Larz Anderson Park
Brookline, MA
1952-before 1960. 1960'-Early 1970's?

History ~ Memories


The Larz Anderson Park ski tow was built by P. Greene in 1952. It was a short ski area at the town park. Greene notes that "In 1952 I built a rope tow on the North East slope of Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, Ma. As an early enlistee in the 87th Mt. Infantry Regt. (forerunner of the Tenth Mt. Division) I was already in a life-long-love-affair with skiing."

This rope tow was removed by 1960, as the tow had been cut by vandals, and later had its engine stolen.

However, it appears the area was reopened at some point in the 1960's into the early 1970's, as several readers remember skiing here during this time. There memories are below.

Today, the area is a popular sledding spot. Dick Jennings in February 2005 went sledding after taking in the French Antique Car collection at the Larz Anderson museum, and took a photo of two wheels mounted about 10 feet up in two trees on hill which were remnants of the old rope tow (right). He reports that "By the way...the town placed hay bales around trees to prevent accidents and the ride on snow tubes was awesome." His view of the former tow is found on the right.


Steven Greene: My dad is pxgreene.  I'd been skiing and sleding at Larz Anderson since I was about 6 (1960) The rope tow was long gone by then. According to Dad, he suspects that some of the town fathers were a little distraught with the idea of skiing at Larz Anderson.  One morning he had found the rope had been cut. After he had it spliced, someone stole the motor! That was the end of the Larz Anderson ski area.

My dad, told me many stories about the rope tow at Larz Anderson.  The lift was removed in the 50’s. How do I know this? I used to ski and sled there when I was 5 and 6. My dad’s rope tow was long gone. (I was born in 1954) I remember at that young age hearing the stories.  As the story goes, one winter day he had returned to start things up. The rope had been cut!  After the rope had been spliced back into operability, the engine was stolen! That, as they say, was that. So much for some kid losing his hand in the 70’s. I think it was more a case of the Brookline blue-bloods’ having their way with the aesthetics of the area - probably one of the first examples of “NIMBY” (not in my back yard!). As a result, our family spent much of our growing-up years trekking up to Mt. Sunapee, Belknap, and Canon.  I can say that I cut my teeth on Sunapee and was weaned on Canon, especially the Zoomer and Paulie’s Folly.

Sally Cook: My family lived in the neighborhood adjacent to LAP from the mid 50s to the late 70s.  I grew up in that beautiful park. The slope that faced the Boston skyline was used for sledding, tobogganing and, only rarely, skiing. My parents bought me my first set of skis to use on that hill.  We had to side-step back up or take the skis off and walk back up (it’s a bunny slope level of difficulty) The town did add a rope tow, but it only lasted about two seasons because, as Michael Flanagan points out, there were accidents. I don’t really recall the lost hand accident, but I do remember a young girl getting her scarf caught in the tow and her face was severely cut. The town shut it down after that because of liability. The ice rink, where I spent the rest of my free time, saw the same fate for a season or two – closed because of lack of liability insurance

Tim Maguire: The remnants of the tow can be seen today.  Two enormous Elm trees are fitted with rusted wheels that I'm sure served the rope tow for the steeper part of the slope.

David Dorsey: I was 12 in 1968. I grew up in Winchester, MA. One of my favorite spots was Larz Anderson Park in the winter. That year, my father took me to the park in December, before Christmas. Our objective was to see Hitler's 1943 Mercedes Benz, which was on display there. It was a stormy day, and parked in front of the museum was a 1948, unrestored, black TUCKER. The plate glass in the windows to it had leaked water between them. There were roller clamps designed to keep the windows compressed against the doors. We did indeed see Hitler's car, and the remnants of Mrs. Anderson's two lane bowling alley in the basement of the museum. While there, we went to the top of the hill next to the museum, and witnessed a great scene. The ice skating rink in the garden was in full operation, and the tow rope on the slope of the hill was running. The device was operated by and old model A engine at the bottom of the hill, and indeed towed children on sleds, as well as skiers, to the top of the hill. It is something I will never forget, and I am now 50!

Justin Haber: I thought I would mention that Larz-Anderson Park in Brookline, MA once had a rope tow. I remember skiing there once, in the early '70's. It was a rather strange skiing experience, as you shared the slopes with sledders, though only skiers could use the rope tow. I looked for and found remnants of the rope tow in the late '80's. I believe this is still a popular sledding spot.

Michael Flanagan:I work with someone who remembered the Lars Anderson ski rope tow in Brookline, MA. He said he remembered it was open during the day, but was busiest once the lights came on at night. He said the crowd (even on a weeknight) would mean a 15+ minute wait at the top. Since the area got limited snow they would bring in sidewalk cleaners to pile the snow up in paths. Kids would both ski and sled down the hill on what was almost a bobsled run. He remembered that if it was icy the sled would really get going and he would run into the snow fence at the bottom (put up to keep kids from flying into the street). He believed it closed in the early 70's due to an accident. As he remembered it a kid lost his hand in the rope tow mechanism.

MittersillManiac: The Lars Anderson estate has, I believe, removed the rope tow in the interests of aesthetics (it was really old and nasty looking).  However, this place is still alive and kicking when it comes to winter sports. After a storm this place is packed with people skiing, sledding, and even snowboarders building their own jumps and whatnot.  I've been there on days when there were easily 400 people enjoying themselves in the snow.

Does anybody else have any more information? If so, let us know.

Last updated: November 17, 2008

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