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Melville Avenue/Wellesley Park

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1879–early twentieth century.
  • (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

A showcase of late-nineteenth-century suburban residential architecture, Melville Avenue was laid out in the tradition of a wide boulevard with houses set back on large open lots, many having carriage barns. For the Reverend Edmund Packard, architect Edgar Allen Poe Newcomb provided an outstanding example of Stick Style design (6 Melville Avenue) in 1879, among the earliest on the avenue. Best known for his stylish Queen Anne designs, Newcomb showed here sensitivity to the subtleties of ornamental stickwork. Next door, George Meacham created a Stick Style design with Queen Anne motifs on a house built in 1880 for John W. Field at 10 Melville Avenue.

Very quickly the Queen Anne style, susceptible to a wider variety of ornamental treatments, dominated the architectural character of the street. In 1882, Arthur H. Vinal designed for himself the street's most distinctive house at 35 Melville Avenue. Best known for his Romanesque designs produced as a city architect, Vinal incorporated Romanesque detailing in his Queen Anne house. Vinal also designed the neighboring houses at numbers 29, 35, 37, and 39, which along with number 33 (1886, L. Underwood) constitute a superb enclave of Queen Anne houses with varied materials and picturesque massing. Built between 1889 and 1894, possibly for Hester Brown, 28 Melville Avenue is a rare example of the influence of British architects, such as Richard Norman Shaw, on small suburban residences in the Queen Anne style.

Intersecting with Melville Avenue lies Wellesley Park, an oval green laid out in 1897–1898 and surrounded by closely spaced Queen Anne and Colonial Revival residences. In the early 1900s, local residents acquired the land and gave it to the city to prevent attempts to develop the park. In this section of Dorchester, other developments arose around smaller green parks. Tremlett Square, Centerville Park, and Paisley Park (the last having lost its green space to pavement) all followed the Wellesley Park precedent.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Melville Avenue/Wellesley Park", [Boston, 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, 260-261.

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