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Neponset Village
 Neponset Village

AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated March, 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]

For a pdf version of the map showing the boundaries of Neponset Village, Click here

Architectural Description

The Neponset Village area's boundaries are consistent with the street configuration shown on the 1850 Map of Dorchester. This is bounded by Neponset Avenue on the east, Chickatawbut Street on the north, Glide Street on the west and Minot Street on the south. Also included within this area is the southern portion of Plain Street, which historically was part of the Chickatawbut / Minot Streets development. Additionally, this area includes the side streets off Minot Street, including Dunn's Terrace, and Gilmartin and Wenlock Roads as well as Hallet and Stock Streets (see attached map for more specific boundaries). This area also includes structures on the east side of Neponset Avenue between 364 Neponset and Holbrook Avenue. This area is very layered in terms of its development and deserves the kind of in depth research that might yield the names of carpenter / builders. During the 1830s and 1840s, this section of Dorchester was a thriving village/port on the Neponset River and there is much that could be learned about the make-up of its population at that time from deed research. Neponset Village encompasses the largest number of pre-1830 buildings of any area in Dorchester (Meeting House Hill being a close runner up for this distinction).Scattered here and there along Minot Street, Chickatawbut Street and Neponset Street are truly venerable dwellings with all or parts of their structures dating back to the early 19th century; in- depth research might uncover several structures or parts of structures surviving from the 18th century. One probable candidate for a late 18th century construction date is the old Bicknell House at 51 Minot Street, an L-shaped, cottage scale house with a gambrel roof and center chimney. This house actually represents a part (an ell?) of a larger house. A half dozen Federal buildings are located in this area. A noteworthy cluster of Federal dwellings borders the east side of Neponset Avenue. Sited perpendicular to the street, these houses are enclosed by hip roofs and include 364, 366/372, 378 and 384/386 Neponset Avenue. On the west side of Neponset Street, at the north comer of Chickatawbut Street, is the most stylish and substantial of these Federal period houses, 361 Neponset Street. This L-shaped house stands with formal entrances set within graceful semi-circular arches on both its street facing sides. Essentially 4-bays x 3-bays, this house's main block is enclosed by a low hip roof. Its edges are accented by narrow corner boards. Its windows are fully enframed and contain 6/6 wood sash. Further to the west along Chickatawbut and Minot Streets are other survivors from the Federal Period including the U-shaped 30 Chickatawbut Street. 39 Minot Street is a relatively substantial Federal wood frame house which is composed of a 5-bay, double pile main block with rear ells that give this structure a Y-shaped configuration. Next door at 33 Minot Street is another 5-bay, double pile Federal house which retains fairly extensive rear ells. Both 33 and 39 are enclosed by low hip roofs.

In general, Chickatawbut and Minot Streets' streetscapes exhibit the full range of historical house types from Federal to Craftsman styles. Wood is overwhelmingly the building material of choice. Oddly enough there are little or no ?pure? Greek Revival houses in this area, with the exception of the much altered. T -shaped and vinyl- siding- covered 23 Chickatawbut Street and the L-shaped, side hall plan 41 Glide Street, even though Neponset Village was a thriving port during the 1830s, a time which coincided with the temple form plan's rise in popularity. The persistence of the Georgian plan is noteworthy in this area. In Neponset Village, the gable fronted, side passage from is generally blended with Italianate details (brackets, door hoods etc) suggesting that it was not until after the coming of the Old Colony Railroad in 1844 that house construction activity in the area began in earnest. Good examples of these Italianate houses includes 38 Minot Street and 43 Chickatawbut Street.

The Carpenter Gothic puts in fleeting appearances at 19 Plain Street (steeply pitched gable with characteristic barge boarding and in this case an L-shaped form) and l03 Minot Street (5-bay, double pile cottage with steeply pitched center gable). Although covered with vinyl siding, the Carpenter Gothic 50 Minot Street retains its original irregular form and steeply pitched gables.

The western segment of Minot Street is representative of this area's streetscape's. In considering 89 to l07 Minot Street, one finds an Italianate 2-bay x 3-bay cottage with street facing gable and full length front porch at 107, a small, U-shaped Gothic Revival cottage at 103, an Italianate 5-bay x 2-bay wood stands with broad, east-west facing end wall gables with return eaves. at 99, a 5-bay x. 2-bay Federa1/Greek Revival house with pedimented east-west facing gables, an Italianate cross-shaped double house with 5-bay long wall and paired center entrances opening on to the street at 93/91 and an Italianate / Queen Anne house with intersecting gables and irregular form at 89 Minot Street.

