You are here

Beaver Brook Reservation

-A A +A
1893, Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot. Mill St. and Trapelo Rd.
  • Beaver Brook Reservation (Keith Morgan)

Notable as the first site of and inspiration for the Boston Metropolitan Park Commission, Beaver Brook/Waverley Oaks is an area rich in industrial and artistic history. The current fifty-eight-acre park, spanning Belmont and Waltham along the course of Beaver Brook, is composed of a steep, wooded northern section and a broader, more level southern section, noted in the nineteenth century for a magnificent stand of aboriginal oak trees. Beaver Brook was the site of mills from the seventeenth century on. Two millponds and their dams survive in the northern section of the property. In the early 1830s, a Greek Revival cottage, later expanded with a mansarded wing, was built near the lower pond at 66 Mill Street. In 1857, landscape gardener Robert Morris Copeland bought the house and wrote his influential book Country Life (1859) while residing here. Copeland maintained a partnership with Horace William Shaler Cleveland from 1853 to approximately 1860, advising on landscape schemes such as the laying out of the Back Bay in Boston. This area also drew the attention of another young landscape architect, Charles Eliot, who published an article in 1890 in Garden and Forest entitled, “The Waverley Oaks, A Plan for Their Preservation for the People,” which contained the first statement of his ideas for a metropolitan park system for Greater Boston. After the creation of the Metropolitan Park Commission in 1893, Beaver Brook appropriately became the first acquisition for the park system. As such, it is a nationally significant site for the development of regional landscape planning in the United States.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Beaver Brook Reservation", [Belmont, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 429-429.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.