HISTORY

OVERVIEW

T he idea for the Larz Anderson Auto Museum grew out of a Sunday tradition started by wealthy socialites Larz and Isabel Anderson at their Brookline, Massachusetts home. The Andersons would open the doors to The Carriage House on Sunday afternoons and share their mounting collection of marvelous American and European vehicles with the public.

The Andersons’ collection began with the purchase of their first vehicle, an 1899 Winton 4-hp Runabout. Today this vehicle remains on permanent display in the Museum’s lower gallery. As their interest in the automobile grew, the Andersons continued to purchase and subsequently retire vehicles to the Carriage House all the way up until the passing of Isabel Anderson in 1948. The Andersons purchased an automobile nearly every year, acquiring a total of thirty-two brand new motorcars during the course of their lives. Fourteen of these vehicles and many of the Andersons’ original horse-drawn carriages remain in the Museum’s permanent collection.

After Isabel Anderson’s passing in 1948 the collection was entrusted, at Isabel’s bequest, to the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. The VMCCA then established the nonprofit organization that is now known as the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Today, the Museum continues to preserve the enduring legacy of Larz and Isabel Anderson by featuring revolving annual exhibits, educational forums, an archive of early automotive material housed in the Joseph S. Freeman Research Library, and our ever-popular themed Lawn Events.

The Carriage House is on the National Register of Historic Places and considered a landmark within the community. The grounds of Larz Anderson Park include a romantic pond, acres of lush open space with walking paths throughout and an ice skating rink that is open to the public during the winter months. A visit to the Museum therefore includes not only an examination of historically significant automobiles, but also an enjoyment of the picturesque setting left by the Andersons.

LARZ ANDERSON

B orn in Paris to a wealthy family and raised in Cincinnati, Larz Anderson graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1884 and Harvard College in 1888. By 1891 he was well on his way to a long and distinguished diplomatic career.

Larz was first posted to the American Legation in London by Ambassador Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the late president.

In the mid-1890s, he was already serving as First Secretary of the American Embassy in Rome and by evening was a well-known socialite who interacted with European and American aristocracy alike.

In 1896 a certain young woman, Isabel Weld Perkins, very much caught Larz’s attention. After a whirlwind romance, they were married in 1897 in Boston and spent a year traveling on their honeymoon. After serving in the Spanish-American War, they spent several more years of traveling, entertaining and growing their collection of unique motorcars.

Larz was called back into diplomatic service in 1910 and Mr. Anderson served as American Minister to Belgium and Ambassador to Japan before returning to the US in 1912. Larz and Isabel continued to travel, engage in philanthropic activity, and entertain guests and nobles from around the world at their numerous properties. Larz passed away in 1937 at the age of 71.

ISABEL ANDERSON

I sabel Weld Perkins was born in Boston in 1876 into a well-connected and extremely wealthy family. When Isabel was just five years old, her grandfather William Fletcher Weld passed away and left her a shipping and railroad fortune worth $17 million, instantly making her the wealthiest female in America at that time.

Growing up, Isabel split her time between Lake Winnepocket in New Hampshire, Newport, and Boston, where she was part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Winsor School in 1895.

After meeting the dashing socialite and diplomat, Larz, in Rome and marrying him in 1897, Isabel began entertaining lavishly at Anderson House in Washington and at Weld, the Brookline estate. She enjoyed sharing her home with guests of all rank and class, and the Andersons often opened the Brookline estate for those less fortunate than themselves.

During the First World War she brought her services to Europe and spent nearly a year as a nurse on the Western Front, often putting herself in harm’s way. For her efforts she received the Medal of Elizabeth from Belgium’s royal family as well as France’s Croix de Guerre.

Isabel loved the eccentric collection of motorcars as much as Larz did and was equally concerned with their care, operation, and preservation. She was also the first woman in Massachusetts to receive a driver’s license, and could often be seen driving her 1908 Bailey Electric. Isabel was an active writer as well, publishing dozens of works including travel books, plays, children’s books, short stories, family histories and poems. It is thanks to the foresight of Larz and Isabel that their collection remains with us today.

After Larz passed away in 1937, Isabel retired to the Brookline estate, where she continued to entertain and write. She passed away in 1948.

THE CARRIAGE HOUSE

T he Larz Anderson Auto Museum is located in the original Anderson Carriage House on the grounds of the Weld Estate, now Larz Anderson Park, in Brookline, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1888, it was inspired by the Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire in France and designed by Edmund M. Wheelwright, the city architect of Boston. First constructed to house a working stable, it later served to house and maintain the Andersons’ growing automobile collection.

After Isabel Anderson’s passing in 1948, the collection was entrusted, at Isabel’s bequest, to the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. The VMCCA then established the nonprofit organization that is now known as the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Today, the Museum continues to preserve the enduring legacy of Larz and Isabel Anderson by featuring revolving annual exhibits, educational forums, an archive of early automotive material housed in the Joseph S. Freeman Research Library, and our ever-popular themed Lawn Events.

The Carriage House is on the National Register of Historic Places and considered a landmark within the community. The grounds of Larz Anderson Park include a romantic pond, acres of lush open space with walking paths throughout, and an ice skating rink that is open to the public during the winter months. A visit to the Museum therefore includes not only an examination of historically significant automobiles, but also an enjoyment of the picturesque setting left by the Andersons.

The Andersons’ collection began with the purchase of their first vehicle, an 1899 Winton 4-hp Runabout. Today this vehicle remains on permanent display in the Museum’s lower gallery. As their interest in the automobile grew, the Andersons continued to purchase and subsequently retire vehicles to the Carriage House all the way up until the passing of Isabel Anderson in 1948. The Andersons purchased an automobile nearly every year, acquiring a total of thirty-two brand new motorcars during the course of their lives. Fourteen of these vehicles and many of the Andersons’ original horse-drawn carriages remain in the Museum’s permanent collection