The Sudbury Road Area was documented by the Weston Historical Commission in 1994 and includes the following properties: 2 and 15 Ripley Lane; 33, 45, 51, 63, 74, 77, 89, 101, 102, and 111 Sudbury Rd.
To see the 1994 area form, including data sheets and photographs, click here: Sudbury Road Area Form
Sudbury Road, one of Weston’s officially designated Scenic Roads, is a narrow winding country road in a remote northwest corner of the town. The quarter-mile stretch described in this area form encompasses over 40 acres, including two parcels of town conservation land fronting on Sudbury Road; in addition, large tracts of conservation land are located behind many of these properties. The large amount of open space in relation to the number of houses gives the area is distinctive rural character. The beauty of the landscape, which has largely avoided formal, manicured treatment, is enhanced by the gently rolling topography, the pond between #33 and #45, the many mature specimen trees, the use of split rail and picket fences, and the stone walls and stone retaining walls which line most of the road. Within the area are 11 houses, only nine of which can be seen from the road. Of those that can be seen from the road, four are well-preserved Colonial and Federal side-gable clapboard houses which are sited close to the road and set the tone of the area, giving it a sense of being part of the past. All four of these houses are oriented facing south, with few houses between to intrude on their sense of history. Together they demonstrate the evolution of the traditional New England farmhouse during the Colonial and Federal periods. On the opposite side of the street are two pre-World War II, International Style houses that are among Weston’s few examples of this relatively uncommon style. The two houses provide an interesting visual and ideological contrast to the early houses across the street.
The earliest house in the area, the William Smith House at 111 Sudbury Road (ca.1715, MHC 217, Map #8), is one of the oldest houses in Weston. It is thought that the original house probably consisted of the left three bays, about half the size of the present house. This was typical of the earliest houses in Weston, which were generally “one over one” in plan. At a later date, the size of the house was increased to the traditional five bays. The sixth bay, the 8 1/2 feet at the east end of the house–is thought to represent still another addition, which makes the house slightly asymmetrical. All the additions are thought to date before 1757. Windows have simple surrounds and 6/9 sash. The house now has two large brick chimneys.
45 Sudbury Road (ca.1731, MHC 214, Map #2), a slightly later house in date, represents the next stage in Colonial building– the symmetrical, five-bay, central chimney house with a “two over two” plan consisting of two front parlors, a rear keeping room, and two bedrooms above. The house retains its original turn-around stair and the early Georgian woodwork and bolection fireplace molding in the southeast parlor. Windows are 8/12 with simple surrounds.
63 Sudbury Road (ca.1803, MHC 215, Map #4) is a later, Federal-style version of #45, little changed over the intervening 60 years. The 2 1/2 story, side-gable house measures almost the same (38’, compared to 36’ across at #45) and also has a five-bay facade with a central entrance, central chimney, turn-around stair and “two over two” interior plan. The change from the earlier Georgian style to Federal is evident in interior details such as the fireplace surrounds.
Across the road from #63 is a small barn (MHC 617, Map #11) of unknown date which provides a visual balance to the house itself. This one-story, side gable, shingled structure is set with the gable end to the street and vehicle openings to the east side.
The Samuel Smith, Jr. House at 89 Sudbury Road (ca.1826, MHC 216, Map #6) is a handsome, 2 1/2 story, Federal style, side-gable clapboard house which was “updated” later in the century with an Italianate-style central peaked gable and other Italianate decorative features. The house originally had a “two over two,” center hall plan, which represented an evolution over the central chimney plan of the previous century. The interior was changed during the remodelling phase and new features added such as an Italianate-style front door, stair balustrade and newel post, as well as the round-headed window in the new gable.
No new houses were built within the defined Sudbury Road Area until the 1930s, when the houses at 74 Sudbury Road (ca.1934, MHC 618, Map #10) and 102 Sudbury Road (ca.1940, MHC 617, Map #9) were constructed using the International Style, which is characterized by its flat roof, unornamented wall surfaces and asymmetrical massing. Both houses were designed by architect Ned Goodell. Both avoid all references to the traditional form of houses across the street. #74, the earlier of the two, combines box forms with large banks of glass windows to create a house which was highly unusual in its day. The house was originally painted in many shades of green, arranged in gradations with the darkest at the bottom to lightest at the top to blend in with the landscape. The door was originally painted bright red. Presently the house is painted white. #102, also highly unusual for Weston, uses a series of rectangular and polygonal blocks with vertical banks of windows to create a house that is like a piece of sculpture.
According to McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses, this type of house is rare not only in Weston but throughout the country:
This avant-garde and primarily architect-designed style is relatively rare. Most landmark examples date from the 1930s and occur principally in fashionable suburbs in the northeastern states and in California. Following World War Ii, certain elements of the style became softened into a more widespread vernacular called the Contemporary style.
In the decades separating World Wars I and II, Americans tended to prefer period houses that reflected past traditions, while European architects emphasized radically new designs that came to be known as International Style architecture. During the 1930s these ideas were introduced into the United States by several distinguished practitioners who emigrated to escape the developing chaos in Europe. (p.469-70)
Further research is needed into the career of Ned Goodell, who lived in Wayland and is thought to have been influenced by the work of Walter Gropius.
The uniqueness of this portion of Sudbury Road is that it was always a farming area. Other areas of Weston began as farms then passed into the hands of estate owners and onto a third stage– suburban development. This portion of Sudbury Road remained in use longer as agricultural land, in some cases farmed by descendents of the original settlers. The Smith family, the most important in the area, owned one of the original farms in Weston, said to total 160 acres. The family was in Weston by the time of King Philips War in 1675-6, when the Indians burned a barn on the Smith farm down the road west of the present #111–the only Weston incident in this war. Members of the Smith family were prominent in Weston civic affairs and served in the Revolutionary War. Of the four important early houses within the area, two were built by the Smith family and occupied by successive generations of farmers into the 20th century. Down the street, another of the properties was used as a dairy farm into the late 1930s.
111 Sudbury Road (c.1715, MHC 217, Map #8) was built for William Smith, who is listed in deeds as a “taylor” but was also a farmer. The house remained in the Smith family, except for a brief period, until 1940, a period of 225 years. Over the years, the Smiths owned large tracts of land on both sides of Sudbury Road which was used for farming. According to an extensive house history, William and Mary Smith came from Scotland to Watertown and then Weston. The first of Smith’s seven children, Bradyl or Bradyll, is listed in Parish records as being born in Weston in December, 1715, and according to tradition the house was built that year. Bradyll was active in Weston political affairs and served as a Captain and Colonial in the Revolutionary War. A third son, Josiah, built the Josiah Smith Tavern next to the library. The fourth and youngest son, James (b.1724), was given the family farm sometime between 1746 and 1757, when his name appears in the 1757 tax records (the first existing tax records other than the 1712 list.) James married Lucy Stearns of Lexington in 1748 and their first child, James Jr. was born in 1751. In 1768, the tax assessment records show him as owning one horse, two oxen, six cows, 20 acres of pasturage, 8 acres of tillage land, 20 acres of mowing land– a mid-to-large size farm for the period in Weston. He was producing 150 bushels of grain and 50 barrels of cider. In 1771 he also had 12 sheep. James Smith was active in town affairs, serving in various posts including surveyor of highways, preserver of deer, and collector of taxes.
James’ youngest son, Samuel, continued to live on the family homestead after the death of his parents. He is shown as owning the farm at the time of the 1794 Kingsbury map. His oldest son, Samuel Jr., married Martha Stratton in 1819. Their son, Nahum Smith, was born about six years later in the original homestead at 111 Sudbury Road.
In the mid-1820’s, just after the birth of his son, Samuel Jr. is thought to have built a second house on the family property, now 89 Sudbury Road (ca.1826, MHC 216, Map #6) He lived
there the rest of his life, as did his son, Nahum Smith, who owned both #111 and #87 at the time of the 1875 Middlesex County Atlas. Nahum continued the family farming tradition and also served on the Weston School Committee from 18798 to 1894. Naham has been described by his grandson as something of a “gentleman farmer, “ as he inherited money from a wealthy aunt. The son of Nahum and Susan Smith, Charles Edward Smith (b.1849), was more of a serious farmer, growing vegetables and other produce for the Boston market. Their son, Lincoln H.Smith, (b.1908) lived for many years at 101 Sudbury Road (1952, Map #7) in a post-World War II house built on Smith land between the family’s two houses.
The early history of 63 Sudbury Road (ca.1803, MHC 215, Map #4) is unclear. The 1794 Kingsbury map shows a house in this approximate location belonging to Samuel Lawrence. It is thought that the Lawrence homestead dated earlier in the 18th century, and that the present house was built about 1803 in the Federal style. On the 1830 map, the house is shown as belonging to a Mr. Childs. The house was owned by a member of the Childs family at least until 1866, when it is shown as belonging to F. Childs. It came into possession of Mary Gowell and was resold several times in the early 1870’s before being bought by Louis E. Roberts in 1873, for the price of $4300. At this time the property included two parcels of 34 and 38 acres. Roberts operated the property as a dairy well into the 20th century. The farm remained in the Roberts family until 1930, when Emma J. Roberts sold it to C. Fayette Taylor.
45 Sudbury Road is traditionally thought to have been built in 1731 for John Bemis. According to Emma Ripley’s book Weston, A Puritan Town, John Bemis was a fourth generation descendant of Joseph Bemis, who was in Watertown in 1640. John was the brother of Dinah Bemis, who married Jonathan Stratton (see 420 Concord Road). John married Hannah Warren of Weston in 1731. They had 12 children, the youngest of whom, Daniel, was born in 1758 and inherited the farm and homestead.
Daniel Bemis is shown as the owner at the time of the 1795 map. On the 1830 map the owner was Babcock (probably Seth Babcock), on the 1866 map the owner was T. Teel, and at the time of the 1875 Middlesex County Atlas, the owner was Mrs. H. Thompson. In 1887 the house was owned by Moses H. Fuller, in 1893 by Mrs. Moses Fuller, and on the 1908 Middlesex County atlas, by Anna Fuller. Their daughter, Nellie, married Roland B. Rand, a prominent local surveyor.
In the early 1930s, land on the south side of the street was purchased by Richard and Caroline Field, who built the International Style House at 74 Sudbury Road (ca.1934, MHC 618, Map #10). Richard Field was a lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School, as well as a long-time Weston selectman. Caroline Crosby Field studied art or art history at Bryn Mawr and is considered by her daughter to be responsible for the avante-garde nature of the family home.
1. Interview with Carl Smith, May, 1998, regarding Smith family history
2. Interview with Mary Parker, June, 1998, regarding her parents, Richard and Caroline Field, and the houses at 74 and 102 Sudbury Rd.
3. Weston deed and tax records (see individual inventory forms)
4, [added 2011] Farm Town to Suburb: The History and Architecture of Weston, Massachusetts, 1830-1980 by Pamela W. Fox (2002)