Historic Newton, Inc.



DEBORAH SHEA, Consultant, Newton, Historical Properties Survey



BARRY C. CANKER, Director of Planning and Development

DIANE F. SCHORR, Director of Community Development

LAWRENCE C. BAUER, Chairman, Newton Historical Commission

The preparation of this booklet was funded jointly through Community Development Block Grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development under the provisions of Title I of the Housing and Urban Development Art of 1974, as amended, and through a grant from the Department of the Interior, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.


This guide has been prepared its an introduction to the architecture of Newton Highlands and Waban, whose housing is primarily the product of the Victorian era. Included in this booklet are a history of both villages, a brief guide to understanding architectural design, and a review of the most common architectural styles with photographs of local examples.

 This booklet is part of an ongoing project to identify and study Newton's architectural heritage. Under the Newton Historical Properties Survey, structural inventories have been completed in Auburndale, Newtonville, Newton Corner, Nonantum, and West Newton. Based in part on information from the Jackson Homestead's Newton's Older Houses series, this inventory records the date of construction, architectural style, and provides a brief historical background of each structure built prior to 1907. Copies of these forms are on file at the Newton Housing Rehabilitation Fund Office and at the Massachusetts Historical Commission in Boston. Booklets describing the history and nineteenth century architecture of these villages have also been published along with walking tour brochures. 

Many people have contributed time and assistance during the course of this project. They include several members of the Newton Historical Commission, Larry Bauer, Barbara Thibault, and especially Thelma Fleishman and Jean Husher whose efforts, guidance and editing skills were sincerely appreciated. Georgina Flannery, Mary Elizabeth Rubin, and Susan Cain of the Newton Free Library, and Duscha Scott of the Jackson Homestead, as well as the staffs of the Newton Housing Rehabilitation Office, the City Clerk's Office and the City Engineers Office provided helpful assistance. Bruce Fernald as Project Director, provided guidance during the structural inventory. Finally thanks are gratefully extended to Gregory Deyermenjian for his support during all phases of the survey.

Deborah Shea, Consultant, Newton Historical Properties Survey, 1982



Developed largely during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Newton is an attractive area of predominantly single‑family homes situated about eight miles west of Boston. Its thirteen villages, with local shopping areas, individual social amenities and varying physical features, give the City a diverse character. The villages are a reflection of a much earlier pattern of settlement which led to the growth of several small farming and manufacturing communities. Both Newton Highlands and Waban were among the former until the advent of the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad in the late nineteenth century.

Located to the south of Newton's geographic center, the boundaries of Newton Highlands have never been formally agreed upon; the present L‑shape having been arbitrarily determined by lines drawn by the United States Post Office. However, physical features originally influenced the extent of the region's development. The Great Meadow lay to the East and to the West were the 150 acres of Alcock's Swamp (a few still remain in the Cold Spring Playground). Crystal

Lake, a Great Pond, still defines the northern border. Known originally as Wiswall's Pond after the first settler on its shore, by 1800 the lake was commonly called Baptist Pond because the Baptists had their Meeting House close by and used the pond for total immersion baptisms. The name Crystal Lake was apparently coined during the late nineteenth century by land developers hoping it would help to attract new residents to the neighborhood. And indeed, the lake has for years been an invaluable community resource: swimming sailing, fishing and skating are popular activities enjoyed by many y Newtonians.

Located in southwestern Newton, Waban remained sparsely settled until the construction of the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad (later known as the "Circuit road") in 1886. This direct link to Boston encouraged many city businessmen to acquire the spacious house lots then becoming available and build homes there. Waban's Victorian architecture, much of which was professionally designed, is a tasteful legacy of this significant period of growth.

WABAN SECTION: (the Highlands and Architecture sections to come)


Waban's widely varying terrain was a factor which influenced patterns of development. The village center is situated on a broad, low plain. To the east, the old Alcock's Swamp separates the region from Newton Highlands. Much of this once remote wetland has been drained and filled, and was developed in the early twentieth century making the boundary between the two villages indistinct. In contrast, west Waban is described thusly by M. F. Sweetser in the King's Handbook of N'ewton (1889), "Rising from the groves of pine and maple along the river, and the intervening meadows, is a chain of bluffs, broken in the most picturesque and often weird way by natural glades and amphitheatres." The late nineteenth century subdivision of this area south of Beacon Street was laid out with respect to its undulating topography.

