Walking Tour: The Village
Courtesy, Brookline Preservation Commission
This is a custom reproduction, with updated photos, of "The Village" from Brookline Village: Walking Tours
, published in 1977, an architectural guide prepared under the direction of architectural historian Margaret H. Floyd, by permission of the the Brookline Preservation Commission (originally "Historical Commission"). The locations below are also indexed on this map
Please see these related links:
[Editor's note: It is often not understood that today's Rt. 9 actually combines two streets: Washington St., which extends eastward from the former Brookline Bank building (referred to as "Lower Washington St.") and Boylston St. which extends westward from that point.
North Side of lower Washington St. between Brookline Ave and Pearl St.
The walking tour of the Village begins at the Hearthstone Plaza, the former site of the Punch Bowl Tavern. The early development of the Village was centered around this well-known tavern which served "refreshments for man or beast." Strategically located, all wagons and stagecoaches travelling to Boston from the west or north passed by this popular inn. Indeed, the Punch Bowl Tavern was so associated with the Town during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century that many travelers simply referred to the community as "Punch Bowl Village". However, with the construction of the Mill Dam in 1821 (Brookline Avenue), new bridges to Boston, and the opening of the Worcester Railroad, the Punch Bowl Tavern ceased to be the Town's nucleus. [1A]
The tavern was razed in 1833, and a variety of local businesses and residences soon dotted both sides of Washington Street. Most of these remained until the 1960s when renewal efforts prepared the way for the present development.
On the south side of Washington Street lies the area still known as the "Farm". This land was property of the Ward and Kimball families from the late eighteenth century through the mid 1850s. The old Ward farm, originally part of Roxbury until it was annexed to Brookline in 1844, stretched from Pond Avenue to Chestnut Street and from Washington Street to Jamaica Pond. About 1860 the land was sold to the Brookline Land Company and subsequently subdivided into lots. Shortly thereafter it was purchased by John Panter, a key figure in the development of the Village Square area. Gradually the lots were sold off, and by the late 1890s a small neighborhood, comprised of a mixture of three-deckers, small frame structures, and local businesses, had developed.
The original Hose House #1
The current fire house
The Fire Station block has also undergone a series of changes through the years. Until the mid-nineteenth century it was part of the Thomas White estate which, bounded approximately by Walnut Street and Davis Avenue, stretched south to the site of the Lincoln School on Boylston Street. In the 1860s, "Whyte's Block" was built on the easterly portion of the lot, having a row of stores, newsstands, fruit and cigar shops, and various other small enterprises. At the opposite end was Mr. Quinlan's carriage shop. Today, the only structure remaining on the block is the Fire Station, a successor to the former Good Intent Engine Company which stood at the same location. Designed in 1908 by the architects Freeman, Funk and Wilcox, the existing building is a massive red brick structure with white sandstone trimming and a copper cornice. With its swollen brackets and off-center tower, it is an assertive example of Italianate design.
Hose Hose #1 is at the end of the row of buildings, photo left
Same view in 2016
Brookline Savings Bank building, rear right
Brookline Savings Bank, 366 Washinton St. (1898-1922)
(From the collection of Joel Shield)
Diagonally across the street, at the intersection of Washington and Boylston streets, is the Brookline Savings Bank [ed. moved in 2015 to Harvard & Washington]. This parcel, also part of the Thomas White estate, was first used commercially by J. Anson Guild, who built "Guild's Block" in 1859 for his grocery business. His building, which remained in the Guild family until the early 1900s, was torn down to make way for Brookline Savings Bank in the 1920s. The Brookline Savings Bank, a longtime Village institution, first opened in 1871 at the corner of Washington and School streets.
After briefly doing business from the Colonnade Building, it was moved to a location near Harvard Square; then in 1898 moved again to 366 Washington Street, now the Brookline Gospel Chapel. In 1922, the existing bank building was constructed by the local contractor James Driscoll & Sons after designs by the architect F. Joseph Untersee. Driscoll proceeded with the construction of the "Buckeye Gray Sandstone building, with the Bank Seal in Bronze Medallion over the front door, and Tavernelle Rose Marble and mahogany interior finish." 
Typical of this building's Beaux Arts style are the classical symmetry, the round arched windows, the presence of multiple pilasters, and the dominant glass dome. Thus, thirty five years after McKim, Mead and White revived elegant classical traditions in their design of the Boston Public Library, Brookline Savings Bank was exemplifying a similar architectural theme.
The railroad dramatically changed the commercial development of Brookline Village. Lower Washington Street no longer was the hub of Brookline. Instead, one began to witness the growth of "Harvard Square", the so-called intersection of Harvard and Washington streets. As the end of stagecoach travel precipitated the decline of the Punch Bowl Tavern, the coming of the first steam engine in 1848 led to the emergence of Harvard Square as the next commercial center of Brookline.
Holtzer Cabot, 1915
Train Station, photo right
Looking down Station Street, note the large four-story brick buildings. Built around the turn of the century these structures housed the Holtzer-Cabot Electric Company, Brookline's first industry. In 1874 Mr. Charles W. Holtzer began his electrical appliance business in Harvard Hall [Editor's Note
at the apex of Harvard & Washington]. By the early 1900s, the company had outgrown its Brookline plant and opened a second plant in Boston. Finally, in 1915 the Holtzer-Cabot business abandoned its Station Street operations. Since that time, the building has been used for a variety of commercial and light industrial uses.
Walking along Washington Street, one cannot overlook the fine collection of Panel Brick buildings lining both sides of the street. The Panel Brick style flourished during the 1870s and 1880s throughout the Boston area. As the name indicates, brick masonry was used to create a decorative pattern of projecting or receding panels.
Trademarks of the style are stepped corbel tables, string courses with geometric indentations, and various cross-shaped panels which animate the facade with their crisp patterns. The Panel Brick ornamentation is often centered at points of architectural interest such as cornices, pilasters, windows, and doors. The wall surface itself is also divided into panels of ornamental detail which vie for the eye's attention. Historically, the Panel Brick style holds a critical position in architectural development. First, it indicated a decided break from the restraining canons of classical architecture prevalent through the Civil War. Second, the experimental way in which brick designs were substituted for classical details was a prelude to the individualistic forms and varied materials of the Queen Anne style. Third, the Panel Brick style may be viewed as an early attempt to design a building which reflects the nature of the building materials, an attitude which looked forward to the work of H.H. Richardson in the 1880s.
The Colonnade Buildings
One of the early examples of the Panel Brick style in the Village are the Colonnade Buildings at 207-241 Washington Street. This property and, in fact, all of the land in the Village Square were part of the Davis farm through the early nineteenth century. In the late 1860s, John Panter purchased the large lot between Andem Place and Station Street from Ginery Twichell and the Boston and Albany Railroad Corporation. Mr. Panter paid $12,000 for the open pasture and a dwelling. In 1872, he built the northerly and middle sections of the Colonnade Building; in 1875 the portion of the building abutting Station Street, originally known as the Monteith, was completed. This southerly portion is the only section which has remained largely unaltered through the years. The other two sections of the Colonnade have both undergone major renovations so that the original fenestration remains only on the third floor. In spite of these changes, many details can still be seen such as the brick pattern between floor levels, the corbelled cornice, the segmental arched windows with radiating brick voussoirs, and the cast-iron Corinthian columns.
Across the street is an attractive building which had previously been a fish market and a hardware store. Built in the late 1870s or early 1880s by Mr. Reuben Chace, the building's interior and exterior were restored in the 1970s. Again, note the segmental arches above the windows and the recessed diamond brick patterning motif between floors. An equally attractive detail is the arched brickwork along the cornice with stepped corbels creating a dropped pendant effect.
St. Andrew Building
At the eastern corner of Davis Avenue and Washington Street stands another brick edifice, the St. Andrew Building. Formerly part of the Davis estate, this parcel came into Mr. Panter's possession in 1866. Mr. Panter paid $10,848 for the property and in 1875 erected the St. Andrew Building and the Davis Mansion*. Again one sees many of the same features exhibited by the Colonnade Building across the street-the segmental arched windows, the string courses separating the various floors, the elaborate brickwork along the cornice, and the Corinthian columns. Of course, the decorative brick patterning is not exactly the same. Rather each building has unique detail- a spontaneous combination of angled, "stepped", pyramidal, or diamond shapes. Another interesting feature of the St. Andrew Building is the division of the facade into many separate units. This is achieved not only through the use of string courses, but also through the interplay of recessed bays and the slightly projecting columnar brickwork.
*Because there were several Davis houses in this neighborhood, a distinction should be made. The Ebenezer Davis house was a late seventeenth century gambrel structure which once stood on the easterly side of Harvard Square between Kent Street and Andem Place. The Benjamin Davis house was built circa 1760 in the Federal style by Ebenezer Davis for his son Benjamin Davis. Finally, the Davis Mansion was constructed in 1875 for John Panter-undoubtedly so-named because the Davis family had owned the property previously and figured prominently in the Town's early history.
10 Davis Ave.
The McLeod Mansion, 14 Davis Ave.
 A brief detour down Davis Avenue reveals three magnificent Panel Brick residences, which dominate the streetscape. At 10 Davis Avenue is the Davis Mansion built in 1875, and to its right the McLeod Mansion. In 1885 Mr. Panter joined with a Dr. T.E. Francis in the purchase of the only remaining parcel of the Davis estate on this street. Upon his portion of the land Mr. Panter built the McLeod Mansion in memory of his deceased wife.
11 & 15 Davis Ave.
Across the street at 11-15 Davis Avenue is a building constructed several years after the Davis Mansion. Of particular note is its central gable, piercing the flat roof with its unusual checkered brick. The resemblance of these three buildings to the Panel Brick commercial buildings on Washington Street is easy to see. There are brick, string courses, arched windows, and stepped corbel tables. However, there are differences. First, the facades of these residences are broken by polygonal multi-storied bays in contrast to the predominantly flat facade treatment to be seen on Washington Street. Second, the recessed cross motif, a typical device of the Panel Brick style, is highly developed on these buildings.
The First Seamans Building
Seamans Building, 256 Washington St.
At the western corner of Davis Avenue and Washington Street is a fine four-story brick building, erected by Mr. James M. Seamans who, along with Mr. Panter, was a key figure in the development of the Square. In 1866 he bought this corner lot and relocated his grocery business from his lower Washington Street address. In 1888 he moved the two-story wooden structure which had been on this site and erected the existing brick building. Built from designs of Messrs. Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, a successor firm to H.H. Richardson, it is an early example of thoughtful urban design. Unlike its many neighbors, the emphasis is not solely upon decorative brick patterning. Rather, it echoes the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition with its rounded corner edges and heavy arches. Yet it easily blends with the Panel Brick buildings in massing, height, and scale.
280 & 284 Washington St.
Further down at 280-284 Washington Street is a building constructed by Reuben A. Chace in 1875, which was known as the "Reubens". Also the first home of the Brookline National Bank (now the Brookline Trust Company) it is another fine example of Panel Brick architecture with its stepped corbel table along the cornice, decorative brickwork between the floors, and iron cresting along the central gabled roofline.
1906 Rhodes Building, Standing Today
 The intersection of Harvard and Washington streets has a long and interesting history. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Dana Tavern stood here as a famous stopping place for farmers who came to Boston from the surrounding countryside to sell their produce. In the open space in front of the tavern were the town scales. When the Dana Tavern was destroyed by fire in 1816, a Baptist Church was built upon the site. In 1859 John Panter purchased the church and soon thereafter altered it into a business block by moving it to a position parallel with Harvard Street and constructing stores beneath it. Harvard Hall, the pedimented building in the old photograph, was soon erected on the pivotal intersection site. Finally, in 1905-6 the present edifice was constructed and became the home of Rhodes Brothers grocery business. A close look at the hip roof two-story structure of today's complex shows it was originally a separate building. Built approximately twenty-five years earlier than the one-story section, it was the former Village Post Office.
