Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

This Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville was originally planned for May 12, 2009 as part of Somerville’s Historic Preservation Month.  The tour was rained out and had to be rescheduled.  Truth be told (it wasn’t raining at 10:30 that day so I went in case the tour was taking place) it didn’t seem to be the best day for a tour starting by Tufts since Tufts’ commencement was that day.  The new date is Sunday, June 14, 2009.

Vintage Postcard of the Powderhouse Near Ball Square in Somerville MA

Vintage Postcard of the Powderhouse Near Ball Square in Somerville MA

Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

On Sunday June 14th Ed Gordon, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, will lead a tour of the Ball Square and Powderhouse area of Somerville. 

On the From Powder House Pickles to Ball Square Brick Yards walking tour  of historic homes and sites you’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of Tufts University, see some of the most handsome multi-families built in the area, get to see the inside of a home or two, and finish with light refreshments at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park.

Cost is $10 ($8 for members of the VSA).

Sunday, June 14, 2009, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

Meet at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park at the corner of Broadway and College Avenue.  The Field House is at the far end of the park, away from the Powderhouse rotary, and can be accessed on foot from Powderhouse Boulevard.  Somerville parking restrictions aren’t in effect on Sundays.

Hope to see you on the Walking Tour of Ball Square in Somerville!

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Celebrate Historic Preservation Month – Ball Square and Davis Square

May is Historic Preservation Month in Somerville.  Two events are offered this Sunday, May 17, 2009 in two of my favorite neighborhoods – Ball Square and Davis Square in Somerville Massachusetts.

Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

Ed Gordon, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, will lead a tour of the Ball Square and Powderhouse area of Somerville this Sunday. On the From Powder House Pickles to Ball Square Brick Yards walking tour  of historic homes and sites you’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of Tufts University, see some of the most handsome multi-families built in the area, get to see the inside of a home or two, and finish with light refreshments at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park.

Cost is $10 ($8 for members of the VSA).

Sunday, May, 17, 2009, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

Meet at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park at the corner of Broadway and College Avenue.

History of the Davis Square Branch Library

Architectural conservator, Sara Chase, will give a talk on Sunday afternoon titled A Jewel In the Crown: The West Branch Library.  The West Branch Library on College Avenue in Davis Square is a Carnegie Library and 100 years old this year.  I love this little library and look forward to learning more about it.

The lecture, tour of the library and light refreshments are free and open to all. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. 

50 College Avenue, Davis Square, Somerville MA.

A vintage postcard of the library in Davis Square in 1909, the year it was built, is below. It looks just about the same today. 

Hattie wrote on the back to her friend Gertrude:  “Our new library about ten minutes walk from the house.  Our cards have been transferred and we now take books from here.  It is much smaller than the Somerville library and the collection of books of course is not as good but then the (walking part) is very much better.” 

davis-square-library

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Somerville Real Estate Market Activity – April 2009

Somerville Massachusetts Real EstateThe April real estate  sales numbers are in – here’s the April 2009 Somerville real estate market report.

Somerville Real Estate Market Snapshot

 255 residential properties were on the market in Somerville on April 30, 2009.  The lowest priced property was listed for $125,000, the most expensive for $1,600,000. Average days on market was 107.

Inventory is up from last month when 217 properties were on the market on March 31st.  It’s not unusual for new inventory to outpace sales during the height of the spring market as many sellers choose to list their homes for sale during the busy spring months.  Inventory is still down on an annual basis – there were 332 residential properties on the market a year ago in Somerville

Somerville Real Estate Sales in April 2009

34 properties sold (closed) in Somerville during April with an average sales price of $429,603.  The median sales price was $402,750.  Average days on market was 119.

Four single family sales closed in April for prices ranging from $190,000 to $533,000.  The average sales price for a Somerville single family house sold in April was $365,875.  Single family houses in Somerville sold for an average of 91% of asking price.  Average days on market was 50. 

Fourteen condominiums sold in April. The least expensive condominium sold for $100,000.  The most expensive condo sold in April closed for $525,000.  The median condo sales price was $387,000.  The average days on market was 108.  Somerville condos sold for an average of 96% of list price.

Sixteen multi-family property sales closed in April, twice as many as closed in March. The lowest sale price for a multi-family was $280,000.  The highest price paid was $835,000. The median sales price was $534,000. Multi-families sold for an average of 97% of list price.  Average days on market was 146.

Total Somerville closed residential sales volume in April was $14,606,500.

 See Also:

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

 

Search for Somerville Real Estate

Somerville real estate sales data from MLSpin.

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Orchard Street – Somerville and Cambridge – Real Estate Rambles

mansard-orchard-streetSomerville and Cambridge real estate buyers have their favorite streets and for many Orchard Street tops the list.  This tree-lined street parallels Mass Avenue and Elm Street and runs from Davis Square to Porter Square.  Just a half mile in length it is one of the most charming streets in Cambridge or Somerville.

From the first time I saw Orchard Street I was determined to live there.  Sure enough, within several months I was living there as a tenant in one of the large brick apartment buildings built in the 1930s.  It was a great place to live – the Davis Square T stop was a few minutes away, the supermarket in Porter Square was a pleasant walk down the sidewalk lined street, and neighbors – and neighbors’ cats – soon became familiar sights along my route.

Houses on Orchard Street

It’s been years since I lived on Orchard Street but it is still one of my favorite streets in the city.  Lined with an eclectic mix of triple deckers, single families and two-families, the architectural mix on Orchard Street includes Victorians, Greek Revivals, multi-families built in the early 1900s and several handsome brick apartment buildings. 

Orchard Street is right on the line between Somerville and Cambridge with part of the street in each city. The brick sidewalks are one giveaway that you’ve crossed into Cambridge.

Orchard Street History

The first lots on Orchard Street were platted in 1845 from former farm land near Beech Street.  The lots were large and the first houses on the street were built in 1846 to 1847.

tip-oneils-house-at-orchard-and-russellTwo Orchard Street houses were once home to one of Massachusetts’ most beloved leaders – Tip O’Neill.  The O”Neill family owned a two-family on Orchard Street where Tip grew up and during his years in the House of Representatives he and his wife raised their family in the mansard on Russell Street at the corner of Orchard that is pictured at right.

Orchard Street – Somerville and Cambridge Real Estate Sales

Recent real estate sales on Orchard Street include:

Orchard Street Real Estate Sales

Somerville and Cambridge real estate sales data from MLSpin.

SEARCH FOR SOMERVILLE REAL ESTATE

SEARCH FOR CAMBRIDGE REAL ESTATE

More real estate rambles: Garfield Street Cambridge

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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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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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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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