Herbert Wheildon Cotton Browne was born on November 22, 1860, in Boston, the son of Thomas Quincy Browne and his wife Juliet Frances Wheildon (daughter of William Wilder Wheildon).
Herbert Browne died on April 29, 1946.
Herbert Browne was educated at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and at MIT, and then studied in Paris and (in 1883) in Florence with Fabio Fabii. In 1888, he was a draftsman in the offices of Andrews and Jaques in Boston
In 1890 he joined in partnership with Arthur Little and the firm of Little and Browne. After Little’s death, Herbert Browne took Lester Couch as his partner, continuing the firm under the name of Little and Browne. Couch had been a designer and draftsman with the firm for many years. Little and Browne continued until Lester Couch’s death in 1939.
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).
In addition to building design, Herbert Browne also was an expert landscape designer. Among his landscape works were gardens for William and John Spaulding at Sunset Rock in Prides Crossing, for Guy Norman at Bee Rock in Beverly Cove, and for Bayard Thayer at Hawthorne Hill in Lancaster.
Back Bay Work