Brookline Historical Society

Brookline Historical Society The Brookline Historical Society is a non-profit community organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Brookline's diverse history.
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The society's headquarters are located in the heart of Coolidge Corner at the Edward Devotion House, one of Brookline's oldest colonial period structures. The Society also maintains the circa 1780 Widow Harris House as well as the Putterham School located in Larz Anderson Park. Our membership program is active and volunteers are welcome.

882-888 Commonwealth Avenue in the 1930s, 1981, and 2019. Learn more about this and other former Automobile Row building...
08/18/2019

882-888 Commonwealth Avenue in the 1930s, 1981, and 2019. Learn more about this and other former Automobile Row buildings in Brookline and Boston, Sunday, September 15th, at WBUR CitySpace https://t.co/2YcvASNNfz?amp=1

Have you seen any of these, or others like them, around town? Learn more about cast iron sprinkler alarms in Brookline a...
05/28/2019
Cast Iron Sprinkler Alarms

Have you seen any of these, or others like them, around town? Learn more about cast iron sprinkler alarms in Brookline and beyond. https://bit.ly/sprinkler-alarms

Cast Iron Sprinkler Alarms An Industrial Archaeology Virtual Collection Ken Liss, Brookline Historical Society

Put on your walking shoes & step into the past:Spring walking tours from the Brookline Historical Society. Details and f...
05/14/2019

Put on your walking shoes & step into the past:
Spring walking tours from the Brookline Historical Society. Details and free registration on our website at http://www.brooklinehistoricalsociety.org

The Historical Society is joining with the Friends of the Beacon Street Bridle Path to present this event looking at the...
05/10/2019

The Historical Society is joining with the Friends of the Beacon Street Bridle Path to present this event looking at the history of Olmsted's Bridle Path (right of way) along the median of Beacon Street and at a bold vision for its restoration and reuse in the 21st century. Monday, May 13th, 7 pm at the Brookline Library.

Public Library of Brookline
05/02/2019

Public Library of Brookline

It is no secret that the weather this week -- and for most of April -- has been gloomy. At least it doesn't compare to when a "small local tornado" uprooted this tree in Griggs Terrace. #TBT #ThrowbackThursday

See this picture and more like it on the Library's Digital Commonwealth collection at https://brklib.com/2UNeJPm

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
05/02/2019

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

We are pleased to unveil a new temporary exhibit that features the development of the house over time. We hope you can join us this season to see it and take a tour. Opening Day is Saturday, May 18. Please visit our website for additional information: www.nps.gov/jofi

Photo: Ranger Jim affixes the exhibit panels to a wall in the Visitor Center. Credit: NPS.

The Patriots Day recreation of William Dawes' ride has been cancelled due to the weather forecast, but the Brookline His...
04/14/2019

The Patriots Day recreation of William Dawes' ride has been cancelled due to the weather forecast, but the Brookline Historical Society will still have a brief ceremony at 9:30 am at the Edward Devotion House to mark the anniversary of his 1775 ride through Brookline on his way to Lexington.

Last Sunday’s informative and compelling talk by Edmund Barry Gaither about the life and legacy of renowned Brookline ar...
03/29/2019
The Life and Legacy of John Wilson – Brookline Interactive Group

Last Sunday’s informative and compelling talk by Edmund Barry Gaither about the life and legacy of renowned Brookline artist John Wilson is now available online thanks to Brookline Interactive Group. Check it out and be sure to visit Wilson’s recently-installed bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the lobby of Town Hall. https://brooklineinteractive.org/the-life-and-legacy-of-john-wilson/

Brookline Interactive Group 46 Tappan Street (Top Floor) Brookline, MA 02445 [email protected] (617)-731-8566

The Brookline Historical Society will be at Brookline Day at Larz Anderson Park on Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. Come see o...
09/21/2018

The Brookline Historical Society will be at Brookline Day at Larz Anderson Park on Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. Come see our exhibit featuring eight local men and women who were in the headlines but have largely faded from memory.

