The Pinecroft Subdivision Area was documented by the Weston Historical Commission in 2007. It includes the following properties:
183, 190, 195, 198, 201, 206, 210, 211, 215, 216, 217, 226, 229, 230, 232, 235, 236 Conant Rd; 11, 19, 20, 32 Fairview Rd; 1, 2, 3 Lantern Lane; 9, 10, 28, 31, 34, 45, 52 Montvale Rd; 3, 8, 14, 15, 20, 23 Old Coach Rd; 15, 16, 23, 30, 36 Pinecroft Rd; 3, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 19, 27, 33 Viles St; 1, 12, 16 Woodland Rd.
The Pinecroft Subdivision Area is a quiet, wooded neighborhood of middle-class houses, most built between 1930 and 1955. By far the most common style is the Colonial Revival in its many variations, but some Ranch houses were built after World War II. Because of the similarities in scale, setback, massing, materials, and style, the area has a pleasant unity and sense of place.
The area includes a total of 54 houses ranging in date from an 18th-century farmhouse to a large brick Colonial Revival built in 2002. Three-quarters of the houses date between 1930 and 1955 (18 from the 1930s, 12 from the 1940s, and 11 from the early 1950s.) The two most common styles are the traditional two-story, three-or-five-bay center entrance Colonial, the one-and-one-half-story Cape, and the Garrison Colonial. Most of the 1950s examples are single-story Ranch houses.
The most common building materials are shingle and clapboard; and most houses feature some kind of architectural accent, for example, a well-detailed door surround or 8/12 windows sash. The original size of the houses averaged about 1500 to 2500 square feet on lot sizes ranging from as little as 15,000 square feet to over 65,000 square feet. Houses in the area are generally in good to excellent condition. They are not elaborate and most were probably the work of builders rather than architects. Their appeal stems from their unpretentiousness and deep-rooted traditionalism. Unfortunately, the character of the area is being gradually eroded with the construction of new houses that are out of scale and/or more formal in style and landscaping.
All houses in the area are 20th century with one exception, the five-bay, center-chimney Nathaniel Bemis House, 216 Conant Road (c. 1785, Map #10, MHC 300, Photo #1). Window fenestration is symmetrical, with the 6/6 sash arranged in a 2 -1-2 pattern. Also on this property is a large shingled garage (Map #10A).
The proportions of 216 Conant Road are typical of the 18th century and may have provided some inspiration for the size and style of houses in the neighborhood. Indeed, the three-bay house directly across the street at 217 Conant Road (1934, Map #11, MHC 1160, Photo #2) is very similar in size and features a similar vestibule. Window sash here is 12/12.
One of the first houses in the Pinecroft Subdivision was built for the developers, J. Irving and Frank Connolly. 16 Viles Street (1930, Map #48, MHC 1191), a well-detailed Colonial Revival example, may have been intended to set the tone for the new neighborhood. The three-bay shingled house has a bold portico marking the center entrance as well as well-detailed one-story sun porches extending from each gable end.
The First Period houses of the late 17th and early 18th century inspired a number of houses within the area including the house at 15 Viles Street (1934, Map #47, MHC 1190, Photo #7), which has a second floor overhang, irregularly-shaped clapboards meant to look hand-hewn, and porch supports intended to look like gunstock posts. Houses with this overhang, a subtype known as the Garrison Colonial, were particularly popular in the late phases of the Colonial Revival, from about 1935 to 1955. Another example is at 9 Montvale Road (1938, Map #25, MHC 1172, Photo #3). The house at 27 Viles Street (1934, Map #50, MHC 1193) also has an overhang separating the stone first story from the shingles above. Window types include 8/12 and double casement windows. The house at 30 Pinecroft Road (1940, Map #41, MHC 1185, Photo #5) also draws on the vocabulary of First Period houses in the use of multiple small casement windows and a board-and-batten front door with strap hinges.
211 Conant Road (1936, Map # 8, MHC 1159) is a three-bay, 1 1/2 story shingled Colonial Revival house in the Dutch Colonial tradition, with the characteristic gambrel roof and full-width shed dormer. The gambrel roof flares out in front to form the roof of a one-story porch extending the full length of the front facade. The center entrance is framed by a simple entablature and retains its original paneled door and leaded glass half- sidelights. At the dormer level, the center of the facade is emphasized with a peaked wall gable.
