 - 82 Bragdon Street between Ernst and Miles Streets
7 attached, 3 story, brick 3 family apartment houses,
Ellen Connell, owner
George Edmund Parson, architect
Permit: Dec. 31, 1900
Completed in Sept. 1906.
Estimated cost for all 7 buildings $100,000.
9. 1865 – 1841 COLUMBUS AVENUE
7 attached 3 -story brick apartments. One 15 family and 6, 6 family apartment houses.
Max S. Wulf, owner and contractor. Wulf Construction Co., Chelsea.
Fred A. Norcross, architect.
Permit: July 9, 1912
Completed July 18, 1913.
(Note: the building permit for number 1865 is lost.)
Estimated cost of construction of 1841 – 1863 Columbus Avenue totaled $102,000.
Max S. Wulf took out a $90,000 mortgage for this long lot on June 14, 1912. This was the second Norcross commission in Egleston Square; once the Wardman-Westminster project was nearly completed he moved on to the Wulf development. Just like Wardman Road these buildings have a distinctive style that define the street.
On Sept 11, 1944, the new owner of 1841 Columbus Ave., the New England Hospital for Woman and Children (the Dimock Health Center today) changed the occupancy to nurses housing.
After decades of neglect Dimock - Bragdon housing was a half empty shell when Urban Edge acquired the entire block in 1981 and spent $1,455. 216 in a total rehabilitation and repair project designed by Stull & Lee, architects. Permit: Sept 28, 1982. The work included all new windows (many were gone) new roof, new doors both exterior and interior (many outside doors were missing too), new kitchens and baths to bring them up to modernization, structural repairs, new heating system and electrical wiring.
10. Egleston Square Fire Station
Robert Cutler, architect
Dedicated Dec. 19, 1952.
11. 41 - 55 Dimock Street and 1800 Columbus Ave.
Dimock Community Health Center. Ten-acre campus.
Originally known as the New England Hospital for Women and Children, incorporated on March 12, 1863.
The most prominent buildings are:
1. Cary Cottage. 1872.Cummings & Sears, architect. (Willard T. Sears was the architect of the Gardner Museum in 1899).
2. Zakrzewska Medical Building. 1873, Cummings & Sears, architect.
3. Sewall Maternity Building. Two wings. 1892 and 1910. John A. Fox, architect of both. (Fox designed 2 buildings for the Home for Aged Couples on Walnut and Columbus Avenue at this same time.)
4. Cheney Surgical Building. 1899 -1900. Cummings & Sears, architect.
5. Goddard Nursing Home,1909. John A. Fox, architect.
6. Richards Children’s Building. 1930. Kendall & Taylor, architect.
7. Ruth Batson Youth & Family Services Building, 1800 Columbus Avenue. 1992. August Associates, architect.
Permit: Sept. 10, 1990
Dedicated: June 12, 1992.
Named in honor of a benefactor of the health center and a co-founders of METCO, Dr. Ruth Batson of Roxbury. Dimock Community Health Center is one of two major Boston institutions built by and for women in Egleston Square. The second was Notre Dame Academy which was its neighbor for over a century. Founded in 1862 as the N.E. Hospital for Women and Children, it was named after Dr. Susan Dimock (1847 - 1875) America’s first female resident surgeon. Denied access to male dominated medical schools in America, a group of women doctors formed their own teaching hospital and moved to a spacious campus in Roxbury outside Egleston Square in 1872. The Dimock Hospital quickly established a series of imposing firsts; the first teaching hospital to educate women doctors, the first hospital in the nation to train nurses in obstetrics and gynecology (it was said until well into the 1960’s that most of Jamaica Plain was born at Dimock) and graduated the first black nurse, Ms Linda Richards in 1873.
12. 1596 Columbus Avenue. - Academy Homes I
Ritchie Street, Columbus Avenue and Aacdemy Road.
202 mid priced and affordable apartments spread over 7. 4 acres in 11, 3 story clusters.
Built on the site of the Sisters of Notre Dame Academy ( 1859 – 1962 ).
Building Services Employees International Union, development corporation of America, developers and owners with the BRA.
Washington Park Urban Renewal District housing program. BRA responsible for site acquisition and clearance.
Carl Koch, architect.
Groundbreaking May 10, 1963.
Opened in 1965.
Acquired by Urban Edge and Academy Homes Tenant Council in April, 1998 for $6. 8 million.
Renovations begun in April, 1999 by Mostue Associates, architect.
Completed May 8, 2000.
Estimated cost of $20 million.
