West of Westcott
301 Clarendon Street / Clarence S. Congdon House, now the Kenneth and Miranda Hine family residence
- Built: 1909
- Architect: Clarence S. Congdon
Congdon designed and built this house in 1909. Early photos show it as the sole house on the hill, and in its isolation it resembles a house featured in the Craftsman Magazine on 1906, described as “A Craftsman Farm House That is Comfortable, Homelike and Beautiful.”
The Congdons previously had lived at the corner of Maryland and Redfield, where their daughter Ruth was born, but moved to the new house shortly afterward. Sometime afterward Congdon apparently left the family and lived elsewhere. Ruth Congdon never married and lived in the house until the 1982, when it was sold and she moved to Brighton Towers. The house was subsequently bought by the Hine family which has lived here since 1983.
According to Ruth Congdon (as recounted to Miranda Hine), her father carefully oversaw every aspect of construction, apparently critiquing the mason’s work and having him rebuild a chimney. Inside there are many special touches. Windows open from the bedrooms into the central hall and staircase, providing more natural light into the interior. Low windows in the kitchen were of a size to allow a child to look out.
Congdon did not, apparently, intend the house to sit as it does in relation to Clarendon Street. Though the street was already described as early 1892, and shown on maps, it was not fully pushed over the hillside, at a grade lower than anticipated, until after Congdon’s houses were built. This created a great difference of level between the north side houses and the street, corrected only by the creation of long stairways. Today, the house is reached by many steps. In the early days when grocers delivered to houses they apparently charged the Congdons (and others) extra for every step.
By the mid-1920s the isolated quality had lessened as most building lots in the areas were filled in, and the city purchased the Davis Estate, now Thornden Park. But the rural quality has not been fully lost. The house sits on a wider than usual lot, and is set back far from the street. Although the apple orchards of the Davis Estate were replaced with Thornden Park athletic fields, the sense of openness remains.