Put On Your Walking Shoes & Step Into the Past: Fall Walking Tours Details and free registration on our website150 Years...
09/14/2018
Brookline Historical Society

Put On Your Walking Shoes & Step Into the Past: Fall Walking Tours

Details and free registration on our website

150 Years of Shopping in Coolidge Corner
Sunday, September 30th, 9am -10am

Brookline Village Walking Tour
Sunday, October 7th, 10am -11:30am

The Beaconsfield Terraces: "An Experiment in Domestic Economy"
Sunday, October 21st, 10am -11am

Brookline Historical Society, Brookline, Massachusetts

Many U.S. cities and towns had wooden sidewalks in the 19th century. But it's unlikely that any community had them as lo...
08/29/2018
The Long History of Wooden Sidewalks in Brookline

Many U.S. cities and towns had wooden sidewalks in the 19th century. But it's unlikely that any community had them as long as Brookline, which laid its first plank sidewalk in the 1850s and didn't remove its last one until 1955! http://brooklinehistory.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-long-history-of-wooden-sidewalks-in.html

Mention wooden walkways and most people will probably think of boardwalks along the beach or over wetlands or other fragile environments. So...

A little bit of Brookline crowdsourcing: Do you recognize this location? I'm working on a story about old wooden sidewal...
08/24/2018

A little bit of Brookline crowdsourcing: Do you recognize this location? I'm working on a story about old wooden sidewalks that were once in town. We have lots of older pictures, but can't identify this spot in a photo that appeared in Roads and Streets magazine in October 1942. The building at top right should help, though it may no longer be there. Let me know if you have any ideas.

"This is NOT an EXPRESSWAY." This 1955 photo in the Brookline Chronicle (top) shows a new sign on Route 9 in Chestnut Hi...
08/21/2018

"This is NOT an EXPRESSWAY." This 1955 photo in the Brookline Chronicle (top) shows a new sign on Route 9 in Chestnut Hill. The Google street view below shows the approximate location today.

Here's the story of a now-forgotten local bridge to read about while avoiding the current Comm Ave. bridge construction ...
07/27/2018
Seeing Double? 2 Bridges at Cottage Farm

Here's the story of a now-forgotten local bridge to read about while avoiding the current Comm Ave. bridge construction as much as possible.

The BU Bridge over the Charles River (formerly the Cottage Farm Bridge) is closed to traffic until mid-August this summer while the replacem...

This gorgeous 1930s facade was on a Coolidge Corner storefront that has had many looks and has been home to many restaur...
07/19/2018

This gorgeous 1930s facade was on a Coolidge Corner storefront that has had many looks and has been home to many restaurants over the years. Can you guess where it was & what's there now?

Walking Tour: Blake Park: History of a NeighborhoodSunday, June 17th, 2-3:30 pmIn 1880, banker Arthur Welland Blake enga...
06/10/2018
Blake Park: History of a Neighborhood

Walking Tour: Blake Park: History of a Neighborhood
Sunday, June 17th, 2-3:30 pm
In 1880, banker Arthur Welland Blake engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to draw plans for the subdivision into roads and lots of the Blake family estate on the lower part of Brookline's Aspinwall Hill. Olmsted's plans were never executed, and the estate remained something of an anomaly; a large tract of open land renowned for its landscaping in the heart of a community rapidly developing as a "streetcar suburb". Join Ken Liss from the Brookline Historical Society to learn how the neighborhood of "Blake Park" finally emerged — despite failed plans, untimely deaths, and financial scandal — four decades after it was first conceived.

The free tour begins on the steps of Brookline High School, 115 Greenough Street at 2 pm and will last approximately 90 minutes.

Register at https://blakeparktour.eventbrite.com.

In 1880, banker Arthur Welland Blake engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to draw plans for the subdivision into roads and lots of the Blake family estate on the lower part of Brookline's Aspinwall Hill. Olmsted's plans were never executed, and the estate remained something of an anomaly; a large tract of....

