Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

40. the Nahum Holmes House (94 Warren Street)

The Holmes house shortly after it was built in 1894.  Residential building in the Great Plain was only beginning to become common at this point.  To the left are visible the former George Kingsbury house on Homestead Park and the water tower on Tower Avenue.

When the railroad came to Needham in 1853, the rail line was directed though the sparsely-populated Great Plain, rather than through the town center at Nehoiden Street and Central Avenue. The new ease of travel and freight transport quickly drew economic and residential activity into Great Plain Village and away from the old center. In 1879, when the First Parish Church was moved to its current location on Dedham Avenue, the change was complete and the Great Plain became the town center.

Land in the Great Plain that had been used for grazing cattle rapidly became valuable as residential property, and local businessmen bought it up as investments, selling at it a profit as house lots for building. Between 1860 and 1900 there was a boom in residential construction in the Great Plain. The northern half of Warren Street was laid out during this period, and is notable for the number of well-preserved historic houses. Nahum Holmes built this house sometime around 1894. He and his brothers were photographers and builders, and they owned the famous Holmes Brothers Studios. Holmes Brothers had several studio locations, including their primary one in Charlestown, and one in Needham.  Numerous photo of Needham in the 1880s and 90s – including pictures of their houses – were taken by Holmes.

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