Lambert House on Chestnut Street at risk of demolition

The Lambert House at 128 Chestnut Street is one of the few antebellum houses on West Newton Hill.  The first owner, Rev Henry Lambert, was an active abolitionist and leader in civil service reform. The fountain and sculpture by Anne Whitney,  on the island garden at the intersection of Chestnut and Highland Streets, is in memory of his wife, Catherine Wigglesworth Porter Lambert. (See more background under the "Learn" tab.)

City Council members from Ward 3 requested that the Newton Historical Commission consider Local Landmark status for this house in April. See May 11 Boston Globe article here.  The seller's representatives explained that there were plans to sell to a developer who would demolish the house and subdivide the lot. 

UPDATE July 5, 2018

The Newton Historical Commission accepted a request for a continuance at its May meeting. At the June 28th meeting, the NHC voted to name the house a Local Landmark. See July 5 Boston Globe article here.

Public Hearing for local historic district (LHD) held on June 12th

The first part of the public hearing on the LHD for West Newton Hill took place on June 12th in City Hall, moderated by City Council member Ted Hess-Mahan and with other members of the Zoning and Planning committee of the City Council, the Planning Board, and the Newton Historical Commission present.  The slide presentation presented at the public hearing is available by clicking the links below. Here is a link to notes for the presentation.  A group of neighbors opposed to introducing a LHD also presented their viewpoints.

The City Planning Department will be sending out a mail-in survey before the end of June to homeowners living within the proposed district.

The hearing remains open, and input from neighbors will continue to be collected. People are invited to express their views in writing to the Planning Department  by addressing brief letters to and to the City Council by writing to  The Zoning and Planning Committee of the City Council and the Newton Historical Commission will be discussing this further after the summer break. Any vote by the City Council will not take place until later in the fall.


Massachusetts Historical Commission

In its monthly meeting on March 8th, the state historical commission voted to receive the preliminary report about a proposed West Newton Hill local historic district, and to encourage the City of Newton to establish the district. The report can be viewed on this website. The MHC issued an advisory opinion which acknowledges the historical and architectural significance of the neighborhood. 

No decisions will be made until following a Public Hearing, which will be held May or June 2017 at the soonest. There is time for community members to learn more and consider options.  Following the Public Hearing, the proposal will return to committee review. 


Community Meetings in March

Find out more about the history and architecture of West Newton Hill with a photo slide show. Also discussion of preservation options, process for considering a local historic district, and Q&A. Join on one of these dates: Monday March 20th 7:30 pm or Sunday March 26th at 4 pm.

Location: Second Church of Newton, 60 Highland Street. Enter from parking area at center of building facing the Mass Turnpike. Questions: contact

Community invited to read report on WNH history and architecture

The research requested by the Newton Historical Commission in June 2016 was completed in early January by a team of volunteers, following the guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Community members are encouraged to take a look at the West Newton Hill Local Historic District, Preliminary Study Report . The report contains historical information and photographs of examples the distinctive architecture in the neighborhood and also background on how and why West Newton Hill developed the way that it has.Community members are encouraged to share comments and feedback, especially if there are other interesting aspects of West Newton Hill's history that you know of.  Links will be added soon on how to access the research on individual houses within the neighborhood.

Next steps: 

The Newton Historical Commission will officially receive the report at its meeting on January 26. For more information, contact

Panel on Preservation Strategies

The City Planning Department hosted a panel called ‘Tools & Strategies  for Preservation in Newton’ on October 13th at Newton Free Library.  A video of the presentations can be viewed here.

The speakers included: Sally Zimmerman, Senior Planning of Preservation Services at Historic New England; Christopher Skelly, Director of Local Government Programs at Massachusetts Historical Commision; Katy Hax Holmes, Senior Planner for Newton Historical Commission; and James Freas, Deputy Director of Planning and Development in Newton.


Demolition of Historic Home on Valentine Street

The 1917 home shown in the photo below was demolished today after the developer waited out the year long delay required by the Newton Historical Commission. See Boston Globe article here by Allison Pohle, "Teardowns spur West Newton Hill to consider historic district."

The realtor offering the house at 174 Valentine Street described it in the listing as "impeccably maintained" and "boasting artisan quality craftsmanship".  Neighbors have been monitoring the felling of mature trees on the lot which fronts on both Valentine and Bigelow Road,  and many gathered to watch the ultimate reduction of the home to a pile of rubble by mid-day today, as shown on the videos linked below.

Demolitions have been on the rise on West Newton Hill and in other parts in Newton, as reported in depth by Jonathan Dame in this July 2016 Newton TAB article, "Newton's big teardown:As demolitions increase, some areas impacted more than others."

These short video clips were taken on September 16th.

Video courtesy of Melissa Chaikof

Video courtesy of Kim Maire

Video courtesy of Deborah Costolloe of Catchlight Painting

                        Photo courtesy of Nancy Morrison taken on Sept 14th prior to demolition: