Lambert House and Fountain
The pre-Civil War house at 128 Chestnut Street was originally the home of Henry and Catherine Lambert, from 1854 to 1900. Mrs Lambert was a close friend of the sculptor, Anne Whitney, and after Mrs Lambert's death a fountain created by Whitney, Child with Calla Lily Leaves, was installed in the small garden island at the intersection of Chestnut, Highland and Valentine Streets. Read more about the history of the Lambert family, their house, Anne Whitney and the fountain here: Lambert Article
West Newton Hill Preliminary Study Report
The West Newton Hill Preservation Initiative, through a team of volunteers, conducted research for a report which was completed in January 2017. The report was submitted to the Newton Historical Commission and the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and released to the community. The report highlights key developments in the history of West Newton Hill since the 1830's including examples and photographs of distinctive architecture and background on the first families people who settled here, together with maps and charts. This also provides a summary about the rationale for preservation in communities generally.
Click the link below to download and view this document.
National Historic Register Districts in West Newton
Following detailed field work and research conducted for the Massachusetts Historical Commission in the 1980s, three separate National Register Historic Districts on West Newton Hill were recognized. These areas are clusters of streets encompassing houses mostly constructed between 1870 and 1930, and representing Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Georgian Revival, Craftsman and Tudor Revival architectural styles. One area extends over 35 acres, from Otis St to Valentine St, between Chestnut and Lenox, and includes the Lambert Fountain on Valentine. The second area includes historic houses on Putnam and Winthrop Streets, and nearby streets. Both of these districts are also briefly summarized on Wikipedia.
A third area, the Day Estate National Register Historic District, includes a group of six homes on Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street, built in 1929 and 1930 , five of which were considered particularly notable as examples of the Tudor Revival style. In each of these three areas, some historic homes have been demolished.
Being in a National Register Historic District does not provide any tools to prevent demolitions, even if desired by the community, in contrast with being in a Local Historic District, where a local historic commission staffed by community members does have the tools to stop demolitions of architecturally significant buildings and to encourage compatible alterations. They would not apply the same restrictions to less historically significant structures.
The ground work of indexing the architecture of the homes in these NR areas has already been done, and there also other buildings in the neighborhood that are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, several hundred more homes in West Newton are already documented and can be researched online on the Massachusetts Historical resource inventory, called MACRIS-net.
If your home is in one of these areas, you may find it interesting to read these reports to learn more about the history and architecture of the neighborhood.
Definition of a Local Historic District
Local Historic Districts (LHD) offer the strongest form of protection for the preservation of historic structures. There are over 200 LHDs throughout Massachusetts, the first having been established on Nantucket and Beacon Hill in 1955.
Designating an LHD is a way for a community to promote the preservation and protection of the distinctive exterior architectural features of buildings within a district, while still giving property owners the flexibility to carry out interior renovations and additions or alterations to the those portions of the exterior not open to view from a public street. Interior features are not affected at all, and exterior features that are excluded from the review process include: routine maintenance, paint color, roof color, landscaping, changes at grade, storm doors and windows, and AC units and small communication antennae. Construction of new homes within an LHD is also subject to a more careful design review than would normally be the case.
The City of Newton has four Local Historic Districts (LHD), which you can see sign-posted as you walk or drive around the city. The first to be established was Newton Upper Falls, in 1976, including almost 200 properties. The Chestnut Hill district was established in 1985 and expanded in 1991, now including 252 properties. Auburndale and Newtonville formed Local Historic Districts in 2002. Newton Highlands is the process of proposing a Local Historic District of about 240 residential and commercial properties.
EXPLANATION FROM THE CITY OF NEWTON
" Local Historic Districts are areas of historic and/or architectural value in which historic buildings and their settings are protected by public review. A Local Historic District is established and administered by a community to protect the distinctive characteristics of historically important areas, and to encourage new designs that are compatible with the area's setting.
