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Ashmont Hill
 Ashmont Hill


AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated April, 1995 and recorded by Edward W. Gordon.

[Note: this reproduction of the information in the Boston Landmarks Area Form may have typographical errors, and for technical matters, the reader may want to consult a copy of the original, which is available at the Boston Landmarks Commission or the Dorchester Historical Society]

Map showing boundaries:

For a pdf version of the map showing the boundaries of Ashmont Hill, Click here

Architectural Description


Few neighborhoods in Dorchester, and for that matter in Boston, can match Ashmont Hill for sheer number of substantial, well-crafted, well-designed and well-preserved late-19th-century residences. Street after street in this residential quarter west of Peabody Square is bordered by wood frame, mostly single-family residences noteworthy for their originality and/or exuberance of design, quality craftsmanship, surviving stables on still-ample lots, etc. Exceptional examples of the Italianate / Mansard, Stick, Shingle, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles (as well as hybrids of these popular late-Victorian architectural modes) appear at every turn. Ashmont Hill encompasses a 40 acre area of elevated terrain bounded for the purposes of this survey by Talbot Avenue on the east, Ashmont Street on the south, Washington Street on the west and Brent Street on the north. So varied are the housing forms and surface treatments, that it is difficult to make generalizations about the housing stock of most streets, except to say that these houses are for the most part substantial, constructed of wood and characterized by complexity of form. Many of these houses possess "cutting edge" designs provided by important local architects of the late 19th century including Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., and Harrison Henry Atwood.

The area's topography and street pattern reinforce its cohesiveness and visual appeal. Sited, as the name implies, on a gently sloping hill whose crest is along Ocean Street at the head of Roslin, many of the area's houses have views of Dorchester Bay and points west, north and south.

Number 67/69 Ocean Street, overlooking the head of Roslin Street is unique within this area as a double house dating to the mid-1870s. Combining Stick style surface treatments with a steeply pitched, straight-sided mansard roof, this U-shaped clapboard house features charming corner porches and a pair of polygonal bays surmounted by double gambrel dormers on its principle fa?ade. The porches exhibit square posts which rise from plinths and railings with punched and cut detail. Interspersed between the bays and the porches side walls are large X-shaped stick ornamentation. Projecting from the side walls are square bays which possess main entrances on their Ocean Street walls and two bays on their north and south walls. The side walls extend two bays beyond the square bays. Beneath the cornice is sawtooth fringe detail. Rising from the roof are substantial corbelled chimneys. Much of Ocean Street's charm is dependent on the presence of this cottage scale double house.

Number 75 Ocean Street, although altered by the application of vinyl siding, represents an example of the domestic architecture of the major late 19th/early 20th century architect and pioneering Colonial Revivalist Arthur Little. Possessing an asymmetrical form, this house's wide jerkinhead or truncated gable roof remains unaltered on the north front; also surviving is the triple gable profile on the south front.

Lower Ocean Street is noteworthy for the memorable streetscape of Arthur Vinal-designed Queen Anne houses at 103 Ocean Street (1889) and 107 Ocean Street (1890). Characterized by turrets, iron cresting, eyebrow windows and two-story polygonal bays, these wooden houses are far less compact and ornate than Arthur H. Vinal's own wooden, brick and stone-constructed home at 35 Melville Park (1882).

Alban Street, the eastern-most north-south street in this neighborhood, like Ocean Street, is lined by an extraordinary progression of sophisticated and tasteful late Victorian era residences on spacious lots. More than any street in this area, mid-Alban Street conveys a wooded "country" atmosphere that perpetuates the landscape of the old Welles estate from which Ashmont Hill?s streets were carved. Alban Street covers part of the Welles estate's apple orchards and here and there there are said to be ancient apple trees that predate this family's mid-19th century ownership of Ashmont Hill. Listed below are just a few of the architecturally significant houses situated along Alban Street and the hill top above Talbot A venue.

Number 12 Alban Street is one of the important examples of the work of Edwin J. Lewis on Ashmont Hill. It stands with Lewis' trademark massive gambrel facade facing the street. Covered with a skin of shingles, this house is as much a work of sculpture as it is architecture. It also speaks to the First Period New England architecture that was such an inspiration to architects designing in the Shingle Style. According to Tucci, ?one of Lewis' chief sources of inspiration for its plain and unadorned shingled gambrel profile and overall informality of plan and mass was the seventeenth-century Fairbanks House in Dedham.? This house undoubtedly reflects Lewis' antiquarian interests as he was active in the Dorchester Historical Society during the late 19th century.

A handsome example of a Stick Style house, 44 Alban Street possesses an asymmetrical form sheathed with clapboards and an overlay of vertical and horizontal boards. Its full length front porch features square posts, diagonal bracing and a center pediment with a modified king post. Projecting from near the southeast corner is a polygonal oriel with pyramidal, finial-topped roof cap; in general the roof is characterised by a complex configuration, enclosed as it is by a massive hip roof and steeply pitched mansardic cap at the northeast corner.

Ashmont Street, the southern most street in this area, represents a tale of two different types of streetscapes. 6 to 100 and 3 to 51 Ashmont Street encompass primarily Queen Anne 2-bay, three pile front gable residences which stand close together on some of the smallest lots in this area. Interrupting the rhythmic repetition of front gable houses are the three story, polygonal towers with pyramidal roof caps that project from the northeastern and northwestern comers of 21 and 23 Ashmont Street, respectively.

The second type of Ashmont Street's streetscape is more akin to the houses of Ocean, Alban and Harley Streets. From 121 to 153 (including 2 to 19 Burt Street) and 124 to 159Ashmont Street, the houses are larger, more complexly massed, and in some cases more lavishly detailed than those bordering Ashmont Street west of Ocean Street. These houses are situated on more ample lots and enjoy deeper setbacks from the street. 145 Ashmont Street is a particularly fine example of a Georgian Revival 3-bay, two pile house which is enclosed by a hip roof with a trio of dormers; the center dormer is surmounted by a segmental-headed dormer and is flanked by pedimented dormers. At the center of the main facade is an elegant entrance porch with paired Ionic columns which supports an entablature and modillion block cornice. Rising from the porch roof is a railing composed of well-turned balusters. Projecting on to this second floor porch is a polygonal oriel. A two story polygonal dormer projects from the north east corner of the house.

Ocean Street is a repository for residences with some of the highest quality designs on Ashmont Hill.

Ocean Street, possibly designed by Henry J. Preston, is a well preserved Queen Anne house characterized by a graceful play of curving and angled lines. Set back facing a still-ample lawn, its curved, encircling verandah and front gable face Ocean Street. Projecting from its gable is a shallow, double oriel window. The center of its south facade features a three story bowed tower with arched windows at the third story. This tower is enclosed by a pyramidal roof cap. Flanking the third story of the tower are small, gable roofed dormers with flared ?skirts? of shingles beneath each window. Its edges are crisply accented by thin corner boards and its windows are set off by louvered shutters.

The Emma James House at 47 Ocean Street is the most opulently ornamented Queen Anne house in the area and, for that matter, in Dorchester. Its outstanding feature is the rich, florid high relief plaster detail which ornaments panels of the second floor encompassing medallions, swags, swirling leaves and heraldic shield-like motifs. This large residence is characterized by a highly plastic form with bowed corners, angled bays overhanging porches and deeply recessed porches within the attic facades of the intersecting gable roofs. This house has a fine quartered-oak-paneled and spindle work interior. Still extant to the south of this house is the original carriage house, now adapted for reuse as residential units.

Number 60 Ocean Street ranks among the finest examples of the Shingle Style in the City of Boston. Indeed, Douglass Shand Tucci calls it the best domestic work by Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. Possessing an asymmetrical form, this house is covered with a skin of weathered shingles. Its main facade is dominated by an unusual, modified gambrel profile. Concerning this house, Tucci notes that two things stand out: "the back porch, which is a triumph of the Shingle Style in its boxy, sawtooth elegance, and the wonderfully conceived roof, where, having thrown up his usual huge, two-story gambrel silhouette, Lewis then boldly cantilevered forward the volume formed by the upper slopes, which holds to the plain of the main wall. The projecting upper volume is also given a "bell-cast" profile of flaring eaves."

The area's major interior streets are Alban, Ocean and Welles. Of these, Welles is the widest and the only through street in the neighborhood; all but one of the remaining shorter streets run into each other to form T intersections. This street pattern lends a sense of self-containment and visual interest to the district, both by reducing through auto traffic and by containing vistas and providing views of houses at the head of streets.

