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.

Powderhouse Park in Somerville – Camera Obscura

Note:  The camera obscura has been postponed due to the bad weather this weekend. Since tomorrow (Sunday the 30th) looks iffy too the camera obscura will be rescheduled for another weekend.  Details to follow when available.

This Saturday the Powderhouse at Nathan Tufts Park in Somerville will be turned into a camera obscura by artist Annie Smidt

Huh?  What the heck is a camera obscura?

Tour in Powderhouse Park Somerville Mass

Tour in Powderhouse Park Somerville Mass

Latin for “dark room”, the term is used to describe the phenomenon in which light coming through a very small hole into a dark box or room casts an upside down image on the opposite wall.

Knowledge of this phenomenon dates to the 5th Century BC.  Mentioned by Aristotle and by da Vinci, the camera obscura, a term first used by Kepler in the early 1600s, eventually led to the development of photography.

The event this Saturday is reminiscent of the cameras obscura that could be find in parks and resorts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to amuse and fascinate tourists.

On Saturday, Smidt will turn the Powderhouse into a giant camera and take photographs of visitors to the park. Visitors will also be allowed inside the powderhouse to see how the process works.

When: Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 1 to 4 pm

Where: Nathan Tufts Park at the Powderhouse Rotary in Somerville MA

Raindate: Sunday, August 30, 2009 from 1 to 4 pm

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Waterbridge Condominiums – 50 Watertown Street – Watertown Condos

Luxury Condos in Watertown Mass

Luxury Condos in Watertown Mass

The Waterbridge Condominiums are located in Watertown Square at 50 Watertown St, Watertown MA. There are 71 condos in this six-story brick building built in 1986.

The Waterbridge condos are some of my favorites because of the beautiful indoor pool.  That’s my idea of heaven – take the elevator down to the pool in your own building.  Like many condo buildings with pools there’s almost never anyone in the water – all the better!  There’s also a fitness room and sauna.  I also really like many of the floor plans which have two bedrooms with baths in what feel like separate wings of the apartment.

Most of the condominiums in the building are two-bedroom, two-bath units though there are a few one-bedrooms.  Two bedrooms are typically in the 1000 – 1200 sq.ft. range.  Some have views of the Charles River.

Watertown has the residential exemption for owner occupied real estate.

50 Watertown St, Watertown MA – Condo Features

  • Garage or outdoor parking
  • Walk-in closets
  • Balconeys
  • In-unit laundry
  • Additional storage
  • Air conditioning
Waterbridge Condominiums

Waterbridge Condominiums

The Watertown Square location provides easy access to the Mass Pike and the express bus to Copley Square in Boston stops nearby. Enjoy the river walk along the Charles and the shops and restaurants in the square.

50 Watertown St, Watertown MA Real Estate Activity

Recent rentals at Waterbridge are in the $1600 – $1800 range for two-bedrooms. 

Recent real estate sales of Waterbridge Condos since 2007 have included:

  • One bedroom condos sold  for prices from $255,000 to $278,000
  • Two bedroom conods sold for $360,000 to $389,000

Waterbridge Condos

If you want more information about the Waterbridge Condominiums at 50 Watertown Street or similar condos for sale, call Liz Bolton at 617-504-1737.

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Gardening In Cambridge – Work With What You’ve Got

Gardening in Cambridge is sometimes a challenge.  We often have only limited outdoor space. Sometimes window boxes on the deck will have to do.  Some will be lucky enough to score a plot at a community garden. Or perhaps a windowsill herb garden might fill the greenthumb’s urge.

Gardening In The City

Gardening In The City

I spotted this creative solution outside a townhouse off Chauncy Street near Harvard Square. It looks like most of the flower pots didn’t get filled this year – gardening requires a commitment of time and effort we can’t always make.  Even empty the pots are an eye catching sight – almost an airborne sculpture.

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Howard Dean Lecture in Cambridge – Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform

One of the things I love about living in a college town like Cambridge is that there are so many opportunities to attend lectures on a myriad of topics. 

Now that I’ve bought my tickets I can post about an exciting upcoming lecture.  Former Vermont governor and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean will be in Cambridge next month for a timely discussion about his new book Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform.

The appearance is sponsored by the Harvard Book Store and takes place at the First Parish Church Meetinghouse in Harvard Square on the corner of Mass Ave and Church Street on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets are $5 and went on sale today.  Order Howard Dean’s book, buy tickets and get more info at the Harvard Book Store’s website.

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Hazardous Waste Disposal in Cambridge

What to do with all these household chemicals?

What to do with all these household chemicals?

Several times a year the Cambridge DPW holds Hazardous Waste Days where Cambridge residents can bring household hazardous waste for disposal. 

I’m always impressed with the job the Public Works Department does during these collections.  Hazardous Waste Days are held at the National Guard Armory near Fresh Pond rotary on Concord Ave and are very well attended. 

The last collection was held in June and there isn’t another one scheduled until October 3, 2009.  What to do in the meantime?  If you’re moving and need to get rid of those old paint cans, the discarded tires in the garage, or the propane tank from the barbecue what’s the answer?

Well, luckily there is another option if you can’t wait until October.  The Minuteman Hazardous Products Regional Facility at 60 Hartwell Avenue in Lexington MA is open to residents from other towns for a fee.  In fact, some local towns have arrangements for residents’ use of the Lexington facility without charge.  Check the website for details.

Time to rethink our dependence on chemicals

Time to rethink our dependence on chemicals

Future collection days in Lexington:

  • Sunday, September 20, 2009
  • Saturday, October 17, 2009
  • Saturday, November 7, 2009

Be sure to check out both websites for directions on what to bring, how to bring it, and what not to bring.  Hazardous waste disposal is tricky – the more hoops you jump through the more you realize that the sign on the right sums it up – it’s a lot easier to not accumulate these hazardous chemicals to begin with.

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16 Chauncy Street – Cambridge Condos

Entrance to 16 Chauncy in Cambridge Mass

Entrance to 16 Chauncy in Cambridge Mass

16 Chauncy Street in Cambridge Massachusetts is located just blocks from Harvard Square, close to Lesley College, Harvard University, the Law School and Longy School of Music.

History of 16 Chauncy Street

16 Chauncy Street was built in 1929 as a residential hotel called the Continental Hotel Apartments.  A 1963 Time magazine article about the difficulties facing the hotel industry quoted the Continental’s owner, Chauncey Depew Steele, ”‘It’s going to be a survival of the fittest. A lot of old hotels are going to end up as old ladies’ and old men’s homes.”"  Instead, the hotel is today a condominium building with 53 condos.

A plaque outside the building commemorates Vladimor Nabokov’s residency in the building. He and his wife lived in Apt. 10 at the Continental Hotel in 1956 while he completed research at Harvard for his translation of Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.

16 Chauncy Street Cambridge Condos

There are studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedroom condos in the building. Some units have been renovated over the years, others will be found in close to original condition.  Heat and hot water are included in the condo fee.  Features include:

  • Hardwood floors
  • Fireplaces in some units
  • An elevator
  • A shared patio and large backyard

Units range in size from 199 to 916 square feet.  Recently one-bedrooms have sold in the $330,000s and small studios have sold in the low $200,000s.  Sales price per square foot ranged from $568 to $631.

Click here to check for available units.

Check out these other condos in Cambridge

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If you’d like more information about 16 Chauncy Street or other Cambridge real estate options call Liz Bolton at 617-504-1737.

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Ice Cream Places Near Cambridge

ice cream coneIce Cream Places Near Cambridge  Hot weather’s on the way – and hot weather means ice cream. Hot and humid weather is the only excuse you need to satisfy your craving for a nice, big ice cream cone.

Here are some of my favorite spots for a cone. And since hot weather is also a good excuse for an air conditioned road trip (especially since I don’t have air conditioning at home!) these ice cream stands are outside of Cambridge, just a short drive away:

Bedford Farms in Bedford Center is one of my family’s favorites. Delicious ice cream, a place to sit on the lawn, and a quick drive from Cambridge.

Bedford Farms Ice Cream is located at 18 North Street, Bedford MA.  Open year round.  Check the website for more info. Summer hours are Mon – Sat 11am – 10pm and Sunday noon to 10pm.

Kimball Farm has three locations.  Carlisle is closest to Cambridge and a nice scenic drive.  There are farm animals to watch while you eat.  If you want to make a day of it and plan an outing for the entire family, the Westford location has a driving range, bumper boats, miniature golf, a midway with arcade games and more.  The location I know best is in Jaffrey NH where Kimball’s took over longtime favorite, Silver Ranch

Be warned – the kiddie cone at Kimball’s is most shops’ large.  You’ll be overwhelmed by the small size cone.  And large servings make for large crowds – the parking lot is often packed and the line long.

Check the Kimball Farm website for hours and more information.

Johnson’s Drive-in in Groton Mass was a pleasant surprise when we ended up there one night after a long day.  The fried clams were great and so was the ice cream.  It’s the kind of roadside joint I like – not too fancy (not at all in fact!), not expensive, and mighty tasty food.

Johnson’s is on Route 119 at 164 Boston Road, Groton MA.  Call 978-448-6840 for hours. 

I’m sure there are lots of fabulous ice cream places out there.  What are your favorites?

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Moving Houses

From my collection of vintage house moving photographs

From my collection of vintage house moving photographs

Moving Houses  

 Both the lecturers whose Cambridge Discovery Days tours I attended last Saturday happened to mention how common house moves were before electric wires were strung through Cambridge neighborhoods.

As much as I dislike overhead wires (you would think it’s still the Wild West! – why on earth do we put up with these ugly wires strung down our streets?) it hadn’t occurred to me that it was the advent of overhead wiring that put an end to the moving of houses.

Moving houses was once a fairly common undertaking. Street widening, changing neighborhoods, economizing – all were reasons to move a house.  Sometimes a portion of a house was removed and moved for a family member.

Once you start digging into the history of Cambridge’s buildings you’ll discover many that were moved around town.  Nowadays with those dratted wires - not to mention street lights, signs, and overpasses - moving a house or building is a much bigger undertaking.   But with deep pockets almost anything is possible.

In 2007 Harvard spent something on the order of $1,000,000 to move three mansard structures down Mass Avenue close to Harvard Square.  Two three story-mansard houses and a matching mansard carriage house were moved to facilitate a building project.  Here’s a video of the moving houses:

 

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