The house at 3 Viles Street (1938, Map #43, MHC 1187, Photo #6) is unusual in style but draws on the Colonial vocabulary for its most salient feature, the half-round fanlights over the first floor windows and door, each accented with a white keystone that stands out against the brick façade. Brick is used for the lower story front façade but not for the abbreviated second story, which features three wall gables with diamond cut-outs in the pediments over the windows.
Beginning in 1949, one-story Ranch houses begin to appear along with the every-popular Colonials. 10 Montvale Road (1951, Map #26, MHC 1173, Photo #4) is typical in having a low-pitched roof and large plate-glass windows.
The Pinecroft Subdivision Area is a good example of the type of subdivision developed in Weston between 1930 and the mid-1950s. By this time, automobiles and improved roads had made it possible to commute to Weston, which was still distinctly rural in feeling. The Pinecroft Subdivision, developed by Weston resident and real estate developer John Irving Connolly, met a need for middle class suburban housing for businessmen and professionals. Because these were the Depression, World War II, and immediate post-War years, houses were relatively modest and traditional Colonial Revival styles were favored. The Pinecroft Subdivision Area includes the core of the Pinecroft subdivision as well as houses developed during the same period in a similar manner as part of at least two other subdivisions.
Until the 20th century, the land for these neighborhoods was part of two farmsteads. One of the associated farmhouses remains within the Pinecroft Subdivision Area at 216 Conant Road (Nathaniel Bemis House, 1785, Map #10. MHC 300, Photo #1). On the 1795 map, this house was owned by Nathaniel Bemis, and at the time of the 1875 and 1908 maps, it belonged to the Spear family. The second early house in the area, located at the northeast corner of Viles Street and Conant Road, burned down in 1908. It was associated for many years with the Viles family. Many members of this large and well-known Weston family lived in this part of Weston beginning in the late 18th century.
J. Irving Connolly purchased most of the Pinecroft Subdivision property from Katherine Viles Day in January, 1930. The purchase consisted of a 60-acre parcel with 2000 feet of frontage on Conant Road extending south from the corner of Viles Street, along with two parcels of 9.45 and 10.5 acres on the north side of Viles Street. In August, 1931, Connolly deeded all three parcels, plus the land on Highland Street where Irving Road is today, to his company, Country Homes, Weston, Inc (later Weston Country Homes Inc.) Frank J. Connolly was clerk of the corporation. Roads were laid out beginning in 1930, including the new roads of Pinecroft, Montvale, Fairview, and Eleanor.
The Pinecroft Subdivision included approximately 93 lots but some buyers purchased two lots. Twenty-five of the Pinecroft houses are included in this area form. Among the first houses to be built was at 16 Viles Street (1930, Map #48, MHC 1191, Photo #9) owned by Frank J. Connolly. J. Irving Connolly is also listed as living there in the early 1930s.
A map of the property from 1937 described Pinecroft as a “highly restrictive subdivision.” Most of the deeds examined as part of the research for this area form mention restrictions but do not list them. A lot sold in 1937 to Richard White specified that “only a single family house shall be built on the above described premises.” A deed to Seldon and Christine Peakes (6927/415) in January, 1946, specifies “subject to . . . the restriction that plans for the building and plot plan showing location of the building are to be approved before the erection of any building upon said premises.” It was not uncommon at the time to set use and setback restrictions as well as minimum prices for house construction, the idea being that such restrictions would result in more uniformity of house size and quality throughout the neighborhood.
J. Irving Connolly (1877-1949) was the son of Patrick Connolly, an Irish immigrant, and Mary McGinis. He died in 1949 at the age of 72 and is buried in Linwood Cemetery. Both J. Irving and Frank Connolly are listed on town voting lists as living at 16 Viles Street (1930, Map # 48, MHC 1191, Photo #9) as early as 1932, with Frank’s occupation listed as “manager.” Other members of the family involved in the business over the years included Herbert L. Connolly, who was treasurer in 1931, and Frances C. Connolly, who was president in 1946. Among the local builders building houses in the area were Ernest Comeau and Hector Osmond. 38 Fairview Road, a Cape design, was built by Hector Osmond, who built many houses in the neighborhood and lived on Montvale.
