"If This House Could Talk..." 2009
10 Acorn Street
A family living here in the late 1960’s loved this house, but acquired
A horse from the WGBH auction and had to move away to the country.
The mother of the family came to the door in l977 and asked if she could re-visit the house and yard where her young family had been so happy.
21 Acorn Street
This house is almost 100 years old and I’ve lowered the energy bills on it by 50% through air-sealing, insulation and CFLs (efficient lightbulbs). The total heating and electricity bill for the year is under $1200. Through my work the house is also less drafty, noisy and feels warmer.
225 Allston Street
154 Auburn Street
Built in 1898, this house was a virtually uninhabited wreck in 1981, when 6 families bought and restored it as cooperative, affordable housing. It is now condos, but remains limited equity, with a spirit of cooperation and community.
217-219 Brookline Avenue
If this house could talk it would tell you that it was built in 1895 as a boarding house―a neighbor told us her grandmother boarded in this house as a young woman. In 2000, the house still had a dirt floor.
From 1962 to 2000, Walter and Phyllis Sullivan owned and lived in 217-219, raised 4 children and were active participants in Cambridgeport life. Walter was a founding parent of Central Baseball League and Phyllis served on the Morse School PTO as well as working as a teacher's aide. She also knit beautiful mittens and gave them away.
Current owners have found medicine bottles, a horseshoe, crumbling old oyster shells and a darning egg while digging in the backyard.
59 Chestnut Street
This housed was built in 1894 for Mr. G. H. Greenleaf for $5,000, and appears on a map of Cambridge for the first time in 1903. By 1904 H. Baxter Severance was the owner. He is listed in the Cambridge City Directory of that year as a book finisher. Most likely, he was involved in some way with Riverside Press.
The Cambridge Chronicle of 1894 said the house, to be constructed in Queen Anne style, would" contain all modern improvement (sic)." The present owner, who has lived here since 1976, confirms that it does have most modern conveniences.
65 Chestnut Street
In the 1960s and 1970s 65 Chestnut was home to a multi-family cooperative that worked with neighbors to start Tot Lot (the Cambridgeport Children’s Center) and move it from its location at the Polaroid Company to its current location behind this house (65R).
House members also founded The Boston Phoenix and ran the newspaper out of the basement, using the space as a darkroom and for layout of the paper. Later, the Phoenix merged with Boston After Dark to become the current Boston Phoenix we know now.
Laura Obbard Brightman
Cambridgeport Children’s Center 65R Chestnut Street
In 1971, five families in search of quality childcare organized a playgroup in Cambridgeport, By 1974, this group raised $26,000 to renovate the house which was a Model T repair garage. The funds were used for materials, and parents gave of themselves to establish Cambridgeport Children's Center, affectionately known throughout the community as Tot Lot.
Tot Lot is now a community comprised of ethnically, racially, culturally and socio-economically diverse children,. families and staff. The founding mission of the center is to provide a safe place to counter the many forms of persistent discrimination in our society.
From the parent of a recent graduate.........
"We found teachers who were still smiling and cheerful at the end of a long day. We met other parents who liked to hang out and chat. We felt encouraged to get involved. Most important, we have seen very happy kids, growing healthy, and playing together well (and working with each other through their conflicts and differences)"
From current mom who has been with Tot Lot for 5 years...............
"Tot Lot is a place that though changes--sometimes a lot--depending on the families and teachers who make up its community, it still manages to feel like "Tot Lot", it remains true to itself despite all the variations. It remains a place where the people who take care of your child (or children) will take the time to give your child a hug if he/she needs it, spend some quiet time with those who may be sad about something and spend the time needed to have the kid perk up, sit down and ACTUALLY PLAY WITH THE KIDS, GET EXCITED ABOUT WHAT YOUR CHILD HAS LEARNED THAT DAY OR WAS EXCITED ABOUT THAT DAY, GET ON THE FLOOR AT THE PARK AND LOOK FOR ITTY BITTY RED SPIDER MITES WITH THE KIDS OR LET THEM BRING THAT OH SO COOL SNAIL BACK TO THEIR CUBBY. its THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING HOME WITH THEM--tot Lot WAS THE ONLY OPTION FOR ME"
72 Chestnut Street
Family lore says that local builder Clinton M. Packer built this house as a wedding gift for his wife about 130 years ago.
137 Chestnut Street
One day Nancy came home and found a note that said “I lived here with Andy Kaufman (the comedian from Taxi) in 1972.”
172 Chestnut Street
This house was built on the banks of an underground stream. Before this area was settled, it was used as oyster beds.
