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 Savin Hill, Click here
For the purposes of this survey, the Savin Hill Area is bounded by the Boston Globe parking lot and a park on the north, William T. Morrissey Boulevard and Dorchester Bay on the east, on the south by Malibu Beach and on the west by the Southeast Expressway. The expressway serves as a kind of "moat", keeping Savin Hill quite separate from the rest of Dorchester. Savin Hill is part of the northern peninsula of Dorchester, Massachusetts, which encloses Dorchester Bay. At the center of this area is a 110 foot elevation which contains a acre park. To the south, the boundary lines for this area have been drawn to include McConnell Park, alleged first landing site of the 1630 party of Englishmen from the ship Mary and John and Malibu Beach. Additionally the Dorchester Yacht Club has been included within these boundaries. Fox Point Road originally traversed Fox Point, a small, but fairly prominent peninsula on the Dorchester Bay shoreline, later expanded by landfill. The Savin Hill area possesses a street pattern which has been dictated by the presence of the steep and rocky hill at the center of this area. This pattern may be described as consisting of two circular streets; with side streets radiating off the outer "ring"; the inner is called Grampian Way and the outer ring is Savin Hill Avenue. Savin Hill is exclusively residential and its buildings are overwhelmingly constructed of wood. Although houses were constructed here in the 17th and 18th century, the earliest extant housing dates to the mid 1840s. The bulk of its housing dates to the last quarter of the 19th century. At the risk of making too sweeping a generalization regarding its housing stock, it would seem fair to say that 3- decker and 2 -family housing is located at the edges of the district-- with the noteworthy exception of the stretch of housing along Savin Hill Avenue between Southview Street and Evandale Terrace (186 to 254 Savin Hill Avenue) where stylish and substantial, mid-late Victorian era residences were built to take advantage of water views. Returning to multi-family houses it should be noted that three-deckers are the first building type one sees from the Southeast Expressway or walking over the highway bridge from Savin Hill flats, falsely suggesting that this is the rule of thumb for housing in the entire neighborhood. These three-deckers line Hubbardston Road between 8-24. Three-deckers are frequently located along side streets off Savin Hill Avenue and Grampian Way and are mixed in with, substantial upper- middle- class residences between 132 to 185 Savin Hill Ave; 159 Savin Hill Avenue (corner of Playstead), for example is an L-shaped 2-family residence featuring a handsome encircling verandah with paired and clustered Tuscan columns. This Queen Anne / Colonial Revival's edges are accented by corner pilasters. Its wood shingle clad walls are pierced by simply enframed double windows which contain 12/1 wood sash. This house is enclosed by a steeply pitched pyramidal roof with deep eaves and gable roofed dormers with return eaves.
The streets like Playstead Road, Denny Street, Bayside Street and Southview Street, off the south side of Savin Hill Avenue, hold little in the way of architecturally significant "surprises", with the noteworthy exception of 17/19 Playstead Road. Rectangular in form, this Carpenter Gothic house's main facade is dominated by a trio of steeply pitched gables with lancet and diamond-shaped windows. Probably the oldest house in this area, it dates to the mid- 1840s. These side streets are mostly characterized by 2-family Queen Anne housing with rectangular plans and street-facing gables and 3-deckers which exhibit elements of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles.
Before focusing attention on the architecturally significant housing bordering Grampian Way and Savin Hill Avenue, several other secondary areas should be described in terms of their residential architecture. The streets on the western side of Savin Hill Park, including Caspian Way (5, 9, 10, 22, 26), Castlerock Street ( 3, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16), and Rockmere Avenue (11, 14, 15, 20) are set out through rocky, upland terrain. The proximity to the park imparts a semi-rural feeling to this "little corner" of Savin Hill which also may be said to include 14 to 20 and to 21 Grampian Way. The housing bordering these streets is primarily single- family Queen Anne, Shingle and/or Colonial Revivals. 5, 7, 9 Grampian Way, in this section, constitute an interesting, San Francisco-like streetscape of Queen Anne/Colonial Revival houses climbing the hill with two- story porches (featuring Colonial Revival elements like Tuscan columns and Georgian Revival balusters) taking advantage of the scenic views. 7 and Grampian Way are mirror images of each other with the placement of circular and bowed bays as well as porches in opposite locations on the main facades. These houses are crowned by hip roofs with double, gable - roofed dormers at the main facades.
