Colonial House Survives at 18 Pond Street

Old House Holds Out As Art Citadel By Shunning Newer Fads and Fashion | Colonial Structure Now Home Of Common Sense Pen, Brush Expert

by Tom O’Day

A house, like a man, can have a life-story and a destiny.  Over on Pond Street there is a venerable structure which has had a stormy, varied history but a seemingly singular destiny – to nourish and sustain education, refinement and art.

This old place (at 18 Pond) is only a fragmentary suggestion today of its early splendor.  Once it formed the wing of a Colonial mansion owned by a proud British Tory; he was one of those gentlemen who grabbed his suitcase and left in a huff when those “Yankee upstarts” of 1776 dared to question the right of his Royal Highness George III to do with the colonists what he pleased.  Yet today, as this house stands in its original site (the rest of it having been chopped up into smaller units and distributed around the immediate locality) the arresting nostalgia of its long dead past still clings to its spacious chambers and halls.  You can walk in the front door and in doing so walk back a couple of centuries into the past.  It is not a museum, nor a show place for collected antiques, but the home of a very matter-of-fact, unassuming gentleman who earns his living as a practitioner and a teacher of art-drawing, sketching and painting.

You have to look at his work to realize the great extent of his capabilities.  You certainly could not tell it by looking at him, for he is the most unaffected man-of-talent this reporter has ever run across.  His name is Frank Rines, author of several text books on drawing; former art instructor at Boston University, now associated with the New England Center of Adult Education; member of North Shore Art Association and one of the board of governors of the Copley Society.  Mr. Rines’ wife and son are both artists.

Eighteen Pond Street is an abode of art, and that is why, in view of its history, the old house is unique today.  A hundred-and-twenty-five years ago the entire estate was a boy’s school known as Linden Hall or C. W. Green’s Academy (the old blackboards are still under the wallpaper in one of the rooms).  This school gained considerable reputation for teaching boys the useful arts of drawing and sketching, along with its other program of injecting the usual dosage of three “Rs” and classics.

A chapter in the art of dancing might well be written into the history of Linden Hall for in 1840 Signor Papanti, continental dance master, conducted classes where many a starched, polished and, more than likely, unhappy boy was prodded through a minuet or polka with some, possibly, none-too-willing partner.  The education of gentlemen was very serious business here in the old days.

An exponent of one of the newer arts is also sheltered at the present time by this comfortable old house.  He is Leo Egan, noted baseball and sports announcer.  Although Leo might vigorously protest the label of artist being applied to him, at least the fans readily admit that sports announcing requires considerable skill in observation and rapid oral composition.  Mr. Egan is married to the niece of Mrs. Rines.

Very early records show that the Pond Street estate was used to quarter Connecticut troops in the Revolutionary War just after its Tory occupant went back to England.  Legend has it that several of the Revolutionary soldiers were buried in the yard of Linden Hall and later reinterred in their own communities.

The last remaining visage of Linden Hall still gives a good account of itself for it provides shelter and inspiration for a man of talent.

Originally published in the August 12, 1948 edition of the Jamaica Plain Citizen

[Editor's Note: the house is no longer extant]