Perkins and Storey Families

When China trade merchant brothers Thomas and James Perkins headed south of Boston for summer country homes in the early 1800's, the younger Thomas built a house (now gone) near Jamaica Plain in Brookline, at Heath and Warren Streets, while James chose the shores of Jamaica Pond, building Pinebank I in 1802. Pinebank III pitifully stands today on the site, the only residence spared in the Jamaica Park Project of the 1890's. Here James died in 1822 with Pinebank going to his grandchildren: Charles, Edward and Sarah. Sarah continued to live there after she married Henry Cleveland in 1838. Her letters, which are preserved in the New York Public Library, tell of her early life at the house: boating on the Pond starting at the Perkins Boathouse on the Cove (which was filled in by the city by 1920), long horseback rides, and the like.

After her husband's early death in 1843, Mrs. Cleveland relinquished her share in Pinebank to Edward upon his marriage. By 1848 he had torn down Pinebank I to build a French-style mansion with mansard roof, which Sarah termed not to her liking. She described the first home's demolition to Charles, in Europe, and 20 years later, recorded the burning of Pinebank II due to a chimney fire on February 10, 1868.

Two years later, Edward built the Pinebank (number three) that we know today. Sarah termed its 11,000 white molded bricks from England "the 11,000 Virgins of St. Ursula" and gave her avid stamp of approval. She made her observation from her home, Nutwood, built in 1866 on the ridge opposite Pinebank on the tongue of high land on the Pond's north shore next to the Quincy Shaw's. This land she shared with Charles, now home from studies in Europe, in a house called Oakwood, approached by the now leaf-covered stairway at Perkins and Chestnut Streets.

Both sides of Chestnut Street on the Boston side were Perkins land until the area on the Ward's Pond side was sold to the Jamaica Plain Aqueduct Company-to become parkland in the 1890's. Oakwood and Nutwood stood until the early 1970's when they became part of the Cabot Estate Condominiums and (unlike the Shaw House) were demolished.

As an art historian and author, Charles became the best-known Perkins of his generation. The former school on St. Botolph Street was named for him. Graduating from Harvard in 1843, he studied art in Italy and France, before turning to music. Some of his works survive. He specialized in Renaissance Art, and several books that he authored became basic texts in the field. Like his neighbors, he made time for civic causes like the Boston Art Club, the Boston School Board (1870-83), the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Handel & Hayden Society. Charles gave the Beethoven statue that today graces the New England Conservatory, and pushed for music and art training in American schools. He also lectured before the Lowell Institute.

Charles Perkins' life ended tragically in August 1886, when he was thrown from a carriage and instantly killed. His son Charles, Jr., an architect, took over Oakwood and lived out his life there. Though the Cleveland's had children, like the Shaw's, they were gone from the Pond by 1920.

  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Into Nutwood moved Charles Moorfield Storey and his wife Susan. Son of eminent jurist and author, Moorfield Storey of Roxbury (1845-1929), Charles graduated from Harvard in 1912, and had garnered a law degree by 1915. He entered a Boston law firm, but was in Washington on government business during World War I. A hater of political corruption like his father and endowed with a keen sense of public duty like his neighbors, Storey soon was on boards that watched over Boston City Hall. He was active in academic institutions and various societies, while also sitting on the boards of various companies.

Storey is remembered for his political collision with Governor Curley, who in 1935 removed Storey from the watchdog Finance Commission on a trumped-up charge to make room for a gubernatorial crony. Storey, a tall, slim man with a high sense of public duty, took it all in stride. The Governor's Council later passed a resolution proclaiming belief in Storey's integrity. He served the Commission again from 1939 to 1942.

Storey worked for the government once more in World War II and lost a son in action. The family regretfully moved out of 229 Perkins Street in 1974 and six years later Charles Storey died in Brookline at age 91. His recipe for longevity was walking three miles a day, eating fish, and being happy, satisfied, and interested in what one does. His Nutwood lives on in exterior and interior photographs preserved in various places in the City.

Sources:

Dictionary of American Biography; National Cyclopedia of American Biography; Obituary, Boston Globe, March 20, 1980; C. Everitt, The Tavern at 100, 1984; Cabot, Skating on Jamaica Pond; S.P. Shaw, grandson.

Written by Walter H. Marx. Reprinted with permission from the November 6, 1992 Jamaica Plain Gazette.

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