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Neighborhood Walking Tour

Welcome to the Salisbury Road-Corey Farm (SRCF) neighborhood!  The following tour, created as part of the Brookline 300 celebration in 2005, provides a glimpse of the social, cultural and architectural history of our neighborhood.

 

Introduction.  As with many other Brookline neighborhoods, SRCF began as woods and fields and slowly evolved to a working farm and large estates and finally to houses and businesses on subdivided land.  Early maps of land ownership show Robert Reynolds received this area as an allotment in 1638; that ownership was passed to Henry Stephens by 1667 and on to his son-in-law John Winchester around 1693.  The Winchesters owned several large tracts throughout town, and the land stayed in the family until Isaac Winchester’s heirs sold 60 acres to Timothy Corey, newly arrived from Weston, around 1771.  


An early photograph of the Corey Home, 808 Washington St.  From the Archives of All Saints Church, Brookline, MA.

START 1. Begin at the corner of Washington St. and Downing Road.  This is a great place to get a sense of the early days particularly since three of the Corey farm buildings still exist.  The fieldstone house on the corner (786 Washington) was built in 1843 to replace the original Isaac Winchester house Timothy Corey (later known as Captain Timothy Corey) bought and lived in until his death in 1811. The Winchester house was described as “unpainted and black with age” so the stone house caused great interest at the time.  It was the second house built by Captain Timothy’s son, known as Deacon Timothy. The first is the yellow house at 808 Washington St. built in 1806. Although the house has undergone quite a bit of renovation, including the modification of the entrance from Washington St. to the side, the creation of a third floor, and the removal of an ell that housed a kitchen, it remains a wonderful example of an adapted federal style house and certainly appears as the quintessential old farmhouse.  Further down Washington at #816 is the old barn (now converted into a 2-family house).  It was moved to the present location sometime between 1907-1913.

As you look over the 3 properties, consider that Washington Street (originally known as Watertown Road) was a narrow, dusty and winding country road in the early 1800’s.  It wasn’t widened and improved until 1873.  But by the early 1800’s the Corey family owned property on both sides of the road.  Their land extended up and over what is now called Corey Hill to about what is now Winchester Road, and in the other direction past Englewood Ave.  Across Washington St. from the stone house was a small house built by Oliver Whyte.  Captain Corey bought the Whyte land in 1797 and gave some of the parcel to his son (known as Deacon Elijah Corey) in 1800.  Elijah lived there until 1826 and sold the land to James Bartlett in 1843.  The Corey Farm was well known for its orchards, but they also had dairy cows, grew corn and rye, peas, beans and other produce.

Walk south on Washington Street As you pass beyond the stone house imagine in 1855 there was another Corey house, built by the family of Elijah near what is now Evans Road.  It was later sold to Ransom Evans, and demolished in 1904.  In 1855, it was just one of  5 or 6 houses that lined Washington St. from Beacon St. to the Brighton line; the Bartlett place was the only building on the east side of Washington Street.

2. Washington St. and Evans Road  Not much is known about Ransom Evans other than he worked for a fruit and vegetable dealer at Fanueil Hall Market, but certainly Evans Road bears his name.  Unfortunately, no pictures of the old Corey/Evans place are known.  But now we should fast-forward to the 20th century because the current house at  762 Washington is of note on several counts.  It was built in 1907 by a developer and sold to Frank Archer, initially a salesman and later  Executive Director of the Moxie soft drink company.  Archer featured the Harry Ramsey-designed house in company promotional materials but although the house, designed in the neo-rationalist style with some Mediterranean overtones, is striking, it is the carriage house at 8 Evans Road that gets the most attention.  It was built in 1907, also designed by Ramsey, and was first known as an ‘auto garage’ and noted for its elaborate Spanish Mission style. Today, it’s separate from the house and used as a museum.

Continuing south on Washington St., and back into the 19th century, note that the largest and most impressive of the Corey homes no longer exists.  It was a mansion built by Deacon Elijah Corey in 1826, and left to his daughter Elizabeth Corey Sears.  It was demolished in 1897 and the land sold to the West End Land Co.  It sat near what is now Salisbury Road and, fortunately, as shown below, there are pictures of the grand house.

 

 

 The 2 houses now at the corner of Salisbury and Washington St. were built around 1899.  740 Washington is a Colonial revival example, the first of many others along Washington St.  736 Washington is a Queen Anne variation, designed by F. Joseph Untersee, an architect better known for bank buildings.  Across the street in what is now the Driscoll school playground, appeared several large houses that were torn down to provide a larger lot for the school.  The Driscoll School opened in 1911 to respond to the growth in the Washington Square area, and overcrowding at both Runkle and Pierce schools.  Proceed south to Washington Square.

3. Washington St. and Beacon St.  Although Beacon Street was constructed in 1851, it remained a country road in parts until the 1880’s.  At mid-century there were but a few houses near this corner.  Around 1886, Henry Whitney began buying land along Beacon Street and formulated a plan to widen Beacon Street and create a new trolley line that would allow quicker and cheaper access to Boston. He formed the West End Land Co. to develop real estate in the area, and elicited the help of Frederick L. Olmstead to develop the Beacon Street improvement plan.  In 1888 the Corey Family and other landowners began selling land to West End.  The single most significant stimulus for SRCF neighborhood development was the widening of Beacon Street and the simultaneous creation of the trolley line.  The first shops began appearing in Washington Square in the late 1800’s.  By 1914 there were more than 40 stores. Continue west on Beacon Street. 