This was the first new housing in the Washington Park Urban Renewal District and it was planned as low cost housing for those families displaced during site clearance for Warren Gardens and the Civic Center complex of Boys & Girls Club, courthouse and branch library. This was the poorest part of the urban renewal district with the lowest income families. BRA director Edward Logue handpicked architect Carl Koch, with whom he had worked in New Haven, to design a system of prefabricated parts that could be interchangeably fit together for a variety of unit sizes. Koch invented an advanced program of interchangeable prestressed concrete plank and wall parts that he called Spancrete. The parts wee factory made and delivered to the site to be notched together. Non-load bearing walls were made of prefabricated stressed plywood.
The City of Boston Building Department required considerable coaxing to permit this experimental style of construction with which they had no experience and contractors had limited success with putting the pieces together correctly: consequently structural damage plagued both Academy Homes developments for decades. Sepp Firnkas was the structural engineer on Koch’s team working on Academy Homes I and went on to design the other experimental prefabricated construction system for the Infill houses program.
The architectural community loved the Spancrete concept and Progressive Architecture gave it a citation for advanced residential design in its January, 1965 issue. Edward Logue in his farewell remarks as outgoing BRA director in 1967 considered it an outstanding achievement of his term. So proud of it in fact that the BRA named the two interior streets Weaver Way and Slayton Way; Weaver was Robert C. Weaver, the first director of the Housing and Urban Development agency appointed by President Lyndon Johnson; William Slayton was the director of the urban renewal program in HUD.
Academy Homes I fared better in construction than Academy II which had to be razed less than 35 years after it opened.
The housing developments take their name from where they were built, on the sprawling, hilly 16- acre campus of the Sisters of Notre Dame Academy. The Archdiocese of Boston bought the property in June of 1853 for the purpose of establishing a boarding school for girls who would educated by the Notre Dame Order to be teachers for the parochial schools in the diocese. The large brick building was designed by Patrick C. Keely and opened on May 1, 1859.
In 1919, the Sisters of Notre Dame established Emmanuel College, the first Catholic women’s college in New England. Designed by Charles Maginnis of Maginnis and Walsh, It was dedicated in September, 1919 on the Fenway. It was founded by Sister Helen Ingraham, a native of Framingham, Mass, who graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 1905. She was president of Emmanuel College for its first 31 years and died on January 24, 1989 at the age of 101. The Sisters of Notre Dame removed to the South Shore about 1961.
West Walnut Park and Atherton Street
West Walnut Park
West Walnut Park was built in two phases; the first from Washington Street to Bancroft Street was completed in October of 1877 and extended to Amory Street in 1898.
Jamaica Plain was incorporated into the City of Boston on January 3, 1874. This automatically made Jamaica Plain residents citizens of Boston and they wasted little time letting city government know they wanted new streets, water works, schools, parks, police stations, firehouses and libraries.
New public streets (often with water and sewer lines) were particularly valuable for the real estate interests who could subdivide the open lots on either side of the new ways. The homes on West Walnut Park and Atherton Street are examples of this private development at public expense.
Homes on the first block of West Walnut – number 20 to 44 – were all built by 1890 after the first leg of the street was constructed. The remainder of the street waited 30 years for residential development, but when it occurred it happened in the amazing space of two years.
In a rush of residential development unprecedented in Egleston Square, all but one of the 26 homes built between Bancroft and Amory Streets were erected between 1928 and 1930. Fourteen of these homes – all two family woodframe houses- were developed by Joseph Dupre and designed by Arthur Weinbaum and David Wexler, architects. This firm designed 3 other homes for different developers and Saul Moffie designed 3 for Edith Shugarman.
Despite being woodframe houses of two stories built at the same time mainly by the same architects, the streetscape is not monotonous because of the variety in porch styles and placement of entrances and of course to changes made over the past 6 decades by individual owners.
The last house built on West Walnut was number 109. This was unique for two reasons, first because it was the only apartment house not only on that street but on Amory street too and second, the building permit was issued on Oct. 5, 1931 as the Great depression howled across the nation. Number 109 West Walnut Park is the last documented residential building built in Egleston Square until Academy Homes.
The first homes permitted were a row of five two family houses number 54-56;58 - 60; 64. 66 - 68; and 72-76. Permitted on May 10, 1928 ; each was completed in May of 1929. The estimated cost of each house was $8000 and many had garages added at the same time. Nine houses were completed in October of 1930, number 46 - 48; 47; 74 - 76, 79 - 81; 83 - 85; 87 - 89; 95 - 97; 99 - 101 and 103 - 105. All of these were developed by Dupre and designed by Weinbaum and Wexler.
109 West Walnut Park
Hyman Shulman, owner
Weinbaum & Wexler, architect
12 family brick and cast stone apartment.
Permit: Oct. 5, 1931
Completed Feb. 11, 1933.
Estimated cost $40,000.
One basement store added in 1937 which is today the management office.
