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.

Spring Hill Somerville – Somerville MA Real Estate, Architecture and History

Spring Hill MansardSomerville’s Spring Hill neighborhood is a popular option for Somerville real estate buyers given its proximity to Porter Square and its stock of handsome, architecturally significant houses.

Spring Hill History and Architecture

Much of Spring Hill was developed on former farm land in the 1840s when the Greek Revival architectural style was popular.  Many fine example of Greek Revival architecture remain and Spring Hill is a designated historic district.  Development continued as a horse-drawn streetcar line to Boston was extended through the neighborhood in the 1870s.  Other architectural styles found in Spring Hill include Gothic Revivals, Italianates, Queen Anne Victorians, and Second Empire MansardsTriple deckers filled remaining empty lots in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Spring Hill Somerville HouseSpring Hill is set high enough that you can glimpse wonderful views of Boston and Cambridge as you walk around the neighborhood. The views are even better from the houses in the neighborhood many of which are topped with cupolas.

Spring Hill, Somerville Real Estate

Real estate options for Somerville buyers in Spring Hill include single families, multi-families and condos including units in the converted Carr School on Atherton Street.

Recent real estate sales on Spring Hill from MLSpin include:

  • a Victorian three-bedroom single family on Berkeley St. sold in Jan. 2009 for $426,000
  • a Greek Revival six-bedroom house on Atherton St. sold for $580,000 in Nov. 2008
  • a six-room, two-bedroom condo on Berkeley St. sold in Dec. 2008 for $400,000
  • a seven-room, three-bedroom condo on Porter St. sold in Nov. 2008 for $550,000
  • a newly renovated 2400 sq.ft. three-bedroom condo on Benton Rd. sold for $733,750 in Jan. 2009
  • a two-family on an 8500 sq.ft. lot on Harvard St. sold for $500,500 in Dec. 2008
  • an Italianate used as a multi-family on Laurel St. sold for $830,000 in June 2008 

 

 SEARCH FOR SOMERVILLE SINGLE FAMILY HOUSES

SEARCH FOR SOMERVILLE CONDOMINIUMS

SEARCH FOR MULTI-FAMILY HOUSES IN SOMERVILLE

 

Spring Hill Greek Revivals

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Triple-Decker House Style – Three-Family Houses in Cambridge

West Cambridge Triple-DeckerCambridge real estate buyers will quickly learn to recognize triple-deckers if they’re not already familiar with the house style.  These three-unit buildings , also called three-families or three-deckers, are ubiquitous in Cambridge and Somerville and are also found in other nearby cities and towns including Boston, Belmont, Medford and Watertown.  Nowadays, many triple-deckers have been converted to condominiums so even if you’re not looking for investment property you’ll likely be looking at a lot of triple-deckers.

Triple-Deckers in Cambridge Massachusetts – History and Architecture

Triple-deckers were first built in the 1870s in Boston (according to some, others suggest that Fall River or Worcester was first to popularize the style) and soon became a common building style throughout New England, particularly in cities.  Three-deckers were the answer to high land costs and the need for relatively inexpensive housing options for workers. 

Mid-Cambridge Triple DeckerConstructed with three stacked identical units, triple-deckers have a flat roof, often an overhanging cornice, and frequently front or back porches – or both – on all three levels.  Typically the narrow end of the building faces the street though there are a number of examples in Cambridge where the wide facade faces forward often with bay windows on each side of the main door to the building.

As evidenced by the varying quality of interior and exterior ornamentation, triple-deckers were also constructed for those of more means as builders sought to appeal to middle-class home buyers. In Cambridge you can find simply ornamented three-deckers as well as examples with gracious foyers, handsome built-ins, transom windows, and rich paneling and trim. Exterior details reflect a variety of architectural styles including the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne.

Developers often built several triple-deckers side-by-side and some Cambridge streets are lined almost entirely with three-families including Alberta Terrace in North Cambridge, Cambridge Terrace in Porter Square, Speridakis Terrace in Cambridgeport, and Marie Avenue in Mid-Cambridge.

Triple-Deckers in Cambridge – Investment Property and Cambridge Condos

West Cambridge Three Decker HouseTriple-decker apartments have become popular as condos and many of Cambridge’s three-families are now in condominium ownership.  Builders will buy a three-family, gut it and transform the apartments – often changing the floor plans, sometimes installing a second bath, and outfitting the kitchen and baths with all the bells and whistles that today’s buyers expect.  Other triple deckers have gone through more modest upgrades and still retain much of the original feel and character.

Sale prices for the eleven Cambridge three-decker buildings that sold in the last twelve months in the MLS ranged from $485,100 to $1,055,000 with a median price of $810,000. It won’t be surprising if many of these return to the real estate market as condos as a couple already have.  Asking prices for triple-deckers currently for sale in Cambridge range from $699,000 to $1,185,000.

Sale prices of Cambridge condos in triple-deckers over the last twelve months in MLS ranged from $305,000 to $735,000.  The most expensive triple-decker Cambridge condo sale that I can think of was the $881,500 paid in 2006 for a beautifully renovated condo in a particularly handsome three-decker in Cambridgeport. 

Read more about architectural styles found in Cambridge in these posts:

 

Greek Revivals in Cambridge
Mansards in Cambridge

Bungalows in Cambridge and Arlington

 Here are some Somerville and Cambridge triple deckers on the market – click on the photo for more info and use the back button to return to this page:

 

And if you’re looking for Cambridge multi-unit properties or considering buying a condo in a triple-decker in Cambridge:

SEARCH FOR CAMBRIDGE MULTI-UNIT PROPERTIES

SEARCH FOR CAMBRIDGE CONDOS

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Somerville Two-Bedroom Condos – Condominiums In Somerville MA

Many Somerville Condos Are in Three-Families

Many Somerville Condos Are in Three-Families

In the real estate market in Cambridge and Somerville, condos are often the best option for first time homebuyers.  In Cambridge the average sales price for a single family home in the last 12 months was $1,140,675 – well out of range for first time buyers. In Somerville, during the last twelve months single family houses sold for an average of $434,626. Somerville real estate buyers, however, will find that condos are in better condition, are usually more updated, or in a better location than a similarly priced house in Somerville.

The 2009 Two-Bedroom Condo Market in Somerville MA

Many first time buyers are looking for a two-bedroom condominium.  Since January 1, 2009:

  • 19 two-bedroom condos sold in Somerville
  • Average sale price of a two-bedroom condo: $410,983
  • Median sale price of a two-bedroom condo: $403,000
  • Average price per square foot: $325
  • Two-bedroom Somerville condos sold on average for 97% of asking price

Sale prices of two bedroom condominiums sold in Somerville since the beginning of 2009 ranged from $265,000 to $639,500.

What You Get for The Money in 2009- Somerville Two-Bedroom Condos 

For $265,000 a five room, two-bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1114 sq. ft. condo sold in East Somerville on Myrtle Street, not far from Union Square.  The condo was a townhouse, part of an 18-unit association built in 1989.  There was parking for two cars, an 80’s era kitchen, private patio, and finished basement.  Seems like a good deal!

Right in the middle of the pack, for the median price of $403,000, a six room, two-bedroom, 1 bath condo sold on Electric Avenue (can’t you just hear the song in your head?) near Teele and Davis Square.  This 1074 sq.ft. condo was on the first floor of three-family that had been renovated and converted to condominiums in 2003.  The condo had central air conditioning and there was a garage space plus additional driveway parking.

The most expensive two-bedroom condominium sale in 2009 to date, was a beautiful six room, two-bedroom, two bath condo on the upper two floors of a two-family on Lexington Avenue between Davis and Porter Square that sold in January for $635,000.  The house was built in 1900 and gut-renovated and converted to condos in 2004.  The house backs up to the bike path. The 2097 sq. ft. condo had an open floor plan, granite and stainless steel kitchen, central air conditioning, a fireplace, several decks, in-unit laundry, and parking for two cars.