Several houses in the area were part of another subdivision called “Kendal Green Springs,” which included the house at 190 Conant Road (1923, Map #2, MHC 1154), One Woodland Road (1933, Map #52, MHC 1194), and 198 Conant Road (1943, Map #4, MHC 1156). These lots were sold with the following restrictions: that the houses must be single family, cost not less than $4000 each, have a setback of 25 feet in front, and have a septic system rather than a cesspool. Old Coach and Lantern Lanes were part of yet another subdivision developed slightly later, in the late 1930s and 1940s.
The following house histories are typical for the Pinecroft Subdivision Area:
190 Conant Road (1923, Map #2, MHC 1154) was built for Douglas and Katherine Gregg and first appears on town tax records in 1932. The house was part of a subdivision done in 1922. The original subdivision plan was entitled “Plan of Kendall Green Springs Tract at Weston, Mass. belonging to Mary H. Martin.” and the land was sold with the following restrictions: 1. No building except one dwelling house designed for the occupancy of not more than one family, such dwelling house to cost not less than $4000; 2. No building shall be erected within 25 feet of the line of Conant Road or Martin Road…or within 16 feet of the rear or side lines of said lots; 3. No cesspool or outhouses….must have a septic system or “equally satisfactory and sanitary system…” The land changed hands several times before the house was built by the Greggs, who bought the land in April, 1931. The Greggs owned the property until 1947.
217 Conant Road (1934, Map #11, MHC 1160, Photo #2) was built by Everett F. and Esther C. King. The Kings purchased Lot 10 in the Pinecroft subdivision on June 30, 1933 (Book 5729/385) and the house appears on tax records in 1934. The Kings also bought Lot 11 on June 30, 1936 (Book 6037/541). They owned both lots until December 1949. The 1941 directory lists Everett King as a “safety engineer.” In 1946 he is listed as a “personnel director” for Lever Bros. in Cambridge.
211 Conant Road (1936, Map #8, MHC 1159) was built in 1936 by Richard and Lillian White on land purchased from J. Irving Connolly. The house first appears on the 1937tax rolls, valued at $4500. In the 1946 directory, Richard White is listed as a general contractor based in West Newton. The deed for #211 contains the restriction that “only a single family house shall be built on the above described premises.” The Whites were athletically oriented and held baseball games on their property and flooded a pond for ice skating behind the house on Montvale.
Occupations of the original owners of houses included in this area form include the following:
James Turner, 206 Conant Road, construction engineer
Richard White, 211 Conant Road, general contractor
Oswald Cammann, 235 Conant Road, mechanical engineer
Paul Redden, 20 Fairview, lumber business
Albert Pingree ,retired, and George Pingree, salesman, One Lantern Lane
Louis Carter, 2 Lantern Lane, electrical engineer
Kenneth Minihan, 3 Lantern Lane, supervisor
Earle MacGillivray, 9 Montvale, wholesaler
Frederick J. Casey, 10 Montvale Rd, engineer
Donald MacLean, 15 Old Coach, insurance agent
Walter Peacok Jr., 14 Old Coach, salesman
Ernest Comeau, 20 Old Coach, builder
Eugene Hanson, 23 Pinecroft, sales
Seldon C. Peakes, 36 Pinecroft, business owner
Irving H. Richardson, 15 Viles St, salesman
Frank Connolly, manager and J. Irving Connolly, real estate, 16 Viles St.
1. Middlesex Registry of Deeds, So. District, Plan Number 147 of 1937, Book 6101, end. “Pinecroft in Wesston, A Highly Restricted Subdivision owned and Developed by Weston Country Homes Inc.”
2. “Plan of Land in Weston, Mass, December 4, 1945, Plan 44 of 1946, Book 6927/415.
2. Subdivision map for Old Coach and Lantern Lanes, Middlesex Registry of Deeds, South District, Land Registration Office, August 16, 1941 (64117, Book 428, page 385)