Archive for the 'Everything Else' Category

No Littering – Bumper Stickers Seen Around Cambridge

One of the  many things I love about living in Cambridge are the variety of bumper stickers that you spot on cars as you travel around the city.  Believe me – bumper stickers just aren’t the same out in the burbs.  Cambridge has really good bumper stickers.  A myriad of opinions, obsessions, jokes, causes and more are displayed on our bumpers.

So here’s the first installment in what I plan to feature regularly – Bumper Stickers Seen Around Cambridge.



When I spotted this bumper sticker down the street I was psyched since I hate litterbugs. The amount of trash thrown on Cambridge streets and sidewalks blows my mind and infuriates me.  It’s my new hobby – picking up trash as I walk around town.

As you can see, it turned out to be a bumper sticker promoting the spaying of dogs and cats.  I know that this is a cause dear to the heart of anybody who works in animal shelters and sees how many pets are abandoned.  I actually have mixed feelings.   I’ve found it almost impossible to find a kitten nowadays – if an ad is posted every kitten is spoken for almost immediately. 

Still – a bumper sticker with DON”T LITTER in big letters is one I’d be happy to have on my car.

Actually this is the second Bumper Stickers Seen Around Cambridge post.  Here’s the first:

Election Day Bumper Stickers


Categories: Everything Else
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

The Cape Cod House in Cambridge and Nearby

dormered-cape-divinity-neighborhood-cambridgeThe Cape Cod architectural style or as we call it – the Cape – is very popular in Massachusetts and New England though not very common in Cambridge.  In Cambridge it is often an anomaly – the random Cape spotted here and there – a standout on a street otherwise lined with Victorians, triple deckers, or row houses.

This classic architectural style has roots going back hundreds of years and early examples from the 1600s through the 1800s will be found in many New England towns. William Morgan, in his book The Cape Cod Cottage describes the house as:

“The Cape Cod cottage is the nearly perfect house.  A combination of necessity and tradition, the Cape Cod has been a fundamental, iconic, and enduring expression of the American home for almost four hundred years.”

In style, the Cape is a one and a half story house with a steep pitched roof.  Early Capes often had a center chimney, others, particularly those built in the twentieth century, have an exterior chimney at one end of the house.  A variant is the “half cape” with the entrance door and chimney at one end and two windows to the side. Later many of these would be expanded to full size with the other half added on the far side of the chimney and door resulting in the familiar and symmetrical facade of a center entrance flanked by two windows on each side. 

Capes in Cambridge, Arlington and Nearby Towns

In Cambridge the lovely Colonial Revival cape seen above can be found in the Divinity neighborhood.  There’s also a Cape on Hurlbut Street that always catches my eye and another part brick cape on Huron Ave.  In Cambridgeport there’s a Cape built in early 1800s for a ropeworker and renovated at the end of the 1900s by David Aposhian.  There are other Capes in Cambridge of course but I think many early capes were replaced with larger houses or buildings over the years.

Most Cambridge neighborhoods weren’t part of the revival of Capes in the twentieth century because the neighborhoods had already been built up.  Arlington, Watertown, Medford and Belmont have far greater numbers of Capes built in the 1930s and in the 1950s to 1960s.

Twentieth Century Capes

Many Capes were built in the 1930s, often in a Colonial Revival style, in neighborhoods like Arlington’s Kelwyn Manor.  These capes often have very charming architectural details – archways, built-ins, nooks, and nice hardware.

Capes Built in the 1950 and 1960s

arlington-cape-built-in-19571The next big boom in Cape style houses came in the 1950s and early 1960s during a building boom that resulted in street after Cape lined street in new neighborhoods.  This was the last period when solid, quality building materials were a matter of course even in starter homes – plaster walls, hardwood floors, and fully tiled baths.  The cape at right was built in Arlington in 1957.

My parents’ first house, bought new when I was two and a half, was one of these capes so whenever I show one nowadays to a real estate buyer I know just what to expect.  Four rooms down – a living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom and upstairs two good sized bedrooms, or every so often one large and two small bedrooms.

These capes almost always had a full bath on the first floor.  Upstairs the dormer or its absence determined whether or not there was a full bath, half bath or none.  A full shed dormer across the back expands the bedrooms and allows for a second full bath.  Sometimes a smaller dormer would be added just so a bath could be put in on the bedroom level.  An under the eaves crawlspace provides storage – and a good place for hide and seek. 

It’s always fun to see how today’s homeowners have updated the capes of the 1950s and ’60s.  Many have opened up the wall between the dining room and kitchen, installing updated counters, cabinets and appliances and transforming the space into an open, modern kitchen and dining area.  Many have made good use of the lower level and finished the basement for use as a rec room or office.  Add an updated bath or two and these houses are good to go for the next fifty years.

Capes Continue To Be Built

Capes remain a very popular architectural style in New England.  The capes being built today are usually larger than those of fifty years ago.  Modern capes often have features that are meant to appeal to today’s buyers such as an open floor plan, a great room, and a first floor master bedroom suite.

Resources for Aficionados and Owners of Capes

Here are some books about the Cape Cod architectural style:

Updating Classic America Capes: Design Ideas for Renovating, Remodeling, and Building New (2003) by Jane Gitlin has wonderful ideas for transforming an older Cape

The Cape Cod Cottage (2006) by William Morgan has an excellent essay about the Cape and a beautiful collection of black and white photographs of Capes through the centuries

The Cape Cod House: America’s Most Popular Home (1982) by Stanley Schuler is a well illustrated architectural history of the Cape style.


Other Architectural Styles in Cambridge and Nearby:

The Greek Revival
The Bungalow
The Triple-Decker
Second Empire Mansards



Categories: Everything Else
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Cambridge on the Silver Screen – Movies Filmed In Cambridge


Love Story Locale? Corner of Harvard Street and Inman Street in Cambridge

A number of movies have been filmed in Cambridge Massachusetts.  It’s always fun to see familiar buildings or favorite locations on the big screen.  The older the film the more fun it is too see vintage Cambridge street scenes.

Paul Sherman’s book Big Screen Boston is the best source for information about movies filmed in Massachusetts and the source for most of the info in this post. It’s an exhaustive reference for Massachusetts movie lovers with lots more detail about local scenes in the movies and a must have for your bookshelf.

Movies Filmed In Cambridge

If you want to host a Filmed In Cambridge Film Fest here are some movies with Cambridge scenes:

Between the Lines (1977) My favorite of the bunch, this movie about an independent weekly based on The Real Paper has some great local scenes including the Suffolk Franklin Savings Bank in Copley Square where I once worked.  There are a number of Cambridge locales too including Harvard Square and Cheapo Records in Central Square.

Blown Away (1994) was set in Boston but there are some Cambridge cameos including the Harvard-Epworth Church and MIT

The Bostonians (1984) This Merchant Ivory film includes two Cambridge houses as homes to characters in the film – the Longfellow House and a house on Pemberton Street in North Cambridge.

The Dark End of the Street (1981) Set in the Cambridge projects this movie was young Ben Affleck’s debut film.

The Dozens (1980) was an indie film about a female ex-con set in Cambridge.  I like the earlier movies for glimpses of the Cambridge I remember or never knew.

Gone Baby Gone (2007) was Cambridge’s own Ben Affleck’s directorial debut.  Mount Auburn Cemetery makes an appearance.

Good Will Hunting (1997) Cambridge born Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s film has Harvard Square scenes.  Remember The Tasty?

The Good Mother (1988) is based on local author Sue Miller’s novel of the same name and includes scenes in Harvard Square and at the 1369 Club.

Harvard Man (2001) Given the title, it’s not surprising that there are a number of Cambridge locales in this movie.

Love Story (1970) is perhaps the most well known Cambridge-based movie.  Though Sherman doesn’t mention it I’ve always heard that the building pictured above is featured in the movie.  Guess it’s time to rent it again to check.

A Small Circle of Friends (1980) has scenes at Harvard and at the Orson Welles Cinema.


So – rent some movies, break out the popcorn, and enjoy some Cambridge flashbacks on film.

Categories: Everything Else
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

House Numbers in Cambridge and Somerville – House Parts We Love

Stick On House NumberHouse numbers are important – ask any Cambridge real estate agent.  As we’re driving around and around the block, craning our neck trying to find the house where we’ve scheduled an appointment, a bright clear house number is just what we want to see.  

House numbers are also critical for emergency personnel.  In fact, the Somerville fire department requires homeowners to have a visible house number in order to get the smoke alarm certificate that’s required in Massachusetts to sell a home.

So if you have to have a house number on your home – why not make it a special one?  Cambridge and Somerville homeowners have personalized their abodes with special house numbers – made of tile, of shiny brass, of polished nickel, in script, on plaques, in gilt on glass, even in one case in colored mesh on a garden gate.

Why would you want to settle for a paste-on sticker like the one above when you could have a stylish or charming house number like one of these?

Somerville and Cambridge House Numbers


Here are some sources for house numbers for your Somerville or Cambridge house:

Architectural Numbers by Weston
Brass House Numbers
Tile House Numbers

 Here are some other House Parts We Love:

Shutters With Cutouts
 Decorative Metal Doorknobs


Categories: Everything Else
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Pooh’s House in Cambridge

cambridge-pooh-house1Sorry Cambridge real estate buyers – this house isn’t for sale!  Perhaps the most charming small house in Cambridge – Pooh’s House on Hurlbut Street is a favorite of local residents and visitors alike.  The guest book tucked inside has been filled many times over with comments by visitors from around the world.

The Cambridge Pooh House tree also has a book swap box inside with a stuffed bear perched atop.  A sign gives credit to people responsible for the creation of the Pooh House including  local resident Irv Devore who originally began to turn the rotted tree into Pooh’s house. 

At the base of the tree is a small door with a sign that reads “Mr. Sanders” above – since as we all know, Winnie the Pooh lived in a house with the name “Mr. Sanders” above his door.  There’s a weathervane atop the wood shingled roof and a narrow window facing the street.

cambridge-pooh-house-mini-doorCreated by Cambridge artist and furniture craftsman, Mitch Ryerson, this delightful house is carved from the remains of a large silver maple tree that had to be cut down.  Ryerson has transformed the remains of several other large Cambridge trees into gigantic chairs in projects funded by the Cambridge Arts Council.  It’s always a huge loss when these grand trees are no longer viable but the tree chairs are consolation and an enduring gift to the neighborhood.  These distinctive seats can be found around Cambridge on Oxford Street, Lee Street and Clay Street.  I think there are more – leave a comment if you know the location of other tree chairs.

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House Parts We Love – Decorative Metal Doorknobs

Vintage Metal Doorknob in CambridgeSo often when we fall in love with a house it’s the details that make the difference.  When I’m out on the real estate trail in Cambridge MA, I come across so many wonderful features in the great houses in Cambridge.

This series – House Parts We Love – is my celebration of the myriad of special features that add charm and character to a house.  Many of these features are found in older houses since builders in years past paid a lot more attention to the details.  There are fine features in newer houses too – so if new houses or modern architecture warm your heart – not to worry – I’m snapping pictures in houses of all ages.  And feel free to email me with your favorite house parts.

Vintage Decorative Metal Doorknobs Found Around Cambridge

Doorknobs have been catching my eye lately.  Doorknobs are such an integral part of the house – a part of the house that is hard for anyone to miss.  You can’t help but be intrigued when it’s a beautiful Art Nouveaux doorknob you turn to open the front door.  Or perhaps it’s the intricately patterned embossed doorknob that’s a standout on a closet door.   The utilitarian can also be beautiful.

Vintage Metal Doorknob in CambridgeHurray if you’re lucky enough to have some fabulous doorknobs in your home already.  If not, there are some great sources for new, reproduction, or vintage doorknobs.  Ebay is worth visiting regularly for vintage hardware and architectural salvage yards will have vintage doorknobs available.  Raybern on Weston Ave in Teele Square, Somerville carries a wide variety of specialty hardware including some lines with reproduction doorknobs. 

Here are some other providers of antique and reproduction doorknobs:

 Other house parts we love:

Cutout Shutters

Elizabeth Bolton is a house enthusiast and real estate agent in Cambridge MA.

Categories: Everything Else
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Triple-Decker House Style – Three-Family Houses in Cambridge

West Cambridge Triple-DeckerCambridge real estate buyers will quickly learn to recognize triple-deckers if they’re not already familiar with the house style.  These three-unit buildings , also called three-families or three-deckers, are ubiquitous in Cambridge and Somerville and are also found in other nearby cities and towns including Boston, Belmont, Medford and Watertown.  Nowadays, many triple-deckers have been converted to condominiums so even if you’re not looking for investment property you’ll likely be looking at a lot of triple-deckers.

Triple-Deckers in Cambridge Massachusetts – History and Architecture

Triple-deckers were first built in the 1870s in Boston (according to some, others suggest that Fall River or Worcester was first to popularize the style) and soon became a common building style throughout New England, particularly in cities.  Three-deckers were the answer to high land costs and the need for relatively inexpensive housing options for workers. 

Mid-Cambridge Triple DeckerConstructed with three stacked identical units, triple-deckers have a flat roof, often an overhanging cornice, and frequently front or back porches – or both – on all three levels.  Typically the narrow end of the building faces the street though there are a number of examples in Cambridge where the wide facade faces forward often with bay windows on each side of the main door to the building.

