Wellington Hill

Wellington 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]

Architectural Description

Broadly defined, the boundaries for the Wellington Hill area may be said to include Blue Hill Avenue on the east, Walk Hill Street on the south, Harvard Street on the west and Morton Street on the north. Narrowing these boundaries down further to include intact cohesive concentrations of historic resources, this area might be said to be contained within the oval configuration formed by Ormond and Wellington Hill’s street’s with the Solomon Lewenberg School at the top of Wellington Hill constituting the focal point for this area. Wellington Hill’s housing stock is primarily a product of the building boom which occurred in Dorchester / Mattapan and other Boston suburbs during the first quarter of the 20th century. #’s 23, 27, 31, 35, 39, 43, 45 Ormond Street are a group of seven, 2.5 story, 2-family residences that were built in the 1920s. These boxy, more or less T-shaped houses combine Colonia1 Revival elements with Tapestry Brick wall surfaces and are enclosed by low hip roofs; a double dormer distinguishes the primary elevation. Across the street at #’s 34 and 36 Ormond Street are substantial Queen Anne/Colonial Revival residences with # 34, in particular, providing a memorable form with broad gambrel roof profile facing the street, its front porch distinguished by well proportioned paired Tuscan columns. Bordering the sweeping curve of Duke Street, off Ormond Street, is a collection of single- and two-family houses which stand with gable and gambrel end walls facing the street. An early, prime example of this housing is # 15 Duke Street, a boxy, 2.5 story, clapboard-clad, 2-family house with a pedimented, paired center entry Tuscan columned front porch and broad gable roof.

# 27 Duke Street is unique within its streetscape of Queen Anne asymmetrically massed homes and Colonial Revival elements. Here, this cross-shaped Craftsman Style house exhibits a highly symmetrical main facade which is covered with stucco. In typical Craftsman fashion, the roof’s timbers are exposed. The overall rustic appearance of this property provides a glimpse of still-rural Wellington Hill during the 1910s. Duke Street intersects Wellington Hill Street on the southwest side of this area. #’s 24 to 90 Wellington Hill Street and 71 to 87 Wellington Hill Street represent an intact, well – maintained collection of single- and two-family residences which are generally characterized by rectangular and L-shaped 2.5 story forms, many enclosed by street-facing gambrel end walls. Wall coverings tend toward wood shingle. Front porches with Colonial Revival elements such as Tuscan columns and slat work railings are common. The two- family residences at #’s 15 to 25 Outlook Road are characterized by boxy, 2.5 story forms with center entrances set within small enclosed porches. Front doors are enframed by Tuscan columns and side lights. These houses are covered with wood shingles and enclosed by low hip roofs. Together, these houses constitute a streetscape which visually is greater than the sum of its parts.

The focal point of the district is the Solomon Lewenberg Junior High School, designed by the Boston architectural firm of Desmond and Lord in 1930. Situated on top of Wellington Hill, this brick and cast stone structure is characterized by a Y-shaped form. Its main facade exhibits well rendered Classical Revival treatments with tripartite main entrances set off by four handsome monumental Ionic columns which support an entablature and broad parapet the facade of which reads: “City of Boston Solomon Lewenberg School anno domini MCMXXIX.” This building’s edges are accented by brick quoins and cast stone cornices which contrast effectively with the dark red brick.

