The Love Lane Area, documented by the Weston Historical Commission in 1994, includes the following properties: 109, 125 Highland St; 16, 26, 31, 46 [demolished], 55, 77, 85, 98, 99, 106, and 107 Love Lane.
For the full 1994 area form text, data sheets, and photographs, see Love Lane Area Form
Love Lane is one of the best examples in Weston of an narrow scenic road where the early 20th century rural character of the town has been preserved. Particularly at the southern end, beginning at the sharp bend in the road, the ensemble of 19th century farmhouses and early 20th century estates is enhanced by many acres of undeveloped land preserved as open hay fields, woodlands, and horse paddocks. Stone walls, both historic and contemporary, contribute to the streetscape. The Love Lane Area includes approximately 100 acres of land. Located here are 14 houses and approximately 20 outbuildings including many important examples of turn of the century barns and carriage houses. The houses date from the late 18th century to the 1980’s, with more than half dating before 1910. They include excellent examples from the Colonial, Shingle and Colonial Revival styles with notable houses designed or remodeled by architects Joseph Chandler, Fehmer and Page, Samuel Mead and A.J. Russell. Located here is one of the most complete examples of early 20th century estates remaining in Weston, the Dickson estate, with its Shingle Style mansion and a total of seven early 20th century outbuildings including one of Weston’s largest remaining horse barns. This barn continues to be used for boarding of horses, which can be seen in horse paddocks along the street and in a riding ring. The Freeman/Paine estate includes a Shingle Style mansion set within a significant landscape featuring unusual specimen trees and a “hen’s tooth or balancing wall” of large single boulders, one of only two examples of this type of wall in Weston.
The earliest house in the area is the two-story Moses Harrington House at 109 Highland Street (ca.1757, Map #1, MHC 277) The 5 X 1 bay, side gable clapboard house is a good example of a simple mid-to-late late 18th century Weston farmhouse. It is now a double house and was a double house for at least part of its 19th century history. The enclosed, hipped-roof entrance porch in the center of the front facade is a recent addition copied from an original 18th century enclosed entrance. The house has 6/6 windows and twin interior chimneys behind the ridge. Ells extend to the rear on both sides. On the south gable end, the shed-roof ell which extends beyond the width of the house has wide floorboards appears to have been part of the original kitchen. Inside, detailing includes a turn-around stair well, Federal period mantels, and wide floor boards. Directly behind the house is a one-story, front-gable clapboard barn, 1 X 2 bays, with original sliding wooden doors on the south side.
About a century later, the modest 2 1/2 story clapboard house at 46 Love Lane (ca.1857-62, Map #26, MHC 301) [demolished] was built in the simple side-gable style of earlier generations. The house is an excellent example of a modest mid-19th century country dwelling. The 3 X 1 bay house with its visually prominent five-bay ell and barn is critical to the character of the street because of the harmony between the house, barn, and rural setting, which includes a white picket fence in front. The proportions and placement of the three main elements of the site–house, ell and barn–and the varying rooflines and window sizes, contribute to its rural charm. Architectural elements typical of its mid-century date include the three-bay fenestration pattern, 2/2 windows with shutters, front door featuring double vertically-oriented elongated glass openings framed with heavy molding, and Gothic window in the peak of the barn. A center entrance porch which appears in earlier photographs has been removed. Two small chimneys are located behind the ridge on the main block. A 1 1/2 story front-gable clapboard barn (Map #27) [demolished] is set at right angles to the rear of the house. The barn has an unusual profile due to a shed-roofed rear ell. The barn has a single vehicle entrance in front and a series of small square windows along the east side.
Part of the Sanderson/Dickson House at 26 Love Lane (ca.1850-56 and 1931, Map # 28, MHC 310) was originally a mid-19th century Greek Revival house but will be discussed later, as it derives its present appearance from a major remodeling in 1931.
