33 Somerset Road



33 Somerset Road


Year Built:
Permit Date:
Architect: Leroy Brackett
See the research note below
Builder: C.B. Friswold
Cost to Build: $19,000
(On Permit Date):
C.B. Friswold, Dorchester
First Residents: Christian B. & Oldine L Friswold

This house, along with its neighbors at 27 and 39 Somerset, was in the first group built on this street. In fact, the building permits for these three were issued under the earlier street name of Blake Road East. 

33 Somerset Road is one of two houses in Blake Park designed by Leroy G. Brackett. The other, 31 Weybridge Road, is attributed to his firm, the L.G. Brackett Co. See the research note below for more on Brackett.

Christian Friswold (born c1871) built this house and was, with his family, the first resident. A native of Norway who came to the U.S. in the 1880s, he was a real estate broker who was living in Dorchester before coming to Brookline. His wife Oldine (born c1885) came to the U.S. from Norway in 1910. The Friswolds, who were married in 1914, had three children. The family was listed at this address from 1927 to 1929, after which they moved to Beacon Street.

The next residents, listed for just one year, were Ralph and Marion Shorey. Ralph (born 1899) was a carpenter. The 1930 U.S. Census listed the residents as: Ralph T. Shorey, 30, carpenter; and Marion E. Shorey, 20. The house was valued at $18,000.

After a one year gap, Irving and Shirley Saunders were listed at this address for two years (1932-1933). See 32 Lowell Road for more on the Saunders family.) Listed the next year were Wilfred and Marion Ringer. Wilfred was a teacher and at one time principal of Brookline High School. The Ringers, who had three children, were only listed at this address that one year.

The last family to live here during the period of this survey was that of Elmer O. (1902-2001) and Dorothy H. Cappers (1906-1994) , who were listed at this address from 1935 until the late 1950s. Elmer Cappers was a banker, an executive (eventually president and chairman) of Norfolk Trust. Later in his career, he was president of the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation.

A Little Note About Missteps 
In the Thickets of Historical Research

An earlier list of the houses of Blake Park and their architects, compiled for the Brookline preservation office from index card files in the building department, attributed the design of 33 Someret Road to Lucy Brackett and of 31 Weybridge Road to the L.G. Brackett Co., which I assumed to be the same.

This seemed unusual for the 1920s when there were few women practicing architecture. But when I visited the Building Department, there it was: Lucy Brackett typed on the index card and Lucy G. Brackett written by hand on the building permit.

Additional information about Lucy Brackett remained elusive, however, and it remained one of the more intriguing mysteries of Blake Park.

I found L.G. Brackett & Co. listed in Boston directories in the 1930s and 1940s, but no information about any individual. I also found an L.G. Brackett Co. in Winchester today, a provider of building and land surveying services, but the current owners had no connection to or knowledge of the original L.G. Brackett.

Then, after several fruitless attempts to find any trace of Lucy Brackett, I saw a listing for L.G. Brackett & Co. at 88 Tremont Street in a 1947 Boston directory, later than any I had seen before. It also indicated that L.G. Brackett lived in Lexington. That led me to a 1942 Lexington directory that listed a Leroy G. Brackett, civil engineer.

Hmmm. Could Lucy have actually been Leroy, misread on the handwritten building permit when the information was transferred to the typewritten index card? And misread again by me, seeing what I expected to see?

I went back for another look and, sure enough, the name on the permit was Leroy. The loop on the e was tight enough so that it might have been mistaken, in combination with the r, for a u. And maybe a quick glance would have seen the o as a c. But Lucywas definitely Leroy.

(The signature below is not from the building permit, but from Leroy Brackett's World War I draft registration card [obtained via Ancestry.com]. You can see how the same mistake could have been made reading the signature here.)

Brackett signature

So. Mystery solved. Intrigue over. The only woman to design houses in Blake Park was not a woman after all.

- Ken Liss