Brookline Historical Society
Put On Your Walking Shoes & Step Into the Past:
Fall Walking Tours

150 Years of Shopping in Coolidge Corner
Led by: Ken Liss of the Brookline Historical Society
Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021, 9:00am – 10:00am
Meet: Coolidge Corner Inbound T-Stop, Brookline
Distance: About 1/2 mile
Register: coolidgecornertour10-3-2021.eventbrite.com
Coolidge & Brother Store, 1887
Coolidge & Brother Store, 1887
Coolidge Corner was home to just one store—Coolidge & Brother—from the 1850s to the 1890s. Following the widening of Beacon Street in 1887-88 and the arrival of the S.S. Pierce store a few years later, a major new shopping district took root. Almost all of the existing buildings in this still thriving commercial area were built between 1890 and 1930. Join Brookline Historical Society President Ken Liss for a journey back to the initial development of the Coolidge Corner business district and get a glimpse of local shopping in the early decades of the 20th Century.


The Beaconsfield Terraces:
"An Experiment in Domestic Economy"

When: Sunday, October 10th, 2021, 10:00am - 11:00am
Meet: Star Market, 1717 Beacon Street, Brookline
Led by: Ken Liss of the Brookline Historical Society
Distance: 1 mile
Register: beaconsfieldtour10-10-2021.eventbrite.com
Beaconsfield Terraces
The Beaconsfield Terraces, on the south side of Beacon Street from Dean Road to just beyond Tappan Street, were one of the more unusual developments to follow the creation of the Beacon Street boulevard in the 1880s. Built by Eugene Knapp, a wool merchant, in the early 1890s the terraces were a residential complex in which people owned their units but shared ownership of a 6-acre park, stables, a playhouse (known as the Casino), tennis courts, a playground, and a central heating plant.A bell system connected the houses to the stables so that people could call for their horse and carriage. Today, only the residential buildings (Richter, Frances, Marguerite, Fillmore, Gordon, Bernard, and Parkman Terraces) remain.

Learn more about the Beaconsfield Terraces in this one-hour walking tour led by Brookline Historical Society president Ken Liss.


Brookline Village Walking Tour
When: Sunday, October 17th, 2021, 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
Register: brooklinevillagetour10-17-2021.eventbrite.com
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, October 24th, 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Meet: Brookline High School, 115 Greenough Street
Distance: About one mile
Register: blakeparktour10-24-2021.eventbrite.com
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.
Video Presentations
Ken Liss takes his outdoor walking tour indoors with this video virtual walking tour. Enhancing the outdoor experience is the video juxtaposition of the old stores and locations with their present-day iterations.
Boulevard Trust 1900s
Ken Liss again reprises one of his outdoor walking tours with this augmented video version exploring the developments of Eugene Knapp, forerunners of today's condo complexes with their shared infrastructures.
Terraces
Kathy Bisbee, Executive Director of the Brookline Interactive Group, interviews Ken Liss about how the 1918 flu epidemic affected Brookline and the striking parallels with the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
DaleyDrug
President Ken Liss Blogs on Brookline Past & Present
113-Year-Old Brookline Electric Car Wins Award
Brookline's history with electric cars goes back to --- well, pretty much back to the beginnings of electric vehicles in the United States. The first non-experimental electric car made in the U.S. was built in Brookline in 1891, with a body by local carriage maker Michael Quinlan and an engine by th...
See the full blog at brooklinehistory.blogspot.com
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.