The Brooks Estate: A Gift from the Past, a Legacy for the Future


History and Architecture

The Brooks Estate was first settled in about 1660, and was transformed into a Victorian summer retreat by Peter Chardon and Shepherd Brooks. It is graced by two fine Victorian buildings: the Shepherd Brooks Manor and Carriage House (1880), both under restoration. More information.

Brooks pond

Open Space, Landscape, Habitat

The Brooks Estate offers acres of open space, walking trails, Brooks Pond and a unique historic landscape. It is also critical habitat for birds and small mammals. Visitors are welcome to walk the paths and enjoy the quiet and beautiful outdoors. More information.

Manor House detail

Preserving the Past / Restoring for the Future

Owned since 1942 by the City of Medford, the Brooks Estate was permanently protected in late 1998. Restoration of the landscape and historic buildings is underway. For more on the restoration itself: Restoration update. Please support us: How you can help.

Brooks Estate Spring Update

Bond financing

Unfortunately, the Medford City Council defeated the Brooks Estate Bond at its meeting on April 1, 2014, despite the Council's long record of support, our 15-year track record, and the City's (and our) $1.5 million investment to date in the Brooks Estate. We are now working to re-group to persuade the City of Medford (the owner of the Brooks Estate since 1942) to fund forward momentum on the project.

Restoration and Repair projects now underway (or recently completed)

Thanks to the generosity of Cummings Foundation, we are moving ahead on the restoration of the Verandah, Parlor and Manor yard. The Parlor has been completely re-painted (and the woodwork restored), initial furnishings have been purchased, and we hope to have new lighting and draperies in place soon. The results are already stunning! (M-BELT is also contributing funds towards various aspects of the overall workplan.)

The restoration plans and drawings for the Verandah are now complete and the project will be moving ahead to construction this summer. Contrary to earlier belief, further research shows that only one side of the Verandah was enclosed in 1900, with the other side graced with a simple railing. In addition to re-creation of the Victorian "window wall", the following will be done: the Verandah floor will be replaced and raised 2 inches to comply with accessibility requirements; the ceiling will be upgraded; the "apron" will be repaired and integrated with the South lawn; downspouts will be upgraded; the door to the Parlor will be re-fashioned; event lighting will be installed; and the terracotta decorations will be enclosed. Finally, the whole feature will be painted to match the Manor and West Porch color schemes. Like the Parlor, this will give us a first-class public space, as well as enhance the Manor exterior.

We have also had exterior drainage improvements completed at the south end of the Manor and off the West Porch. Eventually, these will be tied into a perimeter drain for the many roof downspouts on the building, as part of the overall upgrading of the Manor Yard for public use. While the Yard is now useable, it will benefit from some smoothing, "feathering" for water-shedding, and new grass. It makes sense, however, to only do that work when the last pieces of the Manor exterior restoration are completed. (Of course, we have already benefited from many hours of volunteer work on the yard, including its expansion to historic proportions!)

Cummings Foundation

For more information about the Cummings Foundation:

Summer Fun - the Brooks Estate Picnic is July 12 (noon to 3 p.m.)

This year's picnic brings us to an even dozen outings for this Medford summer tradition! All are welcome: for details, see our Events Page.

The Brooks Estate Master Plan

The Brooks Estate Master Plan details the long-term vision for the Brooks Estate, including the further restoration of the Shepherd Brooks Manor, Carriage House and the natural and historic landscape. The central goal of the Plan is to complete the basic restoration of the property to:

  • maximize its community potential
  • ensure that it is financially self-sufficient
  • maintain its natural and historic values
  • provide funds for other improvements

The Brooks Estate Master Plan is a careful, professional and conservative roadmap to ensure public benefit and long-term sustainability for the beautiful Brooks Estate.

The Brooks Estate Master Plan was provided to the Medford City Council, the City of Medford, and the public in January, 2012. It is also available on this Web site (see below).

Overview of the Brooks Estate Master Plan Please click here: Master_Plan_Overview.pdf

Complete Brooks Estate Master Plan

This is a large document and has been broken into sections - click on any section to read/download in pdf format:

1 - Intro and Table of Contents (255 KB)
2 - Executive Summary (1.18 MB) (Overview, goals, etc.)
3 - History of the Brooks Estate (1.54 MB) (1660 to 2011)
4 / 4a - Landscape Restoration - Intro and Overall Landscape (6.36 MB)
4b / 4c - Landscape Restoration - Pond, Drive and Historic Core (3.3 MB)
5 - Manor Restoration (255 KB)
6 - Carriage House Restoration (4.29 MB)
7 - Business Plan (2.17 MB) Includes additional Charts provided in response to the Medford City Council (September, 2012)
8 - Conclusion (114 KB)
9 - Appendix: Documents and Photos (3.61 MB)

A New Brooks Estate Feature for Your Enjoyment!

Brooks Family Medford Heritage Trail

Doug Carr of M-BELT created (and premiered) the fabulous Brooks Family Heritage Trail in Medford, showing 15 sites connected to the Brooks family and their three century history in Medford. You may walk, bike or drive the Trail, starting at the Salem Street Burial Ground (Medford Square) and ending at the Brooks Estate on Grove Street. A handy Map accompanies each Guide.

Download the Trail Guide (long version) (PDF, 5.3 MB)

Download the Trail Guide (short version) (PDF 1.3 MB)


Getting There

The Brooks Estate is located on Grove Street in Medford, MA, about 5 miles North of Boston, 0.8 mile north of High Street (Route 60). Park off Grove Street and walk in at green gate just north of Cemetery. (Do not park in the cemetery.) Detailed map.

On Foot -- accessible from Grove Street (green gate) or through Oak Grove Cemetery (from Playstead Road side.)

By Public Transit -- take 80 or 94 bus from Davis Square (Somerville) or 94 bus from Medford Square (Medford) to corner of Boston Avenue and High Street. Walk up Grove Street.

All Historic Photos on this site (except 1946 Santa) taken by Sarah Lawrence Brooks in the 1880s.