A less architecturally distinguished area of side streets is located on the north side of Grampian Way. This section lies in Savin Ct., Wave Way, Sea View Terrace, Davitt Street, Old Colony Terrace, Wedmore Street and Evandale Terrace. These small side streets dead end into the Boston Globe parking lot and a park. These cul-de-sacs tend to be lined with modestly - scaled wooden dwellings mostly representative of very plain examples of the Queen Anne.
Built with end wall gables facing the street these houses also tend towards alterations to fabric and fenestration. Small, modern infill housing is to be found along Old Colony Terrace and the most substantial Queen Anne housing of these side streets is located along Evandale Terrace. There are essentially three sections of architecturally significant housing in Savin Hill: 1) #'s 199 to 254 Savin Hill Avenue, between Southview Street and Evandale Terrace along the south and east sides of this area. 2) #'s 116/118 to 189 Grampian Way, between Evandale Terrace and Savin Hill Avenue, and 3) #'s 24 to 96 Grampian Way, between Rockmere Avenue and Evandale Terrace.
The first section encompasses most of the architecturally-significant residences of Savin Hill. Southview Street extends along flat terrain bordered on both sides by architecturally -significant Italianate, Italianate/Mansard, Stick Style and Queen Anne single family housing. To the rear of the houses bordering the south side of Savin Hill Avenue is Malibu Beach. This area follows the great bend in Savin Hill Avenue turning northward at the intersection of Fox Point Road. This section ends at Evandale Terrace. It is impossible to make generalizations about the domestic architecture of this section of Savin Hill Avenue because of the individuality of each house's form and design. Most of these houses enjoy fairly ample set backs from the street, facing front lawns that are enclosed by hedge rows or picket fences. The relative abundance of mature trees and glimpses of open water underline how attractive this area must have been to Victorian homeowners in search of suburban living within easy commute to jobs in Boston. The Old Colony Railroad was set out along the western side of this area in 1844.
High1ights of this section include: the Italianate/Mansard house at 210 Savin Hill Avenue, with its rectangular form and shallow, 2.5 story projecting center pavilion. Clad with clapboards, its symmetrical main facade features a center entry set within an arch and sidelights that appears to be a ca. early-mid 20th century addition. Its center pavilion is flanked by polygonal bays. It is crowned by a bell cast mansard roof which retains its roof slates. #213 Savin Hill Avenue is a substantial, boxy Italianate house which retains its clapboard sheathing and is enclosed by a low hip roof. Its main facade features a center entrance which opens on to a small front porch with chamfered posts and is flanked by 2-story octagonal bays. Above the main entrance is a narrow, double arched window. 219 Savin Hill Avenue is an Italianate / Stick style house which is composed of a 2-bay x 2-bay main block and a 2-bay x 2-bay east ell. The remarkable feature here is its hip roof and slanted first floor lintels which are covered with vibrant, original polychromatic slate shingles. Still intact at the apex of the roof is the cast iron cresting. The stick influence is evident in the bracing of the gabled dormer windows. Virtually every house along Savin Hill Avenue between #'s 199 and 231 is architecturally noteworthy in some way. Other important houses bordering this stretch of the avenue include the T-shaped Italianate at #202 Savin Hill A venue (could this be earlier?), the Colonial Revival at #206 Savin Hill Avenue with the long sides of its main block and east ell facing Savin Hill Avenue and the L-shaped Italianate/Stick house at #212 Savin Hill Avenue. The square Queen Anne / Craftsman style house and the Dutch Colonial at #'s 224 and 230 Savin Hill Avenue, respectively, represent early 20th century "infill" residences. Fortunately, the scale and design of these later houses are compatible with the earlier houses along this "leg" of Savin Hill Avenue.
As Savin Hill bends and turns northward, the quality of the housing becomes consistently high with a remarkable grouping at #'s 240-254 Savin Hill Avenue. 242 Savin Hill Ave's towered villa form is wedded to Stick Style surface treatments of vertical and horizontal boards over clapboards. In general, its windows are fully enframed and exhibit shouldered corners and pediment-like center segments ornamented with circular bosses, although the front porch has been enclosed with clapboards and a picture window. Still intact are the original chamfered porch posts. 244 Savin Hill Avenue is noteworthy for its variety of surface treatments and appropriate paint colors. Its first floor is clad with clapboards, the second floor is covered with octagonal shingles and segments of half timbering appear on the first floor bay (main facade) as well as at attic level. This house is enclosed by a complex roof configuration of gable, hip, and gable- on- hip enclosures. This house retains its original, large, late 19th century stable.
