The Warren Avenue Area was documented by the Weston Historical Commission in 2005 and includes the following properties: 15, 21, 25, 29, 30, 31, 36, 39, 41, 43, 61, 66-68, 74, 75 Warren Ave; 2, 3, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 22, Warren Lane; and 1, 5, 11, 14, 15, 16, 21 Warren Place.
To see the 2005 area form including data sheets and photographs, click here: Warren Avenue Area Form
The Warren Avenue Area is located in the center of Weston just off Boston Post Road, the main east-west route through the town. The area developed at the turn of the 20th century as a neighborhood of modest working class houses along Warren Avenue, Warren Lane and Warren Place, three dead-end streets just south of the train tracks of the now-abandoned Central Massachuetts (later Boston & Maine) Railroad. Cherry Brook, a tributary of the Charles River, flows through the low-lying area, which is partly located in the Flood Plain Protection Zone. The small pond known as Foote’s Pond was created by damming the stream to raise the water level. The Warren Avenue Area is largely residential. The 30 houses were built between 1898 and 1986, with 25 of these dating before 1945. Also within the area is the 1896 brick pumping/generating station built by the fledgling Weston Water Company and Weston Electric Light Company, as well as commercial buildings of varying types and ages owned by B. L. Ogilvie & Sons, a large local hardware and building supply company headquartered on Warren Avenue.
Houses are of frame construction, with shingle or clapboard exteriors, in simple versions of the late Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles along with an occasional Tudor or Bungalow. A few houses are two-family residences. Houses are generally in good condition but many have lost original architectural features. Several have asbestos shingle or aluminum/vinyl siding. There is little uniformity in the size of lots or in the size, massing and siting of houses. Lot sizes range from one-fifth of an acre to more than four acres, with most under one acre. Many mature trees are scattered throughout the area but in general the lots are cleared rather than wooded, with minimal landscape treatment. In recent years, the quiet, convenient location and availability of relatively inexpensive houses has attracted new residents who have remodeled and occasionally restored the area’s early 20th century housing stock.
The 1875 and 1889 atlases of Middlesex County show nothing in the Warren Avenue Area– no roads, no houses, no outbuildings, no commercial structures. The first building appears to have been the Weston Water Company/ Weston Electric Company at 71 Warren Avenue (1896, MHC 218, Map #15), a simple, utilitarian 1 1/2 story brick and frame structure. The building is still owned by the town and used by the water department. The exterior has been largely preserved and the interior features beaded boarding, heavy wooden columns, and an early lathe.
Residential building commenced in earnest about 1900, as local farmer William Whittemore and water company superintendent Percy Warren began selling lots and encouraging house construction. A 1905 article in the local newspaper reported that, with several houses about to be finished, there would be a total of 11 houses in the neighborhood. The Marie Subelia House at 16 Warren Place (1903, MHC 1140, Map #31) is a simple 1 1/2 story late Queen Anne house with a cross gable roof and wrap-around porch with square porch posts, a simple railing, and latticework at the base. The 2 ½-story William Foote House at 31 Warren Avenue (by 1905, MHC 1116, Map #6, Photo #3-left) is another late Queen Anne example oriented with the gable end to the street. The exterior, now in process of being resided, originally had clapboards on the first story and shingles above. The house at 13 Warren Lane (by 1905, MHC 1129, Map #20) is of similar style and vintage and includes simple Queen Anne details such as the decorative square stairhall window.
The Percy Warren House at 74 Warren Avenue (1905, MHC 1124, Map #14, Photo #1), a substantial shingled Four Square, has a fieldstone foundation, one-story hip-roofed porch, and central hipped dormer. Also among the first 11 houses was the William J. Bartlett House at 61 Warren Avenue (by 1905, MHC 1122, Map #12), which includes a 1 1/2 story barn with a central wall gable. The side-gable house has turned porch posts on the one-story porch across the front and also includes Colonial Revival details that may be later in date, such as wooden shutters with decorative cut-outs.
The 2 1/2 story Beriah Ogilvie House at 39 Warren Avenue (1910, MHC 1119, Map #8, Photo #2) is sited with the gable end to the street but utilizes Colonial Revival features such as the two-story bay window at offset-right and the one-bay, one-story hipped porch at offset left, sheltering the entrance door. Notable 1920s houses include the 1 1/2 story bungalow at 11 Warren Place (c. 1920, MHC 1137, Map #28, Photo #4), with its characteristic tapered porch posts. This house is currently being remodeled in a way that is sensitive to the original design. A simple 1920’s Tudor example at 43 Warren Avenue (c. 1925, MHC 1121, Map #11) has remained largely intact, including its steep-roofed entrance vestibule and wood-board shutters.