Rooney Building, 7-9 Harvard Square
Across the street at 7-9 Harvard Square is the Rooney Building. James Rooney originally operated his shoe business in the remodeled Baptist Church. In the early 1870s, he purchased the land between Kent and Andem Place, and in 1876 erected the "Gothic" brick building along with the other buildings in the photograph. As the picture shows, only the first floor of the Rooney building has undergone major alterations. On the second floor, for example, there are sharply pointed brick lintels intermixed with projecting diamond shaped brickwork. On one window the initial "R" is carved into the sandstone, presumably at the request of Mr. Rooney [Editor's Note
second window from the right, second floor]. On the third floor are simpler arched windows, with vertical brick patterning under the sills. Finally, the top floor windows have only sandstone sills and lintels with rows of tar-dipped bricks that provide decorative accentuation to the facade.
Brookline Trust Building
In contrast to the whimsical detailing of the Rooney Building is the massive character of the adjacent Brookline Trust building. A fine complement to 256 Washington Street, it too has segmental arches above grouped windows. Again there are the radiating bricks which provide particularly attractive detailing on the elongated third floor windows. Also note the dentilled cornice, suggesting the classical influences of the 1890s. The history of this building also deserves comment. Organized in 1886, the operations of the Brookline National Bank remained in the "Reubens" [Editor's note
: see 284 Washington St., above] until 1893 when its increased business necessitated larger facilities. As a result a lease was taken in this recently completed structure at the corner of Kent and Harvard streets. Known as the Lowe Building, it was constructed in 1893 by the heirs of Abraham T. Lowe. The Brookline National Bank continued to rent until 1902 when the institution purchased the building and commissioned the architects Peabody and Stearns to prepare plans for extensive alterations. The roof was lifted about 8 feet and a cornice of heavy galvanized iron was added. The plans also included a granite facade on the first floor which has, in turn, been resurfaced with the present marble treatment. When the renovation was completed, the Riverdale Press (including The Chronicle) and the Masonic Lodge were among the first tenants.
7 Kent St.
Along Kent Street and Webster Place behind the Village commercial district is a fine collection of homes. Kent Street, one of the earliest roadways in Brookline, was built from Washington Street to the point where it joins Station Street. Originally, a cart road leading across the Davis farm, it was first known as Harrison Place in honor of President Harrison and renamed Kent Street in the 1880s. The house at 7 Kent Street was once the home of the merchant, James Rooney. Built in the 1870s, it is a Greek Revival building with Italianate details as evident in the rounded doorway, the 2/2 bay windows, and the bracketed eaves.
9-11 Kent St.
Next door at 9-11 Kent Street is a three-story mansard structure built circa 1880 by the local contractor, James Driscoll. It is a particularly fine building with the tar-dipped bricks, a patterned slate roof, and elegant treatment of the lintels above the windows. Certainly it is well-integrated with the Village commercial area.
17 Kent St.
Further down the street at numbers 17, 21, 29-31 and 32 Kent Street are houses built between 1844-55. Several different stylistic treatments are apparent. At 17 Kent Street is a rectangular Greek Revival structure embellished with Italianate bracketing and jigsaw detailing. In contrast to the wide single brackets at 9-11 Kent Street, this building has paired bracketing which is indicative of an earlier construction date. 
At 29-31 Kent Street is the undecorated basic temple 18 form, of a Greek Revival structure which stands in strong juxtaposition to the "gingerbread" detailing of its neighbor. 
Across the street at 32 Kent Street is a late Federal vernacular farmhouse. Characteristic of its early construction is the paneling below the bay window and the elongated windows.
40 Kent St.
At 40 Kent Street is the former Ginery Twichell house. This gentleman, a celebrated local figure who was President of the Boston and Worcester Railroad and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, built the house in 1851 and lived there until his death in 1883. Exemplary of high style Italianate tradition are the canopy window treatment (similar to many buildings in Newport, R.I.}, the cupola, the quoining, the trellised porch supports, and the flushboarding made to imitate stone.
38-40 Webster Place
30-32 Webster Place
Webster Place, named for the great statesman Daniel Webster, is of a more recent vintage than Kent Street. However, it does boast two handsome structures at numbers 30-32 and 38-40. 