Newton Street is built over a streambed. Many of the rocks in my yard are from that stream. They were dug up when they were fixing the road a few years ago.
Also, notice that this house is one of 5 built by the same builder. His house was 2 doors down on the left.
13 Cottage Street
23 Cottage Street
From 1863-1886 there was a barn or carriage house on this site, part of the property belonging to the house next door on the corner. In 1887 this property was split off and this house was erected. You'll see quite a few other small mansard-roofed houses in Cambridgeport.
24 Cottage Street
Built 1838. Occupied for the whole of 19th century by the Coolidge family. Flavel Coolidge (1775-1848) was raised as a Shaker, leaving the Shirley community to set up as a brush-maker in Cambridgeport and Boston, and marrying another ex-Shaker, Anna Wilds (1779-1874). Their son─Flavel Coolidge Stratton (1840-1906)─graduated from Harvard in 1861, where he was in the same class as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Later, he became a merchant-manufacturer in Cambridgeport, a mason, and a deacon of the First Universalist Church, then on Franklin Street.
44 Cottage Street
This home, built in 1840 is an example of the Greek Revival style, and the owner, Charlie Allen has been lovingly restoring it since 1992. At that time, the house had endured decades of alterations. At one time it was also the home of Charlie Allen Restorations. Today, the house has been completely restored, with careful interior renovations creating as more comfortable modern-day lifestyle.
In 1856, Edmund Trowbridge Dana―a justice of the peace, liberal benefactor, and would-be artist—bestowed to Cambridge the property now known as Dana Park. He made the gift upon the condition that the land be planted with trees and forever remain a public park. At the time, the city unsuccessfully tried to purchase additional property to extend the park to Pearl Street. Over the last century-and-a-half, Dana Park has fallen several times into severe neglect. The most recent improvements were completed in 2004.
215 Erie Street
Our house, built by the Gooch family in 1869, was a single-family originally. In 1883, Joshua Gooch applied for a permit to build a stable in the back. A long-term resident remembered our barn as the place where the horses and buggies were quartered for a pre-automobile taxi fleet.
Peter, one of the owners, re-habbed the stable floors and found a pit, lined in soapstone, with a soapstone bench. Was it a stream bath? No one seems to know.
20 Fairmont Avenue
The 1873 map of Cambridge shows the undeveloped site of this house and surrounding land as being owned by Theo Otis. An unnamed lane runs from Fairmont Street into the Otis property, which extended south to “Somerset Street” (now Allston Street). On the west side of this lane stands a single building, labeled “Soap Factory.”
In 1877 map shows the present alignment of “Creek Street”, likely named for the brook which historically ran approximately along the present rear lot lines of houses opposite this one. This brook ran to the Charles River from a pond at the present location of Hoyt Field. The pond was filled by the City in the late 1800’s to create a playground. In the 1877 map only one house is shown on this side of Creek Street, at approximately mid-block.
By 1886, a full complement of houses is shown on both sides of the street, which had by then been re-christened “Fairmont Avenue”. Nearly all of those houses, including this one, remain today.
14-16 Fairmont Street
14-16 Fairmont Street was built in 1866 and was owned as a rental property by Asa Morse (Morse School) whose primary estate was on the current site of the Woodrow Wilson Court. At various times, this land baron and businessman owned 10-12, 14-16, 15-17, 18-20 and 19 Fairmont Street houses―nearly half of the block."
Fort Washington Park
In 1775, the British army occupied Boston. General George Washington, commander of the American army encamped at Cambridge, placed the city under siege and ordered his men to surround Boston with a ring of fortifications. This three-gun, “half-moon” battery—the only survivor of the Cambridge batteries—was built on the marshy shore of the Charles River, with clear views across the water.
Fort Washington Park was created by the City in 1857 and has been preserved by the efforts of generations of concerned citizens; the most recent restoration was completed just this year. Visit the park at Noon on Saturday, October 3rd, for a rededication ceremony!
City Sprouts Garden at Morse School 15 Granite Street
During World War II, this plot of land--
the Morse School, its CitySprouts garden, and the ball field--was an enormous
During the war years, when food was often in short supply, people grew fruits and vegetables here to supplement the rationed food available in local markets.
Bill Davis, who grew up in this neighborhood --and is the father of Denise Sullivan, Morse School’s parent liaison--has vivid memories of that garden: Late one night he & some buddies got into a tomato fight, throwing ripe red tomatoes at each other
and making a big racket. A neighbor called the police, but the boys hid under a pile of cut corn stalks and managed to dodge the law....