The corner of Warren Avenue and Warren Place is anchored by two simple 1930s Colonial Revival houses similar in scale, massing and setback, at 1 and 5 Warren Avenue, (c. 1935, MHC 1135 and 1136, Map #26 and 27).
The Warren Avenue Area developed beginning in the 1890s as the location of important commercial and light industrial enterprises essential to the growing community. The growth was fostered by the opening of the Central Massachusetts Railroad in 1881, making possible the delivery of coal and supplies by rail. The Weston Water Company and Weston Electric Light Company were established here in 1896 to provide water and electricity to the town. The area also evolved as a working class residential community for the town’s growing immigrant population. Some of these immigrants were employed on local estates, while others started thriving businesses. Two interrelated families are of particular importance to the Warren Avenue Area, the Footes and Ogilvies, both originally from Nova Scotia. Among George Foote’s entrepenurial successes was the town’s only ice supply company. Foote harvested ice from Foote’s Pond on Warren Avenue, storing it in two large adjacent ice houses. Beriah Ogilvie and his family established B. L. Ogilvie & Sons, a prosperous supply company still located on Warren Avenue. Ogilvies distributed lumber and construction materials, coal, fertilizer and seeds, hay, and other items essential to the town as it evolved from a farming community to a residential suburb of Boston.
What is now Warren Avenue does not appear on the 1875 or 1889 maps. Nor do these maps show any houses in the Warren Avenue Area. The area took on increased importance when the Central Massachusetts Railroad began service in 1881. The rail line passed directly north of the present Warren Avenue, making possible convenient freight delivery. In 1896, private investors formed two stock companies to supply water and electricity to parts of the town. They built the Weston Water Company and Weston Electric Light Company at 71 Warren Avenue (1896, MHC 218, Map #15), a small brick and frame building initially shared by both companies. Power for the steam generators and water pumps was supplied by coal unloaded at a nearby railroad siding. The Weston Water Company was taken over by the town in 1921, and the building is still used by the water department. The electric company operated here only until 1912, when it was sold to the Edison Electric Illuminating Company.
Percy Warren (1865–1917) was president and manager of the Weston Water Company, and his brother Harry (1876–1958) worked for the Weston Electric Light Company and its later owner, Edison Electric. Both were public-spirited men instrumental in introducing new services to the town. Percy graduated from Weston High School and Northeastern University and took postgraduate courses in engineering at MIT. In addition to running the water company, he served as Weston’s first superintendent of streets and developed a system of construction and maintenance that made liberal use of machinery to improve roads to modern standards. He built the Percy Warren House at 74 Warren Avenue (1905, MHC 1124, Map #14, Photo #1) across from the water and electric company headquarters. The house is now owned by the town and occupied by the superintendent of the water department.
In 1905, the Waltham Daily Free Press Tribune reported that Percy Warren and William Whittemore, a farmer living at the corner of Central Avenue (now Boston Post Road) and what is now Warren Avenue, were building houses on the unnamed road to the pumping station, then known as Ice House Road but not yet formally christened:
When these houses are finished there will be 11 dwellings, the pumping station and the ice house on this road. It is a much used road, but has not yet any name. “Water Street” has been suggested as appropriate.
Public sentiment apparently favored the name “Warren,” which was given to all three streets in the neighborhood: Warren Avenue, Warren Lane, and Warren Place. Percy Warren was profiled in Middlesex County and Its People, a 1927 four-volume history that included short biographical entries on well-known members of the community:
The picture that will ever remain warm in the hearts of his host of friends and admirers in Weston . . . is that of Mr. Warren driving his automobile through the streets, usually with a group of Italians going to or from work, or children whom he loved so well, or neighbors whom he was taking to their homes. . . . Few men have devoted their lives and activities to the general welfare of their community and for the promoting of the progress and development of their city as had Mr. Warren . . .
When he died in June 1917, he was remembered as “one of Weston’s best loved citizens.”
