Herbert Coolidge House

77 Garfield Street
Watertown, Mass.

Year Built: 1884

Construction of 77 Garfield Street began in July, 1884 and was completed with the painting and varnishing of the house in July, 1885.

Over the course of the year, Coolidge documented a number of problems with the contraction of the house including delays by the carpenter, H.W. Macurdy; large cracks in the underpinning of the ell, necessitating rebuilding of foundation; failure to include drawers in the china closet; failure to use hard pressed Philadelphia brick in the fireplace; failure to finish both sides of the cornice on the porch with fluting and rosettes; and the use of patched architraves over the windows in the sitting room; and failure of the rollers on the sliding door. At varying times, Coolidge asks Charles Brigham, the architect, to inspect some of this work and each time Brigham suggests that the problem work needed remediation.

Macurdy had problems in other projects at the time and Coolidge responded to the owners, encouraging them to file claims with Macurdy’s lawyer. Coolidge mentions an attachment he has against Macurdy. Coolidge indicated that he believed Macurdy was an honest man but suffered from poor management skills.

Mr. John B. Perault of Belmont, painted and varnished the interior of the house. Coolidge documented a detailed schematic for what he wanted painted or varnished in the house, along with the number of coats. Coolidge also used Perault for painting the exterior of the house. He indicated the number of coats on the particular elements of the house as well as that the detailed gables above the attic windows should be the same color as the 1st story. Coolidge conferred with Charles Brigham on the color of the shutters. Coolidge wrote that Perault was recommended by the architects of the house, Sturgis & Brigham.

F.E. Hamblin was hired by Coolidge to do some patching of the plaster as the project ended.

Coolidge created a detailed accounting of the costs for the house. According to this accounting, the house cost $5,848.88 to construct.


• Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Inventory No. WAT.155 (77 Garfield Street, Charles Brigham, architect).

• Middlesex South Registry of Deeds, Book 1648, Page 557, 11/13/1883, Brigham to Coolidge (land)

• Plan of Building Lots on the Brigham Estate, Middlesex South District Registry of Deeds, Plan Book 46, Page 47 (1885) (house present).

• Book of Letters, Herbert Coolidge, Historical Society of Watertown.


ca. 2000


This house is the 2d on the right. Courtesy of the Watertown Free Public Library

Close-up, courtesy of the Watertown Free Public Library

2009, rear and south side, along Brigham Street

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