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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.


 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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Green Street Cambridge – Real Estate, History and More

Green Street Cambridge – Real Estate, History and More   Green Street, in the Riverside neighborhood, is popular with Cambridge real estate buyers. It offers a variety of architectural styles and a convenient location just one block from Mass Avenue between Central Square and Harvard Square offering proximity to the Charles River, MIT, and Harvard University.

Two-family Houses on Green Street in Cambridge MA

Two-family Houses on Green Street in Cambridge MA

Most of the land lining Green beyond Brookline Street, by University Park, is today owned by MIT.  A number of multi-unit buildings and commercial establishments line the street on the blocks behind Central Square as you head towards Western Avenue.  Beyond Sellers Street Green Street is primarily residential.

History of Green Street in Cambridge

Green Street was laid out in sections starting in 1801 when the first stretch from Pearl Street to Pleasant Street was laid out.  It was originally named First Parallel Street.  In 1806 the street was extended to Hancock Street and in 1836 it was extended to Putnam Avenue.  By 1900 it had reached its current length from Putnam to Landsdowne Street.

Green Street Cambridge Real Estate

Houses on Green Street today include triple deckers built in the late 1800s to early 1900s, brick rowhouses, wood double houses and row houses, and single family homes most built in the mid to late 1800s.  Some modern townhouse condos were built in the 1990s.

#516 is one of two unusual round buildings in the Riverside neighborhood – clearly ahead of their time when built in 1963.  Originally built as 16 apartments, the units were converted to condos in 2005.  A condo in the building sold this year for $350,000.

Real Estate Sales in the last two years included:

  • Condos in triple-deckers sold for $319,000 and $519,000
  • 1990s townhouse condos sold for $692,500 and $775,000
  • A renovated condo in a wood rowhouse sold for $$435,000
  • Two units in newly renovated two-unit house sold for $449,000 and $550,000

Green Street Homes for Sale

Cambridge Homes for Sale


Here are some more photographs taken on Green Street in Cambridge:



If you’re interested in selling or buying a home on Green Street in Cambridge contact Liz Bolton, a Cambridge real estate agent at the Huron Avenue Office of Coldwell Banker at 617-504-1737.

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Barack Obama Lived Here – 365 Broadway Somerville

Barack Obama attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge from 1988 to 1991. While in school in Cambridge Obama rented an apartment – a “garden level” unit as real estate agents often call them – at 365 Broadway in Somerville on Winter Hill.

As soon as I heard that Barack Obama had rented on Broadway I figured it was this building. It’s a very distinctive brick rowhouse complex built in 1889 called Langmaid Terrace.

Barack Obama lived here at 365 Broadway, Somerville Massachusetts

Barack Obama lived here at 365 Broadway, Somerville Massachusetts

In Beyond the Neck: The Architecture and Development of Somerville, Massachusetts Langmaid Terrace is described as “one of the most architecturally significant” of the brick apartment buildings and rowhouses that were built in Somerville in the late 1800s.

The authors of Beyond the Neck describe 359 – 365 Broadway 

“Among the finest apartment row[s] in the city is this brick and terra cotta building, with a variety of roofs and crenellated parapets.”

Today Broadway is a major thoroughfare that cuts across Somerville from Charlestown to Arlington.  A bus stop sits right out front. The door to Obama’s basement apartment can just barely be seen behind the tree in the lower left corner of the picture above.  There is no sign or plaque to indicate that the future President of the United States once called this home. 

On April 18, 1775 Paul Revere’s ride took him up Broadway and there is a plaque to commemorate Revere just a couple of blocks from the President’s old digs (not to mention Paul Revere Beverages, a package store).

Today the 89 Bus will take you by Barack Obama’s old apartment at 365 Broadway in Somerville.

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Cambridge Neighborhoods – Central Square Real Estate and More

Central Square in Cambridge Massachusetts

Central Square in Cambridge Massachusetts

The Central Square neighborhood has become very popular with Cambridge real estate buyers.

With a Red Line stop at its center and a location midway between Boston and Harvard Square, and with MIT and the Charles River just down the street, Central Square is number one on the list for many people moving to Cambridge.

I’ve often noticed that when people move to Cambridge from Manhattan or other large cities, Central Square is the Cambridge neighborhood that feels most like a city neighborhood to them.  Mass Ave in Central Square is lined with older, taller commercial buildings, there are plenty of small shops, restaurants, and clubs, and lots of pedestrian traffic.

While many lament that Central Square is becoming gentrified, it remains a grittier, funkier square than Harvard or Porter Square.  There’s a critical mass of bars, clubs with live music, and funky stores that have held on in the neighborhood for years.  There’s a great mix of ethnic restaurants with a few national chains mixed in.  A number of the restaurants have outdoor seating along Mass Ave.

