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HOW IT ALL BEGAN

The Anderson's Story

The Andersons’ collection began with the purchase of their first vehicle, an 1899 Winton 4-hp Runabout. Today this vehicle remains on permanent display in the Museum’s lower gallery. As their interest in the automobile grew, the Andersons continued to purchase and subsequently retire vehicles to the Carriage House all the way up until the passing of Isabel Anderson in 1948. The Andersons purchased an automobile nearly every year, acquiring a total of thirty-two brand new motorcars during the course of their lives. Fourteen of these vehicles and many of the Andersons’ original horse-drawn carriages remain in the Museum’s permanent collection.

 

After Isabel Anderson’s passing in 1948 the collection was entrusted, at Isabel’s bequest, to the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. The VMCCA then established the nonprofit organization that is now known as the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Today, the Museum continues to preserve the enduring legacy of Larz and Isabel Anderson by featuring revolving annual exhibits, educational forums and our ever-popular themed Lawn Events.

The Carriage House is on the National Register of Historic Places and considered a landmark within the community. The grounds of Larz Anderson Park include a romantic pond, acres of lush open space with walking paths throughout and an ice skating rink that is open to the public during the winter months. A visit to the Museum therefore includes not only an examination of historically significant automobiles, but also an enjoyment of the picturesque setting left by the Andersons.

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HEIRESS | AUTHOR | VOLUNTEER

ISABEL ANDERSON

Isabel Weld Perkins was born in Boston in 1876 into a well-connected and extremely wealthy family. When Isabel was just five years old, her grandfather William Fletcher Weld passed away and left her a shipping and railroad fortune worth $17 million, instantly making her the wealthiest female in America at that time.

Growing up, Isabel split her time between Lake Winnepocket in New Hampshire, Newport, and Boston, where she was part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Winsor School in 1895.

After meeting the dashing socialite and diplomat, Larz, in Rome and marrying him in 1897, Isabel began entertaining lavishly at Anderson House in Washington and at Weld, the Brookline estate. She enjoyed sharing her home with guests of all rank and class, and the Andersons often opened the Brookline estate for those less fortunate than themselves.
 

During World War I, Isabel served with dedication in various capacities for the American Red Cross. Initially, she volunteered with the District of Columbia Refreshment Corps, where she played a pivotal role as a leader in Washington's Red Cross initiatives and Belgian relief efforts.

 

Later, she devoted eight months in 1917 and 1918 to caring for the sick and wounded in France and Belgium, demonstrating exceptional compassion and skill.

Upon her return to Washington, Isabel encountered the devastating influenza epidemic plaguing Americans. Without hesitation, she volunteered once again to aid those in distress. Her selfless service as a nurse earned her prestigious recognitions, including the American Red Cross Service Medal, the French Croix de Guerre with a bronze star, and the Medal of Elisabeth of Belgium.

Isabel loved the eccentric collection of motorcars as much as Larz did and was equally concerned with their care, operation, and preservation. She was also the first woman in Massachusetts to receive a driver’s license, and could often be seen driving her 1908 Bailey Electric. Isabel was an active writer as well, publishing dozens of works including travel books, plays, children’s books, short stories, family histories and poems. It is thanks to the foresight of Larz and Isabel that their collection remains with us today.

After Larz passed away in 1937, Isabel retired to the Brookline estate, where she continued to entertain and write. She passed away in 1948.

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AMERICAN DIPLOMAT | BON VIVANT

LARZ ANDERSON

Born in Paris to a wealthy family and raised in Cincinnati, Larz Anderson graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1884 and Harvard College in 1888. By 1891 he was well on his way to a long and distinguished diplomatic career. Larz was first posted to the American Legation in London by Ambassador Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the late president.

In the mid-1890s, he was already serving as First Secretary of the American Embassy in Rome and by evening was a well-known socialite who interacted with European and American aristocracy alike.

In 1896 a certain young woman, Isabel Weld Perkins, very much caught Larz’s attention. After a whirlwind romance, they were married in 1897 in Boston and spent a year traveling on their honeymoon.

After serving in the Spanish-American War, they spent several more years of traveling, entertaining and growing their collection of unique motorcars.

Larz was called back into diplomatic service in 1910 and Mr. Anderson served as American Minister to Belgium and Ambassador to Japan before returning to the US in 1912. Larz and Isabel continued to travel, engage in philanthropic activity, and entertain guests and nobles from around the world at their numerous properties. Larz passed away in 1937 at the age of 71.

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CARRIAGE HOUSE

THE HISTORY AND DESIGN OF THE ANDERSON

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Edmond March Wheelwright's architectural legacy in Boston is marked by a diverse array of projects integral to the city's heritage. Noteworthy among them is the Boston Opera House, a 1909 creation showcasing his expertise in crafting cultural and entertainment spaces. The Harvard Lampoon Building signifies his ties to academic institutions, while Horticultural Hall reflects his commitment to communal and horticultural activities. The 1888 Larz Anderson Carriage House, inspired by Château de Chaumont in the Loire Valley, now houses the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, standing as the largest carriage house in New England. His design of the Longfellow Bridge illustrates his versatility in addressing infrastructure needs. Wheelwright's influence further extends to educational and historical landscapes across the City of Boston, including New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall and the Anderson Memorial Bridge, collectively enhancing the city's cultural and historical tapestry.

Château de Chaumont in the Loire Valley

Château de Chaumont in the Loire Valley

Inspiration for The Anderson's Carriage House

The Museum being built

The Museum being built

The Main Gallery

The Main Gallery

Main Gallery from above

Main Gallery from above

The Museum during a Lawn Event

The Museum during a Lawn Event

The Great Doors

The Great Doors

ITALIAN & JAPANESE INSPIRED

THE GARDENS

In 1901, Isabel hired the famous architect Charles Adams Platt to design a garden for the estate, which she named ‘Weld’ after her grandfather. This garden was a sensation and soon became one of the most published and influential landscapes of the early 20th century—the formal gardens by which all others would be judged.

Platt’s commission for the Weld garden was unusual as it involved an existing house. In most of his work, Platt designed both house and garden, with perfect integration between outdoors and indoors.  The Anderson garden at Weld was further unusual in that it was not visible from the house, but rather accessed across the bowling green that fronted the house, and thence by paths that approached the garden from the side.  The main garden was built on a terrace pushed out from the hillside, and featured a center panel of grass, flanked by parterres, and surrounded by terraces that effected changes in levels and vistas. A king’s ransom in antique Italian sarcophagi, urns and columns ornamented the garden. Accompanying the main garden were the usual complement of cutting garden, a rock garden, greenhouses, nursery gardens, wild gardens, and an allee. At the base of the hill lay a private polo field, and between it and the main gate was an ornamental lake, with bridges and a domed temple at its head.  In a generous civic gesture, the high stucco wall that shielded the estate from the road was pierced with an elegant wrought iron screen to give passers by a vista of this Arcadian scene.

Larz Anderson visited Japan as a youth, and near the end of his career, in 1912 was appointed US Ambassador to Japan. Asian culture and Japanese art especially, had a profound effect on the Andersons, and their garden at Weld was soon to receive a layer of Japanese art and gardening to add to its Beaux Arts splendors. A large bronze eagle that had been in their garden in Tokyo was installed in a new Japanese garden built adjacent to the cutting gardens.  A room in the house was sheathed in simple Japanese style (although retaining its baroque mantel), and a superb collection of Bonsai was housed in one of the conservatories (this collection is now at the Arnold Arboretum in neighboring Jamaica Plain). 


The Andersons had a keen sense of their important place in history and knew that they could benefit others by leaving this as their legacy. Upon her death in 1948, Isabel left the entire estate and gardens to the town of Brookline for the enjoyment of the public. 

The Gardens were regrettably removed years ago. However, visitors can still catch glimpses of their remnants while strolling through the grounds.