The Italianate style is well represented in this area and generally takes the forms of 3-bay x 3-or 4-bay main blocks with L or T-shaped forms with end wall gable facing the street or as single or double houses with long-bay facade facing the street. Saw cut hoods over main entrances, bay windows both octagonal and polygonal as well as gable roofs with return eaves and arched attic windows are all characteristic of this style. Noteworthy examples of a single-family, side- hall plan, L-shaped Italianate house stands at 74 Chickatawbut Street and 12 Plain Street. The latter's property includes an unusually large barn suggesting this was once part of a more extensive farm. Side streets like Hallett Street and Sylvester and Wenlock Roads are almost entirely built p with austerely ornamented Italianate wood frame housing. 8 Sylvester Road, for example, is a side hall plan Italianate with street-facing end wall gable which retains its late 19th century stable. 72/74 Minot Street and the two houses directly to its rear (4 and 5 Wenlock Road) constitute a cluster of Italianate workers housing noteworthy for their remarkably intact form and fabric. # 72/J74 Minot Street is a 5-bay x 2-bay double house with a polygonal bay on its Wenlock wall. Its paired entrances open on to a front porch with turned Queen Anne porch elements. The two houses to the rear are more straight forwardly Italianate with boxy, rectangular forms and saw cut door hoods over paired doors.

Diminutive examples of Italianate / Mansard cottages are scattered about this area but impart a considerable charm to the streetscape of Stock Street. 8 and 10 Stock Street are side hall plan, 2-bay x 3-bay main blocks with octagonal bays at the main facades and formal, cornice- headed window lintels; both houses retain saw cut door hoods with pendants. These houses are enclosed by hip on mansard roofs. Substantial double Italianate/Mansard housing is located at 3/5 Sylvester Road (U-shaped) and at 5/7 Wenlock Road (T-shaped).

The Queen Anne Style is well represented in this area by mostly plain, unadventurous (design and craftsmanship-wise) examples of this popular late 19th century mode. The towered Queen Anne house tucked away the end of Dunn's Terrace, east side (off Minot Street) approaches the style and substance of housing of this type on Ashmont Hill, but this house represents an exception rather than the rule. Neponset Village Queen Anne's were built for working and middle class families and are devoid of the stained glass, terra cotta detail and well carved trimmings evident on Mellville Avenue and Wellesley Park. Nevertheless, these houses add interest to the streetscape via form, turned porch elements, polygonal bay windows etc.

A more representative segment of this area's Queen Anne's is to be, found on Minot Street. Particularly noteworthy is the streetscape showcasing houses of this style at 63 to 79/81 Minot Street. All of these houses exhibit street-facing gables in one form or another, be they overhanging (69/67) or with an additional smaller and lower gable projecting from a larger gable (75/77). 63 Minot Street exhibits the most pretensions to formal rather than vernacular style in its self conscious asymmetricality, side porch with champfered posts and brackets, overhanging second floor and lunette window at its low pitched gable.

1-4 and 5-8 Holbrook Avenue represent a unique (to this area) foray into Queen Anne workers housing with two long rectangular 4-unit rows of wooden, clapboard clad structures bordering a cul de sac called Holbrook Avenue (off Neponset Street). These structures exhibit broad end wall gables with wood shingles. Four single shed roofed dormers create a rhythmic repetition of distinctive forms on the main facades' roof slopes.

Three-deckers and Craftsman style 2-family residences represent later ?infill? housing in this area. Lacking characteristic front and back porches, three-decker is a misnomer of sorts for 49 Minot Street but nevertheless as three family building exhibits the rectangular form and verticality that is typical of three decker design. This verticality is emphasized by the three story polygonal bay at its main facade. This structure culminates in a deep cornice with small paired brackets.

Craftsman style housing in this area tends to be two stories in height, rectangular or T-shaped in plan and generally appears in groups of threes and fours such as at 11, 15 and 19 Chickatawbut and 75, 77, 79 Chickatawbut Street as well as 40 Glide Street.

