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Somerville: A Mini-City with Maximum Resources

Celebrating the 175th anniversary of its separation from Charlestown in 1842, Somerville is a 4.2 square mile city located directly northwest of Boston. Situated on the west bank of the Mystic River, it is bordered by Cambridge, Arlington, Medford, Everett and Charlestown. Due to its proximity to Harvard, Lesley, Tufts and MIT, the city is home to a constant stream of college students and young professionals. Somerville is served by the MBTA’s Orange Line at Assembly Square and the Red Line at Davis Square.

The city was first settled in 1629 with most of the land used for grazing and farming.  By 1775 there were close to 500 residents. One of the first hostile acts of the Revolutionary War took place in Somerville: the raiding of gunpowder by British soldiers from the Old Powder House, which stood on what is now Powder House Square. After the Revolution, brickmaking, dairy farming and quarrying became the city’s predominant occupations. 

New transportation routes, including the opening of the Middlesex Canal, the Medford and Beacon Street turnpikes, and the Fitchburg Railroad, led to an increase in population and job opportunities. The Late Industrial Period (1870-1915) was a time of phenomenal growth for Somerville, with its population increasing to 90,000 and the proliferation of civic and commercial ventures. Infrastructure including railroads, water lines, telegraph and electricity were established and helped connect Somerville to surrounding towns.

However, by the middle of the 20th century, both industry and population began to decline, a trend that lasted until the mid-1980s. In 1984, the MBTA brought the Red Line into Davis Square, which served as a catalyst for revitalizing the city. Gentrification began in earnest in the 1990s and today Somerville is recognized for its active arts community, near-zero commercial vacancy and effective government.  It received the All-America City Award in 1972, in 2009 and again in 2015. 

The city’s residents enjoy its historic, recreational and cultural venues. Somerville has 83 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 63 parks, playgrounds, playing fields, and community gardens. The Somerville Community Path is a tree-lined rail trail that runs from Lowell Street to the Cambridge border near Davis Square. Other attractions include The Museum of Bad Art, Legoland Discovery Center, the Somerville Museum and Prospect Hill Tower. Davis Square is an entertainment and dining destination where residents enjoy concerts, films and festivals as well as a diverse selection of eateries.

The Assembly Square Neighborhood is home to Assembly Row, a 45 acre. mixed-use, development that features premium retail outlets, restaurants, residential space, state-of-the-art office and research and development space, a 12-screen cinema and a 200-room hotel. Other amenities include a marina, revitalized waterfront park, bike paths and green space.

The Somerville Public Schools encompass 10 facilities including early childhood, PK – 8, 6-12, bilingual English/Spanish and a high school. There are three branches of the city’s public library, offering book clubs, kids programs, classes and even Yoga lessons.

The gentrification of Somerville brought the development of numerous townhomes and condos, although there are several single-family homes available. Current listings as of May, 2017 include a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo for $489,000; a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath attached single-family home for $569,000; a 4-bedroom, 2-bath condo for $650,000 and a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath single-family for $1,090,000. Find a MABA agent who is knowledgeable about Somerville real estate right here.

 
 
 

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  • Easton, Massachusetts: Great Outdoor Spaces and the Ames Family Legacy

    Located in Bristol County in eastern Massachusetts, Easton is bordered by Brockton and West Bridgewater to the east, Taunton and Raynham to the south, Norton to the southwest, Mansfield to the west, and Sharon and Stoughton to the north. It is situated 30 minutes from Boston, 45 minutes from Cape Cod and 45 minutes from Providence. Routes 106, 123 and 138 run through the town, and Route 24 and Interstate 495 lie just outside its border. Plans are in the works for North Easton and Easton Village stations to be served by the MBTA’s Providence/Stoughton line.

    Easton was first settled in 1694 and incorporated in 1725. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington stayed at the Benjamin Williams Tavern on Bay Road, which is now the second oldest existing house in Easton.

    The prominent Ames family was influential in the town, establishing the Ames Shovel Works in 1803.  Working with designer H. H. Richardson, designer of the Trinity Churchin Boston, the family financed the construction of numerous buildings: Unity Church (1875), the Free Library (1883), the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall (1881), the Ames Gate Lodge (1881), the Old Colony Railroad Station (1881) and the F.L. Ames Gardener’s Cottage (1884).

    Easton’s citizens have a wide variety of cultural and recreational facilities and organizations. They include a Children’s Museum, Cultural Council, Historical Society, Garden Club and Friends of the Public Gardens. There are over 4,000 acres of conservation land encompassing forests, wet meadows, ponds, grasslands and pitch pine forests. Borderland State Park, in North Easton, is a popular venue for walking and horseback riding on woodland trails, fishing and canoeing in the ponds, or, in winter, ice-skating and sledding. Easton’s recreation department oversees the town pool as well as many sports leagues.

    The town’s public school system includes three elementary schools serving Pre-K-2; one serving grades 3-5; one middle school with grades 6-8 and Oliver Ames High School (9-12). In addition, students may choose to attend Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School or Bristol County Agricultural High School, free of charge. Easton is also home to the private liberal arts Stonehill College.

    Homes for sale in Easton, Massachusetts as of June 6, 2017 include a 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath townhome for $159,000; a 3-bedroom, 1/5-bath single-family home on 1+ acres for $395,000; a 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath single-family home for $405,000 and a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath, single-family home on ½ acre for $620,000. If you are interested in buying a home in Easton, it is in your best interest to work with an agent who is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents.