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Brookline Village Historic District

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Brookline Village.
  • Brookline Village Historic District (Keith Morgan)

With the arrival of the railroad in 1844, the commercial and administrative center of town moved from the Town Green on Walnut Street (BR29) to Washington Street in Brookline Village. At the intersection of Washington Street and the Worcester Turnpike (Boylston Street), commercial blocks defined Village Square. Urban Renewal in the 1960s left little evidence of this nineteenth-century village. The landmark campanile of the red brick and stone Fire Station No. 1 (1907, 140 Washington Street, NRD), by Freeman, Funk and Wilcox, formerly overlooked a small park, now replaced by an additional truck bay. Opposite the fire station, where Washington Street crosses the railroad tracks, stands a large concentration of nineteenth-century panel brick commercial blocks, many designed and built by John Panter, a Scottish-born Canadian immigrant who arrived in the late 1850s.

Just beyond the Y-shaped intersection of Washington and Harvard streets, called Harvard Square, looms the Brookline Public Library (361 Washington Street, NRD). Designed by R. Clipston Sturgis in 1909, the building prominently caps a small rise above the street. Taking his cue from the south front of the Queen's House at Greenwich, England, by Inigo Jones, Sturgis designed a modest expression of Palladianism in red brick and limestone. In 1971–1974, Integrated Design Services Group added a major rear addition; in 2000–2001, Perry, Dean and Rogers made further renovations. Next to the library rises the seven-story Town Hall (1963–1965, Anderson, Beckwith and Haible), vertically accented with limestone-clad piers. Across the street, the Municipal Court Building (360 Washington Street) is a 1941 design by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott, a five-bay late Colonial Revival red brick design topped by a wooden cupola modeled on Harvard Hall (HY3) in Cambridge and fronted by three unadorned monumental arches inspired by Charles Bulfinch's Lancaster Meetinghouse.

At the intersection of Harvard Street and Linden Place north of the Brookline Village commercial district rises Gothic Revival St. Mary's Catholic Church (1880–1886, 3 Linden Place, NRD), built of red brick with sandstone trim and slate roofs. Unlike most Catholic churches in the nineteenth century, it was not the work of Catholic architects. Both designers, Robert S. Peabody and John G. Stearns, however, lived in Brookline. They atypically placed the tower at the intersection of the crossing of the nave rather than at the front of the church, giving its exceptionally elongated lancet arched belfry a very pronounced verticality that serves as a Brookline Village landmark. The church faces Linden Place, which leads to Linden Park and Linden Square. Laid out by Alexander Wadsworth in 1843, this neighborhood with its two parks was Brookline's first planned development, with Greek and Gothic Revival cottages among the later multifamily dwellings.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Brookline Village Historic District", [Brookline, 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, 502-503.

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