Brookline Historical Society
Recent Additions

Washington St. at the Boston Border
The exact location of this house has not been confirmed but it appears to be located at the southeast corner of Washington St. and River Rd. on property owned by Eustratios Vyres. The apartment buildings on the Riverway in Boston can be viewed in the rear.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Harvard Square, April 11, 1906
Looking north on Harvard St. from Harvard Square. Rhodes Bros., Groceries and Provisions, which opened at the very end of 1905. This building, which still stands today, replaced the Harvard Hall Building which, following a contentious struggle with the town, was taken down after being downsized to accommodate the widening of Harvard St. Rhodes Bros. remained there until World War II.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Muddy River Project, November 12, 1908
Looking north toward Chapel St. from the Muddy River just east of the Longwood Ave. bridge. In the foreground is the carriage house of the Richards estate, location of the present-day Longwood Towers. On the left is the rear of the house at 287 Kent St., still standing.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Muddy River Project, October 28, 1908
Looking north toward Chapel St. from the Muddy River just east of the Longwood Ave. bridge. In the foreground is the carriage house of the Richards estate, location of the present-day Longwood Towers. In the upper left corner is the rear of the house at 287 Kent St., still standing.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Lancaster Terrace, February 5, 1921
138 Lancaster Terrace is on the left, the rear of 232 Summit Ave. is on the right, both still standing. Photo by Henry A. Varney, Brookline town engineer, whose car is in the photo.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
First Parish Church, Second Building
In 1806, this church was erected on the present-day site of the First Parish Unitarian Church. It replaced the original church which was located across Walnut St. opposite the Pierce Hall building.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Coolidge Corner, January 1889
Looking north on Harvard St. In the center rear is the house on Harvard St. on the southeast corner with Green St. The listed photographer is Charles B. Duncklee who would have been only 18 at the time of the photo. The actual photographer may be his father, Charles Tilton Duncklee, an amateur photographer who co-founded a camera club in Brookline in the same year.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Pearl St., February 14, 1917
From left to right:
  • Station St.
  • Train station and tracks, looking east, of the Boston and Albany Railroad now used by the MBTA “D” line
  • Open land of the railroad. Behind the horse-drawn cart are houses and businesses on the north side of Pearl St. The sign for Brookline Coal at 40 Pearl St. is visible.
  • Automobile on the railroad property. Directly in front of the car and across the street is the house at 31/33 Pearl St.
  • Rear of buildings on Fay Place

[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Choate School Graduating Class, June 5, 1931
The school took over the old Eben Jordan mansion at 1600 Beacon St. The mansion served as the Choate School (Country Boarding and Day School For Girls) from 1922-1950 and the building was torn down in 1955. For the 1931 graduation ceremony, 38 diplomas were presented by Augusta Choate to:

Marianne Q. Appel, Marie B. Bonnycastle, Camilla S. Bowman,
Betty Broughton, Allison C. Buckman, Patti J. Byars,
Barbara H. Donaldson, Mary E. Donnelly, Laura S. H. Drane,
Myra K. Flint, Mary Greeley, Helen Horne,
Elizabeth H. Johnson, Helen R. Johnson, Charlotte Jones,
Mary S. Jordan, Marianne R. Kellar, Mary M. Kingsley,
Mary R. Kline, Mary S. Lewis, Nancy E. Marean,
Elizabeth J. Maynard, Elizabeth Myers, Marion Myers,
Ruth Myers, Elizabeth M. ODonel, Fanny Parrock,
Hope Ramsay, Virginia T. Ray.. Mary J. M. Rice,
Phyllis J. Sager, Elizabeth Sawyer, Nancy V. Sheppard,
Jeanne R. Taylor, Emily Tompkins, Eleanor L. Vanderhoof,
Phyllis White, Lucille G. Wolfe.
Murita Odette Bonner
1899 – 1971. Parents: Joseph Andrew Bonner and Mary Ann Noel; married William Almy Occomy; lived at 221 Harvard St.

Her family moved to Brookline around the time of her birth in 1899. Her father then spent two decades as a live-in superintendent for Brookline apartment buildings - at 1369 Beacon from 1899 until circa 1911, then at 217-221 Harvard St. (still standing) until circa 1918 when the family purchased a home in Boston and Marita started college.

Marita Bonner was an accomplished author of short stories, essays, plays, and magazine articles and was prominent in the Harlem Renaissance. Her Wikipedia entry writes:

”She attended Brookline High School, where she contributed to the school magazine, The Sagamore. She excelled in German and Music, and was a very talented pianist. In 1917, she graduated from Brookline High School and in 1918 enrolled in Radcliffe College, commuting to campus because many African-American students were denied dormitory accommodation. In college, she majored in English and Comparative Literature, while continuing to study German and musical composition. At Radcliffe, African-American students were not permitted to board, and many either lived in houses off-campus set aside for black students, or commuted, as Bonner did. Bonner was an accomplished student at Radcliffe, founding the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority, and participating in many musical clubs (she twice won the Radcliffe song competition). She was also accepted to a competitive writing class that was open to 16 students, where her professor, Charles Townsend Copeland, encouraged her not to be "bitter" when writing, a descriptor often used for authors of color.[2] In addition to her studies, she taught at a high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After finishing her schooling in 1922,[3] she continued to teach at Bluefield Colored Institute in West Virginia. Two years later, she took on a position at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., until 1930, during which time her mother and father both died suddenly. While in Washington, Bonner became closely associated with poet, playwright and composer Georgia Douglas Johnson. Johnson's "S Street salon" was an important meeting place for many of the writers and artists involved in the New Negro Renaissance.