The most architecturally significant house in the Savin Hill area is #'s 252/254 Savin Hill Avenue, an extraodinary towered Gothic Revival residence. This house is remarkable as one of the few brick structures in this area but more than that, noteworthy for its complex, multi -gabled form. The impact of romantic, Downingesque massing on mid- 19th -century American suburban housing is evident here. Its steeply pitched gables and 3-story pramidal roofed tower display ornate, swag barge boarding (complete with king posts). This bargeboarding is intact along the eaves of its many structural components. Its paired entrances are set within lancet transoms and are situated in the towered and gable roofed "off-center pavilion". Flanking this entrance bay are porches with chamfered posts.
On the odd numbered side of the street, #245 Savin Hill Avenue represents an unusually robust foray into the more sculptural qualities of Queen Anne domestic architecture dependent on rounded forms for design interest. Here, the off center entrance is flanked by a narrow round towered segment and a much broader towered corner component Both towers are capped by conical roofs. Projecting from the larger of the two towers is a curved oriel window, which in turn, is enclosed by a conical roof cap.
In addition to the waterside stretch of Savin Hill Avenue, stylish and substantial mid-late 19th century residences are located on lower (southern) Grampian Way. Set back facing ample lawns on the west side of lower Grampian Way are several architecturally significant residences including: the Italianate house at 47 Grampian Way which is characterized by a broad, 3-bay street-facing end wall gable. Although this house has been altered by modern siding, it retains its L-shaped form, fenestration (center entrance, flanked by tall double windows), as well as elements such as pedimented lintels and paired brackets at the eaves. The noteworthy aspect of this house is its siting and its unusually wide end wall gable. Next door at #189 Savin Hill Avenue is a large Stick/Queen Anne house which has sustained additions over time but retains its high rubble stone basement and "skin" of vertical and horizontal stick elements applied over clapboards. Here and there, most notably and visibly at attic level are half timbered surface treatments. This house possesses a highly irregular form and deserves further study as much of it is hidden by tree cover. Across the street, the housing falling between #'s 116/118 and 186 Grampian Way is highly diverse in terms of historic architectural styles. Particularly noteworthy is the towered Queen Anne /Colonial Revival house at #174 Grampian Way with its intact front porch featuring paired and clustered Tuscan columns on plinths and turned balusters.
To the right of the porch is a three- story circular tower with conical roof cap. The main body of the house is enclosed by a steeply pitched hip roof. Its essentially boxy rectangular form is rendered irregular by the corner tower. Next door to the west at 176, 178, 182 Grampian Way is a trio of Bungalows with rectangular forms and clipped end wall gables which face the street. Just to the east of Grampian Way's intersection with Savin Hill Avenue is a good example of an early (for Savin Hill) Italianate house at #186 Grampian Way. Although altered by vinyl siding, this 2.5 story house retains its cross- shaped plan and Italianate window enframements.
Finally the third area of relatively substantial housing on Savin Hill is located along the stretch of Grampian that extends from the high ground near Rockmere's intersection with Grampian to the flat plain on the east side of Savin Hill --in other words within the section between #'s 24 and 96 Grampian Way. This segment of Grampian actually represents more of a diverse collection of house types with modest late 19th century vernacular cottages rubbing elbows with substantial residences. Starting with housing on the high ground and working our way down the hill is the Mansard / Stick cottage at 24 Grampian Way. Here, this 1.5 story house is dominated by a massive hip- on mansard roof which encloses a lower floor exhibiting horizontal and vertical boarding over clapboards. The horizontal stick elements are edged with lacy gingerbread detail. This house's 3-bay main facade features a center entrance which retains its original porch. Projecting from the gambrel gable above the main entrance and rising from the porch roof is a later, clapboard-clad addition. This house sits on a relatively ample lot with mature trees and a semi-circular driveway--providing a glimpse of Savin Hill in its early days as a still-rustic Boston suburb. Across the street at 25 Grampian Way is a large, 2.5 story, cross-shaped Queen Anne house with an encircling verandah which exhibits turned posts and railing balusters. This house stands with end wall gable facing the street. Its side walls exhibit a flared, apron band of diamond shaped wood shingles which separates the clapboard-clad first and second floors. The attics of the intersecting gables are covered with octagonal and staggered butt shingles. Grampian Way is a good example of a bungalow set high on a rubble stone foundation. This house overlooks a gap in the streetscape that is essentialy too steep to build on but affords unobstructed views of the Boston skyline. 42, 44, 46, 50, 54 and 56 Grampian Way are essentially plain, vernacular Queen Anne houses which stand with end wall gables facing the street. 66/66A Grampian Way is the only masonry double row house in Savin Hill. It stands with bowed and flat entrance bays facing Grampian Way. 65 Grampian Way, across the street, is part of Savin Hill's fine collection of towered Queen Anne houses. 71 Grampian Way is an interesting Italianate house (altered by vinyl siding) which is set on a rise with narrow end wall facing the street. Its main entrance is located at the center of the long side wall which overlooks Savin Hill Park. Still intact is its full length Italianate porch complete with chamfered posts and brackets. Its proximity to the park makes this house look more like it is the centerpiece of a large mid 19th century estate. Finally, looking northwest from Grampian's intersection with Evandale Terrace and Savin Hill Avenue is a memorable streetscape of Shingle Style and Queen Anne houses numbered 86, 90, 92, 96 Grampian Way. Their siting (across from Savin Hill Park), form (intersecting gambrels, sweeping roof lines), and materials (dark brown and weathered wood shingles) create an ideal suburban domestic architectural scene.
The handful of modest Italianate and Italianate/Mansard cottages at 385, 379 and 375 Savin Hill Ave were built ca. 1870 in a section of Savin Hill that is devoid of water views, park frontage and picturesque rocky outcroppings.
Additionally, #'s 350 and 362 Savin Hill Avenue are cottage- scale Italianate/Mansards whose boxy L-and rectangular forms, respectively are enclosed by straight sided hip on mansard roofs. #350's full length front porch features turned posts and railing balusters that may represent a later addition. Otherwise, this stretch of Savin Hill Avenue, between Laselle Park and Wedmore Street is lined with 2-family Queen Anne houses (end wall gables to street), Queen Anne/Colonial Revival triple deckers (typical examples flank #350)-- #354 Savin Hill Avenue features flat and polygonal entrance bays. A three tier porch extends from the flat bay and is characterized by monumental square posts and slatwork railings at each level. #346 Savin Hill features flat and polygonal bays on the main facade with a porch on only the entrance level. It is clad with wood shingles and culminates in a molded cornice.
The only non residential buildings in this area are the former John Lothrop Mottley Elementary School and the Dorchester Yacht Club. The Motley School was built in 1911 from designs provided by the schoolhouse Department. The school is situated near the western edge of this area at 141 Savin Hill Avenue. Designed in the Georgian Revival style, this S-shaped, masonry building has been adapted for reuse as housing.
The Dorchester Yacht Club at the extreme southwestern corner of this area consists of boxy, rectangular, 2 story Craftsman style structure which is covered with weathered wood shingles and enclosed by a hip roof. Additionally, on the north side of this club house are two long narrow gable- roof enclosed structures that are constructed of wood and covered with wood shingles. Additionally, this club house has extensive board walks and decks on its premises. It is located just to the east of the Southeast Expressway at the southeastern end of Savin Hill Beach, near Mc Connell Park. It overlooks a small cove that is part of Dorchester Bay.
Savin Hill is blessed with ample park land for such a relatively small neighborhood; on the south is McConnell Park which was set out in as well as Savin Hill Beach and Malibu Beach which is adjacent to Morrissey Boulevard. At the center of this community is Savin Hill Park whose rocky tree covered heights and flat areas along lower Grampian Way provide a glimpse of the natural terrain first encountered by the English party of settlers from the ship Mary and John in 1630. Savin Hill Park was created in . In the park, opposite the intersection of Grampian Way, Savin Hill Avenue and Evandale Terrace is a granite boulder with a bronze plaque which reads: "At the foot of this hill, the early settlers came ashore in small boats to make the first permanent settlement in Dorchester having sailed from England in the ship Mary and John, March 1630-June 1630. The hill was fortified in 1633. This granite boulder was placed here by the City of Boston on June 5, 1909."
Savin Hill is an area of great historical significance as the site of the first English settlement in the Boston area. On March 20, 1630, a group from Devon, Dorset and Somerset, England set sail on the Mary and John and on June 1, 1630, stepped on to the sands of Savin Hill Beach (south side of the Savin Hill peninsula). Rowing in long boats from Hull, this party of settlers came upon the marshes of Fox Point, while the remaining Englishmen walked from Hull to Mattapanock, the Indian name for Dorchester. Under the command of Governor John Winthrop and the spiritual guidance of the Reverends John Warham and John Maverick, this group's journey was motivated in part, by a need to worship in a manner not condoned by the Church of England. Little besides natural features remains to link this area with the city's beginnings. Perhaps here, more than any other area in Dorchester, geology has significantly influenced the shape and character of settlement and its development. The 100 foot hill at the center of this peninsula became the site of a fort built in 1633 and it was here that "the great guns" were mounted in 1637. This hill was originally called "Rock Hill" (and later Old Hill) because of the exposed bedrock at the top of this eminence. Evidently, the fortification atop the hill was short lived and for two centuries the hill was utilized for little more than upland pasture. By the mid 19th century, this hill and its rocky, rugged, tree-covered terrain would become the perfect backdrop for suburban houses and summer cottages exhibiting architectural characteristics of the romantic revival styles. The top of the hill became a park in 1905, having been purchased by the city of Boston.
The Savin Hill peninsula was originally connected to the main land by one road, Leeds Lane, which became Savin Hill Avenue. Grampian Way started out as "the way by Nathaniel Pattens" and followed the western, northern and eastern segments of the current street. The southeastern most segment of Grampian Way was referred to in old deeds as "the way to Beach".
Betwccn 1630-17l00, a handful or families lived within thc Savin Hill area, including members of the Thomas Hawkins, John Gurnell, John Mason, Richard Baker and Nathaniel Patten families. Roger Ludlow, Governor Endicott's brother-in-law was a prominent member of this early settlement living on the south side of Savin Hill. Ludlow had been chosen assistant or director of the Massachusetts Company in London before sailing on the Mary and John. He was chosen Deputy Governor in 1634. His failure to become governor in 1635 caused him to abandon Dorchester in favor of joining the group that founded Windsor, Connecticut. Ludlow's house is said to have survived until 1730. During the siege of Boston in 1775-76, Patriot troops were quartered in an old barracks on Savin Hill. During the War of 1812 fortifications were erected on what was still called Rock or Old Hill. Savin Hill remained under the control of a handful of families until the early 19th century.
In 1822 Joseph Turtle converted the Wiswall estate (see Area Form on Savin Hill Flats) into the Boston area's first seaside hotel. Tuttle renamed what had been called Rock Hill, or Old Hill as it was sometimes named in deference to its status as the site of first settlement. Tuttle called this area Savin Hill at this time, after the scientific name for the red cedar which covered this area.
In 1844, the introduction of the Old Colony Railroad along the west side of this area represents the beginnings of the modern neighborhood known as Savin Hill. This area became accessible to well to do businessmen. The key to understanding the post-1845 development of Savin Hill is the "Plan of Savin Hill belonging to Messrs. Worthington and Robinson". Surveyed on August 16, 1845 by Charles Whitney, this plan shows the entire Savin Hill Peninsula with a street and lot pattern that corresponds to that of the present day but with several noteworthy exceptions. Firstly, the entire peninsula is shown as carved up into house lots, including the acreage that currently comprises Savin Hill Park. Secondly, a never cut-through north-south street called Alpine Avenue is shown wending its way around the east slope of Savin Hill. Thirdly, street names have changed over time. Savin Hill Avenue was called Indian Way between the Old Colony Railroad tracks and Denny Street. The remaining segment of Savin Hill Avenue was called Atlantic Avenue. Grampian Way originally referred to only the segment of this thoroughfare between present day Evandale Terrace and the section of Savin Hill Avenue near the railroad. The remaining segment of Grampian Way was called Glenway. Rockmere Street was proposed as a cul-de-sac called Rockland which culminated in a circular area near the center of the current park. Caspian Way and Hubbardston Road were originally called Woodland Avenue and Rockland, respectively. The latter street joined Springdale Street at a right angle. The only side street at that time was called Bath Avenue, now Denny Street.
By 1850, 10 houses were extant on the Savin Hill Peninsula; today, only two or three have survived from this early period, including the Carpenter Gothic 17/19 Playstead Street and the Italianate houses at 186 Grampian Way and 379 Savin Hill Avenue. 17/19 Playstead Street was built c. 1845-50 for Daniel Denny, a Boston pharmaceutical merchant and a founder of the Dorchester Historical and Antiquarian Society. This house originally faced Savin Hill Avenue and was moved to its present site c.1894-98. In addition, the 1850 map shows only one of the two rings of Savin Hill Streets. To complicate matters this ring represents segments of Grampian Way and Savin Hill Avenue. The current path of Savin Hill Avenue is shown running from the railroad tracks to what is now Evandale Terrace. Here it joins with the northeastern segment of Grampian Way. The northeastern section of Savin Hill Avenue is shown as running only as far as the entrance to the present Savin Hill Ct.
Edward Everett, in his Fourth of July Oration delivered at Dorchester in 1855 made references to the Savin Hill of the early and mid 19th centuries. He recalled that "Old Hill as we called it in the days of my boyhood more than fifty years ago (it has lost that venerable name in the progress of refinement, though it has become a half century older). Notwithstanding the tasteful villas which adorn its base, it exhibits substantially the same grouping of cedars and the same magnificent rocks, and commands the same fine view of the harbor which it did before a single house was built within its precincts. Venerable trees which seemed big to me in childhood seem but little bigger now, though I can trace the storms of fifty winters on some of their well collected branches."
Evidently, "the tasteful villas at the base of Savin Hill" mentioned by Everett in his 1855 Independence Day Address include 120, 147 and 186 Grampian Way. 120 Grampian Way is discussed below. The Greek Revival / Italianate 147 Grampian Way appears to date to the early 1850's. It was owned by Eveline Hart in 1874, B.P. McIntosh in 1884, Andrew F. Dyer, clerk by 1894 and from the late 1890's until at least the early 1930s by Charles H. Howard. The Italianate house at 186 Grampian Way appears on the 1850 Map labeled L. or I. Clark. By 1874, Alice and George Nazro owned this house. The Nazros owned this house until the early 1900's. By 1933, William J. and Patrick J. Healy, laborer and salesman lived here.
Residences associated with the the Worthington and Robinson families, Savin Hill's "first families" include the Stick Style house at 242 Savin Hill Avenue (c. late 1860s?) and the Italianate house at 120 Grampian Way (c. early 1850s), respectively. The Robinson family owned extensive tracts on the north side of Savin Hill. These tracts had been part of first settler John Eeeles lands which later passed to Nathaniel Patten during the mid 17th century. Patten's name lived on many years after his death in Patten's Cove, a part of Dorchester Bay which separated Savin Hill from Cow Pasture (Columbia Point). Patten died without heirs and this land was purchased by the Robinson family evidently by the end of the 17th century and owned by them until the subdivisions of the mid-late 19th century. Less clear is the history of Worthington land ownership at Savin Hill. According to the 1869 Taxable Evaluation of the Town of Dorchester, William Worthington's estate at Savin Hill encompassed a house, stable, three large tracts of land as well as 35 acres of marsh. In any event, 242 Savin Hill Avenue passed from the heirs of William Worthington to Nathan T. Robinson, flour and grain, Dorchester Avenue by 1894. Robinson's home address is listed as "Adams opposite Linden", suggesting that 242 was a summer home or an investment property. Nathan T. Robinson owned this house until the early 20th century. By 1933, it was owned by real estate agent Robinson N. Winthrop. 120 Grampian Way was owned by Hiram B. Robinson, "hay and grain" from at least the mid 1870s until the early 1900s. By 1933 Mrs. Mabel F. Cole owned this property.
Cursory deed research seems to indicate that the sale of the lots shown on the Whitney Plan began in earnest during 1860s. Lots 32 and 33, the future site of the Italianate Mansard house at 231 Savin Hill Avenue was sold to Gardner P. Drury of Boston by William F. Worthington and John H. Worthington, merchants, for $2,494.33 on January 1, 1860. Drury quickly sold this lot to George H. Hepworth, Dorchester clergyman for the then considerable sum of $11,624.69 on July 2, 1860. 231 Savin Hill Ave was built between 1860 and 1866. On Julv 3,1866, Susan and Thomas Tracey Ordway purchased this house from Hepworth for $10,000.00. Ordway's business is listed as Ordway Brothers and Co., 11 Temple Place. Later owners of #231 Savin Hill Avenue included Charles Norvell (1880s and 90s) and Sarah J. Ross (early 1900's). John H. Sullivan. truckman and Chester L. Weaver, social worker lived at 231 by the early 1930's.
Also dating to the 1860s is the William P. Hunt, at 24 Grampian Way, an Italianate/Stick/Mansard hybrid that retains to a remarkable degree, its mid -19th- century setting complete with still-ample lot, semi-circular driveway and mature trees. Hunt was the treasurer of a Boston iron company and owned several other parcels of land at Savin Hill. By 1884, Nancy Kehew owned this house. Abbie A. and George Wright of the Wright and Ditson Company owned this property from the 1890's until at least the early 1930s.
By far the most stylish and substantial housing at Savin Hill is located along two segments of Savin Hill Avenue: the segments from Southview Street to Fox Point Road and from Fox Point Road to Wedmore Street. Among the attractions of these segments of Savin Hill Avenue were water views and flat land that was easy to build on compared to the rocky, ledgy areas in the western, northern and central sections of this peninsula. Although a few houses were built along these desirable segments of Savin Hill Avenue, most of its house construction occurred round 1880. Residing within this avenue's upscale enclave during the late 19th century were George A. Dary, lawyer, 5 Pemberton Square, at 210 Savin Hill Avenue from c. 1880-1900, W.E. Closson, engraver, at 212 Savin Hill Avenue from c. 1880-early 1900's and H.H. Crosby, occupation unlisted, owner of the Italianate house at 213 Savin Hill Avenue from c. 1880-1890. Additionally, D.B. Closson, boot and shoe dealer with the N.S. Gould Co., owned the Italianate Mansard house at 216 Savin Hill Avenue, while the Italianate / Stick style house at 219 Savin Hill Avenue was built ca. 1880 for Claudius B. Patten, cashier, State National Bank.
Similarly, the segment of Savin Hill Avenue between Fox Point Road and Wedmore Street was built up with large wooden residences on ample lots, with some retaining their late 19th century stables. The earliest residences on this "leg" of the Avenue are 235 and 241 Savin Hill Avenue. The former was built in the Italianate Mansard style c. 1870, while the latter evidently dates back to the late 1860s. 235 Savin Hill Avenue was built for Dr. Daniel S. Bartlett, dentist, while 142 Savin Hill Avenue was built for William Worthington of William Worthington and Co. Proving that the teachings of landscape architect and architectural critic Andrew Jackson Downing were alive and well thirty years after first publication is the remarkable, ca. 1875 brick house at 252/254 Savin Hill Avenue. Deigned in the Gothic Revival/Italianate style for John H. and James H. Stark, this house is noteworthy for its asymmetrical massing and irregular silhouette along with its leafy suburban setting. John H. Stark, the owner of #252 was a conveyancer. Also listed at this address was Frederick J. Stark, cashier. #254 was owned by James H. Stark, President of the Photo Electrotype Co. James H. Stark had the distinction of being on the first board of the Dorchester Historical Society at the time of its organization on April 10, 1893. The Stark family owned this house until at least the early 1930's. Built on the lawn of the A.R. B. Robinson house, is 245 Savin Hill Avenue, the towered Queen Anne house of c.1890 built for Byron C. Burnham, electrotyper
189 Grampian Way, built c. 1880 in an exotic blending of the Italianate, Stick and Queen Anne styles, may be one the few known Savin Hill houses to have been designed by and for an architect as George H. Young, architect, is listed here during the 1880s.
A noteworthy contemporary of Savin Hill Avenue's ca. 1880 residences is the Italianate/Stick house at 5 Caspian Way . Over time it has been the home of H.D. Lewis, Luther S. Phelps, and by 1933, Howard W. Woodward, lawyer.
During the late 19th century sections of Savin Hill bordering the Old Colony Railroad or encompassing rocky, rugged terrain were slow to build up. The exception to this rule, and deserving further study, is Savin Hill Court and vicinity at the northwest corner of Savin Hill. As early as 1850, four houses were located in this section and by 1874, a cluster of modestly scaled dwellings was located here. A survivor dwelling from this node of early, modestly scaled dwellings is 370 Savin Hill Avenue. Built c.1885, 350 Savin Hill Avenue is a Mansard cottage that is another relatively early dwelling in an area that was built up with three-deckers and modest Queen Anne houses after 1890. This house may have been built by John McMorrow, a contractor listed as living at 1351 Dorchester Avenue but owning 350 Savin Hill Avenue during the 1890s. By 1933, Robert D. Cotlett, superintendent lived here. 291 Savin Hill A venue is more characteristic of the type of small Queen Anne housing built along the segment of Savin Hill Avenue between Old Colony Terrace and Savin Hill Court. It was built c. early 1890s for Annie(?) and Frank W. Wenners, tailor. By 1933, Garret P. Lacey, assistant engineer of the Public Library lived here.
More substantial housing was built on the rocky terrain of Savin Hill's upper, southwestern slopes during the 1890's. Grampian Way, corner of Rockmere Avenue (then called Rockland) , 14 Rockmere Avenue and Rockmere Avenue are Shingle Style houses whose rough weathered shingles complement the surrounding rugged, rustic terrain. Early occupants (1898) of these houses included Abigail H. Merrick at 21 Grampian, Sidney Perkins, artist at 14 Rockmere and Jennie W. Robbins at 20 Rockmere. Appropriately enough for a house on elevated terrain, 14 Rockmere was the home of S.F. Perkins, proprietor of the Aerial Advanced Kite and Balloon Display Co.
Between 1890 and 1920, the section of Savin Hill Avenue between the railroad tracks and Southview Street was built-up with single and two family Queen Anne and/or Colonial Revival houses as well as three deckers, opening the market for less affluent commuters who needed to be within walking distance of the Savin Hill train Station. This was also the period that short side streets were set out from the water side of Savin Hill Avenue. One of streets is Bayside which was set out c.1900 following the property line separating the James Lyon and Daniel Denny estates. 10, 14 and 18 Bayside Street are three deckers built c.1910-1918 on part of the James Lyon estate. In 1933, 10 Bayside Street was occupied by firemen including Michael Carney, Jason J. Kane, Captain FE and William H. McNeil, FE 52. 14 Bayside Street's occupants included Sven W. Lind and Andrew C. Mac , brass finisher, John O'Donnell and John W. Radcliff, secretary treasurer of the Portland Elevator Company. Dating to the mid 1890s in this section of Savin Hill is the handsome Queen Anne/Colonial Revival single family house, at 159 Savin Hill Avenue. It was built for Raymond Johnson (no occupation listed).
It should be noted that historically, Savin Hill has been a stable community, with long term home ownership by a single family being fairly common for periods of up to thirty or forty years. The Starks of 252/254 Savin Hill Avenue are but one example of long term ownership of a house by a single family. Savin Hill's more substantial houses do not seem to have been subdivided during the Depression years of the 1930's as was typically the case elsewhere in Dorchester. Upper middle class professionals continued to live in the large houses overlooking Dorchester Bay including William Hoag of 210 Savin Hill Avenue, President/Treasurer of the Provident Realty Company, Charles F. Gettemy, Assistant Federal Reserve Agent, Federal Reserve Bank of 212 Savin Hill Avenue, S. Dorr, civil engineer of 213 Savin Hill Avenue, Alfred Carlson, assistant engineer of 244 Savin Hill Avenue and George F. Brinson, engineer, 240 Savin Hill Avenue.
The construction of non-residential buildings at Savin Hill is part of a later chapter in the annals of this area's history. Although not situated on the Savin Hill peninsula, the Dorchester Yacht Club has been included in this study area. Originally located at Clam Point on Freeport Strect, it moved to its current location during the early 1900s. The John Lothrop Motley School was built in 1911 at 141 Savin Hill Avenue on what had been the old Benjamin Wiggin estate. The Motley School was designed by the school house department. .
During the first half of the 20th century, Savin Hill's original topography was radically changed by landfill and highway construction. Landfill operations associated with the Old Colony Boulevard later the William T. Morrisey Boulevard was completed in 1921, effectively cutting Savin Hill off from much of Dorchester Bay. In the process of landfilling, the shape of Fox Point, a small, distinctive peninsula off the southeast comer of Savin Hill was completely obliterated to accommodate the boulevard's construction. During the early 1950s, the Southeast Expressway was constructed on the west side of Savin Hill. Although Savin Hill had been separated from the rest of Dorchester by the Old Colony Railroad tracks since 1844, the expressway served to make this isolation even more pronounced.
Statement of Significance
This area is noteworthy for its high quality housing stock. Savin Hill was the first landing place of the company of English settlers from the Mary and John as well as the site of the first permanent settlement in Dorchester in 1630. Isolated from the rest of Dorchester by highways, water and parkland, this area encompasses stylish and substantial residences dating from the mid-1840s (i.e., the Carpenter Gothic house at 19 Playstead Street) through the Civil War era (i.e., the Italianate / Mansard house at 231 Savin Hill Avenue) to the 1880s residence at 189 Grampian Way with its exotic blending of the Italianate, Stick and Queen Anne elements. Particularly noteworthy is the Downingesque Gothic Italianate double mansion of the Stark family at 252/254 Savin Hill Avenue (mid 1870s). 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
Boston and Dorchester Maps, Atlases - 1794, 1830, 1850, 1874, 1884, 1894, 1898, 1910, 1918, 1933
Boston Directories: 1870-1945
Orcutt, William Dana, Good Old Dorchester (1893)
BLC Files-Conover Heather C., McVarish, Thomas, Strom, Elaine, Historic Preservation Statement Savin Hill Survey and Planning Area, Tufts University, 1977.
"Some Savin Hill (Dorchester) Families", David T. Robertson
Zurawski, Carol, Lynn Whitney, and Starbuck, David R., "Seventeenth Century Survey of Dorchestcr" (Boston University) 1979
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Created: July 18, 2005 Modified: December 25, 2012