Two-Bedroom Condos – Real Estate Options in Somerville MA

Many Somerville condos will be found in converted two and three-family houses.  Other units, townhouses and flats, will be found in larger condo buildings built in recent years or during the last boom in the 1980s.  Somerville also has a number of loft condo buildings and one of the condos sold this year was a live/work loft for artists near Davis Square that sold for $585,000.  Of the 19 condos that have sold since the start of the year:

  • Two condos were in two-family houses
  • Seven condos were in three-family houses
  • Ten condos sold in larger complexes with 6 – 21 units 

Last year there were 106 two-bedroom condos on the market in Somerville on April 22nd.  Today there are 72 two-bedroom condos for sale in Somerville.  Search for one here:

Search for Somerville Condos

 

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Adult Ed in Cambridge – Adult Education Classes In and Near Cambridge

Cambridge Center for Adult Ed

Cambridge Center for Adult Ed

I’ve always loved to take classes and the myriad of excellent adult education opportunities in Cambridge and nearby towns is one of the reasons I love living in Massachusetts.  Whatever your interest you’re likely to find a course to take.  Classes are typically open to all, regardless of town or city of residence.  Many of the programs also have classes for kids or teens.

All of these programs publish printed catalogs each season and it’s worth picking up copies or asking for a copy to be mailed to you.  I’ve included the links to the organizations’ websites below but the printed catalogs are superior – you’ll find yourself highlighting classes, turning over page corners, and repeatedly discovering new intriguing choices as you flip through the pages.  Copies of the Cambridge, Boston, and Brookline adult ed catalogs can be often be found about town, sometimes in newspaper boxes, in local shops, and in libraries.  The Concord Public Library usually has a good collection of suburban adult ed catalogs for the taking.

Here are some of the best adult ed programs in the Cambridge / Boston area:

In Cambridge MA

The Cambridge Center for Adult Ed (CCAE) has been part of Cambridge for over 130 years, first as the Cambridge Social Union which was founded in 1876, and as the Cambridge Center for Adult Education since 1938. 

CCAE has a wide variety of course offerings – some that meet for a single session, others that run for weeks.  Need-based scholarships are available. Some of the course topics include:

  • Languages
  • Writing
  • Business
  • Film
  • Photography & Video
  • History & Contemporary Issues
  • Homes and Gardens
  • Food
  • Work Life

Here’s a video about the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed:

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/714247[/vimeo]
 

In Boston MA

One of the best Adult Ed organizations, the Boston Center for Adult Education, recently moved its headquarters to 122 Arlington Street in downtown Boston from its old home by the Public Garden.  A rich variety of courses are offered with topics including:

  • Creative Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Professional Growth
  • Real Estate & Finance
  • Humanities & Science
  • Foreign Languages & ESL

Adult Ed in Other Massachusetts Communities

Brookline Adult & Community Education is another superb local option for classes. Courses are offered in a wide variety of subjects including:

  • Arts
  • Health and Well Being
  • Investment and Business
  • Dance & Exercise
  • Writing
  • Music, Performance and Production

There’s also an excellent selection of lectures on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for $5 per lecture. Upcoming topics include:

  • The Plight of the Butterfly
  • Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands
  • The Uncluttered Family
  • A Glimpse Into the Current Housing Market

Concord-Carlisle Community Education offers a diverse selection of classes in Concord MA.  A sampling of courses from the spring catalog include:

  • Meal Planning Without Tears
  • Small Scale Agriculture – Raising Chickens
  • Papermaking Workshop
  • Organic Lawn Care
  • Introduction to Kayaking
  • Instant Piano for Busy People

Lexington Community Education has been offering excellent courses for years in Lexington, MA.  I took furniture refinishing there years ago and have been meaning to take their Furniture Upholstery class.  Other upcoming courses include:

  • Coping With the Stress of Tough Economic Times
  • In the Bin – Household Recycling Know How
  • Probating Your Parents’ Estate
  • Summertime Pilates
  • Intro to Web Design

Newton Community Education has a wide variety of reasonably priced adult ed classes.  Some of the spring classes that caught my eye include:

  • How to Be a Private Eye
  • Totally Green Organic Bodycare
  • How to Be a Landlord
  • If Your Home is a Castle, Why Does Your Office Feel Like a Dungeon?
  • Whitewater Kayaking

Learn a new skill, explore a new interest, discover more about your community. If you live in Cambridge or nearby there are endless opportunities in Massachusetts adult ed.

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Cutout Shutters – House Parts We Love

Cutout Shutters on a Bungalow in Arlington Massachusetts

Cutout Shutters on a Bungalow in Arlington Massachusetts

People buy a particular house for all sorts of reasons – location, condition, size of the bedrooms, the renovated kitchen, the big backyard  – everybody has their own real estate wish list.

For some of us it’s the small things – the special features that catch our eye, that warm our hearts, that feel just right, that spark the fantasy – that make a house The One.  It might be the beautiful stained glass window in the stairwell, the handsome built-in bookshelves in the livingroom, or the deep clawfoot tub in the bath.

The list of features – house parts – that have that special magic, that create that pull of desire, is very long. Long enough that I’m going to make it a regular feature here. 

So without further ado –  the debut of House Parts We Love.

Cut-Out Shutters

Cambridge MA House With Cutout Shutters

Cambridge MA House With Cutout Shutters

Charm is always high on my list when I’m looking for a house to buy.  Cutout shutters are a sure-fire way to add charm to a house.  Put cut-out shutters on a house and it transforms the simplest and  plainest of houses into the most appealing home on the block.

Cut-out shutters seem to have been most popular in the 1920s to 1950s or so. I’ve seen them on earlier vintage houses though. For years a Victorian in Porter Square was adorned with “E”s on the cutout shutters – which I, of course, thought must stand for Elizabeth.

Designs are varied – shamrocks are popular in these parts, letters, crescent moons, diamonds, pine trees, animals – all sorts of designs are possible.  Location often dictates the style of cut-out, with nautical themes, for example, popular close to the shore. 

The Arlington house shutters pictured above have a fleur-de-lis cutout.  The Cambridge cape, a beautiful house in the Divinity neighborhood, has squirrels (I think!) as cutouts on  its shutters.

If you want to add cutout shutters to your house Timberlane Shutters has a variety of styles.  Shuttercraft in Connecticut is another company that produces custom wood shutters.

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As a house enthusiast and Cambridge real estate agent I’m always coming across beautiful or charming (or both!) house parts.  I’ve taken to carrying my camera with me to capture them to share with you.  Check back often for more of my favorites – and please – let me know about your favorite house parts – and I’ll be on the lookout!

Other House Parts We Love:

Decorative Metal Doorknobs

 

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Cambridgeport Condos – Cambridge Real Estate Market Activity

Cambridge MA Real EstateCAMBRIDGEPORT is a popular neighborhood for Cambridge real estate buyers.  Cambridgeport  runs from Mass Ave in Central Square to the Charles River between River and Sidney Streets.  Tree lined streets, parks, Victorians, lofts in converted industrial buildings, and turn-of-the-century multi-unit buildings make for an appealing neighborhood.  There are a variety of transportation options in Cambridgeport including buses that run through the neighborhood, the Red Line T stop in Central Square, and the Green Line just over the B.U. Bridge at the far end of Cambridgeport.  Three major universities are minutes away – MIT, Harvard and Boston University.

Cambridgeport Condos For Sale

Cambridge real estate buyers have 29 Cambridgeport condominiums to choose from today, with condos currently on the market priced from $319,000 to $1,495,000. 

Average list price for Cambridgeport condos currently on the market: $599,566

Median asking price for Cambridgeport condos on the market: $559,000

Average price per square foot: $465.  Prices per sq. ft. ranged from $312 to $690.  That compares to an average price per square foot of $480 for all condos currently on the market in Cambridge.

Median price per square foot: $499

Average days on market: 121

Median days on market: 53

Cambridge real estate buyers will find condos in Cambridgeport for sale in vintage brick multi-unit buildings, in converted Victorian houses, in recently built townhouses, and in a converted school building.  Three one-bedroom condos, fifteen two-bedroom condos, and eleven condos with three or more bedrooms are currently on the market in Cambridgeport.

Recent Cambridgeport Condominium Sales

Seventeen condos sold in the Cambridgeport neighborhood of Cambridge, MA in the last six months.  Sale prices ranged from $320,000 to $779,000.

Average sale price: $512,676

Median sale price: $475,000

Average price per square foot: $375

Average days on market: 82

Cambridgeport condos sold included lofts, townhouses, and condos in triple deckers and in multi-unit Victorian houses.

