The Louville Niles House at 45 Walnut Street was built in 1890 as a residence for Louville V. Niles, a local developer and businessman of the late 19th century. Niles’ primary business was in the meatpacking industry and he was one of the original investors in the Fort Worth Stockyards Company, having been offered the opportunity by neighbor Greenleif Simpson, a wealthy Boston capitalist.
The five bedroom Queen Ann Victorian was designed by architect Edwin K. Blaikie, who also designed other houses in the Prospect Hill area commissioned by Niles. Until the end of the 20th century, the house was painted in faded shades of gray and white. When the current owners purchased the home in 2000, they spent a considerable amount of time researching period paint schemes in order to create a custom pallet design that conjured the beauty of the original architecture. They received an award in 2003 from the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission in honor of their great attention to detail.
The Louville Niles House was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1989. And a final note of interest: one of the Kennedy brothers used to play pool here regularly while attending Harvard University.
DAILY TRIVIA: An episode of ‘Spencer: For Hire’ was filmed in the Louville Niles House during the 1980s.
Posted in Boston, Colonial History, Family, History, Local, Photography, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged 1890, architecture, Boston, Edwin K. Blaikie, Fort Worth Stockyards Company, Greenleif Simpson, Harvard, Kennedy, Louville Niles, Louville Niles House, Louville V. Niles, meatpacking, National Registry of Historic Places, Prospect Hill, Queen Ann Victorian, Somerville, Somerville Historic Preservation Commission
Somerville Museum on Central Street, an example of Federal style.
Considered to be the late phase of Georgian style architecture, the Federal style was popular with wealthy merchants and shipbuilders living along coastal New England from 1790 to 1820. Also referred to as “the Adam”, the architectural fashion is said to be inspired by designs of the Adam brothers, three architects from Scotland who were quite famous in Britain during the mid-1700s for their ancient Roman style designs.
In addition to homes, Federal style was also often used for state and public buildings, the popularity of the design coinciding with a time when American government was being born at the end of the Revolutionary War.
DAILY TRIVIA: Bow Street was once referred to as “Doctors’ Row”, for the many doctors and dentists that established residences with offices there.
Posted in Boston, Colonial History, Family, History, Local, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged Adam brothers, Adamesque, America, American government, American history, Americana, ancient Rome, architecture, Bow Street, brick, colonial, colonial history, Doctors' Row, Federal style, Georgian, Georgian style, government, James Adam, John Adam, Massachusetts, New England, Revolutionary War, Robert Adam, Roman, The Adam
Bloc 11 is the second coffee shop belonging to Tucker Lewis and Jennifer Park, owners of Diesel in Davis Square. It sits at the intersection of Walnut and Bow Streets in Union. It’s spacious, has both indoor and outdoor seating, and hosts live music and open mic sessions a couple of evenings per week. I’ve heard from others that the food is great, but I’ve only gone for the iced coffee personally – delicious iced coffee with a very subtle hint of cinnamon.
The most unique thing about Bloc 11 is its location. It opened in 2007 in a vacant bank building, complete with vaults in the back in which you can sit and enjoy your latte. I regret that my photo doesn’t do the space justice, as it’s much cooler looking in person.
And speaking of lattes, they do some pretty cool latte flower art.
DAILY TRIVIA: The first residence in the world to have telephone service was that belonging to Charles Williams Jr., who lived at the corner of Arlington and Lincoln Streets in Somerville. It was in Williams’ telegraphic equipment shop that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson first transmitted a sound via telephone wire on June 2, 1875.
Posted in Arts, Dining, Economy, Entertainment, Family, Local, