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.

Where To Buy Furniture For Your New Home in and Near Cambridge

Your real estate search is over.  You’ve found your new home in Cambridge or nearby and now you’re wondering how to furnish it.  Company’s coming and Mom and Dad aren’t going to be keen about sleeping on the couch – if you have a couch.  Buying a house or condo is expensive so you’re probably on a budget (who isn’t nowadays?) and looking for bargains.

Organic Furniture Cellar Cambridge MA

Furniture Stores in Cambridge MA

For new furniture in Cambridge you can head to Furniture Corner on Mass Ave at Putnam where you’ll find a number of furniture stores or to Circle Furniture near Fresh Pond.  Reside on Concord Ave near Huron Village is great for the modernist end of vintage furniture.  But if you’re searching for bargains you may need to look further afield.  Ikea has yet to come to Assembly Square in Somerville and a long time favorite haunt for vintage furniture lovers in Cambridge, the Organic Furniture Cellar in Cambridgeport, has closed its doors.  I took the photo above since I’m not sure how long the mural at the corner of Putnam Ave. and Pearl Street will last.   

Brimfield Antique Show is Close to Cambridge

Do you want that special antique piece to grace your new living room?  The first Brimfield Antique Market of the season is coming up – and it’s not much more than an hour away out the Pike.  If you’ve never been to the Brimfield flea market it’s not to be missed.  The main street through this small town (it’s actually Route 20) becomes one enormous antique show. People come from around the country and fill up their trucks with finds from the fields.  Brimfield is held three times a year – in May, July and September.  I’ve always thought that the May show is the one to go to since dealers have stockpiled great finds over the winter.  New England spring weather can be problematic but it’s nothing compared to the blazing heat in the fields during July.  2009 dates for Brimfield are May 12-17, July 14-19, and September 8-13. New fields open each day.  I’ll be hitting the postcard barn ( a whole barn filled with postcards!) in May for new old images like the one you see at the top of the page.

Antique furniture bought on craigslist in Cambridge MA

Craigslist for Furniture

Another great source for vintage or barely used new furniture is Craigslist.  It pays to peruse the categories regularly throughout the day since the great stuff or great bargains will go quickly. One of my favorite acquisitions is the antique secretary at right.  I think I paid $200 after finding it on craigslist.

Garage and Estate Sales Near Cambridge

Garage sales are another excellent source for newer and vintage items.  Just last weekend I came across a sign advertising a house sale in North Cambridge.  I picked up a couple of vintage bamboo tables or plant stands for $3 and $5 and a wonderful brass reading lamp for $5.  Watch for garage sale ads in Thursday’s Cambridge Chronicle and in the Boston Globe.  Craigslist has garage sale ads too but unfortunately has a high percentage of ads from over ambitious slackers who fail to get out of bed in time to start the sale at the advertised hour.  You also might want to try some suburban towns for garage sales since the quality of the merchandise can be significantly better.  I grew up in Concord and my old garage sale haunts of Concord, Acton, Lexington and Lincoln yielded many a great buy.  The Thursday Concord Journal is the newspaper to pick up for the sales in this area.  And remember – the early bird does get the worm at garage sales.

Estate sales are a secret source for the best in vintage and antique furniture at wholesale prices. If you’re at the front of the line at an estate sale your competition will be local dealers or scouts who supply area antique shops.  Typically, a local company has been hired by the sellers to price the merchandise, advertise, and staff a two-day sale that often includes most of the furniture, collectibles, and household items.  Two of my favorite estate sale companies are the Pink Ladies and Diana Sherman – both have been in the business a long time.  When you attend one of their sales you’ll be able to get on their mailing lists for notifications of upcoming sales. Estate sales in the towns around Cambridge are typically held on Fridays and Saturdays.   Plan to go on Friday for the best selection and Saturdays for some bargains if any remain. Sales are advertised in the classified section of the Boston Globe – usually on Sundays and on Wednesday or Thursday for Friday’s sales. Estate sales can be a super way to outfit your new home with quality pieces and bargain household items.

Hope to see you on the trail!

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Russell Place Condos – Arlington MA Condominiums

Russell Place Arlington MARussell Place is a condo development built in 2002-2003 (several units were completed in 2004) in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Conveniently located in downtown Arlington on a side street that has some wonderful antique houses, Russell Place consists of forty condos in wood clad townhouse-style buildings.  The popular Minuteman Bike Path runs alongside the complex.

There are a variety of floorplans available in units at Russell Place.  Large three-level townhouses have garage bays underneath with additional driveway spaces, some units are primarily on one level with loft-style rooms above, other flats have finished lower level space.  Features available in some units include fireplaces, skylights, cathedral ceilings, and decks or porches.  The units have central air conditioning and varying levels of finishes in the kitchens. Some have hardwood floors throughout, others have a combination of wood floors and carpet.

Recent Sales at Russell Place Condominiums

With its Arlington Center location, Russell Place condos are popular and sell quickly.  The units for sale most recently had an average time on market of just 15 days.  Here are the condos sold at Russell Place in 2013-2014:

  • A 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2077 sq.ft. condo sold for $615,000 in 2013
  • A 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1422 sq.ft. condo sold for $476,000 in  2014
  • A 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1931 sq.ft. condo sold for $580,000 in 2014
  • A 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1927 sq.ft. condo sold for $593,000 in 2014

If there are condos available at Russell Place they will appear below.  Or you can search all of Arlington condos for sale.  Hoping to move to Arlington or nearby?  I can help! Call me, Liz Bolton, at 617-504-1737 or email me at [email protected]


 

Sales information about the Russell Place condominiums from MLSpin.  Post by Elizabeth Bolton of ReMax Destiny.

 

 

 

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The Round House In Somerville – Atherton Street, Somerville MA

Round House Somerville MAIt looks like things are improving for one of Somerville’s most unusual – and most neglected – houses. The Round House on Atherton Street in Somerville, Massachusetts has a new owner who’s working on its restoration. 

I hadn’t realized the Round House had sold until I went to a brokers’ open house on the corner of Harvard Street.  That house, also suffering from years of neglect, had been owned by the woman who owned the Round House for some forty years, prompting me to take a closer look at the landmark around the corner at 36 Atherton Street across the street from the Carr Schoolhouse condos.   Sure enough there were signs that someone was working on the house and a quick call to the city of Somerville confirmed that the house had changed hands.  The new owner is a contractor and previous recipient of  preservation awards from the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission.  The Harvard Street house renovation is now well under way but things seem to be proceeding more slowly at the Round House – which may be a good thing considering the scope of the needed restoration.

Interior of the Round House. Courtesy of the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

Interior of the Round House. Courtesy of the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

The Round House was built in 1856 by inventor and manufacturer, Enoch Robinson.  Robinson’s company manufactured high quality hardware still in use in many significant buildings including the Old State House and Old City Hall in Boston, and the United States Treasury Building in Washington, DC.   A showpiece at the time it was built, the 40 foot diameter Round House had  rooms on three floors including an oval parlor and round library on the first floor.  A glass dome at the center of the building’s roof added light to the interior and the many windows took advantage of the views from Spring Hill.  Before opening his own business, Robinson worked with pressed glass at his family’s company, the New England Glass Company and not surprisingly his house was well equipped with beautiful hardware including decorative glass knobs on all the doors.  The French scenic wallpaper in the house can be seen in the vintage lantern slide image at right.

At the time the Round House was built, octagon houses were all the rage.  Octagon houses were popularized by amateur architect, Orson Fowler, author of the 1848 book A Home For All: The Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building. Fowler believed that the round form was ideal but the octagon  style the most practical to construct.  Many octagon houses were built in the United States between 1850  and 1860, a number in Massachusetts,  but round buildings were relatively rare.

round-house-third-floorThe Round House was offered for purchase to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities in 1920.  The Society chose not to purchase the house and reported in its April 1921 Bulletin, Old-Time New England, that “In many ways this would make an ideal period house for the display of mid-Victorian black walnut, but the present is probably fifty years too early for anything of the kind, since to most people that period represents the very quintessence of the ugly.” During its consideration of a purchase, the Society had the floor plans of the Round House drawn that are shown at right and below.

The Round House lay vacant for years and its owner was deaf to the  pleas of the City and of preservationists who were alarmed at its deteriorating condition.  In 1997 Historic Massachusetts included it on that year’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources List. Sadly, another architectural favorite of mine included on that year’s list, the largely unchanged buildings built to house prison workers at the Concord Reformatory, were subsequently demolished.  It is heartening that the Round House seems destined to meet a better fate.  I wish the new owner all the best. His is a daunting, but very important, endeavor.  We’re all looking forward to a tour!

 round-house-floor-plans

 

 

 

 

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Somerville Real Estate Market Review – March 2009 Statistics

Somerville MassachusettsThe month of April is zipping by, but I wanted to pause and look back at residential real estate sales activity in Somerville, MA during the month of March. 

Keep in mind that in Massachusetts the real estate sales process takes on average six to eight weeks from the time an offer is accepted to the closing.  March real estate sales reflect properties that, for the most part, went under agreement in January and February.

 217 residential properties were on the market in Somerville on March 31, 2009. The lowest priced property was listed for $125,000, the most expensive for $2,875,000. Average days on market was 120.

22 properties sold (closed) in Somerville during March with an average sales price of $458,144.  The median sales price was $426,088. Average days on market was 162.

One single family sale closed in March for $465,000.

Thirteen condominium sales closed in March. The least expensive condominium sold for $315,500.  The most expensive condo sold in March closed for $880,000.  The median condo sales price was $393,000.  The average days on market was 237.  Somerville condos sold for an average of 98% of list price.

Eight multi-family property sales closed in March. The lowest sale price for a multi-family was $285,000.  The highest price paid was $650,800. The median sales price was $483,000. Multi-families sold for an average of 96% of list price.

Total Somerville closed residential sales volume in March was $10,079,175.

 See Also:

Somerville MA Real Estate Market Activity – January 2009
Somerville MA Real Estate Market Activity – February 2009

 

Real estate sales information from MLSpin

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Architectural Styles in Cambridge: The Greek Revival

Greek Revival in Winter Hill Somerville

Greek Revival in Winter Hill Somerville

The Greek Revival is one of my favorite house styles.  My first house and my current house have Greek Revival elements and there’s something very appealing about houses from this period, inside and out.  The Greek Revival was the most popular architectural style in the United States from about 1825 to 1860.  Asher Benjamin, a New England architect and carpenter, and author of popular pattern books, helped popularize the style when he included the Greek orders in his 1826 edition of The American Builder’s Companion.

Features of the Greek Revival Style

The most easily recognized Greek Revivals are those modeled on a Greek temple, with a front gable with one or two-story columns supporting an overhanging pedimented gable. Other examples have a less dramatic facade with a columned front entry.

The entry door style of early American houses is often indicative of the period in which the house was built.  The Greek Revival doors typically were flanked by side lights often with a transom window above.

Greek Revival in Central Square Cambridge

Greek Revival in Central Square Cambridge

Greek Revivals often have large windows, typically with six panes over six panes (six over six) .    It is not uncommon for windows to run from floor to ceiling or close to, as can be seen in the photograph at right of a Greek Revival in the Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge Massachusetts.  Some have a row of small windows  running across the wide trim below the cornice. 

Inside, one of my favorite features that you see in local Greek Revivals is the triangular trim that is sometimes found over the door and window openings, echoing the pediment outside. 

Greek Revival Houses In and Near Cambridge

Since many houses were built in Cambridge and nearby towns during the early 1800s, a number of Greek Revivals can be found in these communities.  Many handsome houses of the period still stand in East Cambridge, in Cambridgeport, and in Central Square.   Distinctive examples can be found in Somerville, Arlington, Belmont. Medford and Watertown as well.

Here’s a slideshow of Greek Revivals in Cambridge, Arlington and Somerville.  Click on the arrow to start the slide show and then on the box with four corner arrows in the bottom right corner of the border to get a larger image.

 

 

Read more about architectural styles found in Cambridge MA and nearby:

Bungalows
Mansards

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Ten Quick and Easy Projects to Get Your House Ready to Sell

Prospective sellers often ask me about various repairs and projects they’re contemplating prior to putting their house on the market.  Should we put in a second bath? Should we renovate the kitchen? They wonder if it’s time for the renovations or big fixes they had always planned to do.  Usually my answer is No – you will not get your money back for big projects completed shortly before you sell your house.  Better to keep your money for a new kitchen in your next home – and have some time to enjoy it.

It’s actually the less expensive, easier fixes that have a high return.  Selling your house is all about first impressions.  You want your house to sparkle and shine from the first time an agent or buyer walks in the door.  

Here are some easy, inexpensive projects to get your house or condo in tip top shape:

1.  Declutter, declutter, declutter.  You want your home to look like a show house.  Counters cleared off, closets thinned, surfaces bare.  When in doubt – out and away it goes. 

2.  Rent a storage unit if you have nowhere to put your clutter.  It’s relatively inexpensive and the answer to the question of “but where do we put our stuff?”

3.  Depersonalize your home.  It’s ok to have some personal items scattered about the house. The goal is not to strip your home of all of its personality.  However, if you’ve turned your home into a family photo gallery or have loads of memorabilia scattered about, it’s time to thin the collections.  You want buyers to focus on the house, not on the details of your life or hobbies.

4.  Clean, clean, clean.  Your house must sparkle and shine.   Fingerprints cleaned, counters, cupboards and drawers wiped clean, bathrooms gleaming, stove sparkling, floors shined.  If you’re not a cleaning whiz have a housekeeping service do the job.

When Selling Your House Make Sure Your Windows Sparklet5.  Get the windows washed.  Dirty windows are a turnoff.  Your buyers want to see the sun streaming through clean and sparkling windows.

6.  Fling open the windows.  Fresh air is free and you want to make sure your home is free of all odors while you’re on the market.

7.  Caulk your bathtub and clean the grout.  It’s something that we sometimes overlook in our own home but one of the first things a buyer will notice in your bath.

8.  Paint the trim and woodwork.  Look around your home with a critical eye.  Stair risers scuffed?  Woodwork chipped?  Paint and some sandpaper is an inexpensive fix with a big impact.

9.  Spruce up your yard.  Keep the lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, garden beds mulched. A big pot of flowers in bloom is a nice addition to your front steps.  If you’re in a condominium, add some plants or flower boxes to your deck.  No outdoor space?  Keep bouquets of fresh, sweet smelling flowers in your condo.

When You're Getting Ready to Sell Your House Flowers Help10.  Make sure your entry looks inviting.  Your house need to appeal from the moment someone walks up to the door.  Paint the door if needed, make sure your railings and steps are secure and in one piece, get a nice new doormat.  If your decluttering didn’t extend to the entry take care of it now – when you sell your house the piles of boots and shoes, recycling bins, and other paraphernalia usually stowed in the entryway have to go.

These low cost, high impact tasks will ensure that your house looks its best and sells for top dollar

If you’re planning a move and want to talk about today’s real estate market, get advice on preparing your home for sale, or want to learn about the top marketing efforts that lead to a successful sale – give me a call or an email.  I can be reached at 617-504-1737 and I look forward to speaking with you.

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The French School Condominiums – 69 Harvey Street, Cambridge MA 02140

French School Condominums in Cambridge MAThe French School Condos at 69 Harvey Street, Cambridge MA occupy a handsome brick building constructed in 1900.  The building was converted to condominiums in 1989. There are sixteen condos in the association – four units on each of the four floors. A wide staircase with shallow steps rises through the building – there is no elevator. Condos at the French School range in size from 989 sq.ft. to 1390 sq.ft.

Condo layouts vary but are open and loft-like. Most have exposed brick walls. The windows are large and ceilings high – appealing features often found in schoolhouse conversions. The condominiums have in-unit laundry and off street parking.

History of the French School

69 Harvey Street Cambridge MA was built by the French Canadian community in North Cambridge in 1900. Built to house the Notre Dame de Pitie School, the building became a convent in 1916 when the school moved to a new facility at Rindge and Sargent Streets. The building was once again converted in 1961 when it became a manufacturing facility.

The French School Neighborhood and Location

French School - Facade Detail

French School – Facade Detail

Harvey Street is a one-way street running west off Mass Ave in North Cambridge. Harvey Street intersects Massachusetts Avenue at the point where the bike path to Davis Square crosses the Avenue. Davis Square is just a short walk away via the bike path. There you’ll find the Davis Square T stop, the Somerville Theatre, and a variety of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.  More shops and restaurants line Mass Ave all the way into Arlington or towards Porter Square and Harvard Square.

In the other direction, the Alewife T station – the first (or last!) stop on the Red Line T is not far since Harvey Street ends at Russell Field across from the T station. One of several cohousing communities in Cambridge, Cornerstone Cohousing, built in 2000-2001, is at 175 Harvey Street. In spring you can meet your neighbors at the North Cambridge open studios tour.

Recent Real Estate Sales at the French School Condominiums

There haven’t been many sales at 69 Harvey Street.  A top floor condo with two bedrooms and two baths sold for $519,000 in 2012.  A unit with an atypical layout for the French School – over 2300 square feet on the first floor and lower level – sold for $500,000 in 2013.

If any condos are available at the French School they’ll show below.  Or you can see all the condos on the market in Cambridge right now. And if you dream of living in a converted school give me a call – I can help.  Liz Bolton – 617-504-1737


 

Sales information for 69 Harvey St Cambridge MA from MLSpin.  Post written by Elizabeth Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge MA.

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Medford MA Real Estate Market – March 2009

Medford MAReal Estate Market in Medford MA

March sales figures reflect real estate activity in Medford in January and February because real estate transactions in Massachusetts typically take six to eight weeks from offer to closing.  Here are the real estate numbers for Medford, MA in March:

140 residential properties were on the market in Medford on March 31, 2009. The lowest priced property was listed for $125,000, the most expensive for $950,000. Average days on market was 138.

Real Estate Sales in Medford MA in March 2009

30 properties sold (closed) in Medford during March with an average sales price of $310,185.  The median sales price was $310,500. Average days on market was 111. Properties sold for an average of 96% of asking price.

11 Medford single families homes sold in March.  The least expensive sale was for $155,000. The most expensive house sold for $443,000. The median price for a single family house was $326,000.  Average days on market was 106.  Houses sold for an average of 96% of asking price.

11 condominium sales closed in March. The least expensive condominium sold for $165,000.  The most expensive Medford condo sold in March closed for $380,000.  The median condo sales price was $222,250.  Condos sold for an average of 96% of the asking price.  Average days on market was 120.

multi-family sales closed in March. The lowest sale price for a multi-family home was $295,000.  The highest price paid was $560,000. The median sales price was $355,000. Multi-families sold for an average of 97% of list price.  Average days on market was 108. 

Total Medford residential real estate sales volume closed in March was $9,305,550.

Also see:  

Information based on residential sales data in MLSpin

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