Historical Narrative

Neponset Village began to assume an architectural identity recognizable as a densely- settled village / port on the Neponset River by the early 1830s. Today, land fill has placed a fair distance between Neponset's streets and the river. Thus this area's once close relationship with the Neponset River is not readily apparent. The marsh land and Davenport Brook which once bordered the south side of the village and limited the extent of this area's streets was gradually filled in over time. Set out as early as 1633, Adams Street linked the main settlement on Allen's Plain in northern Dorchester (Pleasant Street) with the Neponset River and points south. Adams Street passed through Neponset Village and was this area's link to docks on the Neponset River. To the north of this area was creek -bordered marsh. During the 17th century, this area was part of the Great Lots, lying south of the common and planting land on the slopes of Meeting House Hill. Evidently, settlement in this area was discouraged although Pierces, Minots and Tolmans built houses in and near this area as early as the mid 17th century. South of the gate leading to the Great Lots at Adams and Hancock Streets there was no tight system of roads with only Adams Street and Washington Street, further to the west, as north-south arteries.

George Minot, an elder of the church built a house on what is now Chickatawbut Street c. 1640. This street was named for the chief of the ?Massachusetts? Indian tribe. In 1621 Chickataubut signed a treaty with the English at Plymouth. Orcutt notes that ?the (Minot) house was typical of the construction of those early days, -- a wooden structure with its frame solidly filled with bricks, either for durability or to make it bullet proof.? George Minot, the builder of the house was one of the first settlers of the town having been part of the party that sailed into Dorchester Bay on the Mary and John in the spring of 1630.

called Squantum. An original settler of the "Squantum" section of Quincy, Minot was made a freeman in 1634 and was a representative to the General Court in 1635 and 1636. Elder George Minot died December 24, 1671 and was buried in the Dorchester North Burying Ground at Upham's Corner. The Minot House was destroyed by fire in November, 1874.

The Bicknell House at #51 Minot Street appears to be the oldest house in the area. Its centre chimney gambrel roof form suggests a pre-1780 construction date (the popularity of the gambrel as a New England roof type dating from 1700- 1780). The Bicknell House originally stood on the "Upper Road" and represents only a part of the original structure. During the late 19th century this house was owned by the Josiah G. Hentz family. Hentz was a photographer who lived in Boston and apparently summered here. Lelia Rollins lived here from World War I until at least the early thirties. D.P. Neville owned this property, renting it to Stephen J. Donohue, salesman and Joseph Hawes, chauffeur, by 1933.

During the early 19th century, Neponset Village began to develop as a trade center close to the mouth of the Neponset River. By the early 1830s, a dense concentration of buildings had evolved around the Minot / Adams Street intersection. One gauge of the community's growth by 1831, was the petition on the part of Neponset Villagers to the town for the establishment of a public school. Chickatawbut Street evolved as early as c. l640 from a driveway leading to the Minot House. Judging by the early housing on this street, Minot Street was probably extant by 1800. According to Orcutt, Neposet Village contained 24 families by 1831. During the 1820s navigation on the Neponset Rver for the purpose of trade was gaining momentum with lumber, Quincy granite, and Dorchester grain and coal among the chief cargos being transported on the river. Neponset Village, positioned as it was at the head of the tidewater, enjoyed considerable prosperity as a port during the second quarter of the 19th century. Orcutt notes that ?the navigation of the river attained maximum height in 1833 when 74 vessels, aggregating six thousand tons, unloaded their cargos at Neponset Village, at the head of navigation, besides many vessels which sailed up the river empty to be loaded with granite to be transported elsewhere.? Navigation on the river was practically ruined when a granite bridge, evidently with low clearance was erected in 1837. Neponset Village's importance as a port lingered on into the 1840s. In 1839, a grain store was built at Neponset Bridge by Micah Humphrey. He imported his grain from New York and took back leached ashes, which were sold at Long Island in Boston Harbor to be used for enriching the land.

The remarkable cluster of Federal vernacular houses on Adams Street between Minot and Chickatawbut Streets, including #'s 361, 364 / 366, 372 and 378 Adams Street date from the first three decades of the 19th century and attest to Neponset's prosperous years as a port. The last two mentioned Federals evidently influenced the orientation of later buildings on this street as the Italianate house at 384/386 Adams Street and the Queen Anne housing at 1-4 and 5-8 Holbrook Avenue (a cul-de sac) were both sited perpendicular to the street. The Federal houses bordering Adams Street are believed to date from 1820-30 -- deed research is needed to confirm this date range. #361 Adams Street was the home of Jonathan Butterfield, insurance agent by the 1860s. By 1884 this was the residence of Horatio N. Glover, "starch, gum and thickenings" manufacturer. Glover?s factory was located at Mattapan. This house remained in the Glover family until just after World War I. By 1933, George H. Littlefield, physician, lived here. At the mid-century mark, #364/366 Adams Street was the residence of Captain Nathan Spear; during the late 19th/early 20th century, the heirs of a Mary Simpson owned this property. By 1918, #364/366 Adams Street was owned by James H. and J.P. Ripley and its tenants included Mrs. Nellie McCann and Frederick S. Lawson, salesman.

