The Home at 727 Berkshire
Avenue in 1909
and The Great Brookline Spring
This is the home located at 727 Berkshire Avenue in 1909. The home was built next to one of Brookline's early landmark locations, what Freehold Real Estate touted as the Great Brookline Spring. The spring was one of the many spots in Brookline where there is a fresh water spout. In this case, it was a rather large and free flowing spout that once formed the mouth of a stream that flowed along the Berkshire valley, down Sussex and drained into the McNeilly Road creek.
The Freehold Real Estate ad below ran in the Pittsburgh Press on July 12, 1905. It highlighted the Romanesque architecture built around the spring and the pure, sparkling, ice cold water that flowed from the earth without pause.
For a time, we knew about the advertisement but had no proof that the spring existed as described. Many of the Freehold ads told of locations and buildings that were fictitious, adding to the mystery. Studies of old farm maps from before residential development showed that the large stream originated in this location, but that was all we knew.
Then Tom Castrodale came along with these postcard images to prove that the Great Brookline Spring was, in fact, a reality. The spring drained into the Berkshire sewer line, which was constructed along the path of the original creek. Below is another 1909 postcard view of the home at 727 Berkshire Avenue, looking down from Brookline Boulevard, with the Public Spring to its right. Also note the new homes in the distance on Woodbourne and Bay Ridge Avenues.
The spring lasted into the 1930s. No homes were built on the two lots occupied by the spring until 1936, when a two adjoining homes (721 and 725 Berkshire Avenue) were constructed. It has to be assumed that a lot of drainage work went into the construction of the homes to prevent basement water damage.
Those homeowners now know that their houses were built on the same spot as one of Brookline's original feature attractions, one they are reminded of every time their sump pump engages.
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