Blake Park: Brookline, Massachusetts
History of a Neighborhood, 1916-2005

The Houses and People of Blake Park


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128 Gardner Road

Built (as barn):
19th Century
Remodeled as Residence:
1922 and 1930
First Resident at this Address:
James R. & Elizabeth Fraser

One of a handful of pre-1900 buildings in Blake Park, this house was originally a barn, possibly part of the "old stables" of the Blake estate shown close to the Blake house on one of the Olmsted plans. (The same plan shows "new stables" on the part of the estate that is now Lowell Road.)

The barn remained part of the reduced Blake estate when the larger part of the property was sold for development in 1916. It was moved and converted into a residence in 1922. A building permit, issued on May 15, 1922, called for the structure to be converted into a one-family house and to be moved "about 50 feet."

The architect on the this permit was shown as "Richardson," with the builder shown as "Angus." A second permit, issued on July 20, 1922, listed the architects as Richard Barrett & Richardson and the builder as Arthur F. Bower & Son.

James R. Fraser, a salesman, and his wife Elizabeth, were the first residents listed at this address, appearing in the Street List in 1925. The following year, they were replaced by Harvard Medical School instructor Philip Drinker and his wife Suzanne. The Drinkers were listed here for just one year, and were living at 11 Lowell Road shortly thereafter. (See 11 Lowell Road for much more on Philip Drinker, one of the inventors of the iron lung.)

There was no one listed at this address in the 1927 and 1928 Street Lists. For four years, beginning in 1929, the residents were shown as Guilford and Barbara Stewart. The Guilfords were married in 1927, the year Guilford graduated from Harvard. The Street List showed Guilford's occupation as a clerk.

In the 1930 U.S. Census, Guilford, 25, was listed as a superintendent of some kind of products company. (The word before "products" is illegible.) Barbara was 24. They were renting the house for $60 a month.

Two additional building permits were issued for the house in 1930. The first, in February, was for repairs after a fire. The second, in May, was for the addition, at a cost of $1,200, of a one-story dining room attached to older part of the house. The builder in both cases was Burton W. Neal, a prominent Brookline builder and businessman.

Following the Stewarts at this address were Louis and Marion Lackman. Moving to Brookline from New York, they were shown here in the Street List from 1933 to 1936. Louis was an engineer. From 1937 to 1939, the residents were listed as Rodney and Rena F. Dewey. Rodney was a salesman and Rena was a social worker.

The last residents of 128 Gardner during the period of this survey were Shirley R. Brown Jr. and Melvina M. Brown who moved here from Harvard Place and were here until 1953 or 1954. Shirley was listed variously as a repairman, mechanic, and machinist. Melvina (sometimes listed as Mary) was a hairdresser. Living with the Browns for at least part of this time were two of Melvina's brothers, Lester and Chester Kinch, as well as an older relative, Nettie Kinch, who was a nurse.