Welcome to the Longwood Mall website. This site contains information about Longwood Mall, a historic linear park in Brookline, Massachusetts. The park is known for its European Beech trees, many of which were planted by David Sears in the late 1840s. It is generally considered to be the oldest grove of European Beech trees in North America.
Longwood Mall is a linear park with historic beech trees, many of which were planted by David Sears. The mall is considered the oldest grove of European Beech trees in the U.S. The rectangular park has no site furniture, and is located on relatively flat land. Visitor activities are restricted.
Longwood Mall is one of the four parcels of open space parks that were the brainchild of David Sears. By 1850's, he had planted fourteen thousand trees in the Longwood area. He later reported that ten thousand had survived. When the Town took possession of the park, it cut down other trees to give more room to the beech trees. In 1925, more beeches were set. In 1983, the Friends of the Longwood Mall established a fund for long-term maintenance for the trees. This group was presented with a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award in 1984 for their work in saving this unique resource. The park is listed on the National Register as part of Longwood Historic District.
The Town acquired the property from Francis Shaw in 1902 with the condition that it "shall be laid out...as public parks...and shall never be used for the purpose of a playground, as distinguished from a public park." It is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places and is within the Longwood Historic District.
Category: Historic Parks
Size: 2.55 acres
Protection: Article 97, NR, SR
Manager: Brookline DPW, Parks and Open Space Division
Location: Kent and Beech Streets
Longwood Mall is graced with what Charles Sprague Sargent, founder of the Arnold Arboretum, called "the finest exotic trees which have been planted in greater Boston and probably the finest grove of European Beech in the United States". This park, and the beech trees which adorn it, were the work of David Sears (1787-1871), a Bostonian whose wealth often found outlet in charitable works and civic improvements. Sears bought the land east of St. Paul Street in the 1820's. He named the property Longwood, after the home of Napoleon on St. Helena. Longwood Mall is only one of several residential parks laid out by Mr. Sears when he developed this property during the 1830's and 40's. He was also responsible for Winthrop, Knyvet, and Mason Squares north of Beacon Street. Christ's Church, the beautiful stone edifice on Chapel Street, was also built under his direction as an ecumenical house of worship.
The European beech trees on the mall, Fagus sylvatica, are only a fraction of the over 14,000 trees he planted in Longwood. These beech trees may date from between 1836-1840 when David Sears was in Europe. They are believed to have originated in England and were rarely imported into this country at that time. In 1902, the Sears family donated the Longwood Mall to the Town. It is listed in the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
Charles S. Sargent, Director of the Arnold Arboretum, summarized the contribution of David Sears in words which provide a fitting tribute:
"The Beech trees planted by Mr. David Sears are Brookline's noblest possessions. If he had done nothing more for that town he would have been its greatest benefactor, but to him the town is also indebted for layout out in a skillful and satisfactory manor a large and important residential section of town, the gift of four small parks, and the building of a handsome monumental church"