Local Historic District ordinances are local laws that are adopted by communities under Chapter 40C of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, enacted in 1960. 40C and local ordinances define how Local Historic Districts operate. Inclusion in a Local Historic District does not affect use of buildings, but does subject exterior changes to review by a Historic District Commission. This design review process assures that changes will not detract from the district's historic character. Historic District Commissions do not necessarily prevent changes or new construction. They ensure that changes and additions are appropriate, and protect the architectural and historic values of the district.
A Local Historic District is not intended to be burdensome to property owners, but is established by a community to manage changes and protect historic buildings, landscapes, and character of a district."
Source: City of Newton Web Site
For more information download the following documents:
Massachusetts Historical Commission report on "Establishing Local Historic Districts"
Steps Involved in Establishing a Local Historic District
In 2016/17, steps were taken consistent with guidelines provided by the City of Newton and the Massachusetts Historical Commission to propose a local historic district, which ultimately did not go ahead. Over 130 other communities in Massachusetts have chosen to follow this process as set out by the Massachusetts Historical Commission(MHC), based on Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40C. For the record, the steps taken for West Newton Hill were as follows:
Ask the Newton Historical Commission to serve as the Local Historic District Study Committee-June 2016.
Hold informational meetings and learn about the opinions of property owners - 2016 - 2017
Mobilize community volunteers to conduct research on the homes in the proposed district - 30 volunteers assisted with aspects of report from June to December 2016
Appoint a professional consultant to advise on methodology and scope of Preliminary Study Report for MHC - consultant engaged and input incorporate.
Submit the Study Report to the Newton Historical Commission - accepted at meeting of Jan 26, 2017
Forward the report to the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the City of Newton Planning Board - MHC received the report and based on staff review acknowledged the historical and architectural significance of the area. The MHC voted on 3/8/17 to encourage the City of Newton to establish a historic district. This is a non-binding advisory position.
Hold a Public Hearing (at least 60 days after MHC decision, and with at least 14 days prior notice to property owners). June 2017
Determine the level of support and engagement of residents. Planning staff administered a survey of the community. Summer 2017. Results showed mixed opinions and a greater number of responses against the establishment of an LHD.
The following steps therefore did not take place: review by Planning staff and City Council boards; preparing and submitting a warrant article, final report, map and bylaw to City Council; voting at City Council (requires 2/3 majority); filing bylaw with Town Clerk and recording at Registry of Deeds; creation of Local Historic District.
Another example of a neighborhood study report, the 2002 study for Newtonville, is linked below for information.
Since many communities consider options to protect their resources, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides support and information on historic districts nationwide. Here link is to an article entitled: "10 Steps to Establishing a Local Historic District".
Planning Procedures For Alterations To Homes In A Local Historic District
Homeowners planning changes to the exterior of a building in a LHD need to complete an "Application for LHD certificate of appropriateness, non-applicability or hardship" as part of the General Permit Application. As mentioned above, many aspects are excluded from any additional approvals, such as: landscaping, exterior paint colors, air conditioning units, storm windows and doors, all interior alterations, and changes to the rear of the building.
The City of Newton Planning Department Ordinance covers requirements for the existing Local Historic Districts. If you would like to learn more about this, you can find more details in Article III of the attached excerpt from this Ordinance.
Newton Local Historic Districts and National Historic Districts Map
This link below to a City of Newton map shows the existing Local Historic Districts in Newton (outlined in purple), National Historic Districts (shaded in pink) and other homes which have been researched by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and are on the state historic inventory (shaded in blue) including many homes on West Newton Hill.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for other maps showing West Newton Hill.
Other Useful Links
- City of Newton: Auburndale Local Historic District
- City of Newton: Chestnut Hill Local Historic District
- City of Newton: Newton Upper Falls Local Historic District
- City of Newton: Newtonville Local Historic District
- Wikipedia Page: Newtonville Historic District
- Wikipedia Page: Auburndale Massachusetts
- Wikipedia Page: West Newton Historic District
- Wikipedia Page: Putnam Street Historic District