Brownstone History

The College Club was built as a High Victorian townhouse for a prosperous family around 1860. The floor plan is classic 19 th century. The bottom floor, which houses our office, dining room and kitchen, would have been the kitchen, laundry, boiler room and trunk storage area.

Our 1 st floor ballroom area was a drawing room, dining room, butler’s pantry and library. Entry to the home was up a large flight of stairs to the area of the 1 st floor staircase. The glass ceiling in the middle room on this floor served as a necessary source of light from the skylight on the fourth floor, as attached homes had windows only on the front and back, as well as those which would open into the open column of space on all floors above the first one to catch light from the skylight. A skylight was also placed on the 4 th floor over the staircase for natural light.

The 2 nd floor could have been a music room and family drawing room or bedrooms, as evidenced by the two large chambers connected to each other with closet space in a narrow hall and the two small rooms off each, which would have served as dressing areas. This was a standard plan and the husband and wife had separate rooms, which allowed the wife’s room to contain a place for visitors, sewing and other projects.

The 3 rd floor was also used for bedrooms and the 4 th floor was usually reserved for children or servants. Our 4 th floor is quite plain compared to the other two and was probably used for servants.

Our block of Commonwealth Avenue was developed between 1860 and 1872. The 1860’s were a time when the French influence reigned in Boston, and in the 1870’s many architects turned to English High Victorian style. The exterior of our building, as with many of the houses on our block, has a classic French look with a slate mansard roof.

The interior style of our building is High Victorian. Although the ceilings and moldings in the middle room and the round columns in the bay of the back room of the ballroom floor may have been altered around the turn of the century, the front rooms appear to be original and would have been stained a rich, dark color, similar to the library on the first floor. The frieze around the back on this floor is consistent with those of the period when the home was built. After 1890, it was fashionable to paint the dark wood trim popular in homes built in the 1860’s.

Furniture in the bedrooms reflect 19th century reproductions of earlier periods, as well as several lovely Empire pieces. Several bedroom rugs are 19 th century Orientals. Although the Club has been decorated more in the English tradition of the 18 th Century, during Victorian times many bright colors and animal skins, as well as black and white schemes may have prevailed. The vibrant corals, yellow and greens we see today reflect Victorian color schemes. Wealthy people often decorated around objects brought back from trips, and bamboo and animal skins abounded.

The Club was the home of the Robbins family when purchased by the College Club in 1924. Royal E. Robbins was a major stockholder of the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, MA.