Map of Weld

Map of Weld

Entrance to Weld

Entrance to Weld

Temple of Love

Temple of Love

The Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens

Historical Photo

The Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens

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Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens

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Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens

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Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens

Historical Photo

The Allee

The Allee

Historical Photo

Charles A. Platt

Charles A. Platt

Designer of Weld • Hired by Isabel. Charles Adams Platt was an American architect, garden designer, and artist of the "American Renaissance" movement. His garden designs complemented his domestic architecture.

AMERICA'S OLDEST CAR COLLECTION

THE COLLECTION

Larz and Isabel Anderson began their love affair with the automobile before the turn of the century. In 1899, soon after they married, they purchased an 1899 Winton Runabout, a true horseless carriage. From 1899 to 1948 the Andersons purchased at least thirty-two new motorcars, in addition to numerous carriages, thus creating “America’s Oldest Car Collection”.

As the cars became obsolete they would be retired to the Carriage House. By 1927, the Andersons had opened the Carriage House for tours of their “ancient” vehicles. When Isabel Anderson passed away in 1948 she bequeathed her entire Brookline estate, including the mansion, Carriage House and land to the Town of Brookline. She stipulated in her will that the motorcar collection be known as the “Larz Anderson Collection.” Fourteen of the original thirty-two vehicles remain in the collection.

 

The Veteran Motor Car Club of America (VMCCA) opened the Antique Auto Museum at Larz Anderson Park in October 1949. Families proudly displayed their vintage motorcars, competed in lawn games, and enjoyed picnic lunches on the grassy slopes of the Polo Field. On display were fifteen Anderson automobiles, twenty-four carriages, and six sleighs. After that, the Museum hosted an Antique Auto Fair, a Glidden Tour, and a Duster Meet.Since the Grand Opening over sixty years ago, the Museum has grown into a major New England non-profit educational institution with community events, lectures, children’s programs, walking tours of the Anderson Park, and an ever-changing series of exhibits on the Andersons, the automobile and its impact on society and our culture.

1899 Winton Phaeton | Nickname: Pioneer | Motto: “It Will Go”

The 1899 Winton Phaeton was the first automobile purchased by Larz and Isabel Anderson and marks the beginning of the couple’s unique and extensive collection of automobiles. On their many trips overseas Larz and Isabel saw these new and wondrous machines rumbling down the streets of France and they became intrigued, which led to the purchase of the Winton.

The Winton Motor Carriage Company was established by Alexander Winton in 1897 in Cleveland, Ohio. Winton was a bicycle maker, who was among the first auto manufacturers in the United States at the beginning of the automotive industry. Each automobile produced by Winton was handmade and assembled piece by piece. The Winton Phaeton displayed in the Museum’s permanent collection was one of 100 built in 1899 and cost $1,000. It is designed like many automobiles at this time, with a steering tiller, buggy springs, and a small-cylinder engine under the rear deck of the automobile. This “horseless carriage” exemplifies the Museum’s ongoing tradition of preservation and represents the beginning of a remarkable era that would change the way people worked and lived all over the world.

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COLLECTIONS IN USE - OTHER VEHICLES

1929 Packard Model 640 Roadster

1931 Model A Roadster

1937 Packard Limo

1959 Rolls-Royce Shooting Brake By Radford

THE DEARLY DEPARTED
 

1905 Walter Tractor & Victoria Carriage
1907 Walter Brougham
1910 American Underslung
1913 Hudson 33
1917 Ford Model T Estate Wagon
1918 Dodge
1920 Dodge Truck
1920 Dodge Hackney
1924 Dodge Sedan
1928 Nash Advanced Six
1930 Packard Limousine
1931 REO Flying Cloud 6-21
1936 Dodge Station Wagon
1938 Dodge Express Truck
1939 GMC Truck
1940 Ford Deluxe Wagon
1941 Packard Suburban
1947 Pontiac Sedan
1948 Ford Super Deluxe Wagon

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