Milton: A Renaissance Town

Forbes House Museum.

Forbes House Museum.

Beth Neville

Let’s take a summer road-trip and explore Milton, one of Boston’s quietest, prettiest, oldest and most historic garden suburbs to see a sampling of its art and architecture. For lunch or supper, there are several new restaurants in town for a take-out picnic to enjoy at the historic Eustis Estate, or take in a leisurely lunch with a glass of wine at three new restaurants on Adams Street. Over the past few years, Milton, which shares a border with Boston, has experienced a Renaissance for dining and viewing art and is well worth trip via Route 93-south.

Arriving at 1424 Canton Avenue, one discovers the fabulous gatehouse and gardens leading to the 80-acre Eustis Estate. The Eustis mansion is a splendid, rough-hewn Victorian stone structure built by William Eustis for his wife and family. It is decorative in style, massive in size, and designed to impress wealthy Bostonians on their outings to the country. The 1878 mansion, owned by Historic New England, has been meticulously restored. Art-loving visitors will be pleased to see paintings by Frank Benson, Alfred Bricher, Arthur Wesley Dow, Laura Coombs Hills, William Trost Richards and Edmund Tarbell. “Head to Toe, Family,” a special exhibition, is on view in the mansion’s new “gallery.” The mansion’s architectural embellishments include elaborately carved woodwork, stained glass, stenciling, floor mosaics and metal work. Many of the original furnishings and photographs are in place. And the best news is you may sit on the comfy chairs and read a book — or have a picnic (purchased from “The Plate” sandwich shop, 27 Central Avenue) on the extensive lawn with tables and benches looking toward Great Blue Hill.

Our summer tour continues down to 1370 Canton Avenue and one of Milton’s oldest buildings, the Suffolk Resolves House. Unfortunately, the house is only open two days this summer, Sunday July 8 and Sunday, August 12. The clapboard house dates to 1774 and was originally located on the equally famous Adams Street. Of interest are the house’s structural evolution, its Revolutionary War history, a painting by Thomas Hinckley (1813-1896) and many interesting historical artifacts.

Another “must see” site is the ancestral home of Captain Robert Bennet Forbes, who made a small fortune as a China trade merchant. The Forbes House Museum, owned by The Trustees of Reservations, is located at 215 Adams Street. The porch overlooks Hutchinson Field, with a wide view of Boston Harbor. A picnic table and bench are located under three 19th century shade trees. The Forbes House maintains its original furnishings, including several paintings of interest to American art history devotees. Visitors should call ahead to check the hours of operation, as they vary.

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