According to a local account, Waban station was originally to have been called "Hillside" and the Eliot Station "Waban." Though train schedules and tickets had evidently been printed, William C. Strong, an early Waban resident, and others were said to have exerted pressure to change the names to those at present. He had previously resided at Nonantum Hill on the NewtonBrighton line where Waban once had his wigwam and where Reverend Eliot often preached.

Woodward House, 50 Fairlee Road (photo courtesy of Peter and Donna Gumpert)



 Waban was not settled until after 1680. There could be several explanations for this delay. One might be that the region was inconveniently far from the first meetinghouse, which, in the seventeenth century was located at the corner of Centre and Cotton Streets particularly as Alcock's Swamp lay in between. For whatever reason, three of Waban's first families were second generation colonists: John Mason (1686;, Henry Segar (1689)and Eleazer Hyde (1700), while John Wood' Waban's first documented settler, was of the third generation. 

In 1681, John Woodward (16491732) and his young wife, Rebecca Robbins of Cambridge, received 30 acres in Waban as a wedding gift. Their old colonial house, located at 50 Fairlee Road, is one of few known seventeenth century residences remaining in the city. Though substantially altered, the house illustrates several early construction techniques. It is a 2%z story wood frame structure, built facing south. The steeply pitched seventeenth century roof was dismantled and reframed in the eighteenth century by inserting the early framing members into new rafters. Such reuse was common. The structure was laid out with two rooms to a floor, separated by a massive central chimney block. Though windows of the farmhouse are newer sliding sash instead of casements, and the door has been sidelighted (nineteenth century), their offcenter placement appears original. Leanto and wing additions, added as space was required, give the house an asymmetrical profile. 

The house was occupied for close to 275 years by eight generations of the Woodward family. John Woodward was actively involved in the politics of Newton as were his descendants. He served in a variety of positions such as fence viewer, tithingrnan, constable, and selectman. In 1776 Deacon John Woodward (17241801) was the moderator of the town meeting which passed by unanimous vote the resolution that the Continental Congress declare the colonies independent. He subsequently fought in the Battle of Concord though he was more than 50 years old. Deacon Elijah F. Woodward (17861845) was Representative to the General Court and Town Clerk from 1826 until his death. With W. E. Ward, he surveyed the area for the 1831 snap of Newton which is today an invaluable historical resource. By 1874, that section of the Sherborn Road between the Worcester Turnpike and Beacon Street was known as Woodward Street.

During Waban's long agricultural period, four large farms developed at the intersection of the Sherborn Road and a Town way. Laid out in 1702 from the Staples farm, the new road provided a more direct route to the Meetinghouse in Newton Centre. As it was necessary to avoid Alcock's Swamp to the East, the road ran along the present Beacon Street to Short Street, then north on Chestnut Street to Fuller and Homer Streets to Newton Centre.

Deacon John Staples (1658?1740) came to Newton about 1688. Early records indicate he was living in Waban by the turn of the century where he amassed a large 93acre farm northeast of the crossroads. The residence at 1615 Beacon Street is situated on the site of his early farmstead. Though Significantly altered, it incorporates the foundation, structural members and hardware of this earlier residence.

 Politically active, Deacon Staples held a variety of public positions and was Town Clerk and Treasurer for many years. He was appointed Newton's first schoolmaster in 1700, for which he was paid 5 shillings per session.

 As Staples and his wife were childless, the couple raised several boys from other families. (one was Moses Craft who inherited the farm. It is believed that Craft rebuilt the Staples house, replacing it with one of the then current style. He added an ell in 1769 which he sold to his son Joseph, a young man with a growing family. Apparently Joseph Craft had agreed to stay on the farm, taking over its maintenance, and this was his father's way of providing for three generations to live peacefully in one house.

