Roots and Rambles” and specializes in the genealogy of houses in southeastern Massachusetts.
In her autobiography, “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen”, Lili’uokalani wrote about her 1897 trip to Boston. She was visiting members of her husband’s family, my own relatives, and she was also preparing to visit President McKinley to discuss the annexation of Hawaii. She arrived on New Years Day, and was at the Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston for a few days. My great aunt, Mrs. Sara White Lee, was living at 1395 Beacon Street, which is at Coolidge Corner in Brookline. She found a nice boarding house nearby for the Queen and her attendants. Since the Queen was married to the son of another great aunt, Mary Lambert (Jones) Dominis, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about her trip to Boston to visit the family.
The boarding house was called “Stirlingworth Cottage” and it was just around the corner from 1395 Beacon Street. I contacted the Brookline Historical Society and the Preservation Commission at the Brookline City Hall. They both told me the sad news that the building was no longer standing, but sent me the newsclipping above. The Historical Society also sent me a photograph of Temple Sinai, taken sometime in the early part of the 20th century (judging by the automobiles). I don’t know when Stirlingworth Cottage, at 61 Sewall Avenue, was demolished or removed.
In the Queen’s own words:
“At Stirlingworth Cottage I passed a most delightful month, although the frost often covered the window panes, the snow whirled around the house, and the icicles formed on the trees; the kindly greetings of my Boston friends and the warmth of their hearts deprived a Northern winter of all its gloom … during my sojourn in Brookline I attended All Saints’ Church ... before leaving Boston, as it was my intention to do some time during the month of January, my cousin, Mr. N. G. Snelling, gave a family party at his house, to which my suite was invited, and I had the pleasure of meeting as many of the family as could be brought together. More than thirty relatives and a few of the most intimate friends of the kind host were present. .. To meet these relatives, and receive from the lips of each some cordial expression of welcome, was unusually grateful after my long, sad experiences; and it vividly recalled to me the previous family gathering [in Boston], when my dear husband greeted his family kin, and we, with Queen Kapiolani, were Boston’s honored guests.”
And so I asked Marian Pierre Lewis a few questions, and she suggested I use Google to find a few facts about the property on Sewall Avenue. I also used Ancestry.com and the databases at the New England Historic Genealogical Society to find a few facts about Stirlingworth Cottage.
I found Harriet A. Bullard in the 1850 Federal Census of Wayland, Massachusetts as the 11 year old daughter of Joseph Bullard and his wife Harriet. That would make her birth year about 1839. Her father is listed as a farmer, with seven children ages 1 to 16 years old. She is living there in the 1860 census. I couldn’t find her in the 1870 census, and in the 1880 census she is listed as the sister-in-law of George Arnold of Boston, age 40, school teacher. This household consists of Dr. Arnold, physician, his wife, Anna, five children ages 1 to 17, three servants and Harriet.
In 1895 Harriet A. Bullard is listed in the Blue Book, page 206, at 61 & 63 West Newton Street in Boston. In Clark’s Boston Blue Book of 1907, page 513, Miss H. A. Bullard is listed at 61 Sewall Avenue, and she is at this Sewall Avenue address in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses as the proprietor of a boarding house. Many of the boarders were young ladies listed as nurses. . Unbelievably, she is in the 1930 census, age 90, still as the proprietor of a boarding house with three lodgers and two servants!
Other Google searches and Google Book searches turned up a plethora of results for Sewall Avenue, and many of its residents are listed in social registers, college yearbooks and alumni books, and club books such as the Appalachian Mountain Club, medical associations and fraternities.
It seems that this neighborhood has a long history of lodging houses. 92 Sewall Avenue is now the Bertram Inn bed and breakfast, built in 1907 by a wealthy tobacco merchant as his home. The same proprietors also run the Samuel Sewall Inn, around the corner, built in 1886 as a private residence. At 70 Sewall Avenue is the Family Inn, run by Children’s Hospital for families supporting long term patients since 1988. The building at 109-115 Sewall Avenue is now an upscale condominium.
The site of the boarding house is now roughly about where the Temple Sinai synagogue sits across the road at 50 Sewall Avenue in Brookline. It was built in 1916 originally as the Second Unitarian Society of Brookline, and in 1944 the Temple Sinai congregation bought the building, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. For the past sixty years, Temple Sinai had only three rabbis, and added the fourth in 2004.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo