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.

Berkeley Street Cambridge – Real Estate, Architecture and History

Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s House on Berkeley Street in Cambridge MA

Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s House on Berkeley Street in Cambridge MA

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.

CLICK HERE TO SEARCH FOR CAMBRIDGE HOUSES FOR SALE

 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:

 

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Oliver Wendell Holmes Day in Cambridge

Bigelow Chapel - Mount Auburn Cemetery - Cambridge MA

Bigelow Chapel - Mount Auburn Cemetery - Cambridge MA

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

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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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