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Oak Square Architecture

Oak Square/Hunnewell Hill encompasses the area between the level ground of Oak Square as well as the eastern slopes and top of Hunnewell Hill as far as the Newton Line. This area borders Washington Street and segments of several side streets, encompassing houses on Bigelow (numbers 5, 7, 9/13) and Tip Top Streets (numbers 7, 9, 15 and 8, 12/14, 16/20), and is overwhelmingly residential in character. Noteworthy, non-residential buildings are ranged around Oak Square and include the Art Deco Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library at 419 Faneuil Street, the Craftsman style Fire Station at 425 Faneuil Street, Our Lady of the Presentation Roman Catholic School, Rectory and Church at 634, 676, and 680 Washington Street and the former Oak Square Elementary School at 35 Nonantum Street. Oak Square, a triangular area containing a more or less oval park and several traffic islands is bordered by Washington Street to the south and Faneuil Street to the north. Continuing west of Oak Square this area encompasses residential properties on both sides of Washington Street, in a more or less linear configuration as far as the Newton Line. Washington Street ascends a steep hill before reaching level land in the vicinity of the Matchett/Washington Streets intersection. Situated near the top of this hillside is the distinctive, towered form of Our Lady of the Presentation Roman Catholic Church.

Oak Square and Washington St 1920

The north and west sides of Oak Square are particularly rich in terms of historic buildings. The Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library at 419 Faneuil Street is particularly noteworthy as an example of an Art Deco public building. Built in 1931 from designs provided by Kilham, Hopkins and Greely, this L-shaped, 1.5 story building is constructed of brick with granite facades. The library, with a frontage of 70' on Oak Square, possesses a 7-bay main facade. It rises one story from a low basement to a flat roof. On either side of the main entrance stairs are three small square basement windows. Visually separating basement from first floor is a cast stone belt course. The entrance bay is treated as a center pavilion flanked by three-bay wings. To a great degree, the visual impact of this building depends on simplicity of line and geometric form, as in the fluted, double corner pilaster-like elements, pier-like forms on either side of the entrance and windows and the rectangular panels above and beneath the library's windows. Surface treatments identical to those of the main facade appear on the Bigelow Street facade.

Oak Square Fire Station 2000

The main facade of Engine Company No. 51, next door to the library, is of interest for its fleeting references to a number of architectural styles popular during the first quarter of the 20th century including the Georgian Revival, Jacobethan and Spanish Colonial revival styles. Built in 1912, it was designed by the important Boston firm of McGinnis and Walsh, nationally important specialists in Roman Catholic Church design. Essentially rectangular in form with its narrow two-bay main facade facing Oak Square, this fire house rises three floors from the pair of garage bays on the first floor to stepped and pointed Jacobethan Revival gables. The garage bays culminate in segmental arches with gauged brickwork lintels. Two soldier brick string courses along with an ornate wrought iron balcony visually separate the first and second floors. A pair of metal oriels with molded apron panels cover much of the wall surfaces of the second and third floors. The tops of these oriels are shaded by the deep overhang of the terra cotta tile covered roof slope. The side and rear walls are characterized by utilitarian finishes.

Our Lady of the Presentation Grammar School 2000

Our Lady of the Presentation Roman Catholic School at 632 Washington Street is a Y-shaped Italian Renaissance Revival building which occupies a triangular lot bordered by Tremont and Washington Streets. Hunnewell Hill rises behind the school while Nonantum Hill looms over Tremont Street to the south. This 2.5 story, Y-shaped, red brick, cast stone trimmed building is composed of U-shaped and rectangular segments. In general the low basement is separated from the first floor by two cast stone string courses; the lower course forms a continuous lintel course for the small square basement windows. This building's corners are accented by brickwork quoins. Located at the north eastern "arm" of the U-shaped component, the main entrance is surmounted by a segmental arch which surrounds high relief sculptural detail. To the left of the entrance bay, on the first and second floors, are six narrow, closely spaced windows containing 6/6 wood sash. The aforementioned window treatments are typical of all the school's elevations. The Tremont Street elevation is noteworthy for the surface treatments of the wings' end wall gables; completely devoid of windows, each wall exhibits an ornately enframed cast stone niche, with six -sided plaque above commemorating a Christian saint. Projecting from the north wall is a long rectangular wing whose windows (two groups of six windows on each floor) overlook Oak Square. Both structural components are enclosed by low pitched, terra cotta tile-covered gables. The north wing's Oak Square facade features an entrance near its northeast corner.

The boundary line for the Oak Square/Hunnewell Hill has been drawn to include two school houses. Built in 1855, the Oak Square School at 16 Bigelow Street was originally located on the triangular park at Oak Square. This boxy, rectangular, wooden building rises three stories from a high rubble stone basement to a low pitched attic roof with paired brackets. Projecting from the main facade is a front porch with turned supports, central enclosed area decorated with a pair of stained glass windows; the porch dates to this buildings removal to Brooks Street at the turn of the century. The school at 35 Nonantum Street, designed by Edward March Wheelwright in 1894, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nonantum Street Oak Square School is a tour de force of Colonial Revival institutional architecture. The original, T-shaped school house, received a T-shaped rear addition in 1922. Its main block and rear wing rise one story from rubble stone and brick basements to low pitched hip and flat roofs, respectively.

Additionally, windows contain 9/9 wood sash and are crisply enframed by paneled and cornice headed lintels. Adapted for reuse as condominiums in 1984, the school's domically capped cupola is a picturesque Oak Square landmark in the valley between Hunnewell and Nonantum Hills. In addition to the cupola, much of this building's charm is dependent on its elegant portico complete with Tuscan columns, molded entablature and a pediment accented with dentils and modillion blocks and an oculus window.

Turning to the domestic architecture of this area, it is fair to say that some of the finest examples of late 19th / early 20th century residential design in Allston-Brighton line Washington Street, on Hunnewell Hill. Straddling the Brighton/Newton boundary line, 724 Washington Street ranks among the largest and most ornate wooden Queen Anne residences in the city of Boston. Essentially rectangular in form, a three story tower enclosed by a bell-shaped roof cap, projects from its northeast corner. The Tuscan columned front porch's roof extends across a driveway to serve as a porte cochere. Polygonal oriels and a bowed bay project from the west wall. Particularly noteworthy is the ornate low relief plaster ornamentation of the main facade's porch pediments and roof gables. The ornamentation is so exuberant that it appears on the verge of bursting out of the confines of half timbered borders. This house illustrates the Queen Anne style's penchant for asymmetry and a variety of window treatments. For example, an asymmetrical effect is achieved via the inclusion of a small oriel window on the main facade's left gable while the right gable is devoid of windows. The oriel window beneath the left gable is narrower than the broad polygonal oriel sheltered by the deep overhang of the right gable. In terms of a variety of window shapes and sash treatments, a trio of arched windows pierce the wall at the center of the main facade's second floor, while the majority of this house's windows are square headed, standard size windows. Additionally, oriel windows containing small square panes and Gothicized sash treatments illustrate the variety of sash treatments.

Built c. 1875-1880, 719 Washington Street is apparently the oldest house on Hunnewell Hill. It is the only example of an Italianate Mansard style within the boundaries of the Oak Square area. Essentially rectangular in form, this two-story, 3-bay x 3-bay residence is enclosed by a hip-on-mansard, slate shingle-covered roof. Projecting from roof slopes of the side and main facades are two and three flat-roofed dormers, respectively. The full-length, Tuscan columned front porch and the front door's side lights represent later, Colonial Revival additions. Projecting from the center of the second floor's main facade and from the east wall's first floor is an Italianate oriel and bay window, respectively. The cornices of the oriel, bay, and main block exhibit paired saw-cut brackets .

Built c. 1890-1895, 704 Washington Street is a text book example of the Shingle Style. Initially associated with resort homes built in Newport, Cape Anne and Maine during the 1870s and early 1880s, the Shingle Style was widely employed in the design of upscale suburban residences by 1890. Situated near the top of Hunnewell Hill, an ample lawn separates house from street. Drawing inspiration from Medieval English and First Period American cottages, houses of this style speak to the saltbox and gambrel roof configurations, fenestration and Corbelled chimneys of 17th century New England dwellings. Completely clad with wood shingles, this house is enclosed by intersecting gable roofs. Its main facade features a flared roof line, off-center entrance and modified polygonal stair hall tower. The front door opens on to a small porch which is nestled into the intersection of the main facade and stair tower and is enclosed by a hip roof. Typical of Queen Anne design are windows with single pane lower sash with multi-pane upper sash. The second floor windows of the stair tower contain diamond shaped sash.