The size of house lots in the area ranges from 3,000 square feet to over 20,000 square feet with most of the largest lots along the major streets of Alban, Ocean and Welles, and to a lesser degree, on Roslin and Harley--the first streets to be laid out in the district during the early 1870s. The later streets -- Grace, Montague, Mellen, Waldorf and Brent -- tend to have smaller houses on narrower lots.

Setbacks likewise are greater on the major streets (partly due to early deed restrictions), where they range from less than ten to over 50 feet and average about 25 feet. Setbacks on remaining streets average about 10 feet. Although there is little public open space in the area, the generous setbacks and mature trees that line most of the area's streets lend a sense of openness and a suburban ambience. The great majority of this area's buildings are in a good to excellent state of repair.

Moving from north to south in this area, Brent Street's streetscapes are much more densely built-up than elsewhere in this area, and its housing forms are not as complex as that of streets a few blocks to the south. If any one building type is typical of Brent Street, it is the rectangu1ar, 2.5 story, gable roof, shingle-clad Queen Anne house. Their 2 and 3-bay main facades are distinguished by gable topped polygonal bays which project from both corners. A particularly noteworthy exception to this rule is the Queen Anne residence at 47 Brent Street. This house has an irregular form, three story, pyramidal capped corner tower and street-facing gable with unusual pedimented and curved oriel whose windows? diamond shaped upper sash echo the diamond shaped shingles of the attic.

Continuing southward, Welles Avenue, possesses a small but choice collection of ltalianate/Mansard 1.5 story residences whose formal massing and stylish surface treatments belie the modest, cottage scale of these houses. Particularly noteworthy are the mirror image houses at 48 and 52 Welles Avenue. Here, each house exhibits a center entrance flanked by a flat window bay and an octagonal bay which is carried through the roof line as a tripartite dormer. These L-shaped houses feature wide corner boards, double doors set within segmental arches and straight-sided hip-on-mansard roofs which retain their original slate shingles. #48 Welles Avenue retains its original front porch. 62 Welles Avenue is noteworthy for its towered center pavilion with open front porch and bell-cast mansard roof cap. Essentially cross-shaped in form, this house is surmounted by a bell cast hip-on-mansard roof. Its dormers are set deeply into the roof and exhibit pedimented enframents.

Number 16 Harley Street appears on the 1874 Bromley Atlas as part of the George D. Welles estate. Together with its adjacent stable and ample side yard this house provides a glimpse of Ashmont Hill before the intensive building boom of the 1880s and 90s. This L-shaped, cottage-scale house exhibits a full length front porch, center entrance, polygonal bays with dentillated cornices and slate shingle-covered, straight-sided mansard roof components. Next door at 22 Harley Street is a full blown Queen Anne / Colonial Revival house with a highly irregular form complete with two story corner tower which is missing its conical roof cap shown in old photographs. The front and smaller second floor porches are set within broad segmental arches. The main facade's dormer projects from the gable roof?s slope, exhibiting a well rendered Palladian window.

Behind the odd numbered houses of Alban Street, Ashmont Hill's eastern slope drops steeply down to Talbot Avenue. 53 Alban Street is a wood shingle covered Queen Anne house with a highly irregular form. Its main facade features a full length enclosed and partially open front porch with high shingle covered railings which short Tuscan columns.

The enclosed portion of the porch bulges out in a polygonal shape. Still intact are the slate shingles of both the porch roof and main block's intersecting hip and gable roof. Above the porch are polygonal bays of unequal width. The broader of the two oriels is surmounted by a jerkin head gable and contains wavy pattern shingles. The narrower bay exhibits an ornamental checkerboard panel on its solid, center facade and is enclosed by a low pyramidal roof cap. Projecting from near the center of the main facade's roof slope is a tall corbelled brick chimney.

Number 61 Alban Street was designed in 1888 by and for architect Harrison Henry Atwood. This is a Shingle Style house whose boxy, rectangular form and low hip roof prophesies bungalow forms of the early 20th century. Covered with a skin of shingles, this house exhibits a 2-bay main facade with a corner entrance porch enclosed by large windows with multi-pane sash. The south wall exhibits a "parade of bay windows" noteworthy for their well crafted and colorful stained glass. Tucci points out "the brilliant way Atwood snuggled his carriage house into the rear of his house--beautifully "built in" so as to be part of the house's foundation, where because of the hill's steep descent the cellar becomes a full story." The "built in" carriage house anticipates the automobile garage that would be commonplace by 1930. Projecting from this house's low hip roof are double dormers atop the narrow facades and three dormers on each side slope. These dormers are enclosed by gable roofs with "visor-like" skirts that surmount the windows.

The Colonial or Georgian Revival is less well represented in this area than the Queen Anne and Shingle Style, although a stellar example of the Georgian Revival style is located at 145 Ashmont Street. Dating to the 1890s, this house is a stately three-bay x three bay with a handsome columned entrance porch, hip roof and chastely rendered dormer treatments.

Ashmont Hill was substantially built-up by the early 1900s and unlike most Dorchester neighborhoods escaped the subdivision of ample house lots to accommodate two-family and three-decker house construction.


Historical Narrative

Ashmont Hill was part of the 17th century "Great Lots", an area that was bounded on the north by Field's Corner, on the east by Adams Street, on the south by Lower Mills and on the west by Washington Street. Ashmont was named for a Neponset Indian who was kinsman to Chickataubut, Sachem of the Neponset Indians. The land was fertile and farmed for centuries, with little development occurring until after the Revolution. For many years there were only two houses within the Great Lots area: the Pierce House on Oak Avenue and the Minot House (no longer extant) on Chickatawbut Street. During the first two centuries of Dorchester's history the focus of community life was Pleasant Street and vicinity; by the 1670s, settlement spread to Meeting House Hill in northern Dorchester.

The name "Ashmont" actually applies to two distinct sections bisected by Dorchester Avenue/Peabody Square. Ashmont Hill is the neighborhood to the west of Peabody Square while Ashmont (Carruth's Hill) is located to the east. After 1870, both neighborhoods were built up as "railroad suburbs" with some of Dorchester's most stylish and substantial residences. The work of important architects is represented in this area, including houses designed by Harrison Henry Atwood, John A. Fox, Arthur H. Vinal and Samuel D. Kelley. During the 1880s and 1890s, Ashmont became home to the families of financially secure professionals. Additionally, Ashmont Hill's rustic charms attracted and inspired creative individuals, evolving into something of a genteel artists' colony. Painters Edward Tarbell and Frank Henry Shapleigh along with photographer Chansonetta Stanley Emmons are associated with 24 Alban Street, 16 Harley Street and 22 Harley Street, respectively. Sadly, 39 Welles Avenue, the home of Ashmont Hill's most famous residents, Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and his daughter Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was demolished during the late 1930s.

From the 1780s until 1870, almost all of Ashmont Hill, representing the area enclosed by Washington Street, the rear lot lines of Welles Avenue, Dorchester Avenue and Ashmont Street, was a farm. The gambrel-roofed farm house, located on the site of the present library at the corner of Welles Avenue and Washington Street, was built some time prior to 1784. At that time, it was known to have been occupied by General Henry Knox, who had brought the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to fortify Dorchester Heights ten years before.

By the early l9th century, the house was owned by a Mrs. Cobb, who rented it as a summer residence. Among the people who rented the house was the statesman, Daniel Webster, who lived there in 1822. Sometime before 1850, the estate and mansion came into the possession of the Honorable John Welles, who died in 1855. Following a period during which the estate was in possession of his heirs, it passed in 1870 to John Welles' grandson George Derby Welles. Then 26 years old and living in Paris, Welles wasted no time in developing the property through his agent, Boston Attorney Edward Ingersoll Browne. George D. Welles eventually settled in a western suburban town that was named Wellesley in his honor. After 1870, the old Webster-Welles house fell on hard times, being used as a "lager-beer garden" which was hidden from view by "an unsightly board fence". Regarded as ?an unsightly eyesore by the people,? this venerable farm house was torn down during the 1890s to accommodate the Henry L. Pierce School.

In 1871, a street and lot subdivision plan was drawn up. Alban, Ocean, Welles, Roslin, Harley and Walton Street were set out, bordered by 6,000 square foot lots on what was then called Welles Hill. Washington Street's origins are traceable to the seventeenth century. Dating back to the turnpike development days of the Federal Period, Dorchester Avenue was set out in 1804. Ashmont Street was set out in 1849 at the behest of Nathan Carruth, linking Adams Street with Washington Street. Between the early 1870s and World War I, Ashmont Hill?s streets were built up with the homes of affluent businessmen, lawyers, physicians, architects and artists. The introduction of the railroad to Peabody Square in 1870, opened both Ashmont and Carruth's Hills to development as upscale ?railroad suburbs.?