In the Greek Revival style, 38-40 Webster Place was built between 1850-55. Characteristic of the style are the wide overhang of the roof, the floor-length windows, the flushboarding, and the pilastered door-way with sidelights. 
It is believed that the Richard Crocker family was the original owner of 30-32 Webster Place. Mrs. Crocker was a Homer, niece of the famous artist Winslow Homer. Built between 1850-55, it is a transitional Federal style building. Characteristic of the period are the brick dentils along the cornice, the symmetry of the facade and the 6/6 windows. However, the full-length first floor windows and portico at the entrance are suggestive of the then-rising Greek Revival tradition.
35 and 37 Harvard Street
Returning to Harvard Street, one can see that most of the commercial buildings here postdate the earlier Panel Brick style of the Village development; yet several of these are worth noting. 
The Woolworth building, a two-story brick structure built in 1933, boasts a unique copper skylight. 
A more recent construction is the office building at 29 Harvard Street. Built in 1969, it shows how a modern building can be well-integrated with the old through a sensitivity to materials, height, and fenestration. 
Mention should also be made of the two buildings at 35 and 37 Harvard Street. Built circa 1890, this pair has several noteworthy details-the modest stepped corbel table, the sandstone lintels, the "zipper" bricks on the projecting polygonal bays and the grouped windows of the third story. It should be recalled that the grouped windows were also seen on the Brookline Trust building and 256 Washington St.
[Editor's note: The
Linden Place walking tour begins at St. Mary's church, just past 35 and 37 Harvard Street.
Old Town Hall
Pierce Primary School
A number of blocks in the Village have changed significantly over the years, particularly the area around Town Hall. Where the small landscaped park is today used to stand the former Town Hall, a Gothic structure designed in 1871 by S.J.F. Thayer and demolished in the 1960s. Several other buildings in the vicinity were also torn down during this time, including the old Pierce Grammar School designed by J.A. Schweinfurth. Schweinfurth, who worked for the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, was one of the architects for the Pierce Primary School which is still standing.  The original form of this building, an Italianate structure hidden behind present facade, was constructed in 1855; late in 1904 Schweinfurth was hired to enlarge it. He did so in the Georgian Revival style using New Hampshire waterstruck brick and classical Indiana limestone trimming. It should also be noted that the Parish Hall at St. Paul's Church was modeled after designs of Schweinfurth.
328, 330, 332 Washington St.
Before leaving this area, note the Italianate and Greek Revival houses on Holden Street which face the Town Hall Green. 
As one walks down Washington Street away from the Village Square, do not miss the Second Empire apartment house on the left with its hexagonal slate roof, rounded bays, brownstone lintels, and decorative brick patterned cornice. Built in the 1870s, this brick block was once occupied by the astronomer Robert Treat Paine.
Hook & Ladder 1, Hose House 2, Circa 1895. Still Standing.
Fred Foster (standing) and George Newcomb (driver)
Farther on the left past Thayer Street is the Fire Station, a mansard structure built in 1871. 
Across the street at 361 Washington Street is the Brookline Public Library designed in 1909-10, by the architect R. Clipston Sturgis just before he began work on the wings of the State House in Boston. Constructed of red Dutch sandstruck brick and buff-colored Indiana limestone, the library is sited approximately in the same location as the earlier mansard edifice which it replaced.
Brookline Savings Bank, 366 Washinton St.
370 Washington St. visible on the right
(From the collection of Joel Shield)
At 366 Washington Street stands the former Brookline Savings Bank. Designed in 1898 by the architect Mr. F. Joseph Untersee, the building is constructed of light brick and Indiana limestone. The first impression is one of simplicity and solidity despite the elaborate detailing-the egg and dart motif around windows and doors; the carve, modillions on the entrance bay; the loop molding along the cornice; and the baroque pediment above the front door.
370 Washington St.
Near Cypress Street, 370 Washington is a mansard house, once the home of David Daniels, principal of Pierce Grammar School. Indeed a few of the remaining residences still give the streetscape a flavor of earlier days when the Village was not strictly a commercial area, but a free mix of residences and businesses-with people living near where they worked.