Joseph Craft fathered 15 children, most of whom lived to adulthood. Some left Newton to settle in Maine, and others took up trades other than farming. He and his wife continued to live on the farm long after they were able to maintain it and various lots were sold off from time to time to meet expenses and taxes. Joseph Craft died in 1821 at the age of 85, leaving no will and an estate seriously in debt. At the auction ordered by the judge of Probate, Joseph's son, Moses Craft 11, a blacksmith who lived nearby on the Worcester Turnpike, was allowed to make the winning bid of $5.50 for the house, barn, and a large tract of land. In 1824 Moses Craft II sold the property to his cousin William Wiswall If. It is believed that Wiswall was responsible for the restyling of the house, giving it its Federal ornament. 

Much of the farmland was exceedingly rich bottomland and, with good farming practices, could be guaranteed to produce large crops. Indeed, that part of the land, now the Lincoln Playground, continued to be cultivated as a truck farm until after World War II. Wiswall was highly regarded for his prosperous farm until, in 1858 unable to maintain it any longer, he sold the property to David Kinmonth a wealthy Boston merchant.

 Desiring a stylish summer estate, Kinmonth had the house extensively remodeled, resulting in its present appearance. He clipped the gable ends and the dormers, added several bay windows, extended the porches and squared off the Lshaped house by adding a new oval dining room to the north east corner with an archedceilinged master bedroom above. He lived to enjoy his summer estate only a few years before he died in 1865. The property was then sold to another Boston merchant, Edward Wyman.


 1615 Beacon Street, StaplesCraftWisall House

This country farmhouse, one of the oldest in the village and prominently located in its center, serves as an important visual link to Waban's agricultural past.


 Eleazer Hyde farmhouse, 401 Woodward Street


Southeast of the crossroads was the second of the four important farms, that of Eleazer Hyde. Hyde was the tenth son of one of Newton's earliest and most prolific settlers, Jonathan Hyde. Jonathan Hyde provided well for his children, leaving each son a good sized parcel by both will and deed to insure that his wishes were carried out. In 1700, he assigned 30 acres on the Sherborn Road to his son Eleazer who added to his holdings by buying 38 more. He, in turn, willed the entire estate to his only son, Eleazer, Jr. The property passed out of the Hyde family when Eleazer died in 1770, his wife and two children having predeceased him.

Edward Wyman, who had previously acqired the Staples Farm, purchased the old Hyde farmhouse which today stands at 401Woodward Street in 1866. Three years later he sold both farms to his brother Morrill Wyman, a Harvard professor, who supervised them from Cambridge. Among other farming experiments he had black and white mulberry trees planted, hoping to raise silkworms to supply the local silk industry with cocoons. Unfortunately, only the mulberry trees could survive the harsh New England winter. 

The Eleazer Hyde farm was sold to real estate developers Charles J. Page and Frederick H. Henshaw in 1886. They in turn sold the old farmhouse a few years later to H. Langford Warren, the Dean of the Faculty of Architec­ture at Harvard. Originally one room deep with double back chimneys warming the north, cold wall, the house has been substan­tially enlarged Warren remodeled the house, adding a large ell which replaced a small shed­roof extension. Another large addition at the rear and a side porch were added in the 1930's. All additions have been wellplanned, echoing the house's original Georgian style.

"Elmwood," Edward Collins estate, 1686 Beacon Street (demolished 1935)


 The Collins Farm was situated to the southwest of the crossroads. In 1775 Matthias Collins II, a blacksmith from Watertown, purchased 100 acres adjoining the Woodward Farm on Sherborn Road from Joseph Craft. Matthias 111, his only son, inherited the estate and in turn willed portions of it to his three sons, Frederic A., Edward J. and Amasa, when he died in 1855. The Collins estate by this time embraced 200 acres in Waban. This section of Beacon Street came to be known as the "Collins Neighborhood" because of the row of family houses. Only the house of Frederic Collins at 1734 Beacon Street remains, a distinctive, Greek Revival style residence which was built about the time of his marriage to Amelia Revere in 1847.

The Collins brothers were active in local affairs as their father had been. Edward, a respected businessman, served as the Treasurer of the town for 21 years, as a County Commissioner, and as a member of the State Legislature. In addition, he was the Treasurer of the Newton Savings Bank and a Director of the Newton National Bank. His house, which once stood at 1686 Beacon Street, was occupied by the Pillsbury Preparatory School for Boys and somewhat later by the Besse Sanitorium before it was demolished in 1935 and the land subdivided.