709-711 Washington Street illustrates the far-reaching impact of the Craftsman and Spanish Mission styles on American domestic architecture during the World War I era. This two-family house, with the exception of a tiled roof (which may have been the original roofing material instead of asphalt shingles), shows the wide-reaching influence of Californian architectural styles during the first quarter of the 20th century. This boxy, rectangular house's walls are parged with stucco. Its three -bay main facade features a two-story entrance porch with square posts, slat work railings and gabled eaves which acknowledge the Craftsman style's debt to Japanese architectural influences. The first story open supports an enclosed front porch which exhibits narrow, raised ornamental panels beneath the windows. The ornamental stepped and arched parapet is the feature that, together with the plaster walls and hip roof speaks to Mission style characteristics. Beneath the hip roofs eaves are Craftsman style paired brackets.

692 Washington Street, this handsome Colonial revival residence of the 1890s overlooks a late-19th- century semi circular driveway, mature trees and ample lawn. Its three -bay main facade features a projecting, pedimented center pavilion flanked by bow fronts. Clad with clapboards and enclosed by a gable roof, this
2.5 story house is essentially rectangular in form. Projecting from the center pavilion is a Tuscan-columned porch which supports a heavy, molded entablature topped by a spindle baluster railing in the Georgian manner. Projecting from the east wall is a two- story polygonal bay. The front door is flanked by side lights and surmounted by solid, molded paneling. The bow fronts' first floor windows are fully enframed and cornice headed. The second floor windows are fully and simply enframed by molded surrounds. In general, windows contain 1/1 wood sash. Rising from either end of the main elevation's roof slope are pedimented dormers. Rising to the right of the pavilion's pediment is a corbelled chimney.

Our Lady of the Presentation Church 2000

Hunnewell Hill's major landmark is the Church of Our Lady of the Presentation at 680 Washington Street. Designed by the nationally known Boston architectural firm of McGinnis and Walsh, this church was built in 1913-1914. This Roman Catholic Church possesses an I-shaped or modified Latin cross plan. It stands with a narrow, gable roofed bell tower which is "twice the height of the church building". The tower's walls are pierced by narrow windows with the exception of the large arched window at the upper portion of the tower's main facade. The tower's corners are accented by buttresses. Louvered openings appear beneath the roof eaves of the side walls. Rising from the center of the tower's roof ridge is a narrow, finial-like spire. Situated on the steep eastern roof slope of Hunnewell Hill, this church overlooks a shrub-dotted front lawn. Constructed of random granite ashlar stones, the upper two thirds' of the nave's Washington Street facade is covered with smooth stucco. The stucco -covered section is pierced by tall and narrow openings which contain lancet windows enframed by elaborate tracery. Located between these windows is a low relief plaster cross whose lateral arms are located above the windows. Projecting from the center of the nave's main facade is a small enclosed entrance porch. The double batten front doors with their Celtic Revival hardware are set within a pointed arch edged with light gray granite which contrasts with the darker stone. Enclosed stone secondary entrances project from the east wall of the tower and west wall of the nave. These porches are sheltered by gable roofs with exposed rafters. The side walls of the nave exhibit three tripartite square headed windows containing stained glass. Each of the side walls' roof slopes exhibit four steeply pitched, slate shingle covered dormers. Rising from the southern end of the nave's roof ridge is a tall, attenuated copper spire which rises from a low, louvered base. Projecting from the southern end of the west wall is a gable roof-enclosed parish hall which is composed of the same materials and rendered in the same manner as the nave.

