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The Properties of the Proposed Mount Independence Historic District

Preserving Historic Lexington means preserving its history. The Mount Independence Historic District is comprised of seven residential properties with distinctive architecture and history and two scenic, wooded lots. At the heart of the proposed district is the 1919 architectural significant Italianate-inspired Villa and its Olmsted Brothers designed landscape at 12 Summit Road, and the 1932 artist studio house built for artist Aiden Ripley, now 52 Follen. Home to the 1835 three story Observatory Tower and town gathering place created by the civic leader Eli Robbins of a nascent East Village, a lively artists’ colony of exceedingly important nineteenth and twentieth century American artists and their friends, early conservationists and groundbreaking scientific minds, Mount Independence has a very special place in Lexington’s history.

The land at the crest of Mount Independence has long held importance to the Town of Lexington. In the 19th century this was the location of a popular three-story observation tower erected in 1835 by East Lexington business owner Eli Robbins for the enjoyment of all. Described in the 2009 Town of Lexington Open Space Plan as “perhaps the earliest effort to create an ‘open space’ after the Common was purchased.”

Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) determined that The Dudley Murphy House at 12 Summit Road, The Aiden Ripley House at 52 Follen Road, the historic path/right of way between the 2 properties, and historic landscape features of these properties including those associated with designs prepared by the Olmsted Brothers, are eligible to be included in a National Register Historic District. MHC unanimously voted in support of the establishment of the proposed Mt. Independence Historic District. This determination identifying the two historic jewels became the starting point for a local historic district. 

The following properties and homes are included in the proposed historic district.

The Dudley Murphy House

Aiden Ripley House

104 Follen Road

22 Summit Road

2 Summit Road

4 Summit Road

8 Summit Road