Building activity increased in the area at the turn of the century. Newcomers at that time apparently considered the Shingle Style to be most appropriate for this country setting. The Brenton H. Dickson Jr. House at 125 Highland Street (1900-1901, Map #3, MHC 272) was erected in that style from designs attributed to A.J. Russell and was enlarged twice, in 1911 by builder John Brown and in 1927 by architect Samuel Mead and builder William Henderson. The house is a well-detailed example of the Shingle Style, one of the best of Weston’s remaining estate mansions. The Dickson estate complex, while not the largest or most flamboyant of Weston estates when built, is remarkable in the way is has remained unchanged. With its complete set of outbuildings and setting on many acres of undeveloped land, the Dickson estate is one of two in Weston that could be considered completely intact.. The rambling 2 1/2 story hipped roof structure has an offset right entrance with portico supported on single and paired Doric columns, with a balustrade above. Windows are generally 12/1 or 12/12, some with shutters, some in groups of 2,3, and 4, and some with leaded glass sections. The hipped dormers, two widow’s walks, and four brick chimneys enliven the roofline. Also part of the Dickson estate are six or seven outbuildings which probably date from the early 20th century, as well as a more recent garage. The largest of the outbuildings, the Dickson Horse Barn (ca.1900-1901, Map #8) consists of a 2 1/2 story center section, flanking two-story side wings, and a 1 1/2 story lower barn to the west. Clustered near the horse barn are the 1 1/2 story shingle Dickson Cow Barn (Map #7), chicken coop (Map #6), corn crib (Map #5), large 1 1/2 story shingle garage (Map #4), shed, and open vehicle storage shed.
Across Love Lane from the Dickson House is the George Nolte House at 16 Love Lane (ca.1898, Map #29), set back from the street on 16+ acres of land which includes a large hay field at the corner of Highland. The 2 1/2 story Nolte House is a well-detailed example of a small Shingle Style house which has remained remarkably intact on both interior and exterior. The gambrel-roofed house has a 4 X 3 bay main block and small one-story shed-roofed ell. The recessed porch at the northeast front corner is supported with sturdy posts. The entrance is located under the porch and features a paneled wooden door and leaded glass window to the left. Windows are generally 6/1 or 8/1. Other notable details include a bay window, shed dormer flanked by pedimented dormers in front, fanlight windows in the gable ends, and show rafters. Behind the house is a small one-story turn-of-the-century storage shed (Map #30) with a high stone base and splayed shingled walls with casement windows. The entrance into the property is marked by large stone piers with rounded tops.
A third example of the Shingle Style, the Freeman/Paine House at 55 Love Lane (1903, 1908, 1911,1990, Map #11, MHC 269) was originally designed by the Boston architectural firm of Fehmer and Page as a three-room, 36’ X 27’ summer house with a rear wing and covered piazza. Over the next decade the house was greatly enlarged by Fehmer and Page (1908), and later Page and Frothingham (1908,1911) to its present size of over 14,000 square feet. During the 1991 renovation by Aydelott and Associates, the imposing Colonial Revival entrance portico was added and the dormer configuration changed. The resulting house represents an evolution from its 1903 beginnings but can still be considered one of the most important Shingle Style estate houses in Weston. The 2 1/2 story mansion is set back from the street with an expansive front lawn. The house consists of a 7 X 4 bay, side-gabled main block and four-bay, gable front north wing. The first floor features an enclosed, glassed-in front porch. Windows are 4/4,6/6 and 8/8 with shutters. Also on the property is a new Shingle Style 1 1/2 story shingled four-car garage with fieldstone gable ends, show rafters, and transom windows over each vehicle door (Map #12); also a two-story, hip-roofed, shingled caretakers house of “Four Square” style (Map #13), a board and batten one-story potting shed (Map #14); and a 1991 pool pavilion with eyebrow monitor. The original landscape design is attributed to a student of Olmsted. Located on the six-acre property are rare specimen trees including one of the oldest Sargent’s weeping hemlocks in the U.S.
