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 [email protected].

 

 

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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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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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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Mansard Houses In Cambridge – The Second Empire Architectural Style

Mansard in the Agassiz Neighborhood of Cambridge MA

Mansard in the Agassiz Neighborhood of Cambridge

Mansard Victorians are a very popular house style with today’s real estate buyers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Single family mansards, large and small can be found in many Cambridge neighborhoods, and it is not uncommon to find condos in mansard rowhouses.

The Mansard Victorian House Style

The distinctive sweep of the mansard roof is the definitive feature of the Second Empire architectural style dating from 1855 to 1885.

The mansard is actually the facade of the top floor of the house and will have dormer windows.  The mansard roof was covered with slate shingles, often in attractive patterns, and in many cases the original slate shingles are still intact. 

Some Second Empire Victorians have cupolas, others have square or rectangular towers.  A prominent center gable interrupts the mansard roof line on some houses. Sometimes the mansard house will have a matching carriage house with mansard roof. Many Second Empire townhouses, rowhouses with mansard roofs, were built in cities between 1860 and 1880, and many can be seen around Cambridge.

Mansard in West Cambridge

Mansard in West Cambridge

Virginia and Lee McAlester, in their A Field Guide to American Houses, describe five styles of mansard roofs: straight, straight with a flare at the bottom, concave, convex, and s-curves.  Each style is represented in Cambridge’s large selection of mansards.

Mansards in Cambridge

Much of Cambridge’s development took place during the mansard’s heyday.  Some Cambridge neighborhoods, particularly Avon Hill, West Cambridge, and Mid-Cambridge are awash with mansard Victorians. There are plenty to be found in Cambridgeport and the Agassiz neighborhood too, and, in fact, most Cambridge neighborhoods have their share.  Mid-Cambridge has many mansard roofed townhouses lining the blocks.

Mansard Roof Detail in Cambridge MA

Mansard Roof Detail in Cambridge MA

The single family mansard has either two or three floors.  In each case the top floor is behind the mansard roof. Inside on the top  floor there will be a slight pitch to the walls, high ceilings, and deep windowsills.

Many of Cambridge’s Second Empire Victorians are in “unmuddled” condition, many with slate shingles still in place.  If the slate shingles cannot be salvaged there are good imitations available if the budget prevents replacement of the slate. Sometimes you’ll come across an  unfortunate example where the mansard has been covered with vinyl or other siding. One hopes that eventually a more preservation-minded owner will uncover the house and return it to its former glory.  Those aside, mansard gems line the streets of Cambridge.

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Architectural Styles: The Bungalow

Sometimes I think that the bungalow is the most misunderstood  architectural style.  Sellers seem miffed if you suggest that their house is a bungalow.  To them, “bungalow” connotes small,  or perhaps modest – something less than in terms of size or value.  Home buyers often ask “What’s a bungalow?” and I sometimes struggle as I try to explain. I love bungalows but too often it seems that it’s a case of “I know a bungalow when I see one.” I’ve taken to pulling out a cheat sheet  from my glove compartment- a clipping from a magazine with photos of several bungalows.

Bungalows are actually one of the most popular vintage house styles today.  There are groups dedicated to the preservation of bungalows, books about bungalows fill shelves in the architecture and decorating sections of the bookstore, and more than one magazine about bungalows can be found on the newsstand.

 What Is A Bungalow?

I guess it’s not a surprise that defining what a bungalow is might be difficult for people.  Here’s what I found in a couple of architectural guides I pulled from my shelves:  Architecture and Ornament: A Visual Guide defines bungalow as “Hindustani word for a single storey domestic house first popularised by the British Raj”.  That’s enlightening!  A Field Guide to American Houses refers to the “bungaloid style”. Huh?

Bungalows were part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900s.  Gustav Stickley, whose furniture today is highly valued, popularized the style and published bungalow house plans that were available to subscribers. Stickley’s journal was called The Craftsman and bungalows and other Arts and Crafts-inspired houses of the period are often referred to as “Craftsman-style”.  Sears Roebuck offered several bungalows models through its mail order catalogs as did other houses-by-mail companies.

A true bungalow is a one story or one-and-a-half story building.  Larger  bungalows were built however and while many bungalows were simple in style there were many very stylized bungalows built as well, especially in the West, with those designed by by renowned architects Greene and Greene some of the most elaborate examples.

In different parts of the country different styles of bungalows became popular. Variations include Prairie Style, Arts and Crafts, Tudor, Spanish, and Colonial Revival.   

Defining Features of a Bungalow

  • The classic bungalow has a low sweeping roof, often extending over a front porch.
  • The roof is usually a gable style, sometimes a hip roof, and has wide eave overhangs and, often, exposed rafter ends
  • Many are front gabled with the entry on the gable end facing the street, others are cross- or side-gabled.
  • Many bungalows have prominent, deep front porches often with tapered rectangular supports
  • Window styles are often multi-pane top sash over a single pane lower sash

When Were Bungalows Built?

