Blake Park: Brookline, Massachusetts
History of a Neighborhood, 1925-2005

 

The Streets of Blake Park

The following is a brief history of the 12 streets on which the houses of Blake Park are located, including when they were developed, how they evolved, the various names that were applied to them, and, with some conjecture, the origins of the names they have today.

Blake Road: A short stretch of today's Blake Road, the section between Tappan Street and Sumner Road (outside the bounds of Blake Park), became a Brookline street in 1892. The original Blake Park development in 1916 extended this street across Tappan Street. The section from Tappan to where Blake and Somerset intersect today was called Blake Road West. The section from there to Gardner Road was called Gardner Place. There was also a Blake Road East, which today is Weybridge Road and the part of Somerset Road between Weybridge and Welland. (See the 1921 plan below.)

It may be that the intention was to eventually link the two parts of Blake Road across the land retained by the Blake family in 1916 (as did eventually happen, although with changes to the names of the streets).
Name Origin: Blake Road is named, no doubt, after the Blake family.

Gardner Road: Gardner Road, a small portion of which marks the northern border of Blake Park, was created in the 1880s as part of the Aspinwall Hill development. See the Aspinwall Hill Neighborhood Association page on the Town of Brookline Web site for more information on Gardner Road and the portion of the hill above Blake Park.
Name Origin: Gardner Road is thought to be named for William Aspinwall's great-grandfather Isaac Gardner.

Greenough Street: Greenough Street, which marks the southern edge of Blake Park at the bottom of Aspinwall Hill, was laid out in three stages. The first section, from Tappan Street to Davis Avenue -- it runs in front of Brookline High School today -- was laid out as Gorham Avenue in 1871. Three years later, Gorham was extended a little further toward Washington Street then turned sharply and extended to Cypress Street, making Gorham an L-shaped street, as shown in the 1874 atlas map below.

Greenough Street from Washington Street to Cypress Place (now Stanton Road) was laid out as a private road by the Blakes in the mid-1890s, across the properties marked S.D. Bennett on the map. The last section, connecting this part of Greenough to Gorham, was laid out in 1899. The original section of Gorham Road was redesignated as part of Greenough Street in 1918.
Name Origin: Greenough is presumably named for the family of Frances Greenough Blake.

Hancock Road: Hancock Road was called Winthrop Circle when first laid out by the P.H Trust in 1916. (It's across Gardner Road from Winthrop Road.) The Inter-City Trust kept the name (see the 1921 plan under Blake Road, above), but it had been changed to Hancock Road by the time the first house was built there in 1927. (A small section of the street, between Gardner Road and the steps of Gardner Path, was laid out with the Path in 1886 and later incorporated with the new road.)
Name Origin: Hancock Road was presumably named for John Hancock. (A house just outside Blake Park, at 432 Washington Street, is a replica of Hancock's Beacon Hill mansion, which was torn down in 1863.)

Lowell Road: Lowell Road was laid out near the bottom of the hill where the Blake stables and other outbuildings were located. Some of these buildings can be seen in the 1919 atlas map below, between the new road and the houses on Greenough Street. Two of these buildings -- it's not clear which -- were moved to Greenough Street around 1921 and converted to be used as residences. They are still there today. (See 53 Greenough Street and 55-57 Greenough Street.) The two houses farthest to the right on the map are today's 8-10 and 12-14 Lowell Road. They remained Blake property until after Frances Blake's death in 1939. From at least 1910 they were home to various Blake family employees at different times (among them a butler, a coachman, and a chauffeur) as well as relatives of the Blakes. Their addresses were shown in the street list as "off Greenough Street" and then "Greenough Street within" until 1922 when they were first listed as Lowell Street. (See 8-10 Lowell Road and 12-14 Lowell Road for more.)

Lowell initially ran from Tappan Street (at the left edge of the map) to Greenough Street North (previously called Cypress Place and now Stanton Road.) The Tappan end, which seems to have been a pathway from Tappan to the stables before Blake Park was developed, was eliminated after land was given to the Town of Brookline for an extension to the high school in 1919. Lowell Road then assumed its present L-shaped configuration, running from Greenough Street to Stanton Road. (See the 1921 plan higher up on this page.)
Name Origin: It's uncertain where the name Lowell Road comes from, though the Lowells -- including poet Amy Lowell and Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell -- were a prominent family in Brookline.

