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

The Houses and People of Blake Park


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28 Somerset Road

Year Built:
Permit Date:
1929
5/23/1929
Architect:
The Architects' Small House Service Bureau
Builder:
P. Rich
Cost to Build:
$12,000
Owner
(On Permit Date):
Florence Grieco, 427 Washington Street
First Residents:
Victor W. & Florence Greico

Although not attributed to a particular architect, 28 Somerset Road is based on a design from the Architects' Small House Service Bureau, an organization sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its branches around the country.

The Bureau, first developed in Minnesota in 1919, was envisioned as a way of bringing the technical and design skills of professional architects to the construction of small homes -- generally defined as six rooms or less -- even in cases in which the homeowner was unable or unwilling to engage the services of an architect.

Prospective homeowners could review basic designs and plans published in a periodical, The Small House, or in one of several books of designs the Bureau produced. Interested parties could contact the Bureau -- there were branches in Boston and other cities in 1929 -- and purchase a set of documents at a cost based on the number of rooms in the design.

Included with each purchase were blueprints, specifications, surveys, and contract agreements. Homeowners were also offered technical advice via mail and, for additional fees, revisions to the standard plans to be drawn by the Bureau's architectural draftsmen.

Supporters of the Bureau saw it as a means of bringing architectual standards into the burgeoning small house market. At the same time, it was seen as a way to fight competition from construction and lumber companies, catalog firms like Sears & Roebuck and even magazines like The Ladies Home Journal, all of whom were making their own plans and designs available to builders.

Small Homes of Distinction, a plan book published by the Bureau the same year that 28 Somerset Road was built, included several designs similar to this house, though none exactly the same. 28 Somerset was the only house in Blake Park to make use of the Architects' Small House Service Bureau.

Victor Greico, a men's clothing manufacturer born in Italy, and his family were the first residents of this house, but were only listed in the Street List for one year (1930). The 1930 U.S. Census showed the residents as: Victor W. Greico, 38, manufacturer (men's clothing), born Italy; Florence S. Greico, 36, born New York; Alisha (?) A. Greico, 14, born New York; and Alda J. Greico, 7, born Maryland. The house was valued at $20,000.

Listed next in the Street List were Frederick B. and Florence I. Early, previously in New York. Frederick (born 1883) was a stock broker. The Earlys were listed in the Street List at this address from 1931 to 1943. Listed with them until 1938 was Martha E. Goodkin, who may have been Florence Early's mother. After a one year gap in the Street List, the Earlys were followed by Martha Goodkin's son Benjamin (1886-1968) and his wife Viola (shown as Marion V. Goodkin in the Street List.) The Goodkins moved here from Newton. Benjamin Goodkin was a retired carpenter and stage mechanic who at one time had worked for the Ziegfield Follies. He and his wife lived here until the early 1950s.