98 - 100 West Walnut Park
John McGrail ,owner
Gary Martell, architect and contractor
2 family woodframe house. One of two attached homes.
The second faces Amory Street.
Permit: Sept. 12, 2002
Completed May, 2003.
Estimated cost $225,00
Atherton Street is two streets – the first are small woodframe houses clumped together on little lots as far as Arcadia Street; the second is a row of spacious and often elegant single family homes on larger lots.
The architectural style reflects the time the street was built. The brief stretch to Arcadia Street was built in 1874 soon after Jamaica Plain was annexed to Boston and the first new road off Egleston Square Most of the houses on that section were built before 1890. The remainder of the street was built in 1886 -1888 during a period of great prosperity that saw the rise of a new American middle class. This class wanted their own homes close to rail transportation in the leafier “suburbs” like Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. Most new homeowners seemed to prefer competent craftsman/architects – builders who took their styles form the popular and readily available house plan books of the day. (The housewife was gaining more influence on how the house was to be designed in that period; she could order plans advertised in the Ladies Home Journal. Indeed, two of the homes described below were owned by women).
That section of Atherton Street from Copley to Amory Street was clearly the most affluent in Egleston Square indicated by the large houses but also by the earliest documented construction of “ auto houses” in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain; the first in 1902. Seventeen homes were built after 1886 -1888 after the extension of Atherton Street was completed. The earliest homes are numbers 28 - 38 - 41 & 55 each built before 1890. Building permits are scarce, but most houses appear to be built from 1892 - 1893 and 1896 - 1900. Number 59 – for which there is no information – is an early and important Colonial Revival house with a double gambrel roof.
6 Atherton Street
Peter Schneider, architect-builder
Completed May 5, 1891.
A housewright designed home a few steps in from Washington Street. This is the earliest documented residence on Atherton Street.
8 Atherton Street
Francis King, owner
Richardson & Rafter, architect – builder
One family home
Permit: April 24, 1893
Estimated cost $6000
Changed to a two family house on July 15, 1924.
37 Atherton Street
Sophia M. Housding, owner
M.A.Blanchard, architect- builder
One family house
Permit: March 16, 1892
42 Atherton Street.
No building permit but it is a duplicate of number 48 which suggests it may have been built in the same year by the same architect.
The owner Peter Besse had the first documented “auto house” built in Egleston Square at the rear of his lot. A woodframe structure measuring 15’ & 16’, the building permit was issued on Sept. 29, 1902.
He wisely replaced it with a concrete block garage with a hip roof in 1909 built by the New England Cement Stone Company which built 5 Westminster Court. The permit was issued on Nov. 12, 1909.
In 1902 only the rich could afford a motor car and few were seen on Boston streets. The automobile industry would dramatically change Egleston Squares land use patterns after WW I, but in 1902 a horseless carriage was a rare beast. Besse was an auto pioneer. The first automobile show in Boston was held at Mechanics Hall on Huntington Avenue during the week of March 16, 1903. Attended by over 3000 people, dealers sold $200, 0000 worth of motorcars.
48 Atherton Street
Catherine E.Landers, owner
Julius A. Schweinfurth, architect
One family home
Permit: Nov. 1, 1892.
Wooden garage added on July 19, 1905
Julius Schweinfurth (1858 - 1931) was a significant Boston architect of private homes and schools. This early house was apparently a moonlighting job since he was employed as a draftsman for Peabody & Stearns at the time. It shows signs of his later use of Colonial Revival and Shingle Style types of domestic architecture. It is a large house with an imposing oversized two story bowed bay that supported a wide gable resting on exposed rafters. Number 42 is an exact replica and number 44 next to it is almost the same except that the two-story bay is polygonal in shape. Schweinfurth designed the first major buildings at Wellesley College in 1910 and The High School of Practical Arts in Roxbury (today the Dearborn School) in 1914.
This house was owned in 1919 by the nearby brewery owner Rudolph Haffenrefer who hired Jacob Luippold to design a new piazza. Permit: Aug. 7, 1919.
Luipold was the architect of the German Methodist Church on the opposite corner of Atherton and Amory Streets. Dedicated on Jan, 14, 1900.
(Boston Sunday Herald. Jan. 14, 1900. Pg. 11).
50 Atherton Street
Roswell S. Barrows, owner
John P. Campbell, architect
One family house
Permit: Nov. 22, 1895
Completed: Jan.18, 1897.
