Centers And Squares
Welcome to Centers and Squares
As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.
Here’s our once a month look back at the Watertown real estate market - August 2009.
Watertown Homes on the Market
115 residential properties were listed for sale in Watertown on August 31, 2009. Asking prices ranged from $179,900 to $1,395,000. Average days on market was 126.
Watertown MA Real Estate Sales in August 2009
Total Watertown residential real estate sales volume closed in August was $$15,619,900
NECN had a segment the other morning on a new book about Harvard Square – Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950. As soon as the segment ended I called Porter Square Books and reserved two copies, one for myself and one for my parents.
My dad grew up in Cambridge and one story that’s regularly retold in my family is how he and his high school friends in the late 1940s would jump in their cars, drive to the Square, pull up and park, and go in for a bite to eat at the cafeteria, Albiani’s, on Mass Ave. The reason the story tickled our funny bones was how far fetched we would all find it – how could they have found three or four empty parking spots all in a row? Different time for sure.
My mother became a fan of the Square in the 70s when we would take the train in from the burbs to shop and take in the sights. The book, with its coverage through the decades, had something for all of us.
Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 by Mo Lotman
Measuring 12″ by 10″ and 240 pages long this is a *big* and beautiful book jam packed with photographs. When I heard about it I thought it would simply be a collection of photographs – and if it were only that it would be fascinating. Lotman has dug deep for the photos in the book – in archives and in amateur photographers’ personal collections. It’s an amazing look at Harvard Square through the decades.
But the book isn’t just a photography book – it’s much more. It’s all about what makes this such a special place – the people, the politics, the shops, the restaurants, the buildings – it’s a rich tapestry and a wonderful record of the last 60 years Cambridge-style. Streetscapes, interior views, ephemera, news photos – you name it – it’s all here in chock-a-block full, endlessly fascinating pages.
The book is organized by decades and pictures are both dated and annotated to direct you to other views or info about the same scene. Thankfully there’s an index – you’ll be tempted to take a quick look to see if the places you remember are included here. I checked to see if one of my favorite teenage haunts – Dazzle - was in the book – yes – and was delighted to find four references to one of my regular stops, Reading International. And for my Dad, Albiani’s is in one of the full page photographs that open the book. There’s so much here that will bring back your favorite Harvard Square memories.
Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 is the ideal coffee table book since everyone who spots it will be tempted to pore through its pages. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who’s ever lived in or spent time in Cambridge.
Author Mo Lotman will be at the Harvard Coop on September 12, 2009 to discuss the book and sign copies as part of the “Bookish Ball”. The book’s official launch will be held at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge on September 15, 2009 from 7 pm to midnight.
Once a month we look back at the real estate market activity in Somerville. Here’s how it shaped up in August 2009.
Somerville Real Estate Market – Properties for Sale
217 residential properties were on the market in Somerville on August 31, 2009, 40 fewer than were for sale just one month ago. Properties were priced between $144,900 and $1,600,000. The average days on market was 122.
Somerville Real Estate Sales in August 2009
90 residential properties sold in Somerville during August 2009. The average sales price was $372,189. The median sales price was $349,450. Properties were on the market an average of 80 days.
9 single family homes sold in August for prices that ranged from $162,000 to $426,500. The median sales price was $335,000. Somerville single family homes sold in August for an average of 98% of list price. Average days on market was 56.
60 Somerville condos sold in August for sale prices between $145,000 and $700,000. The median condo sales price was $327,450. The average days on market was 75. In August condos sold for an average of 98% of the asking price.
21 multi-family properties sold in August for prices ranging from $220,000 to $685,000. The median sales price in August was $425,000. Multi-unit houses sold for an average of 98% of asking price. Average days on market was 102.
Total Somerville closed residential sales volume in August was $33,497,051.
Information about Somerville real estate market activity from MLSPIN
If you’d like help with your Somerville real estate search please give me a call at 617-504-1737 or contact me by email.
Irving Street Cambridge – Real Estate, Architecture and History. Irving Street is close to Harvard Square in Cambridge in what real estate agents often refer to as the Divinity School neighborhood. Much of the street is part of what once was the Shady Hill estate. Lined with large, handsome houses and rich in history, Irving Street is one of my favorite streets in Cambridge.
Irving Street History
Irving Street was named for author Washington Irving, best known today for his stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”. While parts of the street were laid out earlier in the 1800s, the street was part of the subdivision designed by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1886 when the 34 acre Shady Hill estate was subdivided.
