The Case’s Corner Historic District includes the following properties:221, 226, 227, 229, 233 Ash St; 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 14, 20 Maple Rd; 205, 207, 208 Newton St; 37, 44, 47, 68, 78, 86, 87, 99 School St; 17, 18, 23, 27, 33, 35, 37, 39, 40, 44, 49, 51, 55, 56, 59, 60, 63, 64, 67, 70, 74, 76, 80, 84, 86, 89, 101, 102, 128, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 137, 138, 142 Wellesley St. Also Case Park, the Case Estates land owned by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and the former Case land now owned by the Town of Weston and leased by Land’s Sake Farm.
The Case’s Corner Historic District Nomination Form includes complete descriptive and historical information, a portion of which is excerpted below.
Case’s Corner Historic District is an area of residential and institutional buildings prominently located in the geographical center of Weston, MA. Approximately 190 acres in size, the district radiates out from the intersection of four important roadways: Wellesley, School, Ash, and Newton Streets. The spine of the district extends one mile along Wellesley Street, the north-south thoroughfare that connects Wellesley and Weston centers. The district contains about 100 acres of undeveloped land including a 35-acre town-owned field kept in agricultural use by a community farm and about 60 undeveloped acres still owned by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The open landscape reflects the historical progression of the land from farm to estate to regional horiticultural center. Located throughout the former Case property in the southern half of the district are plantings of horticultural significance including many specimen trees and shrubs. Stone walls dating from the late 18th to early 20th century exemplify varied construction methods and serve as important landscape features. Buildings mirror the transformation of the town over more than two centuries from a rural agricultural town to modern suburb. The district boundary has been drawn to include 19th and early 20th century houses on Ash and Newton Streets which, while located on the periphery of the district, carry out the historical theme of early suburban development and set the visual tone at each approach to the central hub.
Because Case’s Corner developed over time and includes different building types, the district has no single architectural theme. Its appeal lies in the architectural significance of particular individual structures, the cohesiveness of the turn-of-the-century neightborhood in the northern part of the district, and the picturesque and diversified landscape enhanced by mature trees, fieldstone walls, open fields, a small town park, gardens, and woodlands.
The Case’s Corner Historic District, Weston, retains its integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmaship, feeling, and association and fullfills Criteria A, B, and C of the National Register on the local level.
Under Criterion A, the Case’s Corner Historic District played an important role in the development of Weston, beginning with the early farmers. Of particular significance is the way that the rural agricultural landscape has been preserved because of the area’s unique history and associations with the Case family. Farmhouses and farm fields found new uses–as an estate, model farm, horticultural center, and university property– all of which preserved the pastoral qualities. James Case was one of the first Boston businessmen to purchase a farm in Weston as a summer estate, in 1863. In the early 20th century, his daughter Marian purchased additional land adjacent to the family holdings and established Hillcrest Farm, which she developed into a regional horticultural center. After her death in 1944, the property was willed to the Arnold Arboretum and–renamed the Case Estates– continued in horticultural use. Because of the Case family, a large percentage of the land within the Case’s Corner Historic District remains undeveloped today. The 35-acre town field that was once part of the James Case property continues to be farmed by a non-profit organization that maintains the agricultural use and involves local residents in the raising and harvesting of food.
The district reflects two other themes in the development of Weston. One is the subdividion of farm land into house lots, a trend that accelerated in the late 19th and early 20th century in neighborhoods like that at the intersection of Maple Road and Wellesley Street within the Case’s Corner District. Here, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival frame houses were built for middle-class shopkeepers and tradesmen. The second historical theme is the centralization of Weston’s school system beginning in the late 19th century. Because of its geographical position within the town, the Case’s Corner Historic District became the location of Weston’s first four high schools, all of which were later adapted for use by lower grades. All school buildings built by the town from 1878 to 1950 were located within the district. Weston’s system of centralized schools, initiated in the 1890s, was a significant factor in the development of an excellent school system despite the small size of the town.
Under Criterion B, Marian Roby Case made significant contributions to the history of the community and region through her model farm and horticultural center known as Hillcrest Farm and, after 1920, as Hillcrest Gardens. Her unique work-study program influenced the lives of hundreds of boys who gained from the experience a deep love of nature. An active and influential member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Miss Case furthered the work of the society through the establishment of prizes and nurturing of publications, particularly the magazine Horticulture.
Under Criterion C, the Case’s Corner Historic District is located in the heart of Weston at the junction of four important roadways. It contains a rich and diverse collection of architecturally significant structures set within a 19th century rural landscape enhanced by mature trees and fieldstone walls. Included are a wide variety of building types, among them 18th and 19th century farmhouses, a late 19th century estate mansion, estate workers’ houses, barns and outbuildings, and turn-of-the century frame residences. One unusual building type is the small 19412 Weston Scout House, built as a meeting place for the town’s girl scouts. The district contains four present or former school buildings ranging in date from 1895 to 1950. Buildings vary in size and include notable Colonial, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Shingle Style, Colonial Revival and Modern examples. The period of significance spans from about 1740, the date of the Thomas Upham House– to 1950, the date of the modern-style Weston High School, (now Field School), the last of the school buildings constructed within the district.
Further information about Hillcrest Farm/Hillcrest Gardens and the Case Estates can be found in the Weston Historical Society Bulletin (Fall, 2006) , continued in the following issue Weston Historical Society Bulletin (Spring 2007). The Case’s Corner National Register nomination form contains major bibliographical references.