The annual Brookline Bikes bicycle parade takes place this Sunday, May 20th. It's a great event and an opportunity to ride the entire length of the historic Beacon Street boulevard in Brookline unimpeded by automobiles.
The Brookline Historical Society will have a table set up in Amory Park, the starting and ending point for the parade, with information about the development of Beacon Street. Stop by before or after the ride and check it out.
Shown below are some of the architectural and historical sights you'll see as you ride down Beacon Street. (Photos of Beacon Street landmarks in the past can be viewed on the Brookline Historical Society Web site.)
The second story of the Pierce Building, now offices, was originally Whitney Hall. Named for Beacon Street developer Henry Whitney, it was used for concerts, lectures, dances, meetings, and other events. The original tower was taller. Damaged in a 1944 hurricane, it was remodeled afterward to its current design. The S.S. Pierce Company continued to occupy the lower floor until the 1960s and the building is still generally called the S.S. Pierce Building, even by residents who didn’t arrive in Brookline until much later.
Chinese Christian Church (Inbound, between Strathmore and Dean Roads). This neo-Gothic church was designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in 1910. Built for the Leyden Congregational Church, it was bought by the Chinese Christian Church of New England in 1975.
The Beaconsfield Terraces (including Richter Terrace, Inbound at Dean Road and Frances Terrace, Inbound at Tappan Street). The Beaconsfield Terraces were one of the more unusual developments to follow the widening of Beacon Street. Built by Eugene Knapp, a wool merchant, in the early 1890s, the terraces were an early condominium arrangement in which people owned their units but shared ownership of 6-acre park, stables, a playhouse (known as the casino), tennis courts, and a playground. A bell system connected the houses to the stables so that people could call for their horse and carriage. A central heating plant heated all of the buildings. Today, only the residence buildings remain.
Athans Building (Inbound at Washington Street). This commercial block was built in 1898 with stores, offices, and a hall for dances and concerts.
Richmond Court. (Inbound, east of St. Paul Street). Richmond Court was one of the first—possibly the first—courtyard apartment buildings in the country. Built in 1898, it is set back and separated from the noise and bustle of Beacon Street by an iron fence, brick and stone posts, a fountain, and private gardens. Richmond Court was designed by Ralph Adams Cram who went on to design All Saints Church, further out on Beacon Street, as well as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, and many buildings at West Point and Princeton University.