As evidenced by the varying quality of interior and exterior ornamentation, triple-deckers were also constructed for those of more means as builders sought to appeal to middle-class home buyers. In Cambridge you can find simply ornamented three-deckers as well as examples with gracious foyers, handsome built-ins, transom windows, and rich paneling and trim. Exterior details reflect a variety of architectural styles including the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne.

Developers often built several triple-deckers side-by-side and some Cambridge streets are lined almost entirely with three-families including Alberta Terrace in North Cambridge, Cambridge Terrace in Porter Square, Speridakis Terrace in Cambridgeport, and Marie Avenue in Mid-Cambridge.

Triple-Deckers in Cambridge – Investment Property and Cambridge Condos

West Cambridge Three Decker HouseTriple-decker apartments have become popular as condos and many of Cambridge’s three-families are now in condominium ownership.  Builders will buy a three-family, gut it and transform the apartments – often changing the floor plans, sometimes installing a second bath, and outfitting the kitchen and baths with all the bells and whistles that today’s buyers expect.  Other triple deckers have gone through more modest upgrades and still retain much of the original feel and character.

Sale prices for the eleven Cambridge three-decker buildings that sold in the last twelve months in the MLS ranged from $485,100 to $1,055,000 with a median price of $810,000. It won’t be surprising if many of these return to the real estate market as condos as a couple already have.  Asking prices for triple-deckers currently for sale in Cambridge range from $699,000 to $1,185,000.

Sale prices of Cambridge condos in triple-deckers over the last twelve months in MLS ranged from $305,000 to $735,000.  The most expensive triple-decker Cambridge condo sale that I can think of was the $881,500 paid in 2006 for a beautifully renovated condo in a particularly handsome three-decker in Cambridgeport. 

Read more about architectural styles found in Cambridge in these posts:


Greek Revivals in Cambridge
Mansards in Cambridge

Bungalows in Cambridge and Arlington

 Here are some Somerville and Cambridge triple deckers on the market – click on the photo for more info and use the back button to return to this page:


And if you’re looking for Cambridge multi-unit properties or considering buying a condo in a triple-decker in Cambridge:



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Cutout Shutters – House Parts We Love

Cutout Shutters on a Bungalow in Arlington Massachusetts

Cutout Shutters on a Bungalow in Arlington Massachusetts

People buy a particular house for all sorts of reasons – location, condition, size of the bedrooms, the renovated kitchen, the big backyard  – everybody has their own real estate wish list.

For some of us it’s the small things – the special features that catch our eye, that warm our hearts, that feel just right, that spark the fantasy – that make a house The One.  It might be the beautiful stained glass window in the stairwell, the handsome built-in bookshelves in the livingroom, or the deep clawfoot tub in the bath.

The list of features – house parts – that have that special magic, that create that pull of desire, is very long. Long enough that I’m going to make it a regular feature here. 

So without further ado –  the debut of House Parts We Love.

Cut-Out Shutters

Cambridge MA House With Cutout Shutters

Cambridge MA House With Cutout Shutters

Charm is always high on my list when I’m looking for a house to buy.  Cutout shutters are a sure-fire way to add charm to a house.  Put cut-out shutters on a house and it transforms the simplest and  plainest of houses into the most appealing home on the block.

Cut-out shutters seem to have been most popular in the 1920s to 1950s or so. I’ve seen them on earlier vintage houses though. For years a Victorian in Porter Square was adorned with “E”s on the cutout shutters – which I, of course, thought must stand for Elizabeth.

Designs are varied – shamrocks are popular in these parts, letters, crescent moons, diamonds, pine trees, animals – all sorts of designs are possible.  Location often dictates the style of cut-out, with nautical themes, for example, popular close to the shore. 

The Arlington house shutters pictured above have a fleur-de-lis cutout.  The Cambridge cape, a beautiful house in the Divinity neighborhood, has squirrels (I think!) as cutouts on  its shutters.

If you want to add cutout shutters to your house Timberlane Shutters has a variety of styles.  Shuttercraft in Connecticut is another company that produces custom wood shutters.


As a house enthusiast and Cambridge real estate agent I’m always coming across beautiful or charming (or both!) house parts.  I’ve taken to carrying my camera with me to capture them to share with you.  Check back often for more of my favorites – and please – let me know about your favorite house parts – and I’ll be on the lookout!

Other House Parts We Love:

Decorative Metal Doorknobs


Categories: Everything Else
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

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