Bill, who still lives in the neighborhood, is happy to have a garden back on this site.
Morse School, 40 Granite Street
Has been a school since 1891!
The original building stood on the corner of Brookline Street and Allston Streets and was designed by Charles Fogerty.
This building was built in 1954 – 1956 and opened September 1956. Carl Koch and Associates of Worcester, MA & The Architects Collaborative of Cambridge designed it.
This site underwent a major renovation (keeping most of the original design and adding additional spaces) between June 1997 and December 1998 overseen by The Design Partnership of Cambridge.
Has many beautiful “built-in” art pieces: Tile murals by Juliet & Gregory Kepes – throughout the building and a large brilliantly colored silk-screened mural in the main lobby by Tomie Arai.
Playground at the Morse School, 40 Granite Street
In 1971 in this playground and in the adjacent Kindergarten room, the Cambridgeport Childcare Center at 65R Chestnut Street had its earliest beginnings as a summer program called the “Tot Lot.” Two neighborhood mothers brought the idea of a parent co-operative childcare program to the Morse Community School which backed the plan. Two other neighborhood mothers volunteered to lead the program when the college work-study students didn’t take the job as planned.
With the strong support of the Community School director, this cooperative program for children from age 18 months to five years, ran for the summer with the two “directors”, a rotating group of at least three parents a day, an older Israeli woman volunteer, and an assortment of Mayor’s Program teen-agers.
Enthusiasm among the parents kept the program going through the winter with about 15 children enrolled. The “Tot Lot” met in different neighborhood homes with three parents taking turns each day. After another summer at the Morse School, this time with a hired director, and another winter meeting in houses and for a time in the VFW post of the MDC at Magazine Beach, one parent turned one floor of her house into a day care center.
After all these changes and the work of many neighborhood parents the “Tot Lot” found its permanent home at 65R Chestnut Street. One of the younger siblings of one of the original “directors” attended pre-school there in the l980’s and her grandchild in the l990’s.
P.S. Six of the original families, including those of the two “directors” have continued to get together over the years for various occasions, which now include, not only the original parents but the “Tot Lot” children and all of their children!
51 Granite Street
It would tell you that it was built in 1906 on land that used to be tidal marsh and oyster flats. Oyster shells are still found in the yard.
With only three owners in its 103 years, it was restored to its original two-family state in 1999. A hidden staircase reminds us that it was built as a Philadelphia-style two family.
Carol Smith and Niels Sokol
Hastings Square was born out of a gift of land from Edmund Trowbridge Hastings (1789-1861) to the City of Cambridge in 1857. Hastings, a merchant, inherited the land in 1807 from his Uncle Francis Dana, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
Justice Dana’s heirs had laid out a subdivision called “Pine Grove” in 1838 with 131 house lots on Putnam Avenue and Allston, Chestnut, Henry, Waverly, Sidney, Brookline and Pearl Streets. This park, and the one at Fort Washington—also a gift from the family—were to “forever remain open for light, air, and ornament” for the residents of Pine Grove and the general public.
At the turn of the century, this park was redesigned by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., son of the renowned designer of Boston’s Emerald necklace.
4 Hastings Square
If this house talked it would tell you that the previous owners, the Millers, ran a dance studio in the basement. The maple floors are still there. When we bought the house in 1979, we found hundreds of little tutus in the attic. The Queen Anne-style house was built around 1874.
Good News Garage, 75 Hamilton St.
On September 12, 1986, Good News Garage relocated its World Headquarters to this spot, Visitors come from far & wide to see if either of those "Car Talk" guys actually show up for work!
157 Hamilton Street
Built in 1931, 157 Hamilton is the youngest house on the entire block
(Hamilton, Pearl, Erie, Brookline) and one of only two built in the 20th
century. Constructed in what was once the yard of 153-55 and 151, it was
designed by the uncle of Alice "Rita" Keenan, who was born and spent
almost her entire life at 156 across the street. Rita once recalled how
she and her friends almost burned 157 down playing with matches in one of
the bedrooms. In 1949, Maurice and Margaret Sheehan bought four adjacent
houses for a few thousand dollars and immediately sold two to friends,
thereby obtaining 157 and 153-55 for almost nothing. The current owner
bought 157 from the Sheehan estate in 1991.
190 Hamilton Street
In 1998 when our daughter Anika was 10 years old she found a TIME CAPSULE in our linen closet dated: Sept. 25, 1983 in the name of William C. Maxwell. She planted another time capsule in our house.
