Kenrick Park, an oval-shaped park at the head of Church and Franklin streets, was laid out in 1845 as an early picturesque suburban development on a hill above Newton Corner. William Kenrick, the originator of this real estate venture, was a landscape gardener and horticulturist who hired Alexander Wadsworth to provide the plans for an oval park with house lots on either side. Wadsworth, a civil engineer by training, was perhaps the most important early landscape gardener in Boston in the first half of the nineteenth century, and Kenrick Park is one of the best-preserved examples of his work.
Only a few houses were built prior to the Civil War, but two are excellent examples of the Romantic Gothic Revival cottages envisioned for Kenrick Park: the c. 1852 George Alden House (186 Park Street, NRD) with its trefoil-arched windows and long front porch and the board-and-batten Samuel Jennison House (276–278 Franklin Street, NRD). Between these two early houses, Elestus Springer built a stone house about 1868 at the corner of Park and Franklin streets, a one-story, mansard villa very much in the spirit of the Kenrick Park ideal. Kenrick moved his own house here, a Federal-period residence (NRD), now at 244 Franklin Street.
Franklin Street boasts a wonderful variety of distinctive nineteenth-century architecture. At 303 Franklin, Levi Gay built a design (1887, NRD) of picturesque asymmetry, combining Queen Anne and Moorish elements. Later the publisher of Banker and Tradesman, Gay evidently strove for a bold fashion statement, hiring as his designer the flamboyant George F. Meacham, a Newton resident and probably the most important Victorian architect to practice there.