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Munroe Hill

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1870s–1910s. Bloomfield St., Massachusetts and Highland aves., and Pelham Rd.
  • Munroe Hill

Munroe Hill was the site in the 1870s of the first large-scale subdivision for residential development in Lexington. The town gained a reputation as a healthy place to live and a popular retreat for summer visitors, being part of the elevated escarpment around Boston, free of city pollution. Bloomfield Street and neighboring Eustis Street, Highland Avenue, and portions of Percy Street were developed in the 1870s and 1880s with relatively modest Stick Style and Queen Anne houses and carriage houses embellished with cross gables and patterned shingles. Local builders, such as Abraham Washburn, constructed houses on speculation, often choosing designs from house pattern books and periodicals such as Scientific American—Architects and Builders Edition (e.g., the October 1886 edition for 39 Highland Ave.).

Businessmen and professionals, many of whom commuted to Boston on the railroad, later settled an elevated area south of Bloomfield Street from 1891 to approximately 1910. Here about twenty substantial Queen Anne, Shingle Style, and Colonial Revival dwellings intermingle with later houses, reflecting not only the relative wealth of owners but also the stipulation in the deeds that buildings cost $3,500 above the foundation. Architects including Henry B. Ball, Chapman and Frazer, Lois Lilley Howe, Samuel D. Kelley, and Edward D. Reed designed these houses. The Warren Sherburne House by Kelley at 11 Percy Road (1893, NRD) is a particularly exuberant example of late-nineteenth-century eclecticism, combining elements of all three of the popular styles, and is noteworthy for the extensive use of curved glass provided by Sherburne's glassworks. The interior features a classic living hall with rich, dark woodwork, inglenook, and fireplace. The living room, by contrast, has white-painted woodwork inspired by colonial architecture.

Comparable contemporary neighborhoods on Meriam Hill, Winthrop Road, and portions of Massachusetts Avenue also attest to Lexington's late-nineteenth-century growth as a suburb.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan
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Citation

Keith N. Morgan, "Munroe Hill", [Lexington, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-LX8.

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, 440-441.

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