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Brookline Then and Now: Stearns Chambers/Hotel Coolidge

October 1, 2023  Updated October 2, 2023 at 11:06 p.m.
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This Coolidge Corner apartment building at the corner of Stearns Road and Sewall Avenue, just off Harvard Street, was completed in 1902. Originally called the Stearns Chambers, the name was changed to the Hotel Coolidge in 1904. It was what was known as a residential hotel, containing 49 rental apartments, each with two to four rooms. There were no kitchens; meals, included in the rent, were served in a basement café. A small sign for the café can be seen above the basement windows in the older photo, from 1913. The basement also contained a barber shop, a hairdresser/manicurist, a billiard room, and a large common room called the Palm Court available for parties, events, or just lounging.

The building went through many changes of ownership in its early years. It was converted to a more modern-style apartment building, with electric kitchenettes in each unit, in the late 1930s, with other changes in later years. The building itself looks much the same in the current photo as in the older one, though the sun-blocking awnings are gone, and air conditioners can be seen in many of the windows.

Ken Liss is president of the Brookline Historical Society. 

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