Oak View, Norwood, Massachusetts

Oak View, Norwood, Massachusetts
Oak View
General information
Architectural style Second Empire
Town or city 289 Walpole Street
Norwood, Massachusetts
Country USA
Construction started 1870
Completed 1873
Design and construction
Client Francis Olney Winslow
Architect Benjamin Franklin Dwight

Oak View is an 1870 Second Empire style mansion in Norwood, Massachusetts.



The planning of the Winslow-Allen mansion, also known as Oak View, started in 1868. Construction began in 1870 for Francis Olney Winslow. F.O. Winslow was the scion of a local tanning family who expanded the family business interests on a large scale. Born in 1844, he constructed the mansion, which was finished in 1873. F.O. Winslow was only 29 as the home was being built, spurred by his brother, an aspiring architect and painter who lived for many years in Paris and who eventually became well known in European art circles. F.O. Winslow was a cultivated man with diverse interests in business, civic affairs, town and state politics, philanthropy, education, history and the arts. Winslow was the founder and for over 40 years the president of the Norwood Literary Club. In 1883 this group was formed originally as the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, changing its name ten years later to the Norwood Literary Club. It was known for dramatic and musical performances, outings, poetry and fictional readings and lecture series. The annual reception was a major social event in the Norwood social year and often took place at Oak View.

Across Walpole Street, Winslow Park (now known as D.A.V. Park) was the first public park in Norwood. It had originally been a semi-private park for the Winslow families, whose homes were in the surrounding area. In 1868 the Winslow family threw open the tract of land, laying it out for public enjoyment. F.O. Winslow died in 1926. Upon Winslow’s death, Oak View passed into the hands of his daughter Clara Winslow and her husband, Frank G. Allen (married December 2, 1897) who was soon thereafter to become Governor of Massachusetts. During the late 1920’s and 1930’s, Oak View was the scene of almost constant socializing! Some of the most prominent figures hosted in Oak View during those years were President (and later a Supreme Court Justice) William Howard Taft, President Calvin Coolidge, Russian Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, artist John Singer Sargent, Episcopal Bishop of Boston Phillips Brooks and philosopher William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Viscount Kentaro Kaneko of Japan, tenor John McCormack and others of similar stature.[1] It can be said that Oak View played a pivotal role in affairs of the 19th and 20th centuries. Norwood, and associative connections can be considered significant not only regionally, but nationally and internationally as well.

In 1954, The Allen’s sold Oak View to the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. The property was consecrated by Richard Cardinal Cushing and became known as the Cenacle. In 1978 it was sold to Barbara Rand and Robert Pegurri who own it still Oak View has been the site of Oak View Museum of Dollhouses since 1989.[2]


The combination of Oak View’s exceptionally robust Mansard-Eastlake styling, and the significant historical associations Oak View has had with many famous people from government and the arts, is rare among surviving structures from its period. Oak View was designed by architect Benjamin Franklin Dwight of the firm Arthur Gilman. The contractor was Tyler Thayer.

Overall, the structure is clapboarded with incised corner pilasters and base boarding. Knobs, triangulated panels, saw cut incisions and heavy bracket-on-bracket balusters are typical motifs found in the decoration of all facades of the building. The lot size is approximately two acres. The house has ten bedrooms, six and one half baths, with twenty-one rooms overall. The only element of the building, other than the original carriage house, which is presently missing, is the square bracketed cupola which was carefully disassembled and retained on the property for use in re-creation at a later time.

Oak View's interior is almost completely original with stunning Eastlake detailing throughout, except for the dining room which was altered by renovation circa 1929. The transformation was from a Victorian style room of half the size to the present form featuring the classical details of ancient Greece and Rome. The Norwood architect was William Upham. The room was expanded in size to accommodate large political dinners by Governor Allen. The expansion removed a portion of the rear wall of the main block and enclosing what had been a small open porch. African mahogany raised field paneling in the Classical Revival motif sheaths the walls of this redesigned room. The original fireplace surround and mantle was removed and replaced with green marble in a more restrained classical motif which was more compatible with the redesign of the room. The fireplace bolection is carved African verdite.

The paired doors and bay window of the parlor are characteristic of the Second Empire style of architecture. This was the scene of the wedding of Edith Martha Winslow to George Franklin Willett. The room is over 30 feet (9.1 m) long and has an oak and mahogany parquetry floor. Other portions of the interior retain much of the original detailing including richly detailed marble fireplaces, a splendid rosewood central stair case with hand carved newel post, and enormous floor to ceiling double mahogany and rosewood doors into the formal first floor rooms. Oak View has undergone sensitive preservation by its present owners and retains character of later modifications including a walk-in refrigerator (used as storage) and an art deco bath on the second floor.

The roofline is a Mansard roof with straight sides flaring out to meet the cornice. The roof is composed of the original hexagonal slate tiles and further evidence is a heavily moulded and dentilated curb. A heavy projecting cornice with overlapping frieze boards, dentils and paired brackets supports the roof structure visually. Flanking one story, wings project from each side of Oak View as viewed from the front and a long three story ell projects from the rear of the main house block. Of the one story additions, the right, or Northerly, is an original element of the composition and was intended as a solarium. The left, or Southerly, was added circa 1883 by FO Winslow as a library wing. The library wing features the original decorative plaster frieze and white marble fireplace as well as adjustable walnut bookcases built for FO Winslow. Both wings have a Classical balustrade with heavy turned spindles above a dentilated cornice line. The side and rear elevations of Oak View are less richly embellished, evidencing more restrained Eastlake window frames with stylized hood pediments on the first and second levels and two recessed dormers on each side of the main block and one on each side of the projecting wing to the rear or West, A smaller two story servant’s wing projects from the Northerly wing.

The front façade of the mansion is dominated by two three-story polygonal bays with 2/2 sash at the second level and 1/1 sash at the first in each of the middle windows. These bays incorporate the belt course (2nd level) and water table (1st level) and Eastlake panel design recessed at the first level and applied to the flush boarding at the second level. Flanked by the two imposing bays is a projecting front porch with richly detailed dentilated and bracketed roof supplanted by delicate wrought iron cresting in the form of a pseudo-balustrade, and supported by a pair of Corinthian columns on boldly geometric Eastlake piers with applied saw cut decorations.

The main entrance is a single door with multi-paned sidelights and is probably a replacement circa 1883. Above the door a paired sash pedimented window at the second level, and a single sash recessed and pedimented third floor window add to the verticality of the rigidly symmetrical composition.

Oak View, The Winslow-Allen mansion is a magnificent late Second Empire edifice which retains the full measure of its grandeur from its finished date of construction, 1873, plus two alterations in the form of a projecting library wing and the redesign of the dining room circa 1920. Oak View typifies the most elaborate architecture of the late Second Empire period with fine Eastlake detailing.

External links


  1. ^ Bolton, Michele Morgan (2008-02-10). "Keeping dream of gentility alive on Norwood estate". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/articles/2008/02/10/keeping_dream_of_gentility_alive_on_norwood_estate/. 
  2. ^ Forman, Judith (2001-10-18). "Repository of the Dolls". Boston Globe. 

Coordinates: 42°11′01.65″N 71°12′50.60″W / 42.1837917°N 71.214056°W / 42.1837917; -71.214056

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