James Wilson Freeman
October 20, 1925 – March 21, 2021
James Wilson Freeman October 20, 1925 – March 21, 2021
James Freeman, a resident of Cambridge for 70 years, died peacefully on March 21 at age 95 in Sudbury, MA. He was an accomplished architect, advocate for architectural preservation, husband, and father.
Jim grew up in Germantown, Philadelphia, where his first job was selling eggs from the family farm in Maryland to city neighbors. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he graduated from Brown University. Although he’d been raised to join the family auction company, he chose a different path and got a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. In Cambridge, he met and fell in love with Ann Ramsdell. They married in 1951 and were devoted to each other all their lives – their 70th anniversary would have been in June this year. James and Ann raised their four sons and a string of golden retrievers in Cambridge.
Jim thrived as one of the principals in small, client-centered architecture practices, culminating in his work with Freeman, Brigham, and Hussey. He designed buildings for Cushing Academy, Shady Hill School, Concord Academy, Wheelock College, and Emerson College, as well as the Riverview apartment complex on Mt Auburn Street, and private residences in the greater Boston area.
Throughout his life, family farms in Maryland and New Hampshire were an important part of the family history. Jim worked tirelessly to preserve and protect the houses and the farmlands and forests around them. After retirement, he engaged in wider efforts to protect the architectural heritage of Cambridge, where he lived for over six decades, until moving into assisted living care in Sudbury in 2019.
Jim and Ann opened their home to young people visiting the US as graduate students, visiting architects and scholars, and au pairs. Later, they enjoyed traveling the world, often visiting people they had hosted in younger years. On their travels to family and friends, Jim was game to try anything, from kayaking in Glacier Bay to playing the alpenhorn in Switzerland at his granddaughter’s wedding.
Jim had a remarkable talent for getting to know people by showing genuine interest in their lives. People meeting him for the first time found themselves deep in conversation with a good listener, a man who stayed curious and open to learning new things throughout life. Jim and Ann shared an enthusiasm for music, especially the Boston Symphony Orchestra where they cultivated relationships with fellow season-ticket holders seated nearby. In later years, he and Ann would make daily pilgrimages to Fresh Pond with their dog, Aengus, where they made many two- and four-footed friends.
Jim is survived and missed by his wife, Ann, sons and spouses Donald (Kathleen Graves), David, John (Martha Welbourn), and Will (Bradley Nixon); grandchildren Laura (Johann Hutzli), Emily, Lindsey, Sarah, and Nick Freeman; and great-grandchildren Madeleine and Claire Freeman Hutzli.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
James Wilson Freeman
April 12, 2021
I send you my condolences on Jim's recent death and want you to know that, even after the several years we have not seen each other, I am thinking of you both. I hope you are getting good support in this very sad time.
Will, of course, would have no idea who I am. But I still remember him in a class at Cambridge Nursery School with our son Eric -- Will with bright red hair. I suppose, if he is like Eric, he may no longer have so much hair! a long time ago.
My best to you. Remembering also our mutual friend, Alice Nauen.
April 4, 2021
Soon after we moved to Hillside Avenue, more that four decades ago, we began to feel a slowly growing joy to have Jim and Annie as neighbors, friends, and guides who taught us so much about becoming grown ups and parents and good neighbors ourselves. Walking out our front door to stand on the street talking with Jim about practically everything was just about the best thing in the fabric of our lives. We still walk out our front door expecting to see them both and feel sadness every time they're not there. All our thoughts are with Annie, Donald, David, John and Will.
Jacquie Olds and Richard Schwartz