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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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  1. Jeffrey Symynkywicz

    Bernard DeVoto, the important American author and intellectual from the first part of the 20th century, lived at 8 Berkeley Street with his family, from (at least) 1952 until his death in 1955. His wife, Avis (a very good friend of Julia Child) lived there for some years thereafter.

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