Next door to the east of the church is the Jacobethan Revival Our Lady of the Presentation Rectory at 676 Washington Street. Possessing an irregular plan with asymmetrical massing, this building's first floor is parged with stucco; wood shingles sheath the second floor. Covered with slate shingles, the rectory is enclosed by intersecting, half-timbered gables. The 5-bay main facade's off center entrance is set within a shallow entrance porch enclosed by a half -timbered gable roof. To the right of the main entrance is a projecting, 2-story gable roofed component measuring two-bays in width. In general, windows contain single pane lower sash and diamond shaped upper sash. Three gable roofed, half- timbered dormers are ranged across the main facade's roof slope.

The Queen Anne house at 664 Washington Street possesses an irregular, cross-shaped form. Covered with clapboards, the walls of this residence exhibit a Stick Style overlay of vertical and horizontal boards, as well as barge boards ornamented with circular bosses that are interestingly retardarataire for an 1890s house. This house's attic walls are covered with wood shingles. Projecting from the northwest corner of its main facade's street-facing gable is a two-story enclosed porch with apron panels containing smaller, vertical and horizontal panels beneath the windows of the first and second floors, respectively. The large, square-headed multi-pane windows of the first floor porch are flanked by paneled Doric pilasters. The windows of the second floor porch are set within broad arches with smooth spandrels. These windows are flanked by engaged Tuscan columns. To the left of the corner porch on the street-facing gable is a two-story, off-center polygonal bay. The main entrance is located on the porches west wall and is flanked by narrow side lights. It opens on to a small porch with well-rendered Colonial Revival spindle railings. This porch is sheltered by the roof of a porte cochere or covered carriage entrance which is this house's most memorable feature. Together with its stable at the end of the driveway, 664 Washington Street's porte cochere's eloquently provides physical evidence of the later years of the horse and carriage transportation era. The porte cochere's gable roof is situated atop a broad, elliptical arch with paneled spandrels. The arches spring from the paneled Doric pilasters of the entrance porch and square Doric posts. Dentils accent the porte cochere's cornice. Visible beyond the porte cochere, at the end of the driveway is a large stable with a broad street-facing gable, clapboard clad first floor and a wood shingle sheathed second floor. At the center of the second floor is a balcony with slat-work railings . Solid curvilinear bracing projects from the fronts and sides of the porch posts which culminate in a projecting, half- timbered gable. Projecting from the center of the roof is a pyramidal capped belvedere.

Continuing to descend the eastern slope of Hunnewell Hill and turning right on to Tip Top Street is a collection of dwellings more modest than the elaborate and substantial residences of Washington Street, but nevertheless interesting in their own right as suburban housing built for a middle class clientele. Set out in 1909 from Washington to Tremont Streets, Tip Top Street affords picturesque views of Brighton's treed hills from the southern end of this cross-street. Noteworthy houses on Tip Top Street include the L-shaped wood shingle clad Craftsman Style cottage at 12 Tip Top Street, with its gable fronted eaves and deep eaves set off by paired bracing which might be more accurately called triangular bracing. Across the street at 15 Tip Top Street is a more substantial, hip-roofed Colonial Revival house .The projecting full-facade front porch is distinguished by stucco-covered walls and rubble stone piers surmounted by columnar forms . This influence of the Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles was popular at the time this house was built c. 1910-1915. Above the front porch are bowed and polygonal oriels. The south wall features a single entrance bay and two story polygonal bay. This house is capped by a hip roof with deep bracketed eaves. Rising from the center of the main elevation roof is a single hip-roofed dormer.

Returning to Washington Street, 647 Washington Street represents a well-designed blend of the Shingle, Colonial Revival and Craftsman Style. Like many of the 1890s residences in this area, this house clearly shows originality of design born of utilizing traditional historical forms and stylistic elements while acknowledging new directions in domestic architecture embodied in the Craftsman style porch and eaves treatments. Essentially L-shaped in form, this house is covered with a skin of wood shingles and enclosed by an intersecting hip and gable roof; the main block 's hip roof exhibits flared roof ridges and Craftsman style brackets. The rustic quality of the shingles is enhanced by the rugged piers of the front porch at the southeast corner of this residence. The front door is situated on a segment of the house that projects from the east wall and is deeply set back within the porch from Washington Street. Sheltered by the gable -roofed porch, on the house's main facade is an oval window. This oval window positioned laterally on its wall.

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