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

The Houses and People of Blake Park

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26 Weybridge Road

Built :
Remodeled :
1860s and 1920s
Architect (1921 Remodeling):
Clarence T. McFarland
First Resident:
Charles Wild
First Resident
as Part of Blake Park:

Porter Sargent

The former Wild House,  after renovations, in 1868.

26 Weybridge 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.

[NOTE: 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.]

Charles 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 1746.)

Around 1820, 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.

Dr. Charles WildHarriet Woods in her Historical Sketches of Brookline, published in 1874, presented a lengthy profile of Dr. Wild. (Pages 163-170).

Those 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.

Woods described the doctor's typical way of announcing his arrival to see a patient:

He 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.

Dr. Wild, 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 Fraternity.

Dr. Wild 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.

Charles 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.

Returning 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.)

Edward Augustus WildAn 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 war.

(An excellent 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.)

Unable to 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.

The Wild 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.)

Stephen 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).

In 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. Arthur Blake.

The story of 26 Weybridge Road continues on the next page.