Cleveland Circle
Part of: Brighton
United States > Massachusetts > Greater Boston > City of Boston > Brighton > Cleveland Circle

Cleveland Circle is a relatively densely-developed neighborhood that extends into both Boston and Brookline. The former is within the larger Brighton neighborhood of Boston. It is a lively area with street-level retail, restaurants, and cafes along Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue.

It was developed as an upscale enclave of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Shingle Style houses for affluent commuters. Cleveland Circle and Englewood were developed 1870-1950, while the other areas bordering Commonwealth Avenue in Allston and Brighton were developed 1910-1930.

Strong university presence. The neighborhood is anchored by nearby Boston College, whose campus extends into Boston, Newton, and Chestnut Hill.

Chestnut Hill Reservoir a popular place for running and walking. The Chestnut Hill Reservoir is a welcome open space in the neighborhood. It dates to 1870, and the pumphouses were designed by some of the most noted architects, including Stanford White and H.H. Richardson. There is a 1.5 mile trail around the reservoir that is popular for running, biking, and walking.

The Cleveland Circle section of Brighton was developed as an upscale enclave of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Shingle Style houses for affluent commuters. Chestnut Hill Avenue was laid out in 1845, Beacon Street in 1850, and train service began in 1852. Cleveland Circle and Englewood were developed 1870-1950, while the other areas bordering Commonwealth Avenue in Allston and Brighton were developed 1910-1930.

For context, the single-family houses in Cleveland Circle are not as large as those in nearby Aberdeen, and that neighborhood has more rugged, picturesque terrain and a more romantic, winding street pattern.

Best blocks and notable buildings

Commonwealth Avenue. Commonwealth Avenue was planned by Frederick Law Olmstead as a connector among the Emerald Necklace of parks that he designed. The stretch of Commonwealth between Chiswick Road and Chestnut Hill Avenue most closely approximates Olmsted's vision of narrow, wooded parks lining a winding avenue. This segment is lined with architecturally-significant Classical and Georgian Revival apartment buildings with ample front lawns with hedges and trees. On the side streets are smaller apartments, as well as Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Shingle Style houses.

1962-2002 Beacon Street. In a neighborhood of three-story buildings, this six-story structure is one of the tallest and most visually-dominant buildings. The building is designed in the Classical Revival and Georgian Revival styles, with tan brick and monumental Doric columns.

89 Englewood Ave. built in 1886, is one of the oldest houses in the area. The brick Queen Anne house was designed by C.R. Beal.

48-52 Strathmore Rd. is an Art Deco apartment complex with a striking cast stone entrance facade.

Strathmore Rd., northwest of Englewood Avenue, is almost completely lined with substantial apartment buildings, although there are a few remaining single-family houses tucked in between larger buildings. Among these are 105 Strathmore Rd., a Shingle Style residence on a wooded lot, built c.1890.

65 Strathmore Rd. is an Art Moderne apartment building with wings surrounding a landscaped, open courtyard.

1810-1820 Commonwealth Ave.. Built in the 1920s with Renaissance and Georgian Revival styles, the first two stories are faced with rusticated cast stone, while the upper four stories are of brick.

1848-1850 Commonwealth Ave. is a 5 story apartment building constructed of dark red brick with Georgian Revival cast stone ornamentation.

114 Strathmore Rd. is one of the rare Art Deco apartment buildings in Boston.

1860 Commonwealth Ave. is the only single-family residence between Chiswick Road and Chestnut Hill Avenue. Providing a fine introduction to the collection of single family houses lining Braemore Road, its lot is enclosed by a low wall composed of random ashlar granite and mortar.

9 Braemore Rd. is a fine example of an early 20th century Georgian Revival apartment house.

Braemore Rd. which runs one block between Commonwealth Avenue and Chiswick Road, retains the appearance of an early 20th century suburban way lined with single family residences of considerable style and substance. Braemore Road encompasses a small collection of pre-1895 houses.

15 Braemore Rd is a Shingle Style house designed by Stebbins and Watkins in 1892.

19 Braemore Rd. is a Georgian Revival residence built in 1899, designed by noted architect Eugene Clark, who designed a number of notable Queen Anne houses in the Cambridge Terrace section of Allston Heights.

14 Chiswick Rd. is a notable Queen Anne house with intact form and details, including a rubble stone arch.

15 Braemore Rd. is a Colonial Revival clad in wood shingles.

Englewood Ave., between Sutherland and Strathmore Road, is bordered by the earliest housing in the area.

58 Englewood Ave. built in the 1890s is a Georgian Revival residence. Its substantial clapboard sheathed main facade features a center pavilion with Tuscan columned front porch , second floor Palladian window and pedimented gable containing an oval window. Flanking the center pavilion, on the first and second floors, are 8/1 wood sash windows exhibiting raised moldings. Culminating in a denticulated cornice, this house is enclosed by a gable roof.

84 Englewood Ave. is a fine example of the Spanish Colonial style with a full porch with arches, stucco-covered brick, and red ceramic tiles.

89 Englewood Ave.. Built in 1886, it is among the oldest single-family houses in this area. Designed in the Queen Anne style, it is a red brick building with brownstone trimmings, and is formally finished on all sides and with a slate roof.

In this area, isolated examples of single family houses are located on streets dominated by large apartment houses, offering a charming contrast:

105 Strathmore Rd. On a wooded lot, the Shingle Style, c. 1890 is the only single family house on Strathmore Road between Commonwealth Avenue and Chiswick Road.

1860 Commonwealth Ave. is the sole, single family residence between Chiswick Road and Chestnut Hill Avenue.

126 Englewood Ave. is another survivor from the earliest wave of this area's development. This Georgian Revival house was built in the 1890s.

9 Braemore Rd. is a fine example of an early 20th century Georgian Revival apartment house. Measuring 4 bays in width with a depth of eight bays, its main facade features a two-bay planar entrance facade flanked by two bay bow fronts. Constructed of red brick, this building rises 3.5 stories from a rock faced, rusticated basement to a flat roof exhibiting a denticulated, modillion block cornice. The center entrance is reached by a flight of granite steps with low granite shoulder railings. The original double doors are surmounted by a transom and enframed by a pedimented entablature ornamented with triglyphs and gutae. In general, the granite trimmed windows contain original 1/1 wood sash.

Likely to be redeveloped. The segment of Chestnut Hill Avenue between Commonwealth Avenue and Cleveland Circle has little in the way of of historic architectural fabric. Here, a gas station, parking area and nondescript, modern one story commercial concerns overlook Chestnut Hill Park across the street.


Cleveland Circle is well-served by public transit, with access to the B, C, and D trains on the Green Line within the neighborhood. The western and center of the neighborhood are served by the Chestnut Hill Avenue and Chiswick Road (B train) stations, while the southern/eastern side of the neighborhood is served by the Cleveland Circle (C train) and Reservoir (D train) stops.


Cleveland Circle is a small section of the larger Brighton neighborhood, near the western edge of Boston.

To the west is the Brighton section of Chestnut Hill, to the south and east is the Fisher Hill neighborhood of Brookline, and to the north is the Abderdeen section of Brighton.

In 1630, the land comprising today's Brighton and Allston were part of Watertown. In 1634, the Massachusetts Bay colony transferred ownership of the land to Newtowne, later known as Cambridge. Brighton was known as Little Cambridge, and with the secession of Newton in 1688, was the only part of Cambridge south of the Charles River. In 1807, Brighton became an independent town, and was renamed after the English town of Brighton.

Colonial and revolutionary history

In 1646, the missionary John Eliot (c.1604-1690) establishing a "Praying Indian" village at the Brighton-Newton border, to convert native Americans to Christianity. Eliot edited the first book published in the North American colonies (the Bay Psalm Book, in 1640), founded the Roxbury Latin School in 1645, and translated the Bible into Algonquin in 1663.

In the 1700s, Little Cambridge became a prosperous farming community, with under 300 residents. Among these were Boston merchant Benjamin Faneuil (1702-1786), whose descendant Peter Faneuil (1700-1743), a merchant and slave trader, donated Faneuil Hall to the city of Boston. There is a certain awkwardness to the building known as "the Cradle of Liberty" having been financed with profits from Faneuil's slave trading. The family is also remembered in Faneuil Street in Brighton.