The north end of Love Lane also began to be developed at the turn of the century with sizeable middle class houses. The Ida White House at 106 Love Lane (ca.1898, Map #21) is Colonial Revival with numerous later additions and alterations. The 2 1/2 story house has a complicated roofline consisting of a hip-roofed main block with intersecting front gable. Early photographs show that the house originally had a veranda across the north side, which has been enclosed to form the present living room. A newer one-story porch with balustrade and metal fluted columns extends across the front, sheltering the offset-right entrance. The house was originally sheathed with wood shingles, which have been replaced by aluminum siding or patterned shingles in some areas. At the rear of the property is a turn-of-the- century clapboard barn (Map #22) which has a 1 1/2 story gable-front part with sunburst pattern in the gable and hipped cupola with weather vane; and also a side-gable wing extending south, with two oversize wooden sliding vehicle entrance doors. The present owner replaced the original shingles of the barn with clapboards and added the sunburst pattern.
The Williamson/Farlow House at 98 Love Lane (1904-5, Map #23, MHC 267) has been attributed to Boston architect Joseph Everett Chandler and may be the only example of a three-story, Federal Revival house in Weston. The exterior detailing and interior woodwork is consistent with Chandler’s reputation as an authority on Colonial architecture. The 5 X 4 bay, hip-roofed, shingled structure has a six-bay north wing, several rear projections, and one-story screened porch on the south side. Detailing is concentrated on the front entrance, with fanlight and pedimented portico, and Palladian window above. Windows are 6/6 on the first two floors and 3/6 on the third, with shutters. Two paired interior chimneys are located on the main block and one on the wing. Several interior rooms have woodwork or paneling said to have been installed here by Chandler from an earlier period house. On the property is an early 19th century, 1 1/2 story shingled barn converted to a garage (Map #24), with high fieldstone foundation and ground level entrance into the basement level at the rear.
Two other notable turn of the century structures are the L.N.Kettle Barn and L.N. Kettle Carriage House at 85 Love Lane, [demolished] both important as major outbuildings from the late 19th century estate at 770 Boston Post Road. The large 1 1/2 story, 3 X 5 bay clapboard barn (ca.1890, Map #16) measures 40’ X 60’ and has vehicle entrances at the gable ends, with transom lights above. Sash was originally 6/6 but most window openings are now boarded up, as the barn is not used and not well maintained. Inside, the barn has a central passageway that is open to the roof, with rooms for livestock on both sides and two loft levels above. The 1 1/2 story clapboard carriage house (ca.1910, Map #17) measures 30’ X 56’ with a rear ell. The well-detailed 3 X 3 bay structure has a central vehicle entrance on the principal (west) facade, emphasized by a wall gable. Windows are 6/6 with shutters. The attic story has living quarters for estate staff. Both the Kettle outbuildings have large hipped cupolas.
For almost three decades no additional houses were built in the Love Lane Area. In 1929 and 1930, two houses were built at the north end in the Tudor Style, a style not common in Weston. 99 Love Lane (ca.1929, Map #19) is one of the best Weston examples of the late 1920’s version of this style. The 2 1/2 story house, side-gabled with a front wall gable, is 3 X 2 bays with an attached garage on the south and a one-story porch on the north end. The house is typical of the style in its use of rustic bricks, half-timbering on the second floor, and multi-colored state roof. Windows are 6/6 in groups of three. A smaller brick and shingle version at 107 Love Lane (ca.1930, Map #20), also 2 1/2 stories, has many similar features including the use of rustic brick, show rafters, front wall gable, and enclosed brick entrance pavilion, which here has a Tudor arched front door.
In 1931, the 2 1/2 story Greek Revival house at 26 Love Lane (the Sanderson/ Dickson House, Map #28, MHC 310) was remodelled into a Colonial Revival mansion by architects Allen, Collins and Willis of Boston. The Greek Revival portion of the house is located at the east end and is oriented with gable end to the street and front entrance facing east. This was retained and incorporated into the larger structure. The entire house is now shingled. The wide Greek Revival corner pilasters and entablature are still visible. The five-bay, hip-roofed 2 1/2 story addition extends to the west and changed the orientation of the house so that the front entrance is now on the north (street) side. This entrance is marked by a flush boarded section divided into three bays by two story pilasters. Above this section is a pedimented wall gable with an oculus window. On the west end is a porch and second floor open balcony.
Since World War II, four additional houses have been built in the area, at 31 Love Lane (Modern,1965), 85 Love Lane (Colonial Revival,1970), 90 Love Lane (Colonial Revival, 1983), and 77 Love Lane (Neo-Eclectic,1989).
The Love Lane Area exemplifies a major shift in land use which took place in Weston in the late 19th and early 20th century, as family farms were bought by wealthy city dwellers and turned into summer estates and “gentlemen’s farms.” By 1910, all the land from Claridge Drive south, as well as the property at #85, was part of four estates belonging to the Kettle, Freeman, Dickson and Nolte families. What is unusual about the area is that substantial elements from all four of these estates remain today. The area retains its early 20th century character, especially south of Claridge Drive, where the built environment is substantially unchanged since 1931 and large parcels of land are maintained as hay fields and estate lawns or left undisturbed as natural woodland. Included within the Love Lane Area are examples of the varying ways that estates were operated in Weston. Brenton H. Dickson Jr. built his own year-round house, commuted to the city, and used an existing farmhouse for staff housing. City resident George Nolte purchased land and built a dairy farm operated by a resident caretaker. The Freemans and probably the Kettles used their estates in the summer only.
Love Lane, which was known as Elm Street until the early 20th century, appears on the earliest Weston maps. The angle in the road is thought to reflect the “squadron lines” marking the original land divisions in Weston. Of the three houses shown on the 1795 map, only the Moses Harrington House at 109 Highland Street (ca. 1757, Map #1, MHC 277) remains today. Moses Harrington was a farmer who purchased the land in 1756. In 1768, he was taxed for a relatively small farm including 3 oxen, 2 cows, 5 acres of pasturage, 4 acres of tillage land, and 6 acres of mowing land. A second Colonial-period house was located at the southwest corner of Highland Street until it burned in 1897. During the Revolutionary War period, this house belonged to Jonas Sanderson, who was keeper of the military signal beacon light on Sanderson Hill across Highland Street. His descendants continued to live in the area into the early 20th century. The 18th century Goddard house once located at 46 Love Lane is not the present house on that site, as mistakenly noted on 250th anniversary maps.
Between 1850 and 1856, George Sanderson, grandson of Jonas, built a handsome Greek Revival dwelling now incorporated within the Sanderson/Dickson House at 26 Love Lane (Map #28, MHC 310). Sanderson was a farmer who is listed in the 1893 directory as specializing in “small fruits.” That same directory lists E.E. and W.B. Sanderson on Elm Street as “florists.” They were probably the builders of the five large greenhouses, parts of which remained on the property into the 20th century. George Sanderson’s unmarried daughter Lizzie owned the house from 1889 to 1905, when it was sold to Brenton H. Dickson, Jr., a Boston businessman who was by then a major land owner in the area.
Also dating from the mid-19th century is the George Pickard House at 46 Love Lane (ca. 1857-62,Map #27, MHC 301) [demolished]. The house does not appear on the 1857 map but is shown in 1866. The original owner appears to have been George Pickard (or Pichard), who purchased 13+ acres in 1856 from George Sanderson. He is described in the 1856 deed as a “gentleman.” Pickard died about 1862, and in the 1863 deed of sale, he is referred to as a Boston policeman. Tax records from 1864 still describe the property as “the Pickard Place,” then owned by James Hobby, an engineer. The property changed hands numerous times before it was sold in 1910 to James G. Freeman and became the “farmhouse” for his estate at 55 Love Lane.
The first estate in the Love Lane Area was established by Lorenzo N. Kettle, who built his mansion house at 770 Boston Post Road, just outside the area, in 1892, from designs by Samuel Mead. Kettle is listed in the 1893 directory as a wool merchant in Boston. He is thought to have maintained a house on Beacon Street as well. His land extended all the way to Love Lane and included what is now 85 Love Lane and all of the Claridge Drive development. The Kettle Barn (ca.1892, Map #16) and Carriage House (ca.1910, Map #17) are located at 85 Love Lane [demolished]. The property was operated as a gentleman’s farm until after World War II. Francis P.Kirk, who owned the 45-acre property beginning in 1938, sold produce from the apple orchards under the name “Stony Ridge.”
By the turn of the century, Weston was being heralded in a newspaper article as “the Lenox of the East “ As in other areas of town, family farms on Love Lane were being purchased by city dwellers attracted to this “quiet, retired (and yet convenient) country town of residence of the first class…..” City residents would come to Weston for Sunday picnics. According to Brenton H. Dickson’s Random Recollections, one such well-to-do picnicker, George Nolte, greatly admired the old Sanderson house at the corner of Highland Street and kept trying to purchase it. In 1897 the house caught fire and burned to the ground. Nolte took the train immediately from Boston and agreed to purchase the 70 acres on the spot. Within the next few years, Nolte built a dairy farm on the property, with a caretaker’s house, large barn, outbuildings, a windmill, and its own water supply. In 1902, he was taxed for 3 horses, 12 cows, 1 bull, and 130 fowls. The Shingle Style George Nolte House remains at 16 Love Lane (ca.1898, Map #29), along with a small matching storage shed (ca.1898, Map #30). During the early 20th century, the farm was run by the caretaker, George Welcome, and the Noltes visited occasionally, staying at a camp in the woods nearby. Nolte is said to have been in the candy business. By 1915, Nolte is listed in the town directory as living on the property. During the Depression, the farm was closed and Nolte used the house as a summer place. It remained in the Nolte family until about 1980, when it was sold by the widow of his son, George.
In 1899, Brenton H. Dickson, Jr. purchased 22 acres across Love Lane at the corner of Highland. Two years later, he and his new bride moved into their new Shingle Style house, “Ivy Abbey” (125 Highland Street, Map #3, MHC 272), designed by local architect A.J. Russell. Dickson Jr. worked with his father, a wealthy businessman, as a cotton broker in Boston, procuring Southern cotton for the mills of the northeast. Life on Love Lane in the early decades of the 20th century has been described by Brenton H. Dickson III in Random Recollections. Love Lane was a remote, isolated section of town, and Dickson Jr. traveled 20 minutes by carriage to Weston Station. No other train commuter lived so far away from the station. Dickson Jr. ran his estate as a gentleman’s farm which raised food mainly for consumption of family and staff. Estate farm workers raised vegetables, had an orchard with apple and pear trees, and kept two cows, a few pigs, poultry and guinea hens. Mrs. Dickson’s life revolved around horses, which she kept in the large barn. Family errands and shopping were done in Boston, and the family began using the automobile for these trips beginning in 1912. The house was expanded twice to accommodate the seven Dickson children, one of whom, Edward Dickson, still lives here and has continued the family tradition of public service.
In 1905 and 1907, Dickson Jr. also purchased the Sanderson House and farmland at 26 Love Lane. He apparently intended the property to be used a summer home for his parents, who lived in Boston. Dickson Sr. fixed up and furnished the farmhouse one year but did not enjoy summering there, and in subsequent years the house was occupied by estate staff. In 1931 it was substantially enlarged and remodeled as a year-round home for Brenton H. Dickson III and his bride of a few years, Helen Paine Dickson.
