8 Lowell Road



8 Lowell Road


The origins of the building now known as 8-10 Lowell Road are not entirely clear, but the best evidence indicates it was once the carriage barn of the family of Mary and Robert Sharp Davis on Cypress Place (now Stanton Road.) In the 1897 map at right, taken from the town atlas of that year, the barn is the L-shaped building at lower left, just above the words "Heirs of Mary S. Davis." The Davis house is to its right, on Cypress Place.

Robert Sharp Davis was a book publisher whose company produced many books used in 19th century schools. He died in 1874, and his widow Mary died shortly before the date of this map.

The street extending to the house from Washington Street is the beginning of what would become Greenough Street, laid out a few years before through land acquired by the Blake family the previous decade.

The pathways leading into the Blake estate from Washington Street and Cypress Place can be seen at the top of the map.

In 1899, the Town of Brookline laid out a new road from Washington Street to Gorham Road. It followed the path of the road begun by the Blakes, already known, unofficially, as Greenough Street, and then cut across the Davis estate. The Davis house was either torn down or moved, and the estate received $2,500 in compensation from the town. In the map below, taken from the 1900 town atlas, the Davis house is gone, and the newly extended Greenough Street crosses right in front of the barn.

The next town atlas from 1907 (below) shows several changes. The Davis property north of Greenough Street has been acquired by Frances Blake, except the portion to the left which has been split off into two new parcels and sold to other owners. Lowell Road has not yet been laid out, but the future 8-10 Lowell Road is shown in its present location. It appears, from the shape and angle of the building, to be the Davis barn, minus the long ell and moved back from Greenough Street.

As early as 1911, various butlers and coachmen were shown in the Brookline Street List as living "off Greenough," or on "Greenough Street within," designations that seems to have been applied to the Blake stables as well as to 8-10 and 12-14 Lowell before that street was laid out. It's unclear how many of them might have been living in what is now 8-10 Lowell.

Thomas O'Connor, the Blake chauffer, and Abbie Paige, a teacher, were listed at "off Greenough" or "Greenough Street within" and then, briefly, at 10 Lowell Road before reappearing at 55 & 57 Greenough Street, a house that was moved from Lowell Road in 1921 or 1922. See 55-57 Greenough Street for more on them.

For several years beginning in 1923 or '24, the residents of 8 Lowell Road were Sara Stites and Helen Hodge. Sara Henry Stites (1877-1967) was a professor of economics at Simmons College, where she began teaching in 1912. She was acting dean of the college from 1921-1923 and later was chair of the division of social studies. A Pennsylvania native, Stites graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1899 and earned an MA there in 1900. After studying economics and geography at the Sorbonne and the University of Leipzig in 1901 and 1902, she returned to Bryn Mawr to complete a Ph.D. in 1904. Stites was the author of a well-received book, published in 1905, on "Economics of the Iroquois."

Helen Henry Hodge (1877-????) was, like Stites, born in Pennsylvania in 1877 and graduated from Bryn Mawr (AB 1900, MA 1903.) (Both women were also the daughters of ministers.) Stites and Hodge were co-principals of a private school, the Wilkes Barre Institute in Pennsylvania, from 1904 to 1912 when Stites began teaching at Simmons and they moved to Massachusetts.

Hodge was listed as a teacher in the 1920 U.S. Census, though no occupation was listed in the 1930 Census or in the Brookline Street List. Stites and Hodges may have been cousins. They shared the middle name "Henry" which was the family name of Stites' mother.

Stites also had an adopted son, Francis Blanchard Henry Stites, whom she adopted in 1923 when he was three-years old, around the time they moved to Lowell Road. In a 1945 Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, Stites noted how she had spoken, at her 25th class reunion some 20 years before, of her experience as an unmarried mother. Her son, she reported in the Bulletin, had just embarked on a career as an electrical engineer.

Stites and Henry were listed at this address in the Street List from 1924 through 1930. They later lived in Wayland, MA. The 1930 U.S. Census lists the residents as: Sara H. Stites, 52, teacher (college); Helen H. Hodge, 52; and Francis B. Henry, 9.

No one was listed at this address for three years after Stites and Hodges left. There followed a succession of doctors and their families, none of whom stayed for very long. They included:

  • Dr. Robert Fleming and his wife Jean, listed in 1935.
  • Dr. Phillips Shambaugh and his wife Sarah, listed 1936-37
  • Dr. Ashton Graybiel and his wife Moira, listed 1938-1940. Ashton Graybiel was a cardiologist and expert in aviation medicine. He later worked with the U.S. space program, and as director of research for the Naval School of Aviation Medicine was one of the physicians who examined John Glenn after his historic 1962 flight into orbit.
  • Dr. Joseph Burchenal and his wife Margaret, listed in 1941. Joseph Burchenal received a fellowship to study cancer after World War II and later retired as director of clinical investigation at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.

After another gap, Edda and R. Gordon Gould were listed at this address beginning in 1944. Gordon Gould was in the army in 1944 and was listed as a teacher in 1946.

Note: For the residents of the other half of this house, see 10 Lowell Road.