4. Corner Beacon St. and Williston Road.  One of the signature locations along this section of the street was the Beaconsfield Hotel (1731 Beacon), (pictured below) owned and operated by Henry Whitney.  It was an elegant building and, according to advertising around 1914, offered every imaginable convenience.  It boasted “a semi-country life for the summer, and a pleasant alternative to seashore residence, yet almost within the shadow of the city”.  Though some have characterized it as a place for dowagers, in its day it was indicative of the fashionable character of the neighborhood.

                                        Postcard from private collection of Kathy Bell

Continue west on Beacon Street.

5.  Corner Corey Road and Beacon Street.  What is now Corey Road appears as Summer Road, cutting across the Corey Farm on some 1870 and 1880 maps.  It was taken over by the town and developed first as Dean Road in 1892 and later changed to Corey Road in 1893.  Not surprisingly, the dates correspond to the early construction along the road.  As you begin to walk north on Corey Road from Beacon Street, the row of Medieval revival and shingle style townhouses on the left built by Arthur Bowditch in 1896 stand out.  Bowditch designed several other apartment and townhouses in Brookline, most notably Stoneholm at 1517 Beacon Street.  As you walk along Corey Road towards Salisbury Road, note that most of the development in the SRCF neighborhood developed from west to east.  Several other homes on Salisbury between Kilsyth Road and Corey Road and others on the western end of Windsor Road also were built in the early 1890’s. In the early days the western part of the neighborhood was considered part of Aberdeen, a residential section with “detached single and two family houses, townhouses and apartment houses.”  Although Aberdeen is a Brighton neighborhood, initially there was more overlap.  It was listed as an entry in the 1892 Brookline Blue Book which listed residents by street and house number and included Brookline and Brighton residents together.  One obvious result of the Aberdeen area in the SRCF neighborhood is the names of many of the streets:  Windsor, Salisbury, Kilsyth and Williston were created to adhere to the Scottish and English designation of Aberdeen. 

Salisbury Road contains a wide array of architectural styles including Queen Anne, Shingle, Colonial revival and Neo-rationalist.  Many noteworthy residential architects of the day worked in this area,  Bowditch designed 134 Salisbury (next door to the townhouses on Corey Road); some houses (including 9, 25, 29, 71, 85, 111 and 121) are Harry Ramsey designs while Loring and Phipps and Alonzo Wright each designed several others.  Continue north on Corey Road.

 

6.  Corey and Windsor Roads.  In his memoir, Morris Hall, the original owner of 58 Corey Road recounted his early days in the neighborhood as follows: “The urge to own our own house had been in our thoughts for sometime.  Business had prospered and I felt financially able to undertake such a step.  We had heard of the town of Brookline, a fast-growing suburb of Boston.  In company with a business associate, Mr. Wendell F. Brown, we investigated with a view to buying land and building.  We bought a lot and built a duplex house of the corner of Corey and Windsor Roads in Brookline……Our house was in a semi-rural section.  Opposite to us was a large market garden operated for several years, but giving way to the growth of the town and demand for new homes.  The stores were almost a mile away, as was also the nearest church.  But not for long.  In a few short years, many new houses had sprung up all around us and two more churches, and more conveniently located stores were added to the neighborhood.” 

 

Looking west on Windsor Road from Corey, one can see a section of homes largely unchanged since their construction over 110 years ago.  Houses on the north side or ‘sunny side’ of the street were built first, and all were on land developed by the West End Land Company.  Many fine examples of Colonial Revival architecture may be found, particularly #53, 56, 59 and 65 Windsor while 65 also displays Queen Anne features.  60 Windsor displays a Georgian Revival style.  Early directories and street lists indicate professions of some of the early residents include a stockbroker, physician, shoe machinery manufacturer, a merchant, insurance company president and an assortment of businessmen.  Records show that several families had live-in maids and some list chauffeurs as well.   Street list records from 1919 show similar professions to those found in the early days for occupants of Windsor Road, including a lawyer, banker, doctor, and insurance executive.

Many of the homes on the east side of Windsor Road were built on speculation by W.K. Corey around 1915, and include three designed by A.D. Wright at 16, 22 and 25.  Harry Ramsey designed the stucco Neo-rationalist and Neo-Tudor home at 7 Windsor.

 Recent conversations with several Windsor Road residents as part of an oral history project reveal even more about the early neighborhood.  The family at 68 Windsor was involved with Vaudeville acts and entertained many well-known personalities in their home.  One story revealed that Babe Ruth became a little too raucous and was asked to leave.  He showed his displeasure by throwing a tantrum out on Windsor Road! 

 Continue walking north on Corey Road and turn right onto Evans Roads.  Note the large Colonial revival home at #92.  It  was designed by architect W.C. Collett for Edgar Rhodes in 1909.  Rhodes had a grocery and provisions store in Brookline and used Collett again to design a building for him in Washington Square.  He designed a similar home for his brother Leonard Rhodes at 9 Downing Road that you may pass going back to the beginning of this tour.

 Proceed down Evans Road to the corner.

7. Garden Circle at Evans, Williston and Downing Roads.  Our final stop is a recent addition to the neighborhood.  The traffic circle is the result of SRCF Neighborhood Association members working with town officials to introduce traffic calming to our neighborhood.   It represents collaboration of the best kind, solving a problem in an aesthetically pleasing manner, and also shows the interest and pride of so many in this neighborhood!

 This walking tour was developed by Kathy Bell with help from Jenni Seicol,  Nancye Mims, Mrs. Fran Lewis,  Evelyn Cohen,  Andrew Foley, Rob Ross, Greer Hardwicke of the Brookline Preservation Office, Anne Clark of the Brookline Public Library and Mary Alice Mohr of All Saints Church Archives.

© Salisbury Road-Corey Farm Neighborhood Association

 

 



 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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