Frederic Collins and his brother began a glue factory on 5 acres of land (at the end of Gould Road) adjacent to the Charles River. At the time there were few glue makers in this country, and fish and bone glues were as yet unknown. The enterprise was evidently profitable since b 1855 it had expanded to include three factories. Soon after the death of Edward Collins, in 1879, the business was discontinued.

The glue business was not the first industrial enterprise in Waban. There was a small but significant weaving industry throughout the eighteenth century. John Staples, Moses Craft, Eleazer Hyde, and John Woodward, among others, were all professional weavers. Fulling mills were located nearby at both Upper and Lower Falls to finish the handwoven cloth. Hand weaving was displaced here, as in England, early in the nineteenth century with the introduction of power looms.

 In 1837, the Poor Farm was moved from Auburndale to 40 acres of land north of the crossroads. Prior to its establishment, Newton's poor were supported by the town and boarded out to the lowest bidder. Provisions for them are recorded as far back as 1711 when donations were collected at the annual Thanksgiving Church Service. The money was distributed by the Selectmen, acting as overseers of the Poor. By 1731, a workhouse was established in Auburndale. Increasing land values in the mid nineteenth century coupled with the problem of unruly wards necessitated its removal to the "`backwaters," as Waban was regarded at the time. In 1900, and for similar reasons, the City was persuaded to relocate the Poor Farm. It was moved to a still more remote area on lower Winchester Street, a 35acre lot which extended to the Charles River. The Waban budding was destroyed in 1902, and much of its farmland now makes up the Angier School playground.

 As few residences have survived Waban's long agricultural era, it is important to include the Bartlett Farm. The house was built as a one room half house (visible as the southerly third of the structure) about 1736, the year of Ebenezer Bartlett's marriage to Anne Clark. Later it was doubled in size to accommodate the Bartlett's growing family, eventually totalling seventeen children. The house is unusually wide because a oneroom ell was added to its northerly end. The house was moved to 15 Winnetaska Road from a site about 200 yards away in 1915, and carefully renovated. Ebenezer Bartlett served the town in a variety of lesser positions such as hayward, highwav surveyor, and constable. He was certified as an Antipedobaptist at a time when sects outside the established church were frowned upon. 'The family landholdings were vast and came to include close to 200 acres by 1800.

 The Pine School Farm

The Pine School Farm was established in 1864, by the Children's Aid Society of Boston. Situated at the intersection of Chestnut and Fuller Streets, the farm provided a home for wayward boys under criminal prosecution in Boston, as well as temporary housing for vagrants and destitute children. M. F. Sweetser sums up the circumstances of the school in his King's Handbook o f Newton (1889).

More than 500 boys, between the ages of 8 and 13, have been rescued from the slums of the metropolis, and brought out here, inhere the pure air and good associations of this upland home are quick to sweeten the hard, surly, pallid expression of the city poor. Besides receiving many of the lacking elements of a common school education, the lads are trained in singing and in carpentry, and more than all else, in the partical work of farming, so that after a year and a half of discipline and instruction, they are sent out to work on fauns in New England and the West.



While land sales were booming elsewhere in Newton at the beginning of the 1880's, Waban, with less than 20 houses, remained sparsely settled. Although Chestnut Street had been extended to the Upper Falls and Beacon Street (between Newton Centre and Chestnut Street) had been laid out by mid century, accessibility was still poor. In the 1870's there had been some speculation in land, prompted by talk of extending the railroad west of Newton Highlands. However, two proposals came to nothing before the Boston and Albany agreed to construct the Highland Branch. One, the Hoosac Tunnel or North Western Railroad, was surveyed from Brookline to Riverside via Oak Hill, South Newton Highlands, Upper Falls, and Waban. The other, by the Brighton and Newton Railroad, was to connect Newton Lower Falls via Waban, Cold Springs City and Newton Centre to Boston. In anticipation of the latter, the Nonantum Land Associates purchased and subdivided the 76 acre Varick Estate at the corner of Washington and Beacon Streets into 195 small building lots. The subdivision and the proposed railroad are shown on the 1874 City Atlas, but were never carried out because of the nationwide economic depression which had a serious impact locally.