Coolidge Corner Walking Tour: Sunday, June 10th, 9 am to 10 amMeet at Coolidge Corner Inbound T StopCoolidge Corner was ...
06/05/2018
Walking Tour: 150 Years of Shopping in Coolidge Corner

Coolidge Corner Walking Tour: Sunday, June 10th, 9 am to 10 am
Meet at Coolidge Corner Inbound T Stop
Coolidge Corner was home to just one store—Coolidge & Brother—from the 1850s to the 1890s. Following the widening of Beacon Street in 1887-88 and the arrival of the S.S. Pierce store a few years later, a major new shopping district took root. Almost all of the existing buildings in this still thriving commercial area were built between 1890 and 1930. Join Brookline Historical Society President Ken Liss for a journey back to the initial development of the Coolidge Corner business district and get a glimpse of local shopping in the early decades of the 20th Century.

Register (no fee) at https://coolidgecornertour.eventbrite.com.

The Coolidge Corner branch of the library is closing for renovations starting Sunday. But did you know that the first lo...
06/01/2018

The Coolidge Corner branch of the library is closing for renovations starting Sunday. But did you know that the first location of the branch (1912-1915) was in the space that is now Starbucks?

Old Roads, New Names: Where Are They?In May 1719 the citizens of Brookline voted to lay out a new road providing better ...
05/12/2018

Old Roads, New Names: Where Are They?
In May 1719 the citizens of Brookline voted to lay out a new road providing better access for "the north end inhabitants" of the town to the meeting house (now First Parish). The road, which came to be called the New Lane, would "be a more convenient way to ye meeting than they now enjoy."

"Voted that the afore sd way granted to the north end inhabitants shall run from watertown Road across the Land of mr Thomas Cotton and so across the Land belonging to the children of Caleb Gardner late of Brooklyn into Sherbourn Road near to the Lower end of the new stone wall by an old white oak tree —"

All of these roads —"watertown Road," "Sherbourn Road," and the New Lane — still exist though their names have changed. Do you know what they are today?

The two maps here, taken from maps created for the Brookline Historical Society in 1923, show the roads in question in 1693, 26 years before the New Lane was laid out, and in 1746, 27 years after it was created.

04/16/2018

Patriots Day events at the Edward Devotion House will still take place, but the "William Dawes" arrival on horseback has been cancelled.

Brookline's town seal was adopted on this date in 1848. It shows various agricultural elements, but can you guess what t...
04/03/2018

Brookline's town seal was adopted on this date in 1848. It shows various agricultural elements, but can you guess what the object at lower right is?

On this date in 1960, Louise Castle became the first woman elected to the Brookline Board of Selectmen (now the Select B...
03/08/2018

On this date in 1960, Louise Castle became the first woman elected to the Brookline Board of Selectmen (now the Select Board). Future Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis (a Democrat) and future U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson (a Republican) managed her campaign. She was reelected in 1963 and 1966. Louise Castle died in 2002 at the age of 92. #internationalwomensday

This advertisement in the form of a poem was displayed in Brookline's Punch Bowl Tavern in 1771 and was reproduced in th...
02/21/2018

This advertisement in the form of a poem was displayed in Brookline's Punch Bowl Tavern in 1771 and was reproduced in the Boston Evening-Post.

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347 Harvard St
Brookline, MA
02446

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Hi, Brookline historians. If anyone has suggestions on places I can research my house at 181 Walnut St. (was Manka's house until recently, across from Tappan-Philbrick house, bright yellow, behind old Lincoln School) or its first resident, Mary Ann Irving, please tell me. I want to learn more. Thanks. frannyola at gmail dot com .
I have a bit of a random question. I live in the Chestnut Hill section of Brookline. Does anyone know why we use Chestnut Hill as our mailing address instead of Brookline? Why does 02467 have its own name? I know there has to be a story in there somewhere and I am having trouble finding the answer.
Allan is one of Brookline's treasure. He fought in the Battle for Attu and remained on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska for the duration of World War II. Last year, he shared this story of two very different Thanksgivings.
My great-grandfather, John Lawrence McMahan, was born in 1851 in Brookline. I am trying to find his baptism record but I don't know what Catholic church the family would have attended since there was none in Brookline at that time. Do you have any suggestions?
Does anyone happen to have information about Stanislaus Joyce's brief time as Brookline resident?
When was the Brookline Historical Society Founded?