The 1911 directory is the first to specifically list residents as living on Warren Ave instead Central Avenue. Except for Cornelius C. Foster, the engineer for the Weston Electric Light Company and Percy Warren, the superintendent, other residents were largely engaged in service occupations including the following: Luke Brenord (gardener), John W. Bartlett (jobber),William J. Bartlett (gardener), Edward Compton (hostler), Cherith M. Foote (teamster), Irad Foote (carpenter), William H. Foote (painter) Alonzo S. Hobart (employee, Weston Electric Light Co), George F. Jones (teamster), and Beriah Ogilvie (driver).
Two families of particular importance to the history of the Warren Avenue Area were the Footes and Ogilvies, immigrants from Nova Scotia. At the turn of the century, times were hard in the Canadian maritime provinces, and the children of farmers came to New England in search of jobs and a better life. Of nine Foote siblings, six brothers settled in Weston for at least part of their lives. The 1908 Middlesex County Atlas shows a large property on Warren Avenue including two houses labeled as belonging to C. W. Foote and W. Foote. Cherith (also spelled Cherrith) W. Foote, built the Cherith Foote House at 25 Warren Avenue (c. 1900, MHC 1113, Map #3). He worked over the years as a florist, teamster, wood dealer, and milkman who sold milk in square glass bottles from his dairy on Warren Avenue. William Foote, who lived at 31 Warren Avenue (by 1905, MHC 1116, Map #6), was a painter and chair maker in Weston before moving to Waltham. His brother Irad (also spelled Ired) was a carpenter who boarded across the street at the Edward Compton House at 30 Warren Avenue (c. 1898, MHC 1115, Map #5), owned by a hostler who was originally from England.
Of the Foote brothers, the most successful was George Albert Foote (1867-1944), who, along with Percy Warren, was among the Weston residents profiled in Middlesex County and Its People. George’s success as a dealer in coal, wood, ice, and building supplies began with his arrival in Weston in 1884. He purchased land on Concord Road where he set up a supply yard for off-loading freight from the Central Massachusetts Railroad, and where he later built a house. By 1915, his business had grown so large that he sold off the coal and building-supply dealership to the Waltham Coal Company and concentrated on supplying ice. Except for farmers and estate owners who cut and stored their own ice, Foote was the only local supplier. He “harvested” ice from Foote’s Pond on Warren Avenue, where the water level had been raised by damming the stream. Each year he cut one or two harvests, placing the individual ice cakes into the two wooden ice houses next to the pond. After the ice refroze, the children were welcome to skate on Foote’s Pond, which was a popular gathering place. The cutting and storage of ice on Warren Avenue continued until 1936, when the ice houses were destroyed by fire.
The Footes were connected, both by marriage and in businss, with another family from Nova Scotia who settled in the Warren Avenue Area. In 1900, Cherith Foote married Orinda Ella Ogilvie, sister of Beriah Ogilvie. In 1910, Cherith sold part of his land on Warren Avenue to Beriah Ogilvie, whose business still supplies the needs of Weston residents at the turn of the 21st century. He built the Beriah Ogilvie House at 39 Warren Avenue (1910, MHC 1119, Map #8, Photo #2).
Beriah Lemont Ogilvie (1877–1951) was born in Kings County, Nova Scotia, the son of a sea captain. Like the Foote brothers, he had only a limited primary school education before coming to Weston in 1894. After working as foreman at J. Cushing’s feed store for 13 years, Ogilvie organized his own business in 1919. He began with teaming but an advertisement for B.L. Ogilvie’s in a Friendly Society program of 1925 illustrates the diversity of the business after only six years:
Contracts for lumber filled. Coal bins filled. Grain orders promptly attended to. Fertilizers and seeds to suit your needs. Hay, flour, lime, cement and bricks. Sawdust, shavings, straw and poultry litter. Equipment for all kinds of trucking. Oak wood and pine kindling. Biscuits and Kibbles for dogs.
The company acquired a fleet of trucks in order to plow Weston’s roads and driveways. By 1927 Ogilvie’s biographical sketch in Middlesex County and Its People reported that, despite postwar financial fluctuations, Ogilvie had made his business an “unqualified and lasting success.” He had increased the business from one truck to six, was employing 10 men, and had taken his place as “one of the financial leaders of this section.”