While living in Washington D.C., Bonner met William Almy Occomy. They married and moved to Chicago, where Bonner's writing career took off. After marrying Occomy, she began to write under her married name. After 1941, Bonner gave up publishing her works and devoted her time to her family, including three children.[4] She began teaching again in the 1940s and finally retired in 1963.”
View Northeast From Chestnut Hill Reservoir
  • [Lower Left] The curve of Beacon St. as it goes around the reservoir
  • [Lower Right] The railroad way roughly representing the border between Brighton and Brookline now used by the MBTA “D” line
  • [Upper Left] Brighton
  • [Middle] Beacon St. running from left to right
  • [Upper Center] Corey Hill
  • [Far Right] Large white house on Chestnut Hill Ave.

[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
"The Colchester", 1470 Beacon St.
Short Street is immediately to the right. Built 1894, still standing.
Ellen Griggs Saxe and Children
Ellen Griggs Saxe was the daughter of a prominent town citizen, Deacon Thomas Griggs. Widowed and living in Troy, NY at the time of his death, in 1886, she moved back to Brookline into the family house at 519 Washington Street which she had inherited. Family members assembled here are, from left to right:
  • John Walter Saxe (standing), 1863-1929, non-identical twin of James Alfred Saxe. The twins both graduated from Harvard College in 1888 and Harvard Law in 1892, and went into business together in Boston as Saxe and Saxe.
  • William Arthur Saxe (seated): 1857-1917. He was struck and killed by an automobile in Baltimore where he was secretary/treasurer of a concrete company.
  • Mary Ellen Saxe (standing), 1865-1903. She never married and died of pneumonia at the age of 37.
  • Ellen Griggs Saxe (seated), 1824-1904
  • James Alfred Saxe, 1863-1948, non-identical twin of John Walter Saxe. The twins both graduated from Harvard College in 1888 and Harvard Law in 1892, and went into business together in Boston as Saxe and Saxe.
  • Edward Thomas Saxe, 1860-1924, partially visible. Lived for years on Aspinwall Ave.

[Source: Saxe Family Collection]
Griggs House, 519 Washington St., 1892
The woman in the doorway is most likely Ellen Griggs Saxe, daughter of prominent town citizen Deacon Thomas Griggs. Widowed and living in Troy, NY at the time of his death, in 1886, she moved back to Brookline into this house which she had inherited. The sons inherited the Griggs land, a large part of which comprises today’s Grigg’s Park situated directly behind the house. The house is no longer standing.

In the carriage are her son, James Alfred Saxe, and his wife, Mary Wick. The newly-married couple is about to head off to a year-long European honeymoon. They returned in May, 1893 and moved to a house on Edgehill Rd.
[Source: Saxe Family Collection]
School House at Beacon St. and Carlton St., circa 1887
Standing on Beacon St., Carlton St. going north to the right; just offscreen to the right is the house of John Ruggles. This is a school house that was built around the time of the widening of Beacon St. in 1851. There is no evidence that it was ever a public school. There is a record of its use as a private school in 1871 by M. Fannie Welbasky. Welbasky (1841-1922) periodically operated “Miss Welbasky’s Home School for Girls” at various locations in Brookline until 1889. She had an interesting history. Her father was a recent immigrant from Russian and her mother, coincidentally named Susan Ruggles Plympton, was from an established early-European-settler family. Her mother apparently separated from her father shortly after their marriage. Her daughter never married and mother and daughter lived together, mostly in Brookline, until the mother’s death in 1885.

The school building was likely removed for the 1887 widening of Beacon St.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St., most likely by Augustine H. Folsom, a Boston photographer.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Norman Hill White
He owned a bookbinding firm and a publishing company, served as state representative from Brookline for five years, was a director of the Brookline National Bank, and was a director of the Brookline Friendly Society.

In 1896, he married Gertrude Steese. The wedding was held in the house of her parents at 105 Gardner Rd. and was considered to be a major event on the social calendar. The couple lived at several nearby locations until the death of Gertrude’s father, in 1902, when they moved in with her mother at the Gardner Road house. They continued to live at 105 Gardner Rd. unit his imprisonment in 1927.

He was an ally of Louis Brandeis, later the first Jewish justice of the United Supreme Court, in several policy battles and was a vigorous defender of Brandeis when the latter faced opposition to his appointment to the high court. Oddly, just four years after Brandeis’ accession to the court, White’s company published the first American edition of the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is unclear what role White had in its publication; he worked in military intelligence during the First World War and may have been exposed to anti-Bolshevik, anti-Jewish propaganda. He later ran into financial difficulties and served two-and-a-half years in prison for larceny for securing bank loans based on false statements.
105 Gardner Rd. (Speculative), circa 1896
The home of the family of Edward Steese, a physician turned wool merchant, and later the home of the family of his daughter, Gertrude Steese, and her husband, Norman Hill White. This photograph was found in her 1896 wedding book.

The Whites lived in the house until 1927 when Norman White was imprisoned for larceny. It was torn down circa 1935.
The Putterham School and the Almshouse
“The almshouse was constructed in 1883 on Newton Street, near the Putterham School. The almshouse provided Brookline poor with shelter, food, and work, and produced and sold items such as wood, potatoes, and hay. The almshouse was converted to an infirmary in 1931. On the site of the almshouse, the Town built various hospitals including the first hospital in 1894, later named the Contagious Disease Hospital. In 1901, a complex of six buildings were constructed to house patients with diptheria and scarlet fever. In 1916, a new tuberculosis hospital was opened. All of the hospitals and the old almshouse were demolished in 1954.” [source:]
Map, 1871, Northeast Half
Item Number: 900-1; Job #900, Boston Parks through 950, Boston, MA (plans)
[Source: Olmsted]
Map, 1871, Southwest Half
Item Number: 900-1; Job #900, Boston Parks through 950, Boston, MA (plans)
[Source: Olmsted]
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