The adjacent Federal house at 372 Adams Street is labeled "Mrs. Childs" on the 1850 Map of Dorchester passing to Peter F. Munier, moulder, by the 1860s. A Joseph Munier is listed here by 1910. By 1918, Catherine A. and Daniel Holleran, hackman lived here. Mrs. Holleran lived here until at least the early 1930s. 378 Adams Street completes this quartet of early 19th century houses bordering Adams Street. It appears on the 1850 Map labeled Mrs. Hildreth. It remained in the Hildreth family until c. 1895. By 1898, James Claffey, mason lived here. From c. 1910 until at least the early 1930s, Annie and Patrick: McGourty, pedlar, lived here.

30 Chickatawbut Street, which appears to encompass 18th century structural components, also dates from Neponset Village's glory years as a prosperous port of the Federal Period. By 1874 it was part of Roswell Gleason, the Brittania ware manufacturer's extensive Dorchester real estate holdings. From c. 1880 until c. 1920, this property was owned by Horatio N. Glover and his heirs. The Glovers owned several houses in this area including the Federal house at 361 Adams Street and the Greek Revival house at 23 Chickatawbut Street. In 1898 Horatio N. Glover is listed as the owner of the Horatio N. Glover Company at 355 River Street, Mattapan. By that time, this company manufactured ?British Gums and Gum substitutes as well as dextrine.? 33 Minot Street, another Federal house, was for many years owned by members of the Pierce family, long associated with this area through the old Pierce house of the 1650's at 24 Oak Street. From c. l880 until at least 1933, this house was owned by the Samuel G. Wood family. Another survivor from the days when the Neponset River figured significantly in the fortunes of this village is 39 Minot Street. 61 Minot Street, an L-shaped Federal farm house is a reminder that agriculture as well as trade figured prominently in the economy of this area. During the early - mid 19th century it was the farm of William Marshall. From c. 1870-1933, Hammonds, Popes, and Ripleys owned this property. 48 Glide Street, at the far western end of this area, is a Federal house long associated with the Benjamin C. Bowker family. Bowker was a carpenter and his son Ben Jr. was a clerk at Quincy Hall. Between 1884 and 1894 this house was moved from its original location at 82 Chickatawbut Street, corner of Glide Street, to its present location. #48's present site was once occupied by the Bowker Stable. Bowker's heirs owned this property until c. 1910. By 1918, Stephen A. Crook, carpenter, lived here.

In 1844, the Old Colony Railroad was set out through this area, separating Neponset Village from Pine Neck, later Port Norfolk. The coming of the railroad evidently encouraged population growth in this area just at the time when its importance as a port was on the wane. By 1850, approximately 70 structures were located within the boundaries of this area. Claps, Cranes, Bowkers, Hills, Pierces, Spears, Hildreths, Wilsons, Minots, Forbes and Pillsburys were among the families who lived here at mid century. Surviving houses representative of the mid 19th century include he Italianate house at 384/386 Adams Street owned by the Otis Wright heirs during the late - nineteenth -cenmry annd the Greek Revival/Italianate house at 43 Chickatawbut Street which was owned by Thomas W. Pillsbury, carpenter, from the 1860s until at least the 1870s.

23 Chickatawbut Street is a c. mid -19th century Greek Revival dwelling that was owned by Nathan Holbrook, proprietor of the Neponset House Hotel. Holbrook and his heirs owned this house from c. 1870 until c. 1920, evidently renting to the Horatio Glover family during the 1890s. By 1933, a Kathleen V. Kelly lived here. Another Greek Revival dwelling dating from 1850 is 51/53 Chickatawbut Street. By 1874, it was owned by Nathan S. Cleveland who worked for The Daily Advertizer newspaper at 27 Court Street in Boston.

Two doors west of 23 Chickatawbut Street was the site of the First Baptist Society's church in Dorchester. It stood at the head of Narragansett Street on Chickatawbut on the site of present day Bowman Street. It was organized on June 7, 1837, with services initially held in Neponset Hall. The Chickatawbut Streete church was built in 1838 and seems to have existed as a church on this site until c. l892 (further research needed).