Historical Narrative

Historically, Wellington Hill was an area of upland pasture with farms bordering its lower slopes. The 1850 map shows four houses bordering the streets surrounding Wellington Hill: Blue Hill Avenue, Walk Hill Street, Harvard Street and Morton Street. Aside from the few farm houses situated on its lower slopes, residential development of this area was relatively late, undoubtedly in part because of the difficulties of setting out streets over steep and rocky upland terrain. As late as 1894, no streets criss-crossed this area which was divided up into five large farms or estates, including those of George W. Goodale (house and barn fronting on to Blue Hill Avenue), Hannah F.C. Holbrook (house and barn near Harvard Street), Abbott Lawrence et al Trustees on Walk Hill Street (presumably the Lawrences of Beacon Hill and Longwood Cottage Farm, Brookline) and Hilliard L. Goodale. By 1898, only three streets in this area were set out, forming a triangle that included Duke Street, Ormond Street and Ponemah Street (later part of Wellington Hill Street). Only three structures bordered these streets in 1898: the Rebecca S. Capen House at 23 Ormond Street, the A.H. Greenleaf House at 15 Duke Street and the Patrick H. Carter House at what is now 53 Wellington Street. The rest of Wellington Hill in 1898 (within the survey boundaries) is a proposed development called Wellington Hill Park with dotted lines indicating-more or less-the street pattern that would be in place by 1910. Evidently the Goodale, Holbrook and Wellington families reaped the rewards of the real estate sales of their former farm lands during the 1910s and 20s. The 1910 Atlas shows Wellington Hill’s mostly vacant house lots as part of an enormous tract owned by Wellington Holbrook et al., which extended from Harvard Street, up as far as Morton Street, taking in Greendale, Deering, Errol, Winfield, Westmore, Gilmer, Hillsboro, Goodale, Ormond, Outlook, Duke and Wellington Hill Streets-an enormous area with a 17-lot oval block at the top of the hill which would eventually be utilized as the site of the Solomon Lewenberg School.

Further research is needed on A.H. Greenleaf who lived at 15 Duke Street as early as 1898. By the 1930s Robert M. Ginsburg, salesman and Phillip M. Sandler, Vice President of A. Sandler and Co., 154 Lincoln Street lived at #15 Duke Street. At the turn-of-the-century, Wellington Hill was a diverse neighborhood of white-collar professionals, blue-collar service personnel and members of the families that owned Wellington Hill when it was still farm land. For example, on Wellington Hill Street, # 32 was owned by Robert Anslow, plasterer; #38 was occupied by Georgia A. Harris; #42 was the residence of Daniel F. McCormack, broker; Paul J. Richard, partner in Burke and Richard Co. Boots and Shoes lived at #46; while Henry E. Keenan, clerk. auditing department at City Hall lived at #50; with Joseph F. Otis, occupation unlisted at #54. Representing house construction of the 1930s on Wellington Hill, #’s 23-45 Ormond Street numbered among the early residents: Mrs. Freda Katzeff at #23; Joseph Corman, builder and Jack Franklin (occ?) at#27; Sam A. Myers, purveyor of artifical stone at # 28; #31 was inhabited by Isaac Basinow, meats and Isaac Kraft of Benjamin Kraft and Brothers, 96 Chauncy Street, wholesale millinery; #34 was the home of Bertha Forshee; #35 was the residence of Jacob and William Diamond, treasurer and president, respectively of Diamond Brothers Inc.; Morris Singer of Morris Singer and Sons Malt and Hops resided at #36; while the 2-family at # 39 was home to Max F. Davidson, President and Treasurer of the Davidson Press Inc., 156 Pearl Street, Boston and Hyman Orlansky, physician. # 43 was the residence of Sarah Garr while Harry Shurfo lived at #45. The residents listed above provide a snapshot or cross section of an area that by the late 1920s had a large Jewish community.

Finally, the residents of 71 to 90 Wellington Hill Street in 1933 reveal that the ethnic make up of this cross section is Jewish with several Irish families as well. #71 was the residence of Israel M , variety store; #75 was ~pied by Alex Cohen, grocer, Wilfred J. Doyle, city clerk lived at #81, an attorney named Ben Sriberg resided at #83, John F. White, organ builder lived at #85, Phillip Rosenberg, meats (Rosenberg Brothers of Blue Hill Ave) lived at #66, Milliners Charles and Marvin Bornstein lived at #74, William Applebaum, lawver lived at #84 and Max Zimmerman, salesman lived at 90 Wellington Hill Street.

The Solomon J. Lewenberg School was built in 1930 from designs provided by Desmond and Lord, the architects of the 1927 Parker House Hotel on Tremont Street, Boston. Situated atop Wellington Hill on a 179,477 square foot lot, this junior high school contains 40 class rooms.

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


Posted on

June 18, 2022

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