The 1860s: The "urban" story we have heard about our house is that the developer for Cambridgeport lived in our house. That's why we have such a big yard, both in the front and in the back. We are grateful.
Catherine Wood and Ray and Anika Ahlberg
198 Hamilton Street
Built in 1862 as a single family, it was later split for decades into
two apartments. From about 1960-1985, the first floor was the home of
Patrick Spinetto, the "Pat" in Pat's Tow.
202 Hamilton Street
If this house could talk it would tell you that writer Jill Rena Bloom once lived here, author of Harlequin romances and books helping parents to better advocate for their children with special needs. And around back in the garage, in 1979, Jill’s husband Ron Mooradian established Mooradian Cover Co., which still, today, manufactures soft case musical instrument covers for classical and jazz musicians worldwide. (This company remains in operation, but in Boston.)
212 Hamilton Street
It would mention that Shane McGowan of the Pogues of Ireland slept here one night. He was in town for a concert at Avalon and was asked to leave his hotel. We put him up.
75 Henry Street
It would fondly recollect the 1898 marriage of the original owner’s daughter on the grand staircase within. Might history repeat itself?
Katherine Gamble Shirley
92-96 Henry St.
This property was formerly on the shoreline of the river estuary and there is still sand under the basement floorboards. It was built in 1885 as one of the first wave of homes on the street after the construction of the railroad embankment cut this area off from the river. It was designed as an attached two-home structure by two sisters (and their husbands) who occupied the adjacent sides, but since then it has been divided and recombined in a variety of ways. The garage was added in the 1920s. The original plantings were designed to start blooming in the front in early spring and then have additional flowers appear in a spiraling succession around the house as the seasons progressed. The Innerbelt Highway, finally stopped in the 1970s after many years of protests―many led by the occupants of this house―would have wiped out this entire neighborhood; this house (and the park) would have been replaced by an on-ramp.
Steven E. Miller and Sally Benbasset
4 Lawrence Street
This 140 year-old Greek Revival house has been owned by women from the day it was constructed in ca. 1870. It was built by Eliza McCann, widow and abolitionist, and includes a secret stair and hidden 3rd floor closet. Then, her daughter Lucella Bates McCann inherited the house and lived here until her death in 1972. It was then owned by Lucella's companion and care-giver, Caroll Jeanette Roberts until 1986, at which point it was purchased by Margaret Farrar and her husband Andy. The Farrar's live here still: Margaret, a science teacher at CRLS; Andy, a toy maker; their two children; and their dog Max and cat Bobbie.
42 Magazine Street
In 1834 land and building were sold by William Wiggins, carpenter, to Alvah C.Smith, trader, for $3000. It was a plain square building.
In 1879 owner Frank Barlett added a back ell and ornamentation to make it a big and quite stylish “Italianate Bracketed.”
I bought it in 1978 as a rooming house. It is now 3-family owner occupied.
When I renovated it, I found that the original house had been built with used lumber.
Grace Vision United Methodist Church, 56 Magazine Street
If this House of Worship could talk it would tell you…
I HAVE 138 YEARS OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE. I WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1871 IN CENTRAL SQUARE AND MOVED TO #16-18 COTTAGE STREET AS THE COTTAGE STREET METHODIST EPISCOPAL SOCIETY.
MY PRESENT EDIFICE AT 56 MAGAZINE STREET WAS BEGUN IN NOVEMBER OF 1886. I WAS DEDICATED IN JUNE OF 1887 WHEN MY NAME WAS CHANGED TO GRACE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
I HAVE A HISTORY OF ADDRESSING ISSUES OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS SUCH AS: CHINESE IMMIGRANTS, IRISH AND AFRICAN AMERICAN CONCERNS, THE POOR AND THE HOMELESS, AND THE GBLT COMMUNITY.
I HAVE HOSTED IMPORTANT PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS: THE FISKE JUBILEE SINGERS ON THEIR WORLD WIDE TOUR IN 1891, REPRESENTATIVE JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE 1950’S, REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IN THE 1960’S,CASPAR, BOY SCOUTS,THE CHILDREN’S CLOTHING EXCHANGE, AND THE CAMBRIDGE PEACE COMMISSION.
I MERGED WITH THE VISION UMC CONGREGATION IN 2008 TO FORM GRACE VISION UNITED METHODIST CHURCH.
ED AND DIANNE RICE
Arden Court, 57-59 Magazine Street
The Arden Court apartment building celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. Now a condominium complex, it was designed by the Cambridge architectural firm of Newhall and Blevins, which also created luxury apartment buildings in Harvard Square. Arden Court exemplifies a Mission-style multi-family building―a style rare in the Northeast.
84 Magazine Street
Built just after the Civil War, in 1867, the house was sold in the 1880s to John Hopewell, Jr., a minor textile baron, who fancied it up and enlarged it. By 1920, it belonged to the Samourian family (see name set in the concrete walkway) who would occupy it for the next 84 years; by far the longest residents were the three unmarried Samourian sisters, all seamstresses, who filled the house with fabric and sewing machines.
Thanks to a devastating fire around 1939, in the shadow of the Great Depression, the house lost its head – that is, its original tower and Mansard-style third floor burned clean off. In 2006, it was recapitated by its current owners. The playhouse in the back, which we originally built at our former house four blocks away, arrived in October 2006 by forklift.
Today, residents include an architect/city planner, a speechwriter, an aspiring playwright, two smallish hockey players, an orange cat and a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama. We grow our own French fries from the lawn.
Village Grill & Seafood, 114 Magazine Street
If this restaurant could talk it would tell you that the owners traveled many thousands of miles from a country called Greece to start a business and live the American dream. Our best dishes are delicious pizza and fresh baked haddock. Fresh seafood is delivered from Georges Bank, off the coast of Nova Scotia, three times a week.
Teddy and friend
127 Magazine Street
If this house could talk it would say I was designed by William Hovey and built by Henry Chamberlain for Daniel Chamberlain in 1855 in the Italianate-Bracketed style intended to suggest gracious villas of the Italian Lake Country. The Chamberlains were among the most successful businessmen of the Central Square of their day. When I was finished, I was one of only a few houses this close to the river and the extensive tidal marshes that reached to not far below where Chestnut Street is now.
In 1885 a carriage house was added in the back yard, large enough for two carriages and four horses. It has a slate roof from the long-closed Monson quarries in Maine, said to be among the best black slate in the world. It has been completely renovated as a single-family rental property and won Cambridge’s Renovation of the Year award in 1998.
Nowadays almost 4,000 flowers bloom in my yard in the spring. I hope that you will come back to see them.
132 Magazine Street
This modest Italianate Victorian would tell you that it was a “prefab” -- built in 1872 in Lewiston, Maine!!!! –and shipped down the coast – to be assembled For Mr. C.K. Hooker, who “had charge of the piping of the City Buildings.”
170 – 174 Magazine Street
(sometimes known as 170-172 Magazine St./37 Glenwood Ave.)
This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1894, supposedly for the man who was then Cambridge City Clerk. Originally a single-family house, it had its main entrance on Magazine Street and a northerly side entrance for access to the servants’ quarters on the third floor. In 1925, it was remodeled and converted into a 2-family house and then in 1928 into a 3-family house. The current owner and her then-husband first lived in the 2nd-floor apartment as tenants from 1969 – 1971. The landlord/owner, Georgia Metaxas, who lived on the other side of Glenwood Avenue, sold the house to them in 1971 when rent control went into effect in Cambridge. Shortly after their purchase, the new owners had the 1st-floor apartment repaired, spruced up and somewhat reconfigured. This project included the relocation of that apartment’s front door from the Magazine Street side to the Glenwood Avenue side of its columned, wrap-around porch.
For some time, Mrs. Metaxas continued to live across the street with her family and husband, the Reverend Arthur Metaxas of the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church at 14 Magazine Street, who was also a Cambridge Police Department chaplain and taught Greek at the high school.
The Micro Center building on Memorial Drive, visible from the house, was formerly the home of the flagship Stop & Shop grocery store. The now-faded mural on the parking lot side of the building commemorates the neighborhood opposition to the Inner Belt (see below*) that helped to defeat a proposed highway that would have run right through Cambridgeport, just west of Brookline Street from the B.U. Bridge to Central Square.
*“The Inner Belt in Boston was a planned six-lane, limited-access highway which would have run through parts of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. . .
The project was canceled in 1971 after intense protests organized by community activists, and following Gov. Francis Sargent's 1970 moratorium on highway construction inside Route 128. It would have displaced some 7,000 people from their homes and created what opponents at the time called a "Chinese wall" dividing long established neighborhoods, and would have gutted large parts of the city of Cambridge and the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury. There was also speculation that the construction of the Inner Belt would essentially bypass downtown Boston completely, resulting in economic stagnation in a city that was already having considerable financial problems. It was one of the first large highway projects to be blocked by local opposition. Unresolved traffic problems resulting from the cancellation were among the factors leading to Boston's Big Dig highway project.”
