Stephen Holmes House

80 Jewett Street
Newton, Mass.

Year Built: 1868

Charles Brigham designed a “cottage” for Stephen Holmes in 1868 and was built sometime thereafter. According to the Newton property tax records, Holmes’ wife, Azuba, owned their property at the corner of Jewett and Pearl Streets as of 1863. The value of the Jewett Street property jumped in 1870 from $3,200 to $4,250, which may suggest that the house on the property was demolished and a new one built.

The commission grossed Sturgis & Brigham $50.00, which means that it cost about $1,000 to construct. The firm strongly believed that architects should receive a commission of 5% for their work. In the burgeoning field of architecture, commissions to architects were uncommon and/or low. Sturgis and Brigham and other architects formed trade groups to ensure that architects were properly paid for their work.

Brigham designed this house in a simple vernacular because the cost parameters of the house were so limited.

At the time this cottage was being built, Brigham speculated about the development potential of Newton. He believed that Newton was “a thriving place and would be a profitable field” and explicitly wrote “that I want to get a foothold this year in Newton.”

He had several small projects in Newton, including a cottage for Henry Fuller and he and Sturgis felt strongly that these small projects were “pot boilers” for later larger ones that would yield greater profit. Both Sturgis and Brigham intentionally devoted as much attention to the design, superintendence and client management of these smaller jobs as to the larger ones so as to generate future business.


• Letters from Charles Brigham to John Hubbard Sturgis, 4/20/1868 and 9/30/1868, Sturgis Papers, Boston Athenaeum Library

• Letter from Charles Brigham to John Hubbard Sturgis, April 20, 1868, Sturgis Papers, Boston Athenaeum Library (wants a foothold in Newton).

• Letters from Charles Brigham to John Hubbard Sturgis, April 20, 1869, Sturgis Papers, Boston Athenaeum Library (smaller jobs are pot boilers for future larger ones).





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