Somerset Road: Somerset Road evolved, in large part, from the main pathway leading into the Blake Estate. The path, which wound up the hill from Washington Street to the Blake house, was expanded and designated Blake Road East when the property was first developed in 1916. At the same time, another path, connecting Blake Road East to Greenough Street, was turned into Stanton Road (not today's Stanton Road). By 1921 Stanton had been renamed Somerset, and by 1925 Blake Road East had also been renamed: the lower part became Weybridge Road, and the upper part became part of Somerset. (Compare the original pathway, shown as a thin and faint double line in the 1888 map at left, below, with Blake Road East in the 1921 plan to its right.)

Somerset Road ended at Welland Road when the first houses were built in the 1920s. It was extended across Welland, connecting to Blake Road, in 1939 after the death of Frances Blake and the development of the six acres she had retained.
Name Origin: The origin of the name Somerset Road is unclear, although two possibilities suggest themselves. It most likely comes from Somerset, England, from whence the Blakes' ancestors first came to the New World in 1630. There is also a Somerset, Vermont, not far from where George Baty Blake grew up, although I have not found any direct connection between this Somerset and the Blakes.

Stanton Road: The oldest section of Stanton Road, starting at Cypress Street and extending to where Greenough Street is today, appeared in town atlases as Cypress Place as early as 1874. It was apparently a private road with several houses on it until 1903, when it became an official town street. A pathway extended from the end of the street into the Blake Estate as early as 1880, moving up the hill to meet the main pathway just below the Blake House. The street was extended along this path when the Blake property was developed, first as an extension of Cypress Place, then briefly renamed on its own as Greenough Street North. Cypress Place and Greenough Street North were together renamed Stanton Road in 1926.
Name Origin: Stanton was a common family name among the Blakes. Arthur Blake's older brother was called Stanton, which was actually his middle name.

Tappan Street: Tappan Street, running from Cypress Street along the edge of Aspinwall Hill to Beacon Street, was laid out in 1860. A small area (two houses) on the east side of Tappan was included in the development of Blake Park.
Name Origin: Tappan Street was named for Lewis Tappan, a merchant and prominent abolitionist who built the house on Aspinwall Hill that later became the Blake House.

Washington Street: Washington Street, which forms the eastern edge of Blake Park, is one of the oldest streets in Brookline. It was known for a long time simply as "the Brighton road," leading to the neighboring town of that name (now part of Boston). It officially became Washington Street in 1846.
Name Origin: Like most Washington Streets in the area and elsewhere in the country, Washington Street is, no doubt, named for George Washington.

Welland Road: Welland Road, which cuts roughly across the center of the old Blake Estate, was laid out by the P.H. Trust in 1916. About half of the north side of this street remained part of Frances Blake's property until after her death in 1939 when it too was developed. The Blake House address, which been 450 Washington Street until 1916, became 45 Welland Road at that time.
Name Origin: Welland is another common name in the Blake family. It was Arthur Blake's middle name, as well as that of his grandfather John Welland Blake.

Weybridge Road: Weybridge Road, as described in the entry on Somerset Road, above, was originally part of Blake Road East, evolving from main pathway into the Blake Estate from Washington Street. It had been renamed by 1925.
Name Origin: The origin of the name Weybridge Road (and Weybridge Lane) is unknown. There is a Weybridge, Vermont about 100 miles northwest of Brattleboro. When Arthur Blake's grandfather John Welland Blake was Brattleboro postmaster from 1792 to 1793, Weybridge may have been part of his district, but I have not been able to find a closer connection. There is also a Weybridge, England, close to London, but I have not found a connection to the Blake family.

Weybridge Lane: Weybridge Lane, which runs off of Weybridge Road with an offshoot connecting it to the end of Hancock Road, was originally called Blake Circle. It remains a private road today, unlike Blake, Hancock, Lowell, Somerset, Stanton, Welland, and Weybridge Road, all of which were developed as private streets but became town streets in 1927 and 1928.
Name Origin: See Weybridge Road, above.