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_695_(Massachusetts) on 10/2/09
Carol Burchard O’Hare
Ten Thousand Villages, 694 Massachusetts Avenue
If this store could talk it would tell you that it holds the hopes and dreams of artisans around the globe. They capture their dreams for the future and their families in their handcrafted home decor and gift items. Through fair trade, artisans receive a fair price for their products, which allows them to provide for their families and dream of a better future. In turn, customers like you have the opportunity to purchase quality, handcrafted home decor and gifts and make a difference in the lives of artisans around the world.
Park View, 24 & 26 Corporal McTernan
This building was designed by the architects Newhall and Blevin and built for Dr. True in 1908. Decades later, it became one of the first Cambridge limited equity co-ops. As a co-op our history has been written cooperatively.- GK Our building, originally occupied by medical students, is now at present occupied by families for a corporate style of living- JN This building has a tradition of housing organizers. In the '70s Cambridge leaders of the 2nd wave of feminists met here. In the '80s union organizers - today green activists.-EM
Gavin W. Kleespies, John Nesby, and Elizabeth Morr-Wineman
Central Square Branch, Cambridge Public Library, 45 Pearl Street
If this library could talk it would tell you that a magnificent portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. hangs high on our largest wall, painted by James E. Guilford, Jr., who is a Boston-born artist, and the subject of an Emmy award winning documentary about WWII called Surviving the War: The Story of James E. Guilford, Jr.
118-120 Pearl Street
118-120 Pearl Street has great stories about 'Angelina' an African-American man who was apparently single, and moved here from somewhere down South and sold flavored ice cones to children.
Everyone over the age of 50 in Cambridgeport knows my house as "Angelina's" House, because this man left such an impression on (the then kids) in the neighborhood.
Angelina would sing and shout and was known for his rhyming calls and high stepping as he went down the street to announce his arrival with a cart full of a block of ice which he shaved on the spot and added flavored syrup.
Many older people have told me spontaneous stories about him; one common one was that he was known to give flavored cones to children for free who didn't have the money.
128 Pearl Street
If this house could talk it would tell the tale of its exciting ride on a flatbed truck over the 1961 holidays, from Bell Court, near Fort Washington (see map). The Torreys are only the second owners of this ca. 1900 house. The Henrys, who ran the St. Johnsbury Trucking Co. locally, told us that a full cup of coffee, left by the house movers, was found, unspilled in the china cupboard at the new address! The 1955 photo below is the vacant lot that provided a play lot for local children between 1937 and 1963. Prior to 1937, this lot was filled with up to three homes since 1842.
Fun fact: The Torreys put in 23 windows, 8 of which were recycled from
a house looking out on Great Meadows in Concord.
Fun Fact: The hemlock tree to the left was 6 ft tall when planted in 1989.
David W. Torrey
139 Pearl Street
An old man who used to live in the neighborhood told the story that the little green house at the end of this driveway was built around 1900 by the son of the family who lived in the house in the front. I imagine him saying, "Hey, Dad, can I build a house in the back yard?"
After I bought the house and began doing some work on it, I noticed that some of the wood did not seem original―I got the impression that it might have been recycled fromsome other building.
Over at Harvard there's a wonderful web site containing high-resolution digital scans of many historical maps and atlases of Cambridge.
In the Bromley Atlas of 1903, you can clearly see this house (circled in red). (But of course there were some differences a hundred years ago: Corp. Mc Ternan St. was called "Lake St.", Dana Park was half its present size, and there was a street, Niagara St., between the park and an old school.)
But nine years earlier, in the Bromley Atlas of 1894, there was a different, smaller building in the corner of this lot. Could it have been a barn? Could it have been torn down sometime between 1894 and 1903, and the wood re-used to build my house?
I'll never know, but I like to think so.
209 Pearl Street
If this house could talk it would say I was the home of Henry Nadelli, who moved to Cambridge after WW II to be near his sister. Retired from his career with the IRS, Henry turned the grounds of the yellow house on the corner into one of Cambridgeport's lushest flower gardens, especially when dahlias were in season.
When the blooms ripened, Henry would set the cut flowers on his Pearl Street hedge for neighbors and passersby.
In 2002, beside his flourishing garden, Cambridge honored his civic spirit by dedicating this corner as Henry Nadelli Square. The next year, he passed away at the age of 89.
