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Woods End Road Historic District

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1938–1939. Baker Bridge and Woods End rds.
  • Woods End Road Historic District (Keith Morgan)

Lincoln boasts the most important group of modernist houses in the Boston area. Through the generosity of Helen Storrow, a philanthropist who owned the land and financed the buildings, architects Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Walter Bogner, and Constance Warren created a unique residential neighborhood. The appointment at Harvard in 1937 of architects Gropius and Breuer from the Bauhaus in Germany introduced International Style modernist design to that institution. Gropius designed his own house at 68 Baker Bridge Road (adjacent to Woods Ends Road, NHL) in 1938 as a New England accommodation of modernist principles. The horizontal flat-roofed box is covered with white flush boarding interrupted by horizontal bands of windows set in aluminum frames. A diagonally projecting covered walkway leads to the entrance on the left, counterpointed by a cast-iron circular staircase on the right front corner. A screened porch extending behind the dining room and a sundeck on the second floor rear open the house to the surrounding environment of pastureland and orchards. The light-filled interiors include an entrance hall with traditional New England clapboarding laid vertically. Still furnished with Gropius's modern furniture, the house is now owned and administered by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England, Inc.).

Marcel Breuer designed a bachelor residence for himself (1939, 5 Woods End Road) in a similar pattern of vertical flush boarding painted white, ribbon windows, and a flat roof. They collaborated on the house at 10 Woods End Road for James Ford, a Harvard sociologist, and Katherine Morrow Ford, a contributor to House and Garden magazine. In 1940 the Fords published Modern House in America, a classic text for the spread of modernism in the United States. Walter Bogner, another colleague on the Harvard architecture faculty who laid out this small subdivision at Mrs. Storrow's request, designed his own house (9 Woods End Road) in 1939, staining the vertical wood sheathing brown to blend with the natural environment. The one traditional house on the road is the John and Mary Lord House (1939, 1 Woods End Road), a Federal Revival design that at the clients' request was closely modeled on a c. 1800 house in Yarmouthport on Cape Cod. The architect, Constance Warren, was a resident of South Lincoln and a former student of Katherine Morrow Ford's at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, established in 1916 to train women (who were not admitted to Harvard until after World War II). The Lord House deserves to join this distinguished company as a normative American house of this period and as the product of a progressive women's educational environment. The Woods End Road group inspired other modernist colonies in the Boston suburbs, such as the Six Moon Hill (LX3) group in Lexington, where many of Gropius's younger architectural colleagues lived, and the Snake Hill Road (BL5) development of houses by Carl Koch in Belmont.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Woods End Road Historic District", [Lincoln, 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, 446-447.

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