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Caring for Your Old or Historic House – Arlington MA Lecture

Arlington MA Antique HouseDid you just buy an old house that needs some TLC?  Not sure where to start with projects in your older home and want to do things right? If you’re looking for tips on caring for your antique or vintage home, an upcoming lecture at The Arlington Historical Society is just the ticket.

Sally Zimmerman, Preservation Specialist at Historic New England (formerly SPNEA, the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) will speak about:

  • Tips on retaining the old house details we love
  • Period appropriate paint colors
  • Resources for old house maintenance, restoration, and enhancement 

Resources from these Arlington organizations will also be available:

  • The Arlington Preservation Fund, Inc.
  • The Arlington Historical Commission
  • The Arlington Historic Districts Commission

When:  Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Where:  Arlington Heights Nursery School, 10 Acton Street, rear entrance
Admission: Free!

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Continental Terrace Condos – 29 Concord Avenue Cambridge MA

If you’ve never been inside 29 Concord Avenue in Cambridge you’re in for a treat.

Continental Terrace, 29 Concord Ave. Cambridge – Hugh Stubbins Architect

29 Concord Ave Condos Designed in 1959 by internationally renowned modernist architect Hugh Stubbins Jr. of Cambridge, the Continental Terrace building has a dramatic central atrium that rises eight stories.  Fifty years after its construction, the building  feels totally modern and entering the soaring lobby still has a dramatic impact. 

Hugh Stubbins (1912-2006) graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Early in his career he affiliated with the firm of Royal Barry Wills, one of my favorite local architects, well known for very traditional colonial reproductions. Stubbins introduced Wills to Modernism and they designed several Modernist houses together.  Walter Gropius invited Stubbins to teach at Harvard in 1940 where he remained for 15 years while simultaneously working in his own architecture firm.  Stubbins left Harvard in 1954 to devote himself to his own practice.

Inside the condos at 29 Concord Avenue Cambridge

29 Concord Avenue is an elevator building with just over 100 condominums on eight floors.  Condos are accessed from walkways that overlook the dramatic skylit atrium. Floor plans include studios (avg. ~ 400 sq.ft.), one-bedrooms (avg. ~ 500 sq.ft.) and two-bedrooom condominiums (avg. ~ 850 sq.ft.).  Originally designed with small kitchens outfitted with enameled metal cabinets and apartment size appliances, many of the condo owners have renovated their units.  Well designed, the condos pack a lot of storage space into a compact layout.  Sliders lead to outside balconies which were recently refurbished in the course of a major buildings improvements project.  Heat is included in the condo fee.

Some of the condos have parking spaces, covered or uncovered, behind the bulding.  The Red Line subway in Harvard Square is an easy walk and the bus and electric trolley run in front of the building on Concord Avenue.

Recent 29 Concord Avenue Sales

MLS shows only one sale at 29 Concord Ave since 2012.  In 2014 a 497 sq.ft. one-bedroom on the 8th floor sold for $390,000.  The condo had its original kitchen but did have a covered parking space.

Other Buildings Designed by Architect Hugh Stubbins Jr

 Over the course of his career Stubbins and his firm designed more than 800 buildings in eight countries.  Many of the firm’s projects were done for schools and colleges.  Among their projects were the:

  • Congress Hall in Berlin, Germany (1957)
  • Citicorp Center in New York City (1976-78)
  • Federal Reserve Bank in Boston (1978)
  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (1991)
  • Landmark Tower in Yokohama Japan – Japan’s tallest building (1993) and Stubbins’ last major project

Other Cambridge Buildings by Hugh Stubbins

  • Pusey Library at Harvard
  • Loeb Drama Center, home to the American Repertory Theatre
  • Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard
  • 1105 Massachusetts Ave.

If there are condos available at 29 Concord Ave they will show below and you can click on the small photo for more info.  Or you can search for all Cambridge condos for sale.  Want some help finding the perfect Cambridge condo?  I can do that!  I’m Liz Bolton of ReMax Destiny and can be reached at 617-504-1737 or CentersAndSquares@gmail.com.

 

 

Info about sales of condominiums at 29 Concord Ave in Cambridge MA comes from MLSpin. Post by Elizabeth Bolton of ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.

 

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