Central Square Real Estate Options

Cambridge real estate buyers who want walk-to access to Central Square have several neighborhoods to choose from.  Mid-Cambridge, Inman Square, Cambridgeport, Riverside, and the blocks with the streets named after Massachusetts counties (Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, etc) all offer easy access to Central Square.

Looking only at the Cambridge real estate listings identified in MLS as in Central Square – keep in mind that many listings don’t include neighborhood and many properties may be listed in one of the other neighborhoods listed above  – here are the average sales prices in Central Square in MLSpin over the last two years:

Single family homes in Central Square:

  •  Sold between $305,000 and $780,000
  • Average sales price $608,310

Central Square condos:

  • Sold between $169,000 and $600,000
  • Average sales price $352,527
  • Average cost per square foot $412

Click here to Search for Central Square Cambridge Real Estate.  You can expand the search parameters to include more listings.

Here are some more photos of Central Square Cambridge MA:

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Julia Child Lived Here – 103 Irving Street Cambridge

As I watched yet another ad for the new movie Julie and Julia  I figured it was time to write a quick post about Julia Child, or more specifically about Julia Child’s house at 103 Irving Street in Cambridge.

Julia Child and her husband Paul moved into this large Cambridge Victorian in 1961.  Irving Street is lined with substantial turn-of-the-century houses and is just blocks from Harvard Square.  It is a neighborhood long popular with Harvard professors among them Child’s friend and neighbor, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who lived one block over on Francis Avenue, Cambridge’s “Professor’s Row”. 

Julia Child's House in Cambridge Massachusetts

Julia Child's House in Cambridge Massachusetts

If people knew anything about Julia Child’s house it was the kitchen that was most familiar.  That well used kitchen, known to so many from the cooking shows that were taped there, was described by Julia as “the most loved and most used room in the house.”  Child retired to California for the last few years of her life and the house was sold.  First however, the kitchen in its entirety was removed from the house and sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2001.

The Childs’ home was like many wonderful old houses we see in Cambridge – little changed in decades.  And like so many others it was purchased by a developer and transformed.  A sleek and stylish kitchen was designed, six new bathrooms installed, central air conditioning, central vac – all the bells and whistles that are popular with buyers today in the price range.  The newly renovated house was sold in 2004 for $3,755,000.  It has since changed hands again for $3,700,000. 

But as a woman commented, riding by on her bike as I snapped a photo of 103 Irving Street, “It will always be Julia Child’s house”.

For more about Julia’s neighborhood, take a virtual walk down the street with a slide show and info about the history, architecture and real estate on Irving Street in Cambridge.

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Franklin Street Cambridge – Real Estate Rambles

House on Franklin Street in Cambridge MA

House on Franklin Street in Cambridge MA

Franklin Street, with its interesting variety of house styles and location between Harvard Square and Central Square, is popular with Cambridge real estate buyers.  Franklin Street is a one-way street running from Putnam Avenue to one block past Sidney Street, ending at Landsdowne Street near MIT.  A walkable a location as you can find, Franklin Street parallels Mass Ave, just two blocks in towards the Charles River, and crosses through two popular Cambridge neighborhoods, Cambridgeport and Riverside.

History of Franklin Street Cambridge

Franklin Street was one of the first streets laid out in the Cambridgeport neighborhood.  Between 1800 and 1801 Judge Francis Dana, who owned a large portion of what is now Cambridgeport, laid out Franklin, Brookline, and Pearl Streets and began to sell lots of land.  Originally named Second Parallel Street it was renamed in 1838 in honor of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin Street Houses

There’s a funky charm to the houses on Franklin Street which are varied in style and more modest in scale than some Cambridge neighborhoods.  Most homes sit close to the brick sidewalks and there are a good number of trees lining the street.  Homes on the street range from small single family houses to multi-families to mid-sized condominium buildings. 

Most houses on Franklin Street were built from the 1830s to the 1890s, with triple deckers filling some lots in the early 1900s.  More recent buildings include the round building at 348 Franklin Street, built in 1965 and now condos, a modern apartment building at 345 Franklin, a seven-story condo building at 332 Franklin Street built in the late ’80s, and an 18-unit condominium building at 369 Franklin built in 2003.

Franklin Street, Cambridge Real Estate Sales

Single family home sales in the last five years ranged from $426,550 to $1,125,000.  The average sale price was $713,694.

18 condos sold in the last two years for prices that ranged from $300,000 to $547,000.   The median sales price was $452,000.  The average price per square foot was $441

There have been just two sales of multi-family properties in the last few years on Franklin Street.  A triple-decker sold in 2007 for $1,065,000.  In 2008 a triple decker and two two-families sold as a package for $1,450,000 which strikes me as a good deal.

Click on the triangle below to see some more photographs:





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The Larchwood Neighborhood – Cambridge Real Estate, History and Architecture

The Larchwood Neighborhood – Cambridge Real Estate, History and Architecture  Larchwood is one of Cambridge’s prettiest neighborhoods.  Designed as a residential subdivision in 1915, its winding streets, lined with handsome houses and lush landscaping, are tucked between Brattle Street, Huron Avenue, and Fresh Pond Parkway.

