Arthur Little

Personal Data

Arthur Little was born on November 29, 1852, in Boston, the son of James Lovell Little and his wife Julia Augusta Cook.

Arthur Little married on June 2, 1903, in Boston, to Jessie Maria (Whitman) Means (b. 16Jun1858 in Cambridge), daughter of John Whitman and his wife Rebecca Cutler.  She was the widow of Robert Lawrence Means (b. 11Jan1847 in Manchester NH; d. 16May1901 in Boston).

Arthur Little died on March 27, 1925, at 191 Commonwealth in Boston.


Arthur Little attended Chauncy Hall School and MIT.

After graduating from M.I.T., Arthur Little apprenticed in the firm of Peabody and Stearns before opening his own architectural firm in 1877.   In 1878, he authored Early New England Interiors, which Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay describes as “the first work published in Boston in connection with the Georgian Revival” and “soon was followed by a flood of architectural publications dealing with the American Georgian and illustrated with a profusion of detailed photographs or measured drawings.”

One of Arthur Little’s earliest designs (in 1879) was The Cliffs, George Dudley Howe’s home on Smith’s Point in Manchester, which architectural historian Walter Knight Sturges characterized as “the prototypal Colonial Revival House.”  He followed this with a number of homes in the North Shore area, where his father maintained his summer home, Blythswood, at Little’s Point in Swampscott.  Among these houses were several in the shingle style popular in the 1880s, including Shingleside, built for his father about 1881 on Little’s Point, Grasshead nearby, also built for his father, and River, Barn, Fort, and Betsy’s Inducement, all built for Rev. Cyrus Bartol on Norton’s Point in Manchester.

In 1890 he joined in partnership with Herbert W. C. Browne, forming Little and Browne, a partnership that lasted until Little’s death in 1925.

In his Boston Bohemia 1881-1900; Ralph Adams Cram: Life and Architecture, Douglass Shand-Tucci describes the formation of Little and Browne: “About the time Cram and [Charles] Wentworth got going, another firm, Little and Brown [sic], also set up business, formed by one of Wentworth’s ex-fellow draftsmen at Andrews and Jaques, Herbert Browne, and Arthur Little, who, with their mutual friend Ogden Codman, were christened  — such was to be their influence — the ‘Colonial Trinity.’  It was a formidable combination.  Little, particularly, the designer in the 1880s of a series of brilliant Colonial Revival houses, could easily be called the real-life Seymour of William Dean Howell’s The Rise of Silas Lapham (the young architect who in 1884 talks the Laphams out of brownstone and black walnut for a Colonial-style house).”

Little and Browne were pioneers in developing the Colonial Revival (Federal) style and also worked in the Adam style and the “McKim Classical” style.   They designed a number of noteworthy houses in Boston, on the North Shore, and throughout the country.  Among their works were Little’s own home, 57 Bay State Road (at the corner of Raleigh, now numbered 2 Raleigh), which Bunting calls “one of the most charming residences in the Back Bay,” and the neighboring houses at 49 Bay State Road (1893).  In Pride’s Crossing, they designed the mansions Sunset Rock (1897) for William S. and John T. Spaulding (sugar manufacturers), Swiftmore (1899) for Edwin Carleton Swift (of the beef-packing family, Swift & Co.), Rock-Marge for William Henry Moore (railroad investor and stock manipulator), and Eagle Rock (1904) for Henry Clay Frick (partner of Andrew Carnegie in his steel empire).  They were commissioned to remodel the interiors of the Somerset Club (42-43 Beacon Street) and (in 1899) the interiors of the Larz Anderson Estate in Brookline (whose home in Washington DC they also designed in 1902-1906).

Among their non-residential works were the Central Congregational Church in Lynn (1891-1893), the Dunster Building at Harvard (1895-1896), and the Masonic Hall in Salem (1915).

Back Bay Work

1890 91 Marlborough/273 Clarendon (Remodeling)
1891 36 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1899 253-255 Beacon (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1899 422 Beacon [Little and Browne]
1899 393 Commonwealth [Little and Browne]
1899 411 Commonwealth [Little and Browne]
1901 190 Beacon (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1901 407 Commonwealth [Little and Browne]
1904 180 Beacon (Demolished) (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1905 10 Marlborough [Little and Browne]
1907 118 Beacon [Little and Browne]
1910 148 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1911 35 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1911 146 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1916 3 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Brown]
1917 267 Clarendon (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]
1921 207 Commonwealth (Remodeling) [Little and Browne]