215 Pearl Street
If this house could talk it would tell you that during World War Two, there were two families living in just one side of the house. The adults in the family worked at the arsenal in Watertown (now the Arsenal Mall and office buildings) making bullets for the war effort. They shared the house, one couple working night and the other the day shift so they could trade off using the bedroom and living spaces. There was one bathroom in the basement with an iron toilet and small bathtub that everyone shared.
238 Pearl Street
If this house could talk, it would tell the history of the five-car garage and all its uses. Five-car garages are all over Cambridge and Somerville, many built around 1924. By the 1920s, the cost of a car had dropped considerably and became a necessity that not only the rich could afford. Cambridge still had no off street parking. Those with extra land saw a way to make rental money. This house's garages even have a small extra room with a dirt floor and chimney. It probably housed the furnace for heating the spaces.
In the last thirty years the garages have held: new and old cars (a 1926 Dodge), lots of antique furniture including a piano, the elementary school drawings and toys of my children, the recyclable aluminum my neighbor sells, the workshop of various craftsmen doing renovations, and of course a snowblower, lawn mower, and the garbage cans.
Gallery 263, 263 Pearl Street
If these walls could talk they would say I used to be a drugstore, a hundred years ago or so. And then I was the home of lots of artists who lived here and worked here. By the time the 1970's arrived, I was quite a scene―arts, parties, music... and a furniture store.
Rather than bore you, let's jump right to some fun stuff. One time, in the spring of 1987, the Cambridge police had to come here to shut down an art opening that got a little wild. The Twatones, a local female a cappella comedy troupe, got the crowd a little noisy by playing a little game: every time the word “art” was heard, everyone had to yell. When the song “Too Much Art” was sung, and the party across the street joined the crowd, well, that's when the whole thing got canned. But while it lasted, it was quite a party. I even remember Marianne Faithfull, the British singer who dated Mick Jagger, was here for that one. This was all hosted at the Brinkerhoff Gallery, named after a local navy Sea 2C Wilburt Brinkerhoff, who died at sea during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, in 1942.
Another favorite memory for me is when the Jeff Goldblum movie “Between the Lines” was shot here in 1975. Finally got a lot of press that way, and I was featured on the front of the movie poster which was drawn by the famous movie poster artist Richard Amsel (he also did “Raiders of the Lost Arc”!).
Richard Weiner, who currently owns me (the building that is), operated the Organic Furniture Cellar (a play on the name of the old Cambridge market at the corner of Putnam and Pearl, Organic Food Cellar) from the early 1980's to a few years ago. In 2004 Mark Baker and Annie Newbold took the corner rental and cleaned it up and made it pretty once again, turning it into an art gallery called Gallery 263.
Annie Newbold and David Craft currently run Gallery 263, and very soon the gallery will be an official non-profit entity. Come visit lots!
Liz Ekwall and Jeff Cummings
285 Pearl Street
Our house was built in 1891. We replaced much of the front siding in 11-2006. We found these old News papers stuffed in the cracks, "The Electrical World" 03-28-1891.
This is not an interesting story, but, it is important to understand how people viewed Electricity and how it gave hope of better lives and jobs.
Brian D. Campbell
321 Pearl Street
If this house could talk it would tell you….
It was built in 1887 as a one family home.
It was later converted to a two family.
The two-car garage was added to the property in 1929.
The families that have owned and lived here include:
And present owners –
Anne & Bill Davis
Bill Davis was born at 346 Pearl St. (his childhood home).
In this house live the 4th, 5th & 6th generation of the same family to live on Pearl St.
Denise Davis Sullivan
346 Pearl Street
If this house could talk it would tell you. . .
Only one family has ever owned it, whose lineage can be traced back past the American Revolution (FYI…They were Loyalist to the King of England.)
It was built as a one family in 1873, by Sea Captain, George Southward.
He moved his family here from Arlington, MA after the influenza outbreak took 2 of his children and several grandchildren. His farm in Arlington stood where Arlington High School now stands.
The back part of the house was added in 1886.
Captain Southward brought home the Stained glass in the 2nd floor windows from Venice, Italy and he made the windows that you see.
A purple heart recipient of World War I
Denise Davis Sullivan
9 Perry Steet
7 and 9 Perry was built in the late 1860s; it was built as a duplex originally and has remained that way for 140 years. Our family has lived here 22 years, and the prior residents were here for 50 years.
The pine tree was transplanted here from New Hampshire 50 years ago.
460 PUTNAM AVENUE
I WAS BUILT IN 1869 AND AM AN EXAMPLE OF ITALINATE DESIGN. I’VE HAD SEVERAL ADDITIONS INCLUDING A BACK HALL IN 1886, SIDE BAY WINDOW IN 1894, AND A WHOLE ROOM WITH BAY WINDOW IN FRONT IN 1916.
I WAS FIRST OWNED BY THE DILLOWAY FAMILY, THEN THE HOUGHTON FAMILY FOR OVER 40 YEARS. I WAS PURCHASED IN 1930 BY
THE SERINOS WHO SOLD ME TO ED AND DIANNE RICE, MY CURRENT OWNERS, IN 1965.
I WAS ONCE THE PARSONAGE FOR THE BAPTIST CHURCH ACROSS THE STREET.
ED AND DIANNE RICE
91 River Street
If this building could talk it would tell you that it was built in 1899 and is an example of a flat-iron building. At one point in time it was a communist bookstore. In 2002 it was remodeled by Charlie Allen Restorations and became their office. The remodel earned Charlie Allen Restorations a Cambridge Preservation Award.
Alyssa C. Moskos
Bedworks, 15 Western Avenue
At the western entrance to Central Square,
our sunny corner shop
says hello and farewell,
to thousands every day.
Who sails by?
Neighbors a block away, and
an endless stream from the Mass. Pike,
plus visitors from half a world away
inbound to MIT and Harvard.
Western Ave. runs exactly west from our front door
like an arrow to the horizon.
So the southern sun warms our windows all day.
Here's a toast to the architects who shaped this place!
1896: Brick building erected on this site.
1935-1976: Carl's Market offers fresh vegetables, meat and fish.
1982-today: Bedworks crafts new beds & sofabeds here.
In 1982, William Brouwer lived at 9 Montague St.
Brouwer invented the folding futon sofabed frame.
On Lee St. in 1976, John Buster came up with the
Floating platform bed.
These two designs are popular in Boston because
1. they are modular & fit tight local staircases,
2. they offer double-duty & double-value, and
3. they are comfortable and healthy.
Bedworks has been locally
owned and operated for 33 years.
Bedworks' designs come from
our neighbors' response to
our picturesque architecture.
Our old staircases hate
bulky modern beds and sofas.
What can we sleep on,
if we live here?
3 Williams Street
In 2004 we painstakingly restored this house to its original 1850 grandeur. When I first saw the house I was attracted to the extraordinary harmony of the facade: the pediment, the perfectly sloped roof - the only one I have seen like it in the area - the use of ship-lapped planking and quoins to simulate stone, and the corbels (roof brackets). Such harmony is unusual, undoubtedly, inspired by the work of Andrea Palladio.
Upon purchase, my one thought was to clear away the clutter - the porch, the stained glass windows, etc. etc. - to let the perfect lines speak for themselves. This I did. It will be for others to say whether I succeeded.
F.L. (Peter) Higginson
9 William Street
For many years, asphalt covered the entire side area, front to back, of this house. Twenty years ago, we decided to remove most of the asphalt and create a yard and garden. To our surprise and dismay, below the asphalt lay three feet of cement. Removal required a backhoe and a massive excavation effort. We now have a lovely garden.
Ann Levin and Larry Beeferman
12 Williams Street
Builders left a time capsule in the walls as they finished construction—a Cambridge Chronicle newspaper. Current owners also placed a time capsule in the walls during renovation in 2000.
The Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday May 2, 1863
Annual subscription, $2.00, or 4 cents per weekly copy
The True Wife – Only let a woman be sure that she is precious to her husband – not simple useful or valuable, nor convenient, but lovely and beloved….
Agency for the Ammoniated PACIFIC GUANO
We are receiving a constant supply of this superior GUANO which will be found one of the cheapest and best fertilizers on the market. It is adapted to all soils, and all the various crops – Grass, Grain, Corn, Potatoes, Tobacco, &c.
Why is the sun like a good loaf? Because it’s light when it rises.
CAMBRIDGE RAILROAD TIME TABLE
PROSPECT STREET: For Boston at 6, and 6:15 A.M., and every 10 minutes until 10:15 A.M., 4:25 P.M., and every 10 minutes until 7:15 P. M.
14 William Street
Minnie Babcock Jackson lived in this house until October 1985. By then she was widowed and her children were grown. Minnie, along with her family, was a lifelong member of the Salvation Army. She was the cook for the children's summer camp. Recipes she used were left here in the basement. Her son, Jim Jackson, wrote his name in the cement under the old front gate. You can still see it in the pavement to the right of the present gate. Minnie is featured in the book, Crossroads―Stories of Central Square by Sarah Boyer.