History of McLean Property

In 1872, McLean Hospital had outgrown its space in what was then part of Charlestown and wanted a more bucolic site. To select the land, McLean’s administrators turned to Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York’s Central Park and Boston’s “Emerald Necklace.” Olmstead recommended the site in Belmont “for its great number of well grown trees on wooded land, the rocky sterile and arid surface for building and the strongly contrasting elements of landscape interest.” [Quoted in Betts, Footsteps Through Belmont]. In 1875, the hospital bought 114 acres from the Waverley Land Company at what was then called “Wellington Hill,” and started construction in about 1892. The hospital opened its Belmont campus in 1895. Over the years, more land was acquired until McLean’s campus totaled 240 acres.

One hundred years later, in 1995, McLean decided to down-size its campus and began negotiations with the Town for rezoning to enable building development. After four years of hard work by many town committees and concerned citizens, the rezoning was passed by Town Meeting in 1999. Six years later, in 2005, the Hospital deeded to the Town 88 acres of open space, 13 acres for a new cemetery, and 1.5 acres for use at Waverley Oaks Housing. The Belmont Day School was deeded 1.5 acres for a soccer field. See McLean Zone Map.

To learn more about the History of McLean Hospital, visit McLean Hospital: History from Charlestown to Belmont, Mass at the hospital’s website.