Although Lower Mills is more generally associated with furniture manufacturing, Neponset Village was host to at least one cabinet making concern. William Adams, cabinet maker, lived and presumably worked in the Gothic Revival house at 50 Minot Street from at least 1850 until c. 1885. Another Gothic Revival dwelling dating from the mid 19th century is 19 Plain Street. This house is shown on the 1850 Dorchester Map and dates to the days when Plain Street "dead ended" not far from a marsh bordered creek. From at least 1850 until c.1885, this house was owned by Benjamin P. Eldridge whose occupation in 1874 is listed as "state police". By 1894, this house was owned by Daniel DeLury, gardener. By 1933, Patrick W. Price, printer lived here. During the 1890s until at least 1920, William D. Curtis, Vice President of the Dorchester Fire Insurance Company at Port Norfolk, lived here. 1 03 Minot Street is a Greek Revival / Gothic Revival cottage which stands at the western most edge of this area. In 1850 it was owned by an S. Crane and by 1874 was the property of Eliphaz W. Arnold, clerk at #30 Beach Street. By 1884, Daniel Proctor, associated with a business at 2 Faneuil Hall Market, lived here. His heirs owned this house until c. 1910. During the late 1910s until at least the early 1930s, Robert R Logerstrom, carpenter owned this louse. The Italianate house next door at 107 Minot Street was the western most dwelling in the old Neponset Village area. Although it does not appear on the 1850 Dorchester Map it must have been built c. l850-60. Next door to this house at #113 Minot Street (not included in this area) is the beginning of an early 20th century suburban development which was set out over Edward Bangs' farm land and would encompass Charlemont, Chelmsford and Franconia Street, in addition to Minot Street. It was the residence of A.H. Conant, collections clerk., North National Bank, 111 Franklin Street, Boston. Further underlining the fact that this area was a village of artisans is the Italianate house at 6 Wenlock Road which was the residence of George Berry, blacksmith, during the mid 19th century. After c. l880, it was owned by the E.E Taylor and later John Leeping families. Mr. Leeping was a carpenter.

Neponset Village, between 1870 and 1930, gradually became more integrated with surrounding suburban housing developments. For years, Neponset Village had had distinct limits, hemmed in as it was by river and creek marsh on the north and south and eventually by the railroad tracks on the east. Despite inroads made by suburban housing in and around this area, Neponset Village still retains its village "feeling" which can be seen in the ?hand made,? pre-balloon frame era qualities of its earliest dwellings, odd set-backs of houses from the street, mature trees, still ample lots, narrow side streets, etc.

During this later period, some house lots were further reduced in size to accommodate new housing. The Queen Anne and triple decker housing in this area represents this further ?whittling down? of once ample tracts. For example, 4 Minot Street was built c. 1870 on farm land that once sloped southward to the Neponset marshes. It was built for E. Frederick Washburn, owner of Washburn and Co. seeds.

During the 1880s, the late Italianate vernacular houses at 86 to 96 Minot Street were part of two large tracts of land owned by George W. Partridge and Daniel Pickering. Pickering and Partridge apparently hired H.P. Oakman, carpenter, to build these houses. Oakman lived at 86 Minot Street. 70/72 Minot Street was built c. 1890 on land that had been owned by an N.W. Holt and S. White. By 1894, Charles A. Adams, confectioner lived here.

Statement of Significance

Neponset Village

Neponset Village began to assume an architectural identity recognizable as a densely-settled village / port on the Neponset River by the early 1830s. The Bicknell House at 51 Minot Street appears to the oldest house in the area. Its center chimney gambrel-roofed form suggests a pre-1780 construction date. The remarkable cluster of Federal houses on Adams Street, between Minot and Chickatawbut Streets, including 361, 364/366, 372 and 378 Adams Street date from the first three decades of the 19th century and attest to the Village?s prosperous years as a port on the Neponset River. Several side streets off Minot possess noteworthy nodes of c. 1865-1875 Italianate / Mansard cottages including 8 and 10 Stock Street, with more substantial double houses representative of this style at 3/5 Sylvester Street and 5/7 Wenlock Road. 1-4 and 5-8 Holbrook Avenue represent a unique foray into Queen Anne workers housing with two, long rectangular 4-unit rows of clapboard-clad structures bordering the cul de sac called Holbrook Avenue. This area satisfies criteria A and C of the National Register of Historic Places. Neponset Village is also recommended as an architectural conservation district.

Bibliography and/or References

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

Boston Directories: 1870-1945

Orcutt, William Dana, Good Old Dorchester,

Various authors, The Dorchester Book Illustrated, 1899

Tercentenary Committee, Dorchester-Old and New-1630-1930

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Created: July 18, 2005   Modified: March 14, 2012