Well known residents of Irving Street included:
- Julia and Paul Child at 103 Irving Street
- Poet e.e. cummings grew up across the street at no. 104
- Psychologist and philospher William James, brother of Henry James, built no. 95 in 1889 and lived there until his death in 1910
On a lighter note, I found at least one reference to a house on Irving appearing in the movie Love Story as the house where the couple played by Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw lived. Anybody know which house this is?
Irving Street Architecture
Twenty year deed restrictions were put in place when the Shady Hill estate was divided. Only single family houses could be built and there were minimum cost requirements. There is a uniformity to the streetscape as a result – all of the houses are large and are separated from their neighbors on generous lots.
The street is almost entirely residential with the exceptions of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at one end and the Irving House Bed and Breakfast at the other. There is also Harvard housing at no. 28, Haskins Hall, a 1926 brick apartment building.
Most of the houses on the street are Colonial Revivals or late examples of the Queen Anne style. No. 114 is a Craftsman style house. There is a large Mansard at no. 23 and a more recent addition of a group of Bell and Fandetti townhouses at no. 36.
Here’s a tour of the houses on Irving Street, starting at the end of the street near Francis Avenue and walking back, cross Kirkland Street to the opposite end at Cambridge Street. By clicking on the photos you can get a larger view.
Irving Street Cambridge Real Estate
Recent sales on the street have included:
- An unrenovated two-family sold for $1,075,000 in 2009
- Julia Child’s former home sold for $3,700,000 earlier this year
- One of the Bell and Fandetti 1970s townhouses sold for $601,050 in 2007
- A fully renovated two-family house sold in 2007 for $2,215,000
Who knew a month could fly by so fast – here’s a look back at homes sold in Medford in August 2009.
On Market Snapshot
On August 31, 2009 136 residential properties were on the market in Medford Massachusetts, down from 147 one month ago. Asking prices ranged from $174,900 to $929,000. Average days on market was 129. The median price of homes for sale in Medford was $358,938.
Homes Sold in Medford in August 2009
51 properties sold in Medford in August with an average sales price of $352,838. The median sales price was $340,000. Homes that sold in August were on the market an average of 69 days. Homes sold for an average of 97% of asking price.
23 Medford single family homes sold in August for sale prices from $252,000 to $753,800. The median sales price for a single family home was $332,500. The Medford single family market remains very strong – average days on market was just 36 and single family houses sold for an average of 99% of asking price.
23 condos sold in Medford in August for sales prices between $172,000 and $592,500. The median condo sales price was $319,500. Condominiums sold for an average of 96% of the asking price and were on the market an average of 95 days.
5 multi-family properties sold in August in Medford MA priced between $340,000 and $470,000. Multi-families sold for an average of 98% of list price. Average days on market was 101. The median sales price was $418,000.
Total Medford residential real estate sales volume closed in August was $17,994,752.
Information about homes sold in Medford MA in August 2009 was based on data from MLSpin
There’s been a lot of new development in recent years close to Fresh Pond and the Alewife T station. Cambridge real estate buyers who are looking for new construction or recently built condos will have plenty to choose from near Fresh Pond.
With easy access to the Red Line subway, shopping at Whole Foods and soon Trader Joe’s, quick highway access, and opportunities for recreation (and dog walking!) at Fresh Pond Reservoir this Cambridge neighborhood has plenty to offer real estate buyers. Here’s a look at recently built condo buildings in the area:
24 Bay State Road – the Bay State Flats were built in 2007. There are 23 condos in this four-story elevator building. Amenities include central air, garage parking, and in-unit washer / dryer. 24 Bay State has one, two, and three-bedroom condos. Sale prices have ranged from $300,000 to $539,900.
67 Bay State Road- these five Cambridge townhouses were built in 2005 and abut Danahey Park. The condos range in size from 1032 s.f. to 1260 s.f. and have either garage or outdoor parking. Features and amenities include central air conditioning, vaulted ceilings, and kitchens with granite counters, maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances. Townhouse sales prices have ranged from $405,000 to $435,000.
461 Concord Avenue- These eight townhouses were built in 1998. The townhouse condos have 2 – 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Features include a fireplace, deck, garage parking on the first level, central air conditioning and hardwood floors. Recently on of the townhouses sold for $450,000 in 2008.
The Brickworks- the Brickworks condos on Rindge Ave were built in 2005 on land formerly used by the New England Brick Company. There are 102 condos in the complex including flats, townhouses, and condos in freestanding reclaimed brick buildings. Condo sales prices have ranged from $212,500 to $502,900.
655 Concord Avenue – The Enclave – 37-unit condo association consisting of a mid-rise building and five more recently built townhouses adjacent to the main condo building which was built in 1997. Recent sales for condos in the seven-story elevator building have ranged from $262,500 to $505,000 for two-bedroom two-bath condos.