 Bungalows date from the early 1900s to about 1930.

Where Were Bungalows Built?

Bungalows can be found across the United States. Bungalows’ popularity took off initially in Southern California but soon spread across the country.  Hotbeds of bungalows exist to this day in many towns and cities and bungalows pepper the streetscape in plenty of  neighborhoods.

The prevalence of bungalows is dictated by the years in which the town or city was developed.  Locally, towns like Cambridge and Somerville that were thickly developed prior to the 20th century will have fewer bungalows while towns that experienced building booms in the first decades of the century will have more examples.  Medfordand Arlington had large tracts of land that were developed in the twentieth century so bungalows can be in many parts of town.  Belmont and Watertown also had open land in the early 1900s for development and bungalows can be found in many neighborhoods throughout these towns.

Bungalows in Cambidge, MA

Avon Hill Bungalow

Avon Hill Bungalow

Few bungalows if any will be found in Cambridge’s older neighborhoods – East Cambridge, Mid-Cambridge and West Cambridge east of Fresh Pond Parkway are devoid of bungalows I believe (let me know if you spot one!).  North Cambridge has a number of modest bungalows and Chetwynd Road, a short street parallel to Upland that ends at Corcoran Park , is an all-bungalow street with several others on nearby streets. Cambridge Highlands near the Belmont line has a number of bungalows.  My favorite Cambridge bungalow, the only example on Avon Hill, and I think the nicest and most handsome bungalow in Cambridge, is pictured here.

Bungalows in Medford, MA

Bungalows can be found in North Medford, in the Park Street area, and scattered in other parts of town including several good examples on High Street in West Medford, on Winthrop Street near the rotary, and on Symmes Street off Century.  Bungalow sightings are welcomed so let me know of your favorites!

Bungalows in Somerville

The majority of Somerville’s single families were built prior to 1900 so Somerville does not have a wealth of bungalows.  Some can be found in the Ten Hill neighborhood and others in West Somerville.  A wonderful Somerville bungalow on Central Street, set amidst its handsome Greek Revival and Victorian neighbors, was on the market a few years ago and was featured in a recent article about bungalows in the Boston Globe.

Bungalows in Arlington, MA

Many of Arlington’s neighborhoods outside the center of town continued to grow in the twentieth century, often as farm land was converted to residential use.  There are wonderful examples of bungalows in East Arlington, several of which are pictured here, in Arlington Heights, and in the Morningside neighborhood which has some handsome examples.

Bungalow Resources

Magazines:

 American Bungalow

Style 1900

Books:

Loads of books about bungalows have been published in the last 15 years. Here are a few favorites I pulled from my shelves:

Bungalow Nation by Diane Maddex and Alexander Vertikoff – a beautiful book

Bungalow Kitchens by Jane Powell and Linda Svendsen – vintage kitchen lovers will drool

Bungalow Bathrooms by the same authors – a great resource when deciding what bath style is appropriate for your bungalow

American Bungalow Style by Robert Winter and Alexander Vertikoff – bungalows as they’re lived in today

Inside the Bungalow: America’s Arts & Crafts Interior by Paul Duchscherer and Douglas Keister – a room by room look inside the bungalow

 

Please feel free to share your bungalow stories, sightings, or questions here. And watch for next week’s Architectural Style article on the Mansard in Cambridge and nearby towns.

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What’s A Two-Thirds Family House? Deciphering Cambridge and Somerville Real Estate Terminology

Cambridge Triple-DeckerHome buyers new to the real estate search in Cambridge or Somerville and nearby towns are often perplexed by one of the terms they see in the MLS (the Multiple Listing Service).  “What the heck is a 2/3 family?” they ask. 

The MLS uses the “2/3 family” as a descriptor in the Style of Condominium field.  No question about it – it looks odd.

The term refers to condominiums in multi-unit buildings with two or three units.  Cambridge and Somerville have loads of multi-family buildings.  These wood-framed houses are typically either two-family houses or three-family houses (also called three-deckers or triple-deckers).  When these multi-families are converted to condos the “2/3 family” designation is used to denote the style of condominium building. 

The term does not refer to two-thirds of a building but to a two-family or three-family building.

The condos in a triple-decker are typically the same size and layout since a three-decker customarily consists of three, identical stacked units.

A two-unit association often contains two very different units.  While it’s true that some two-families consist of identical units – a sort of two-decker style – more often the two-family has a smaller first floor unit and a larger unit upstairs, with additional rooms on the third floor.

Are you searching for a condo?  Search here – by map or by search criteria – and see all condos available for sale in the MLS.  And if you have questions or would like to set up an appointment to see any condos that catch your eye remember – I’m only a phone call or email away!

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