Historic Significance & Adaptive Re-use of Mitton House

The Colonial/Classical Revival style building now known as the Mitton House was originally built in 1896 by Architect William Peters for Frederick S. and Josephine S. Gay. William Peters (1858-1938) graduated from Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before opening his own office in Boston in 1888. In 1898 he established the firm of Peters and Rice with Arthur Wallace Rice, which developed several well regarded examples of High Georgian design rowhouses in the Back Bay. Owner Frederick Gay was a well-known authority on New England History as well as a collector of rare book. Gay did not have a formal profession but served as the curator of British and American History tracts at Harvard, the president of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and a trustee of the Brookline Public Library while also serving as a member of numerous local and state historical organizations and institutions. After his death in 1916, his wife gave more than 1,500 volumes from his collection to Harvard’s Widener Library.

According to local directories and census data, Josephine Gay remained at what was then known as 135 Fisher Avenue through 1926, when she moved into the former carriage house at the eastern end of the property (now 74 Holland Road). The property at that time stretched along Holland Road to the intersection of Holland and Seavers and was subdivided into three lots, with the Mitton House and its former gardens encompassing the westernmost lot. The only known change made to the house by the Gay family was the construction of a new dormer in 1919.

The next owners of the house, George W. and Anne Mitton, hired the architectural firm Parker, Thurman and Rice to make significant changes to the house after their purchase of the site in 1927. Mitton was the President of Jordan Marsh Department Stores from 1916-1930, and served as the Company’s Chairman from 1930 until his death in 1947. The Mittons replaced the ell on the east façade with a larger addition, created a library, and added the sunrooms and piazza to the south façade. The Mitton’s also had Parker, Thomas and Rice design the Colonial Revival style garage in 1928 as a new six-car garage. Additional changes in the 1940s included the construction of a screened porch in 1943 and the addition of an elevator in 1944.

Historical information is derived from Brookline Preservation Commission Demolition Application Report.

Photos are from actual Balfour Communities.