Aspinwall Hill, Brookline, 1803-1847
Aspinwall Hill, rising to a height of approximately 220 feet above sea level, is the middle of three high hills in the northern part of Brookline, north of Route 9. Corey Hill is to the north, across Beacon Street. Fisher Hill is to the south, across the tracks of the MBTA Riverside Line (formerly the Boston & Albany railroad tracks).
(Apsinwall Hill is in the middle of the map at above, part of a 1923 map showing Brookline as it was in 1855. The hill is also shown in the center of the map at the bottom of this page, taken from a 1946 topographical survey map.)
The hill is named for Dr. William Aspinwall (1743-1823) who built a house in 1803 near what is today the corner of Gardner and Winthrop Roads. The Aspinwall property included most of the hill, from Gardner Road to Beacon Street.
Two other houses -- both of which figure prominently in the story of Blake Park -- were built on Aspinwall Hill early in the 19th century. One, built in the 1820s just down the hill from the Aspinwall house by the merchant and abolitionist Lewis Tappan (1788-1873), later became the home of the Blake family. The other -- the only one of these three early houses still standing -- was built around 1822 near the bottom of the hill close to Washington Street. It was the home of Dr. Charles Wild (1795-1864) who succeeded William Aspinwall as the town's leading physician.
These three, with their various outbuildings, remained the only houses on Aspinwall Hill until the 1880s. (The map at left, a closer view from the larger map produced by the Brookline Historical Society in 1923, shows Aspinwall Hill in 1855. The Blake [lower center], Aspinwall [to the right, near Washington Street], and Wild [lower right] houses are all marked.)
The Aspinwall property, some of it divided among family members and other parts sold off, most notably to Boston University, began to be developed in the 1880s.
Plans to develop the lower part of the hill were first drawn around the same time. But this property, owned by the Blake family since 1847, would remain a private estate for many years to come.