Beriah Ogilvie’s success was due in part to the hard work of his large extended family. In 1900 Ogilvie married Mary Elizabeth Arrington, a Salem girl who was working as a nursery maid for a local family. The couple had five children: Harold (1902–1965), Gladys “Dolly” (Mrs. Francis Whittemore Jr.), Delcia “Pearl” (Mrs. Julius Pickering), Myrtle “Vina” (Mrs. Vernon MacLeod), and Raymond (b. 1912). Everyone worked in the business. Bookkeeping was done by Mary Elizabeth and later by all three daughters. The five presidents of the company have all been family members: Beriah Ogilvie, his sons Harold and Raymond, Dolly’s son Alden Whittemore, and Alden’s brother-in-law Kenneth Sutherland. Beriah’s nephew Frederick Foote was also one of the cornerstones in the business in the early years. In the 1920s and 1930s, members of the family built houses at 1 Warren Place (c. 1935, MHC 1135, Map #26) and 5 Warren Place (c. 1935, MHC 1136, Map #27).
To supply local needs for lumber, Ogilvie built a sawmill on the property at 75 Warren Avenue (Map #16) and cut trees from the family woodlot on Sudbury Road into rough lumber used for building. Farmers could bring their own logs to be cut to order. The sawmill was the closest to Boston and cut logs from as far away as Weymouth. Custom sawing proved a problem, as farmers would return when the store was closed on Sundays and take what they thought was their wood. In later years, the sawmill was discontinued and Ogilvie’s began supplying hardware and lumber.
When Beriah Ogilvie started on Warren Avenue, there was no store, just a barn where he kept horses for teaming and hauling. Beginning in 1928, the company had a yard and railroad siding at the end of Warren Avenue, now 75 Warren Avenue (c.1928, MHC 1125, Map #16) where coal and supplies could be unloaded. Hay, peat moss, and wood shavings were stored here in a cement-block garage. Later, when trucks replaced horses, Ogilvie took out the stanchions in the barn and put up pegboard for hanging farm implements. As coal furnaces became obsolete, the company began selling oil burners and heating oil. It became known for its “Blue Truck Delivery” fleet, driven by employees in blue uniforms. In 1953–54, B.L. Ogilvie & Sons constructed an office in front of the barn, and in 1975 the company tore down the barn and built a 5,000-square-foot hardware and garden building behind the office at 39 Warren Avenue (MHC 1119, Map #9, Photo #2-right). The large metal lumber storage building in the rear was constructed in 1992. Gradually, the business shifted from supplying farmers to supplying suburbanites.
Other immigrant families also established themselves in the Warren Avenue Area. Edward Compton came from England and worked as a coachman and hostler on the Paine estate on Highland Street. About 1900, Compton purchased the house at 30 Warren Avenue (c.1898, MHC 1115, Map #5), which is still occupied by members of the family. A French-born widow, Marie Subilia, purchased a lot from William Whittemore for $500 and built the Marie Subilia House at 16 Warren Place (1903, MHC 1140, Map #31). Mrs. Subilia taught French at the private Pigeon Hill School on Pigeon Hill Road in Weston and later managed a shop in Weston Center that sold dry goods, needles and thread, fabric and knickknacks. The house stayed in the Subilia family until 1957.
John Edward Lingley came to Weston from Port Williams, Nova Scotia, and initially obtained work as a chauffeur for General Paine. Over the years, the family members purchased land and built and/or occupied houses at 3 and 19 Warren Lane ( c. 1946, MHC 1127, Map #18 and c. 1938, MHC 1133, Map #24) and 43 Warren Avenue (c. 1925, MHC 1121, Map #11). In 1924 John Edward bought a Model-T truck and started picking up rubbish door to door. People separated out garbage and table scraps, which were fed to pigs. Lingley dug foundations, took care of yards, cut ice for George Foote, and was reportedly the first to mow the town common with a power mower. His wife, Hilma, did ironing for Chandler Robbins. They had four sons—John, Ted, Henry and Harold—three of whom settled around Warren Avenue. Harold was a sergeant on the Weston police force and Ted kept a poultry farm at the end of Warren Avenue. Henry delivered coal for Ogilvie’s, worked in the sawmill, continued his father’s trash business, moved furniture, supplied wood, sold loam and gravel, and slaughtered livestock in the woods behind Warren Lane. As he was later to say, “If there was a nickel in it, we’d do it.”
1. Fox, Pamela W., Farm Town to Suburb: The History and Architecture of Weston, Massachusetts, 1830-1980 (Peter Randall Publisher, 2002). Boston Post Road West chapter, especially pages 278-382. Also pages 81-83. References included at end of chapters.