Larchwood Neighborhood History

House in the Larchwood neighborhood of Cambridge MA

House in the Larchwood neighborhood of Cambridge MA

The Larchwood neighborhood was carved out of the former summer estate of William Gray, a wealthy Salem merchant.  His 38 acre property, The Larches, remained in the Gray family for over 100 years before it was subdivided in 1915.  The original house, which had been surrounded by ornamental gardens, was relocated to Larch Road.  Attempts were made to preserve elements of Gray’s garden when the streets in the Larchwood neighborhood were laid out.

The Larchwood subdivision was designed in 1915 by noted landscape architect Henry Hubbard.  Hubbard had studied at Harvard under Frederick Law Olmsted, whose firm he later joined, and was the first person to earn a degree in landscape architecture.  He later taught at Harvard for more than thirty years focusing on landscape architecture and city planning, and in 1917 wrote with his wife, Theodora Kimball, An Introduction to the Study of Landscape Design, the standard textbook in the field for decades.

Houses in the Larchwood Neighborhood in Cambridge

The predominant architectural style in the Larchwood neighborhood is Georgian Revival.  Here and there another architectural style can be spotted – there’s a large Mansard Victorian on Larchwood Drive and a Modernist house by the Architects Collaborative on Old Dee Road.  There are Capes, Gambrels, and Tudor Revivals  in the neighborhood.

Larchwood Home Sales – Cambridge Real Estate

Larchwood is a popular neighborhood for Cambridge real estate buyers.  Houses in the neighborhood are often extensively renovated after passing hands.  The streets in the Larchwood neighborhood are:

  • Fresh Pond Lane
  • Old Dee Road
  • Meadow Way
  • Larchwood Road

Here are some recent real estate sales in the neighborhood:

Single Family Home Sales in the Larchwood Neighborhood of Cambridge

Single Family Home Sales in the Larchwood Neighborhood of Cambridge

Interested in Cambridge real estate in Larchwood or other Cambridge neighborhoods?


And enjoy the slide show of photographs of many of the Cambridge houses in Larchwood:



 And here are some other Cambridge streets and neighborhoods to check out:

The Agassiz Neighborhood of Cambridge
Follen Street Cambridge
Garfield Street Cambridge
Orchard Street Cambridge
Pemberton Street Cambridge

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Westwood Road Somerville – Real Estate, Architecture, History


Home on Westwood Road

Home on Westwood Road

Westwood Road is one of Somerville’s jewels and a favorite with real estate buyers who appreciate the architecture of its beautiful turn of the century houses.  Just one block long, Westwood Road runs from Benton Road to Central Street.  The Somerville Museum sits at the Central Street end of the block.

History of Westwood Road in Somerville MA

The lots on Westwood Road were divided in 1874 when the estate of James M. Shute and the adjoining Benton farm were subdivided.  Houses were not built on the street until 1894 when real estate developer and hardware dealer Charles Bradshaw built the first eight houses on Westwood Road. 

Bradshaw built the finest of homes and then proceeded in 1895 to move a number of large trees, elms and maples some 50 to 60 years old, onto the front of the lots lining the street.  It was said to be the first time such an undertaking was attempted in Massachusetts.  Just one year after the road was built, Westwood Road was lined with fine homes and mature trees.

The granite posts at the Central Street end of Westwood Road were part of the original gates of the Shute estate.

Westwood Road Architecture

The houses that make up this densely built street are some of Somerville’s best examples of Shingle Style, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival architectural styles.  The houses sit close to the street and are separated by just feet, making a rich and handsome streetscape.

Several of the houses on Westwood Road have been listed for sale in the last few years and I’ve had a chance to go inside.  The interior details – stained glass, woodwork, built-ins – even such typically mundane things as thermostats and heating grates – are some of the finest you’re likely to encounter.

Westwood Road is a National Register of Historic Places Historic District.  The district, consisting roughly of the area bounded by Summer Street, Benton Road, Westwood Road and Central Street was added to the Register in 1989.

Westwood Road Somerville Real Estate

In recent years several Westwood Road houses have sold to lucky buyers:

  • An 11 room, 7 bedrooom shingle style house sold in 2002 for $700,000
  • A 15 room, 7 bedroom Colonial Revival house sold in 2003 for $830,000
  • A 12 room, 7 bedroom Shingle Style house sold in 2007 for $688,500
  • A 7 room, 4 bedroom Victorian house sold in 2007 for $792,500

Here are photographs of some of the homes on Westwood Road in Somerville Massachusetts:


Use the following link to check for homes for  sale on Westwood Road in Somerville.  You can then continue to search for homes for sale in Somerville or in other Massachusetts towns.



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