Brookline Historical Society
Upcoming Event: The Annual Spring Program
Public Squares and Parks Reserved
An Early History of Open Space in Brookline
Sunday, May 15, 2022, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Hunneman Hall, 2nd floor, Brookline Public Library
361 Washington Street, Brookline
Brookline’s parks and open spaces -- from small neighborhood playgrounds to large expanses like Larz Anderson Park -- are treasured by residents and visitors alike. And that’s no accident. As early as 1853, Brookline Town Meeting took up a proposal to identify locations in town where public squares and parks could be created. New parks and public open spaces -- including Emerson Park, formerly the Elijah Emerson estate (shown, before and after) -- were added in the 19th and 20th centuries and as recently as 2016.

Join Brookline Historical Society president Ken Liss at the Brookline Village Library, 361 Washington Street, for a look at the early history of the Town’s efforts to secure and preserve open spaces in a growing and changing community.
Emerson House, Davis Ave.
Elijah Emerson Estate, Davis Ave.
Looking south toward Davis Ave. at the rear of the house. On the left are the stables.
Emerson Park Today
Emerson Park
Put On Your Walking Shoes & Step Into the Past:
Spring Walking Tours

Brookline Village Walking Tour
When: Sunday, May 15, 2022, 10:00am -11:30am
Meet: The Village Works, 220 Washington Street, Brookline
Led by: Ken Liss of the Brookline Historical Society
Distance: 1 1/2 mile
Brookline Village, Harvard Sq.
Brookline Village, circa 1915
The tour will begin and end at The Village Works, 202 Washington Street, in a 19th century building that began as the shop of a local house painter and has been a fish market, a hardware store, and a series of restaurants (including The Village Coach House and Davios).

Highlights will include:
  • Brookline’s earliest commercial center, featuring brick buildings from the 1870s
  • The Lindens, one of the first planned residential developments in town (1840s)
  • Emerson Garden and the Elijah Emerson House on Davis Avenue (1846)
  • White Place, with one of the largest concentrations of vernacular architecture in Brookline
  • The town’s civic center, site of the Town Hall, the public library, the Pierce School, and other municipal buildings.

Blake Park: History of a Neighborhood
Led by: Ken Liss of the Brookline Historical Society
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2022, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Meet: Brookline High School, 115 Greenough Street
Distance: About one mile
Blake Map
In 1880, banker Arthur Welland Blake engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to draw plans for the subdivision into roads and lots of the Blake family estate on the lower part of Brookline's Aspinwall Hill. Olmsted's plans were never executed, and the estate remained something of an anomaly; a large tract of open land renowned for its landscaping in the heart of a community rapidly developing as a "streetcar suburb". Join Ken Liss from the Brookline Historical Society to learn how the neighborhood of "Blake Park" finally emerged — despite failed plans, untimely deaths, and financial scandal — four decades after it was first conceived.
President Ken Liss Blogs on Brookline Past & Present
19th Century Tobogganing on Corey Hill
A winter storm in Brookline today brings sledders to local hills, carrying all manner of conveyance for children and adults alike: classic Flexible Flyers; modern plastic models in a variety of shapes and colors; even cardboard boxes and purloined cafeteria trays. 130 years ago, it also broug...
See the full blog at
Welcome to the Brookline Historical Society
The Brookline Historical Society is a non-profit community organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Brookline's diverse history. The society's headquarters are located in the heart of Coolidge Corner at the Edward Devotion House, one of Brookline's oldest colonial period structures. The Society also maintains the circa 1780 Widow Harris House as well as the Putterham School located in Larz Anderson Park. Our membership program is active and volunteers are welcome.
Brookline Village, Harvard Sq.

We invite you to browse our growing online collection of over 1000 historic photos, postcards, atlases and more.
Virtual Walking Tour
Click to Start Tour
Brookline's rich history can now take a virtual walking tour of the town via our new online map. The map presents pictures and descriptions (with links for more information) about homes, commercial buildings, churches and synagogues, schools, neighborhoods, parks, and other parts of the town.

Most of the sites marked on the map are in Brookline Village, Coolidge Corner, Longwood, and the area around the First Parish Church and the old Village Green. Other sites and other areas of Brookline are being added, helping to bring to light stories behind familiar and not-so-familiar places in town.