Born in Providence, Roswell Barrows moved to Jamaica Plain in 1878 and become one of its most ardent supporters in large part because of his successful real estate business. A champion of local growth, he built over 30 houses between 1878 and 1900 largely financed by the West Roxbury Co-Operative Bank of which he was a founder in 1881. The Office of Robert T. Fowler carries on the Barrows real estate business today. (Roswell’s daughter Alice married the first Robert T, Fowler who joined his father-in-law’s firm in 1903.) ( Local Attachements. Alexander Von Hoffman, Pg. 111- 116) Barrows also developed and Campbell designed number 52 Atherton Street the next door which is no longer standing. Number 50 is a very distinctive house with applied Colonial Revival decoration and especially for the stained glass bay window and dropped pendant window facing Amory Street. Campbell was a Jamaica Plain architect of houses and at least one church.
Illustrations and Photographs (click on the image to see a larger view)
Egleston Square Orange Line station. Summer of 1982. Photograph by Richard Heath.
Platform view of Egleston Square Station taken on April 26, 1987, the last day the line operated. Photograph by Richard Heath.
Egleston Square platform on July 30, 1908. The Egleston Square Methodist Church shown on the right was overwhelmed by noise from the trains and moved to a quieter place to worship on Walnut Ave.
Orange Line elevated tracks from Washington Street at Westminster Ave. looking north. Photograph by Richard Cheek in the summer of 1982.
This power substation for the elevated railway was built in 1909. Photograph by Richard Cheek in the summer of 1982.
3125 Washington Street (1893-1894) is shown here on the left and 3122 Washington Street (1897) is shown here on the right. These are the first apartment houses in Egleston Square and two of the earliest documented multi-family dwellings in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. They were built on the streetcar line and next to streetcar station on School Street. The Forest HIlls-Dudley Square bus shown in the photo is traveling the same route serviced by the Metropolitan Railroad Company beginning in 1867.
87 School Street was attached to and designed as a whole with 3122 Washington Street. The main entrance to the building was directly opposite the streetcar station.
3113 Washington Street. The Kitteredge Block. Built in 1882, it is the first documented commercial building in Egleston Square.
3113 and 3125 Washington Street. The Kitteredge Block was originally a double building and extended to the brick apartment house. Together these buildings mark the change in Egleston Square to a multi-family retail district.
Plan of Academy Homes I.
8 Academy Court at Academy Homes I.
31 Slayton Way at Academy Homes I.
Academy Homes I, view from Columbus Avenue.
Academy Homes II, then and now. Washinton Street and Cobden Street. The photograph on the right was taken in April, 2003.
The original Academy Homes II. Completed in 1967. Carl Koch, architect. Photographed in April, 2001 prior to demolition.
Map of Walnut Park showing Walnut Avenue and Westminster Avenue.
1-3 Weld Avenue and 1979 Columbus Avenue. The duplex house was built in 1872. It was designed andbuilt by George Cox. The storefront was added in 1915. The duplex was similar to the one built behind it in 1872 facing Washington Street that was replaced by a commercial building in 1924. Note the original detailing on the bay window and porch.
Number 7 (1872) and 5 (circa 1880) Weld Avenue. These are “Streetcar” housing that were developed, designed, and built by George Cox.
21-23 and 19 Westminster Avenue. 19, on the right, was built about 1872 for H.A. Thomas. 21-23 was built by Urban Edge in 2003 as first time home-buyer condos. Designed by Stull & Lee in the same scale and character as the Cox housing.
50 and 60 Walnut Park on Hilson Square. 50 was designed by Thomas M. James in 1910. 60 was designed as part of a long block in 1911 by Fred Norcross. The largest grouping of multi-family housing built in Egleston Square, the developer located them at the crest of a hill well away from the elevated tracks but within an easy walk to the station.
71 Westminster Avenue and 3-5 Wardman Road. Fred Norcross, architect, 1911. The is the opposite end of number 60 Walnut Park.
65 Westminster Avenue. Thomas M. James, architect, 1910. A large detached apartment house, it was the biggest in the cluster developed by Hurwitz and originally had the most spacious apartments. The six flats in the building were divided into 14 in 1936.
2010 and 1990 Columbus Avenue. 2010 was part of a prefabicated housing infill program developed by the BRA in 1968 and partially completed in 1972. A hulking shell for over ten years, it was literally rescued by Urban Edge in 1984 and is today housing and offices. 1990 was opened for occupancy as elderly housing in 1970. The 20 story building was designed by Isidor Richmond and Arnold Jacobson. It is the only round residential tower in Boston.
3033 Washington Street was built in 1912 as a public garage. It was the first garage built in Egleston Square and allowed apartment dwellers a place to protect their cars from the elements. Owned by Urban Edge, it will be relaced by a four-story apartment house of 44 flats and groundfloor retail space.
3-5 Westminster Terrace (1911). Built at the same time as the Hurwitz development nearby, it was designed and built by a dealer in cement block and is a rare example of cement block housing construction.
Map of Part I - School Street to Columbus Avenue. Click on the image to see a larger view.
Copyright 2005 Richard Heath. All Rights Reserved.