Dickson Jr. influenced the name change from Elm Street to Love Lane during the early 20th century. These two street names had been used alternately from the 1890’s to the 1920’s, with Mr. Dickson expressing his preference for Love Lane by removing the town’s Elm Street signs and storing them in his basement.
The fourth Love Lane estate was established by James G. Freeman, a lawyer who purchased his first land here in 1891. He continued buying land and eventually owned seven acres at 55 Love Lane and also the house and 32 acres at #46. The Freeman/Paine House at 55 Love Lane (ca.1903,1908,1911,1991, Map #11, MHC 269) was designed by the well-known Boston architectural firm of Fehmer and Page in 1903 as a small summer house with three rooms on the first floor and was substantially altered and enlarged over the next decade to its present Shingle Style appearance. Freeman was married to Caroline Case, sister of Marian Case, who established Hillcrest Farms on what is now called the Case Estates land (see 89 Wellesley Street and also Case Estates Area Form E). The Case family interest in horticulture is reflected in the landscape plan for 55 Love Lane, said to have been drawn in 1901 by a student of Frederick Law Olmsted. The Freemans used the house only in the summer. On the property were barns and greenhouses which have not survived.
In 1913, after the death of her husband, Caroline Freeman sold the estate to her sister Louisa, who held it until the sale to the Paine Estate in 1920. The property was bought by the Paine trustees and occupied by Georgina Paine Fisher (1899-1989), who lived there as her principal residence. (For further information on the Paine family, see form for 118 Chestnut Street.) Her first husband, Richard Fisher, was a forester who was head of the Harvard school of forestry in Petersham. Her second husband, Llewellyn Howland, was a writer. After Mrs. Howland’s death in 1989, the house at 55 Love Lane was sold but the farmhouse at #46, always occupied by staff, and the adjacent 32 acres were retained by the Paine Estate.
Two houses were also built at the north end of the street around the turn of the century. The Ida White House at 106 Love Lane (ca.1898, Map #21) is thought to have been built shortly after White bought the 8 1/2 acres at the corner of Love Lane and Boston Post Road in 1896. From 1913 to 1966, the house was owned by Arthur Hunt, who operated the Golden Soap Company, which manufactured soap from the fats in garbage. Some of the rendering of fats was done in vats in the barn (Map #22) until the 1930’s.
The Williamson/Farlow House at 98 Love Lane (1904-5, Map #23, MHC 267)was completed in 1905 by Sarah Williamson, who bought the land in 1902. The design has been attributed to Joseph Chandler (1864-1945), a resident of Wellesley who acquired a reputation as an authority on Colonial architecture and was identified with the restoration of historical landmarks including the Paul Revere house, the old Corner Book Store in Boston, and the House of Seven Gables. Some of the woodwork at 98 Love Lane is thought to be from an 18th century house. Between 1909 and 1936, the house was owned by a lawyer and cotton manufacturer, John S. Farlow, who hired architect Samuel Mead to design a major addition.
Bibliography and/or References
1. Brenton H. Dickson III, Random Recollections (Weston, 1977) p. 29 and 65-77
2. Middlesex Country Registry of Deeds (see individual forms and Weston Historical Commission files for deed information)
3. Information provided by Edward Dickson and John Kirk.
4. Plans for 55 Love Lane in possession of owner.
5. Town directories and tax records
6. Concerning 46 Love Lane, local historian Brenton H. Dickson III felt that part of the house was built by George Sanderson between 1845 and 1856.
7. Weston Historical Society Bulletin, January, 1973, Vol.IX, No.2, p.1. (shows drawing of Jonas Sanderson House, formerly at southwest corner of Love Lane and Highland, burned 1897)
8. Plans for addition to 98 Love Lane in possession of owner (undated)
9. Middlesex County Registry of Deeds, Joseph Bigelow Jr. to Moses Harrington, Book 53, page 501 (no house mentioned)