As with Newton Highlands, Waban's real suburban growth began with the completion, in 1886, of the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad which connected the villages in the south part of Newton to the main line at Riverside. Waban Station was built near the old crossroads (Beacon and Woodward Streets) to one of the last designs of H. H. Richardson. Several individuals helped to bring about this important development, among them James F. C. Hyde, Samuel Hano, Edward L. Collins, William Dresser and William C. Strong. Bostonbased land developers Charles J. Page and Frederick H. Henshaw bought the old Eleazer Hyde Farm from Morrill Wyman in 1886 and subdivided the property into 87 house lots fronting on Beacon, Chestnut and Woodward Streets, and on Wyman, Plainfield Streets and Pine Ridge Road which they had laid out. The plan of the subdivision filed with the City of Newton includes a diagram of the route of the new Circuit Railroad, for Page and Henshaw used copies of this to impress potential customers with the convenience of the frequent trains both to Boston and to other Newton villages.


 787 Chestnut Street, 1888

 Edwin P. Seaver, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, joined Waban's land, speculation boom and acquired 25 acres contiguous to that owned by Page and Henshaw. He had the land subdivided into 60 1/4 acre house lots and several new streets laid out.

In 1889, the undulating terrain of the Varick Estate, together with the adjoining 26acre Carlton Estate and the 200 acres belonging to the Collins family, was laid out by Ernest Bowditch (the wellknown Civil Engineer) into a complex of winding roads and broad frontage lots, one half to several acres in size. The Cochituate Aqueduct is an important component of this creative design. Waban Avenue was laid out on both sides of it, while cross streets sectionalize it into pleasing, round and oval, treed islands. Bowditch was often hired as a surveyor by Frederick Law Olmsted and was influenced by his concept that one should never be able to look straight down a road for any distance, the road should bend so that the vista would change as one moved along. William C. Strong' s new farm was 93 acres, extending from his house on Beacon Street easterly to Chestnut Street, and included Moffat Hill, a drumlin characterized by its elliptical shape and rounded peak. Formed during the glacial period, its hardpacked slopes are the gradual accumulation of clayey till gathered into a sticky mass beneath the moving ice sheet, a common phenomenon in the Boston area. According to local tradition, the name of the hill is derived from a squatter named Moffat who once made his home there. Strong, a wellknown nurseryman, planted fruit trees on the southern slope and devoted the other, more level ground, to hardy trees, shrubs, roses and vines. He was a knowledgeable authority on raising fruit trees and wrote several publications on the subject, among them, Fruit Culture. He advertised his nursery business in the local City Directory and offered free catalogs of his varied stock to potential customers. Active in securing the right of way needed through Waban to expedite the construction of the Highland Branch, William Strong, too, intended to profit from its construction. He had Windsor Road laid out as a pleasant country lane, bordered by flowers and winding to the summit of Moffat HAI where he offered handsome house lots for sale. King's Handbook of Newton (1889),extols the view from Moffat Hill: "From the crest of the gracefully rounded hill, situated among the pastures and groves, one gains a charming view over many tall spired villages, the picturesque hills of Waltham and Wellesley, bits of the distant mounts Wachussets and Monadnock, with parts of Boston and the turquoise painted Blue Hills of Milton."

 A number of glowing advertisements by various Waban land developers appeared in the 1889 and 1891 editions of the Newton City Directory. These touted the commodious size of building lots, idyllic settings and the convenience of transportation to Boston only 10 miles away, with 30 daily trains. "Homes for the merchant, banker and clerk" were offered at prices ranging from 810,000, quickly sold and built upon.

James F. C. Hyde entered the Waban real estate market during the late 1880's by announcing the sale of 130 house lots in a large advertisement taking up half the front page of The Newton Graphic. According to a local history, 53 lots were sold off almost immediately. 

By 1888, Waban's population had grown from less than a dozen families to twentysix. Ten new and stylish residences had been built by 1889 and half of these were designed by H. Langford Warren, a local architect wellknown in Boston. Again, according to M. F. Sweetser's King's Handbook of Newton, the design of these residences "has made a deep impress on the village of Waban, in the verv dawn of its existence." This is evidently true for several linecut drawings and photographs of these residences, 787 Chestnut Street (1888), 102 Windsor Road and 141 Woodward Street (also 1888) illustrate the text of his book.

 Advertisements, 1891 City Directory


 Waban's village center developed close to the railroad station at the old crossroads. Through the efforts of the Waban Improvement Society and Edward L. Collins, a real estate developer, Waban's first commercial block, Waban Hall, was constructed in 1890. The block has also been known as Collins Hall or Fyfe Block, after a grocery store which was located there for many years. The Shingle style building was designed to accommodate several shops at the street level and a community hall on the upper floor. It was here that the Waban Improvement Society met for some years, local children first attended public school, and where the Union Church held its first services until it, too, could erect its own building. A Chinese laundry and a branch of Moulton's General Store in Newton Highlands were first to rent shops. Although significantly altered, the structure is still standing and remains an important part of Waban's small commercial center.

The Waban Improvement Society, organized in 1888, undertook to guide the development of the village and to represent the desires and concerns of the community to the city government. It continues to play this role very effectively even now, and has made a significant contribution in maintaining Waban's attractiveness. Among other early activities, it was responsible for planting trees along the streets, for constructing side walks and having them plowed in the wintertime, for obtaining the large playground at Angier School along with its tennis courts, and for insisting that the telephone wires be placed underground in the village commercial center.

 By 1891 the number of daily trains had increased to 38, stimulating further development at Waban. The nucleus of a community, its streets lined with Shingle style, Medieval and Colonial Revival residences so much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century, was emerging near the railroad station. Waban's first school, the Roger Walcott School, was a small, twostory, Shingle style building erected in 1891, near the present Angier School, to accommodate the growing number of children in the village.

William C. Strong commissioned the firm of Bacon & Hill, architects (Lewis H. Bacon and Clinton Hill were both Waban residents) to design a building to accommodate several village stores with goodsized apartments above. The distinctive Dutch style block was completed in 1897, prominently sited in the s are at 16411649 Beacon Street. A rendering of its design appeared in the October 31, 1896 edition of American Architect sand Building News.

 The Church of the Good Shepherd has an interesting history. The structure was originally owned by the Waban Church Corporation, a private group composed of members of the Waban Christian Union and the Waban Improvement Association who realized the village's need for some sort of organized religion. The corporation was formed with the understanding that services could change from time to time as the members might desire. The land was given jointly by William C. Stron and the City of Newton and the Medieval Revival style church was designed by William F. Good win, who, as a charter member of the group, donated his skills. The church's furnishings, among them a Memorial Window by Tiffany and a Fifteenth century cathedral's lamp, as well as a farmer's stonewall for the foundation were also donations. Reverend William Hall Williams was engaged as the rector and the first services were held on Christmas Day, 1896. Williams leased the church for a yearly fee of $200.00, and organized the present Episcopal Parish. In 1907 the Church Corporation transferred the property to the parish.

Accident in front of 1717 Beacon Street (photograph dated April 16,1933)

 Waban had two private schools. The Charles E. Fish School for Boys opened in 1895, in what had been the Edward Collins house at 1686 Beacon Street. The barn was used as a gymnasium and by the local Women's Club, while the house of Frederic A. Collins (1734 Beacon Street) was converted into a dormitory, Eliot Hall, and that of real estate developer Samuel Hano at 152 Waban Avenue became Nonantum Hall. The house at 34 Collins Road was a fraternity house for students at the school. From 1897, the Windsor Hall School for Girls was held in a reconditioned barn which had belonged to William C. Strong.

Waban's growth progressed steadily. The larger developments in west Waban and south of Beacon Street, though sprinkled with residences in 1907, were thickly settled during the next decade. Large tracts of farmland north of Beacon Street (in west Waban) were purchased, subdivided into house lots, and built upon. The old Bartlett farm was developed at this time and the farmhouse (originally south facing) was turned 90°and moved to its present site at 15 Winnetaska Road. It was not until shortly after World War II that a portion of Alcock's Swamp north of Beacon Street was drained, filled, subdivided, and built upon. A new school was built on the south side of Beacon Street on filled in swamp land. Little open space is now left in Waban as a result of its steady development, only an isolated lot here and there. Like Newton Hi Wands, the dominant characteristic of this village is its attractive architecture.