Archive for the 'Everything Else' Category

Rent An Author For Your Book Club

Read Rent An Author for Your Book Club.  I came across some flyers for this nifty program while shopping at the Harvard Book Store in Harvard Square in Cambridge.

The Harvard Book Store is sponsoring this program.  Book clubs or other small groups who raise at least $1,000 to benefit the non-profit group 826 Boston are eligible to have a private evening with one of four well known New England authors:

  • Julia Glass – author of The Three Junes (I loved this book), The Whole World Over, and I See You Everywhere
  • Tom Perrotta – whose novels include The Abstinence Teacher, Little Children, The Wishbones and Election
  • Jim Shepard – Shepard’s 2005 novel, Project X, about two boys who plan a Columbine-like massacre, won the Massachusetts Book Award in 2005 and his short story collection, Like You’d Understand Anyway won the Story Prize.
  • Donald Hall– poet, memoirist, essayist, and critic was appointed Poet Laureate in 2006. His most recent memoir, Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry was published in 2008 and recently released in paperback. Two of his earlier memoirs are also among my favorites – String Too Short To Be Saved and The Best Day the Worst Day: Life With Jane Kenyon.

826 Boston is a non-profit tutoring and writing center in Roxbury that works with students ages 6 to 18.  Check out their website for info about the Rent an Author program and a downloadable application.

What a rare treat it would be to have an author attend your book club meeting.  Time to start fundraising!

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Where to Buy Quality Wallpaper Near Cambridge

Reproduction of an early 1800s pattern I used in my old house

Reproduction of an 1800s wallpaper pattern I used in my old house

Where to Buy Quality Wallpaper Near Cambridge    I’m a big fan of wallpaper – good wallpaper – and while on the Marblehead house tour this month I was delighted to see beautiful, historically accurate wallpaper in house after house.

Wallpaper has a bit of a bad reputation among home buyers unfortunately. In Cambridge you’re far more likely to see walls painted in the latest designer colors.

Granted, there’s plenty of bad wallpaper out there.  We went through a long spell where much of the mass produced wallpaper was borderline tacky.  As with paint you have to be careful to get it just right.

Wallpaper done right is a joy – whether it’s the perfect antique reproduction pattern for your old house or quality papers selected by a designer. And vintage wallpaper is an instant draw for me – I’ve bought more than one house after falling in love with the intact old wall paper.

I’ve been on a wallpaper quest ever since I bought my first old house and have spent hours poring over pattern books, chasing down patterns spotted in decorating magazines, always on the lookout for new sources of quality wallpaper. I’m a purist – only paper wall paper will do – no vinyl for me no matter how appealing the pattern.  And that cuts out at least 90% of what’s available today.  Luckily some European companies and a few specialized American manufacturers are still producing patterns on paper.

So I’m always interested in finding new sources to feed my fixation. And when I saw all that beautiful paper in Marblehead I figured there had to be a local store.  Sure enough our guide filled me in on the place to go on the North Shore.

Best Places to Buy Wallpaper Near Cambridge

Norman Wallpaper and Paint in Vinnin Square in Swampscott, MA came highly recommended by our gracious host. And judging by what I was seeing on the house tour this store has top quality options.  The store’s telephone number is 781-596-0345.

A real estate agent in my office turned me on to Waltham Wallpaper and Paint when I was obsessing over a pattern I spotted in a Somerville Victorian.  Sure enough, the fine folks in Waltham were able to track it down for me. When I’m finally ready to paper that bedroom it’s Waltham I’ll go to. They’ve got an excellent selection of companies’ books on their shelves – “the widest selection of wallpaper books in New England” – and are very helpful.  Their phone number is 781-893-3732.

When I went on my first wallpaper quest Phillips Hardware in West Concord had a fine selection of pattern books and was where I bought the paper above. Nowadays the store is no longer a full-service hardware store and instead is called Phillips Fine Paint and Wallcovering. Their telephone number is 978-369-3606.

If you know more places where you can buy quality wallpaper near Cambridge please let me know!

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Over The River To Grandfather’s House In Medford

Grandfather's and Grandmother's House In Medford

Site of Grandfather's and Grandmother's House In Medford

We all remember the holiday song “Over the river and through the woods to grandfather’s house we go…”  but did you know that grandfather and grandmother lived in Medford?

Lydia Maria Child wrote the poem, source of the beloved song, about memories of visiting her grandparents in their home by the Mystic River in Medford, Massachusetts.

First published in 1844 in Child’s Flowers for Children Vol. II, the poem was originally titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. Truth be told I always thought of it as a Christmas song. No wonder – when you search for the lyrics you’ll find versions with Christmas substituted for Thanksgiving. And what’s with all that blowing snow in November?  I also always thought of it as grandmother’s house and many versions refer to “grandmother’s house”, rather than grandfather’s, in the opening lines.

Grandfather’s house that Lydia Maria Child visited was a small farmhouse near the Mystic River.  About 1839 the house was expanded and became a stately Greek Revival. The ell on the back of the house is the original farmhouse.  The house has been restored and is today owned by Tufts University.

Grandfather's House was the original farmhouse in the rear of the 1839 addition

Grandfather's House was the original farmhouse in the rear of the 1839 addition

Here are the verses of A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day aka Over the River and Through the Woods. There’s also a 12-verse version.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood-
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood-
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.”

Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The site remembered in “Over The River and Through the Woods to Grandfather’s House We Go…” is at  114 South Street, Medford, MA and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Gothic Revival Houses In Cambridge, Somerville and Medford

Cambridge Gothic Revival

Cambridge Gothic Revival

 

The Gothic Revival, was one of the early Victorian Romantic architectural styles.

 

Most Gothic Revival houses were built between 1840 and 1870.

 

The development of the jigsaw led to the popularity of elaborate gingerbread trim.

 

Somerville Gothic Revival House

Somerville Gothic Revival House

The Gothic Revival style was particulary popular in the Northeast.  There are a number of great examples in our area.  Three of my local favorites are pictured here:

  • The house in Cambridge is on Dana Street
  • The brick Somerville Gothic Revival is on Morrison Ave. in Davis Square and was built for Nathaniel Morrison for whom the street was named
  • The Angier House in Medford, built in 1842, is next to the library on High Street and is on the National Register of Historic Places

 

Gothic Revival Features

  • Steeply pitched roof
  • Typically has cross gables
  • Gables often have decorative pendant trim
  • Trefoil and quatrefoil ornamention is common
  • Windows often have a Gothic-style pointed arch.
  • If only one window has the Gothic arch it typically at the top of the most prominent gable – see the Somerville house
  • Often has a one-story porch – either an entry porch or a larger porch that spans the width of the house

 

Medford Gothic Revival

Medford Gothic Revival

Other Architectural Styles Around Cambridge:

Greek Revival Houses In and Near Cambridge

Bungalows

Shingle Style Houses in Cambridge

Second Empire Mansards

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Window Boxes Decorated For Winter

Wondering what to do with your window boxes now that winter’s on its way? Here are some of my favorites spotted while we were on the Marblehead house tour this afternoon.

Window Box with Pineapple and Greens

Window Box with Pineapple and Greens

 

Pair of Marblehead Windowboxes

Pair of Marblehead Windowboxes

 

Marblehead Window Box with Deer

Marblehead Window Box with Deer

 

I’ve yet to put window boxes on my old house but when I do I’ll remember these when winter comes.

It was a beautiful day for a house tour. The sky was clear and blue and most of last night’s snow had melted from the ground.  Marblehead has an astonishing collection of restored pre-1800 houses. What a treat!

Next weekend is the last of the holiday house tours for 2009.  Make your plans now!

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Cambridge Copycat Houses

22 Fayerweather Street in Cambridge is a copy of Elmwood

22 Fayerweather Street in Cambridge is a copy of Elmwood

 

I know that there are “copycat houses” out there – replicas of well known houses – Mount Vernon has been recreated more than once and I’ve come across copies of Cambridge’s Longfellow House in magazines.

 

During a tour that was part of this summer’s Cambridge Discovery Days I learned that there’s a copy of a Cambridge house in Cambridge.

 

22 Fayerweather Street is a copy of Elmwood, once home to several historic figures including writer James Russell Lowell and now the Harvard President’s residence.

 

Elmwood in Cambridge

Elmwood in Cambridge

Elmwood was built in 1767.

 

22 Fayerweather was built in 1898 when the Colonial Revival  architectural style was popular. The house was designed by Boston architect Herbert D. Hale.  H.D. Hale was the grandson of Edward Everett Hale, the writer, reformer and Unitarian minister.

 

Have you come across any “copycat houses”?

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Celebrate Somerville Mural – Park Street, Somerville

Celebrate Somerville Mural

Celebrate Somerville Mural

I haven’t been able to find out any information about this Celebrate Somerville mural on Park Street but it’s an appropriate choice for Thanksgiving Day.  I’m not sure the mural depicts a Thanksgiving meal but it’s certainly a feast. The hills of Somerville are the backdrop to the meal with guests at the table meant to depict the diversity of the city.

The mural is on the side of a building that looks to be part of the Ames Safety Envelope building. Ames has been in business in Somerville for 90 years.

If you know anything about the artist[s] or the history of the mural I’d love to learn more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Celebrate Somerville Mural is on Park Street which runs between Somerville Ave and Beacon Street.

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Growing Up In North Cambridge

North Cambridge Victorian

North Cambridge Victorian

Have you seen the magazine Growing Up In North Cambridge?  The magazine is a “journal of stories of years gone by” filled with articles, vintage photographs and reminiscences of people who called North Cambridge home over the years.

The magazine is really a treasure and a great way to learn about the neighborhood.  I’ve only lived in North Cambridge as an adult but it’s easy to imagine how much fun reading about the places and people of your childhood must be to those who grew up here. The magazine encourages submissions – articles, letters, and comments are welcomed.

An earlier issue had a fascinating article about the estate that occupied the land where the Porter Square Shopping Center was built. In the Fall issue, the ninth to be published, I was interested to read the article about the distinctive Victorian at 2203 Mass Ave pictured above.  The Cambridge Historical Society toured the house earlier this year and presented a talk about the development of the neighborhood.

I picked up my copy of Growing Up In North Cambridge at an insurance office on Mass Ave.  Local stores sell issues – Pemberton Market, Porter Square Books – look for a notice in the window of stores along Mass Avenue.  Back issues can be purchased online at the magazine’s website.

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