as Part of Blake Park:
Road, built around 1822 for Dr. Charles Wild, is the oldest house
in Blake Park. Extensively remodeled in the 1860s, it was acquired
by the Blake family in the 1880s and redesigned again in the 1920s
as part of the Blake Park development.
The long history of this house and the many people who have lived
here is told here in three parts. Part 1, on this page, goes from
1822 until the sale of the house to the Blake family in the 1880s.
Part 2 covers the years it was
owned by the Blakes (until 1916). Part
3 begins with the sale of the property to the P.H. Park Trust
in 1916 as part of the Blake Park development.]
Wild (1795-1864) was born in Boston, graduated from Harvard in 1814,
and was granted a medical degree in March 1818. (His dissertation
was on delerium tremens.) Coming to Brookline less than a month
later, he boarded with a widow, Mrs. Croft, on Washington Street.
(The Croft family had owned land in this part of Brookline since
the widow gave him two acres of land on the south side of Washington
Street, near the base of Aspinwall Hill. Dr. William Aspinwall,
the town's principal physician, was gradually winding down his own
medical practice at that time -- he died in 1823 -- and Wild soon
took over as the leading physician in town.
Woods in her Historical Sketches of Brookline, published
in 1874, presented a lengthy profile of Dr. Wild. (Pages 163-170).
who can remember the doctor in his prime [wrote Woods], can well
recall his tall, well-formed figure, his firm tread, his deep
voice which seemed to come from cavernous depths, and eyes which
seemed to look from behind his spectacles into and through one.
the doctor's typical way of announcing his arrival to see a patient:
had a breezy way of entering a house, stamping off the snow or
dust with enough noise for three men, throwing off his overcoat,
untying a huge muffler that he wore around his neck, and letting
down his black leather pouch with emphasis. There was an indescribable
noise he made sometimes with that deep gruff voice of his which
cannot be represented in type.
widely respected in town for his knowledge, abilities, and advice,
was skilled in the mixing and administering of potions, in bloodletting,
and in other techniques practiced by the physicians of his day.
In 1839, he became interested in the emerging ideas of homeopathy.
The second meeting of New England physicians interested in this
new kind of practice took place at the house on Washington Street
in 1841. It led to the formation of the Massachusetts Homeopathic
was active in town affairs, serving at various times on the School
Committee and as a justice of the peace, among other responsibilities.
He was also an active member of the Rev. John Pierce's Unitarian
church, where he sang in the choir and played the flute in the days
before the church had an organ.
Wild and his wife Mary (1799-1883) had eight children. Their second
son, Edward Augustus Wild (1825-1891) followed in his father's footsteps,
graduating from Harvard in 1844 and earning a medical degree in
1846. He practiced medicine in Brookline until 1855, when he went
to Turkey (with his new wife) and served as a medical officer with
the Turkish Army during the Crimean War.
to Brookline after the war, he resumed his medical practice until
the outbreak of the Civil War when he was commissioned captain of
a company of troops comprised principally of men from Brookline
and Jamaica Plain. Wild was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines
in Virginia and, after returning to action as a colonel, was wounded
again at the Battle of South Mountain, during which his left arm
had to be amputated. (He supposedly supervised the amputation himself.)
ardent abolitionist, Edward Wild became involved, after his recovery,
in the formation of regiments of African-American troops for the
Union Army. He advised Col. Robert Gould Shaw on the selection of
officers as Shaw was forming the 54th Massachusetts (celebrated
in the movie Glory and the St. Gaudens sculpture on the
Boston Common opposite the State House.) In 1863, Wild was appointed
a brigadier general and sent to North Carolina to recruit troops
from among freed slaves in areas the Union Army had occupied. He
continued to recruit and to lead these troops until the end of the
account of Wild's efforts, "Raising
the African Brigade: Early Black Recruitment in Civil War North
Carolina," from the North Carolina Historical Review,
has been made available on the Web.)
practice medicine after the war because of his injuries, Wild becoming
involved in mining ventures in the West and eventually in South
America. He died in Columbia in 1891 and is buried in the city of
Medellin in that country.
house was sold in 1864 to William Lincoln and sold again in 1868
to Stephen Dexter Bennett who made alterations to both the house
and the stable. (The picture at the top of this page shows the house
after the 1868 alterations. There are no pictures showing the house
as it had looked before.)
Bennett (1838-1906) was a merchant. He had been in the rubber business
in New York early in his career and maintained an office in Boston
although, according to his obituary in the Brookline Chronicle,
he had not been active in business for some 30 years at the time
of his death. He and his wife Helen (1841-1927) moved to Brookline
from Cambridge. They had four children. Their oldest son Henry (born
1862), offered the following description [excerpted] of the family's
time in the Washington Street house in a reminiscence in the Brookline
Chronicle (May 8, 1924).
April, 1868, our family moved to Brookline from Cambridge, my
father having bought about four-and-one-half acres of land known
as the Dr. Wilde [sic] place, well laid out by both Dr. Wilde
and Mr. William Lincoln, a later owner. After some alterations
to the house and stable, we settled down and lived there until
1882. A more ideal place on which to bring up a family of three
children, later four, would be hard to find. A long cobble-guttered
driveway, with hedge on each side about six feet high, led to
the house, with a turnaround in front and an avenue at the side
leading to the stable and sheds in the rear of the house...The
whole place was well laid out with fruit trees and flower beds
by two former owners and kept up by my parents...Washington Street
was then the Old Brighton Road, with its traffic of animals to
market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the racing by our place
in sleighing time. Our lawn was a fine place on which to coast
and also to see the sleighing, which had two lines on either side
and a racing space in the middle. Many were the accidents there
in the season. In '82 my father sold our beautiful place to Mr.
of 26 Weybridge Road continues on the next