Land sales began in 1872, with early house lots tending to be much larger than the 6,000 square foot lots shown in Welles' plot plan. Within two years, at least five large house lots had been sold and seven new houses built--three of them by Welles. These were prominently sited at the heads of Roslin, Harley, and Walton Streets, both to set the tone of the neighborhood and to stimulate development. The prime house lots at both corners of Ocean and Roslin, at the corner of Harley and Welles, and midway along the north side of Welles had all been purchased from Welles. The earliest houses in Welles' development were built in the Italianate and Italianate/Mansard styles; several of these early houses were of cottage scale.

Evidently 70 Roslin Street is the oldest house on Ashmont Hill. It was built in 1870 by Howard Houghton of the boot and shoe firm of Houghton and Hayward on downtown Federal Street. During the 1880s, it was purchased by Dr. Henry S. Babbitt, a prominent Dorchester physician. Dr. Babbitt sold it to Charles H. Belledeu, the well-known builder and owner of the Hotel Belledeu on Mellen Street. Belledeu owned this house until ca. 1920. By 1933, a William J. Ogar owned this house. Dr. Babbitt built the large stable on this lot in 1890 and it was this structure that doubtless attracted Belledeu to this property. Belledeu was described in a contemporary source as "one of the most prominent horsemen in Boston."

Welles Avenue, is a repository for early Ashmont homes including the ca. 1875 mansard cottages at 48 and 52 Welles Avenue. Early owners of these houses included Mary A. Brown at 48 and the Warren J. Whitney at 52. By the 1910s, Mary A. Brown is still listed at 48 while a Gertrude O'Leary owned 52. By 1933, Parker A. Smith and O'leary owned 48 and 52 Welles Avenue, respectively.

Situated at the comer of Roslin and Harley Street, #25 Harley Street is one of Dorchester architect John A. Fox's masterpieces. It is composed of three 2.5 story segments: a two-bay segment with encircling verandah and gable roofed dormer with Palladian window, a central segment with two story octagonal bay and jerkin head gable and a two bay hip roofed kitchen ell. These components are visually tied together by vertical and horizontal stick work over clapboards. This house represents a sophisticated blend of Queen Anne form, Stick Style surface treatments and an early (for pre 1885) hint of the Colonial Revival Style in the dormer's Palladian window. In recent years this house has been painted its original colors. Still intact on this property is one of the largest late 19th century belvedere-topped barns in the neighborhood.

Number 27 Roslin Street (1915) at Montague Street is a boxy, rectangular 2-family house which is enclosed by a roof. Covered with stucco, its design is reminiscent of that of Baillie Scott, the British Arts and Crafts designer. This house has a bungalow porch with "pegged" construction unusual for the Boston area. It was designed by the notable Boston architect Charles Brigham of Brigham, Coveney and Bisby. This firm designed the First Church of Christ Scientist in the Back Bay in 1906. Additionally, Brigham,in partnership with John Sturgis, was the architect of the Church of the Advent (late 1870s) on Beacon Hill. Charles Brigham was also the architect of the Gothic Revival St. Mark's Dorchester Avenue, which also dates to 1915.

Situated at the head of Harley Street, 49 Roslin Street is part of Ashmont Hill's collection of early 1870s mansard roofed cottages. Essentially L-shaped in form, this house retains its straight-sided mansard roof which is so characteristic of the housing of this vintage on Ashmont Hill.

Number 62 Roslin Street is an exuberant example of a towered Queen Anne house. This house is a boxy, 2-bay, two pile rectangular structure made asymmetrical by its three story tower with bell-shaped, finial topped roof cap. Particularly noteworthy is its front porch with turned posts, spandrel brackets and center roof pediment which contains a fountain and leafy curving vines carved in high relief. Picturesquely projecting from the east wall is a small porch with a wealth of well-turned spindle work. Rising from the main fa?ade?s gable roof slope is a double dormer with typically Queen Anne sunburst motif carved within the pediment.

Built in 1870, the Italianate house at 70 Roslin Street is one of the oldest, if not the oldest house on Ashmont Hill. This L-shaped, 2.5 story clapboard house encompasses a 3-bay, two pile main block with a rear ell. The main facade features a later full length Colonial Revival porch with Tuscan columns and turned, Georgian Revival balusters. Opening on to the porch is a center entrance set within a bowed wall with curving beveled glass side lights. This house culminates in panelled and bracketed frieze and side boards. The cornice's frieze board at the center of the main facade is interrupted by a low pitched gable. The side walls exhibit more steeply pitched, arch window-pierced gables.

Running parallel to Roslin Street, one block to the south, is Mellen Street. Mellen Street's streetscape between Ocean and Waldorf Street (2-30 Mellen Street) represents one of the most diverse in the area in terms of residential housing types. Towered Queen Anne / Colonial Revival double three deckers at 10/12 and 18/20 Mellen Street, rub elbows with Queen Anne twin front gable and towered, intersecting hip and gable roofed single family houses at 6 and 14 Mellen Street, respectively. The Hotel Belledeu at 10/12 Mellen Street is particularly noteworthy for its main facade's three story comer polygonal bays which culminate in pyramidal roof caps. These bays flank a two story front porch with monumental Tuscan columns. Beneath the deep roof eaves are fascia and side boards which display remnants of swag and bell flower composite ornamentation.

Providing a glimpse of Ashmont Hill when it was still rural is the the Reed - Loring House at 16 Harley Street. Dating to ca. 1875, this house was built for Charles and Nellie Reed. During the 1870s, Frank Henry Shapleigh, a house guest of the Reeds immortalized 16 Harley Street in a painting. Shapleigh, the first of several painters atttracted to the natural beauty of Ashmont Hill, had recently returned from studying in France. In 1882, Charles Reed?s death necessitated his family's sale of 16 Harley to Stephen L. Emery, a partner in W.H. and S.L. Emery of Federal Street, coal and wood merchants. At some point in the 1890s, Mrs. Reed and her daughter Clara returned took up residence again in this house. Reputed to have been the "belle of Ashmont Hill" during the 1890s Clara Reed took up permanent residence in this house by 1913, with her husband Royden Loring. He was vice president of the Arnold Roberts Company on Congress Street. Clara Reed Loring lived here until the early 1970s when she moved into a nursing home.

The "stick-work" house at 67/69 Ocean Street has been attributed to Luther Briggs, Jr., by Douglass Shand Tucci. Briggs was an architect and surveyor who was responsible for the street plan and 1850s and 1860s houses of the Port Norfolk and Clam Point sections of Dorchester. Briggs was acquainted with Ashmont, having built a mansion for railroad magnate Nathan Carruth atop Carruth's Hill during the late 1840s. In 1863 he set out Melville Avenue and may have been responsible for the street pattern and construction of 1870s houses in Herbert S. Carruth?s Carruth 's Hill development. As a double house dating from the earliest phase of a development of single family residences, 67/69 Ocean Street is a curious but charming anomaly. Originally owned by Ashmont Hill developer George Derby Welles as a rental property, it was later owned but not occupied by owners of neighboring houses, including George W. Reed (1880s and 90s), George A. Eastman (67) and Charles H. Belledeu (1900s and 10s). At some point in the early 20th century, W.J. Clench, a well-known explorer and author who taught zoology at Harvard lived in one of these units. In 1926, he was appointed curator of mollusks at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. By 1933 these houses were occupied by Swedes- John W. Stenstrom (67) and Magnus Larson (69).

The financial Panic of 1873 slowed house construction on Ashmont Hill as well as in other Dorchester "railroad suburbs." Land sales continued gradually through the next decade, with 16 new houses built in 1884. In order to maintain the proper residential character of the neighborhood, all deeds were subject to restrictions. Ashmont Hill deeds stipulated that houses in the area could be utilized for only residential purposes. Furthermore no house or fence over 6 feet tall could be erected within 20 feet of the street (30 feet on Ocean Street). Doorsteps, porticos, cornices, piazzas and bay windows, however, were permitted to project into reserved spaces. The 1880s marked the beginning of Ashmont Hill as a showcase for the "cutting edge" designs of the leading Boston architects and builders of the late nineteenth-century. A good place to view houses of the 1880s is Alban Street. Alban Street has significant historical associations with the important American artist Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938). Built during the mid-1880s from designs provided by Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., this was the house that Tarbell settled in after returning from Paris in 1886. For more than twenty years, Tarbell lived on Alban Street while at the height of his remarkable career as an Impressionist painter. He studied at the Boston Museum School and Academie Julien. Tarbell became known for his upper-middle-class genre scenes and portraits. After World War I he moved to Washington D.C. where he painted portraits of presidents Wilson and Hoover.

Number 53 Alban Street was built in 1888 from designs provided by Boston architect H. G. Waldin. It was built for Franklin Wyman, dealer of hides and leather, 82 High Street; later, wool and sheepskins, 263 Summer Street. This house was built on part of the orchard of the old Welles estate and was said to have had 150 year old apple trees on this property when it was first built. Franklin Wyman married the daughter of Gardner Asaph Churchill, a leading Boston printer who lived across the street in 44 Alban Street.

Number 60 Alban Street (architect undetermined) was built in 1882-1883 for Augustus A. Nickerson. A descendant of Elder Brewster who came over on the Mayflower, Nickerson was associated with F. Nickerson and Co., sailing and steamship owners and general merchants. Nickerson rose to become treasurer of the Boston and Savannah Steamship Company in the 1880s. He was also a leader in the field of public accounting. During the early 20th century, 60 Alban Street was the home of Jeremiah Burke, a Maine native and graduate of Colby College who was architect of the Boston Public Schools from 1921 until his death in 1931. The Jeremiah Burke High School on Washington Street in the Grove Hall section of Dorchester was named in his honor.

Number 76 Alban Street was built ca. 1884-1888 for Dr. Daniel Smith Lowell, Bowdoin College-educated physician, teacher and author. Lowell was a master at Roxbury Latin School from 1884 to 1909 and then, from 1909 to 1921, its headmaster. During the 1920s, this house was purchased by Dorchester boat-builder Howard Linnell and his wife Alice E. Linnell who is listed at this address as a Christian Scientist during the 1930s.

By the 1890s, Ashmont Hill was ringed by "streetcar suburb" development triggered by the introduction of the electric trolley. Three-deckers and two family residences were built in the residential areas south, west and, to a lesser extent north of Ashmont Hill. During the 1930s there seems to have been a trend toward the "old families" selling their late Victorian era houses. Further research may show that a number of these houses were subdivided into apartments, a trend evident in other upper middle class Dorchester neighborhoods.


Statement of Significance

Ashmont Hill

Qualifies as an architecturally distinguished neighborhood of Shingle, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival residences dating from c. 1870-1915. Several fine examples of the work of nationally significant Dorchester architects Edwin J. Lewis, Jr., and John A. Fox are represented within these boundaries. During the late 19th century, Ashmont Hill developed as a ?rail road suburb? of well-to-do businessmen. Additionally, a genteel colony of artists took root on Ashmont Hill during the late Victorian era including the important American Impressionist Edmund Tarbell who lived at 24 Alban Street from 1886 until 1906, photographer Chansonetta Stanley Emmons resided at 22 Harley Street, painter Frank Shapleigh summered at 16 Harley Street while architect Harrison Henry Atwood designed a home for his family at 61 Alban Street. This area satisfies criteria A and C of the National Register of Historic Places and might also be designated a Boston Landmarks district.


Bibliography and/or References


Dorchester Maps/Atlases-1830, 1850, 1874, 1884, 1894, 1898, 1910, 1918, 1933

Boston Directories-1874-1933

Boston Landmarks Commission, Ashmont Hill Study Report, 1978, BLC fIles

Sammarco,Anthony M., "The evolution of Ashmont, a "viable and attractive" district", 12/6/1991; "Rose (ennedy, 102: a life for family, community and country", 7/24/1992

Tucci, Douglass Shand, Ashmont, An Historical Guide to Peabody Square, Carruth's Hill and Ashmont Hill; The Dorchester Historical Society, 1992

Tucci, D.S., Built in Boston. City and Suburb, 1978



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131 Ashmont Street 188265 Alban Street77 Alban Street94 Alban Street
145 Ashmont Street53 Ocean Street 4-12-0675 Ocean Street 4-12-06Looking down Roslin Street after hurricane of 1954
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Created: July 17, 2005   Modified: February 22, 2012