Reservoir Lofts on Wheeler Street are on a side street behind the soon-to-be Trader Joe’s and just across the street from Fresh Pond. Built in 2008, there are 72 one and two-level loft condos. Amenities include garage parking and central air conditioning. Lofts have sold for prices ranging from $279,000 to $476,000.
773 Concord Avenue – the Fresh Pond Greenway condos were built in 2006. The building was designed to be energy efficient and water and energy saving appliances and fixtures were chosen. The building has an elevator, underground garage, and central air conditioning. These one, two and three bedroom condos have sold for prices ranging from $282,500 to $584,000.
Cambridge condo buyers looking for luxury finishes and modern amenities such as garage parking, multiple baths, elevators and central air conditioning will find many options around Fresh Pond and Alewife.
Here are some more Cambridge condo options:
Interested in learning more about Cambridge real estate or taking a look at condos near Fresh Pond? Liz Bolton is a realtor at ReMax Destiny, 907 Mass Ave in Cambridge. Call Liz at 617-504-1737.
Just one block long, Berkeley Street is remarkably rich in history and architecture. Located just blocks from the heart of Harvard Square behind Brattle Street, the street is one of the most attractive – and interesting - in Cambridge. Berkeley Street is part of the Old Cambridge Historic District, regulated by the Cambridge Historical Commission. The street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
History of Berkeley Street
Part of Berkeley Street was once land encompassed by the large Vassal-Craigie estate. Another portion was owned by the Hill family. It was laid out in two parts from 1851 to 1852 and named to honor philosopher Bishop George Berkeley.
The street has a rich history and was home to several Cambridge authors:
- Richard Henry Dana Jr, author of Two Years Before The Mast, lived at 4 Berkeley Street for 17 years. Dana’s house was behind the Brattle Street home of his friend, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was Dana who gave the street its name.
- Another of Dana’s friends, author and editor William Dean Howells, rented across the street at 3 Berkeley Street for two years
- Historian John Fiske lived at 22 Berkeley Street. Fiske was a leading proponent of Darwin’s theories. In an 1898 article about Fiske, the New York Times described 22 Berkeley Street as “a substantial square house of the mansard roofed type, so popular twenty years ago” and gives a detailed description of Fiske’s expansive library.
- No. 15 was home to a private school for girls, the Berkeley Street School, from 1863 to 1912 when it merged with the Cambridge School for Girls
- Frank Bolles, author, naturalist and Secretary of Harvard, lived at no. 6
Architecture on Berkeley Street
The Old Cambridge volume of the Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge by Bainbridge Bunting and Robert H. Nylander notes that Berkeley Street has “the best concentration of Bracketed and Mansard houses in the city, with textbook examples at 4, 5, 20, and 22.”
Douglas Shand-Tucci, in his book Built in Boston: City and Suburb, 1800-2000, describes 16 Berkeley Street, built in 1905, as having
“some of the same design elements one sees in the Prairie Style – the blocky, geometric form, the horizontal quality, strongly reinforced by low, lidlike, and wide projecting roofs…”
15 Berkeley Street is in the Italian Villa style. Several Queene Annes are on the street and the most recent house on the street, no. 24 is a brick ended Colonial Revival built in 1936.
Berkeley Street Cambridge Real Estate
Homes on the street are large, as are the lots, making real values quite high. In 2007 a portion of one of the large houses, deeded as a single family and about 1500 sq.ft. in size, sold for $875,000. A free standing single family home sold in 2006 for $4,000,000 and in 2007 another sold for $4,935,000.
You can search the MLS for Cambridge homes for sale by using the link below. You’ll have full access to the MLS and can adjust the price range, towns, style and more.
Here are photos of some of the houses on Berkeley Street. If you click on the image you can get a larger view with additional details about the houses:
This Saturday is going to be a busy day – the Camera Obscura in Somerville in the afternoon and in the morning – it’s the 200th birthday celebration for Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Physician, poet, professor, and writer, Holmes was part of the literary scene in Cambridge and Boston and his friends included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russel Lowell. On a side note – if you haven’t read Matthew Pearl’s mystery novel, The Dante Club, in which Holmes and his poet friends are major characters, you’re in for a treat.
The City of Boston and the City of Cambridge have declared Saturday, August 29th Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Day.
Holmes was born in Cambridge and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery. On Saturday several events are planned at Mount Auburn. There will be a performance with Dr. Holmes portrayed by actor Wendell Refior and a lecture about Holmes by Dr. Charles S. Bryan. A wreath will be laid at Holmes’ grave.
The ceremony takes place at the Bigelow Chapel in Mount Auburn Cemetery on Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 10 am to noon.
Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes