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Southwood, the Schlesinger Estate, Warren St., Brookline, Mass.

PC009.273 (RS207980)


This portfolio consists of twenty-three prints of photographs taken by Nathaniel L. Stebbins documenting the interior and exterior of Southwood as well as the landscape and grounds. The photographs were taken in 1900, probably to document the completion of the house. The photographs show the landscape, the exterior of the home, and the richly furnished and decorrated interior. The interior photographs document many rooms of the house, including sitting rooms, parlors, bedrooms, a study or library, hallways, staircases, and a dining room. A patio furnished with wicker furniture is also shown. The interior images show furniture such as chairs, sofas, benches, tables, an elaborate woodstove, and beds, as well as architectural details such as fireplaces, mantels, and ceilings. Decorative details are also documented, including chandeliers and other light fixtures, window dressings, wall-mounted artwork, wall paneling and other wall treatments. For images that include wall treatments, see photographs 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20.

Accompanying the portfolio is documentation about the Schlesinger family and their estate compiled by the donor, Richard W. Armstrong.

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Collection Name
Photograph albums collection
Collection Code
Acquisition Type
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
1 portfolio of 23 mounted prints
Collection Type
Description Level
Additional Identification Number
album number: 273
Credit Line
Gift of Richard W. and Barbara Armstrong, 2014.
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Construction of Southwood began in 1879 and was probably completed in 1880 or 1881. The home was designed by architect George E. Harney of New York for Barthold (1828-1900) and Mary McBurney Schlesinger (1839-1924). The house sits on twenty-two acres, and from the time of its construction to today it has been privately owned. The Schlesingers' estate was well-known for its beauty, and the Schlesingers occasionally opened it to the public. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Barthold Schlesinger began his career working with Naylor & Co., a steel company, and became the head of their subsidiary, Norway Iron Works. Norway Iron Works was sold to Carnegie & Co. Schlesinger bought Merimac Chemical Company, which later acquired Cochrane Company. Merimac Chemical Company was sold to American Chemical. Between his successes in both industries, Schlesinger was a wealthy man. In the later years of his life, he invested in real estate and the stock market.

Mary McBurney Schlesinger and her husband were socially progressive, and they used their estate to cultivate a stimulating cultural and intellectual environment. Mrs. Schlesinger was a supporter of women's suffrage, and she was an active suffragist in Boston. Rather than send their daughters to a girl's school, she created her own and operated it at Southwood. At its height, it served fifty girls from local families.

As a result of the economic downturn of the early twentieth century, the estate was sold by the Schlesinger family. It has remained in private ownership, and it is currently operated as a monastery for Russian Orthodox priests.

Record details

Stebbins, N. L. (Nathaniel Livermore), 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Other People
Harney, George E. (George Edward), 1840-1924
Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903
Schlesinger, Barthold, 1828-1900
Schlesinger, Mary McBurney, 1839-1924
Descriptive Terms
interior decoration
landscapes (environments)
Material Type
Brookline (Norfolk county, Massachusetts)
Places (Buildings)
Southwood, Brookline, Mass.
Related Items
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection

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