If you think Brighton on a Saturday night is a meat market now ... In 1775, a cattle market was established in Little Cambridge to supply the Continental Army, by father and son Jonathan Winship I and II. They arrived in Little Cambridge from Lexington on the eve of the Revolution, and secured purchasing contracts with almost all the farmers in the surrounding communities that they would purchase their cattle. After the cattle was sent to Little Cambridge, the animals were processed for the patriots at their Academy Hill Road slaughterhouse. General Washington, recognizing the importance of a well fed army, posted soldiers at the Winship warehouses to protect them against sabotage. By the war's end the Winships were the largest meat packers in Massachusetts and the richest family in Brighton.

By 1866, the town contained almost four dozen slaughterhouses, which were were consolidated into the Brighton Stock Yards and Brighton Abattoir. (If there were ever a name for a punk club in the neighborhood, that would be it. Just saying.).

From the 1780s to the 1820s, Brighton became a prosperous and progressive town center, and the town center was developed in the Federal style popular at this time. It was one of the important horticultural and cattle markets for the region. Much credit for the town's growth has been given to the Reverend John Foster: "Harvard trustee, gentleman, and aristocrat ... well-suited to the community he had been called to serve," according to a description in the late 1700s.

Every generation ever has had its 50 Shades of Grey. The Rev. Foster's wife Hannah was an interesting figure in her own right. She secretly wrote the most popular literary work in New England in the early 1800s: the controversial novel of seduction, The Coquette, or the History of Eliza Wharton. It was published under a pseudonym in 1797, and did not appear under her name until 1856, 16 years after her death. The book was based on the experiences of Reverend Foster's cousin, Eliza Whitman, became the most popular literary work in New England in the early 1800s."

The um, flowering, of Brighton's horticultural industry. During the 1820s and '30s, these new roads provided access to persons doing business with Brighton's thriving agricultural concerns. Eminent visitors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (whose poems likely didn't sell as well as Hannah Foster's scandalous book) and William Cullen Bryant traveled through Brighton Center on their way to the nurseries of Joseph L.L. Warren's Nonantum Vale Gardens, Jonathan Winship, and Joseph Breck. The decision of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (MSPA) to locate its fairgrounds and exhibition hall permanently in Brighton enhanced the town's position as a horticultural center.

One of the earliest and largest agricultural fairs in the nation, the Brighton fair and Cattle show, was held in October of each year from 1817 to 1835. These fairs "embraced everything that could interest a farmer or be of benefit to agriculture; and in connection with them the importation of superior breeds of farm animals laid a firm and scientific base for the excellence which developed later.

But by 1835, competition from other fairs caused the Brighton Fair to cease operations. Little physical evidence of the vitality and importance of the fair remains within Brighton, with the exception of Agricultural Hall (356-360 Washington St.).

Cleveland Circle

Until the 1860s, this area was one of the more remote sections of Brighton – and the area beyond it, Chestnut Hill, was still known as the Essex Colony, a cluster of rural estates at the very edge of _________.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, work began on the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just to the west of Cleveland Circle. [and the waterworks buildings by some of the most prominent architects of the time, Stanford White and H H richardson ... similar in its way to the [sewer pumphouse in Columbia Point designed by ___________. [more than just infrastructure, it was a scenic __________]

When it ________ was completed in 1870, the area had a new visual focal point . But development was delayed by the recession of 1873. Aside from Chestnut Street (originally called Rockland Street) and Beacon Street, set out in 1843 and 1850, respectively, the oldest thoroughfares in this area are Englewood Avenue and Sutherland Road. Forming a great X-shaped street pattern, these streets were set out in 1872 and represent the antithesis of the meandering system of paths superimposed over this rugged terrain around 1890. Precluding house construction on these new streets was the financial panic of 1873.

The severe economic down turn of 1873 thwarted house construction in Boston and throughout the nation. Developers bided their time, building substantial residences in this area during the late 1880s and early l890s, until the recession of 1893 slowed residential construction throughout the Boston area.

By the 1880s, the electric streetcars on Beacon Street shortened the commute to downtown, and made the area desirable for development. The introduction of the electric street car to Commonwealth Avenue in 1909 triggered an apartment building construction boom along the entire length of this great boulevard.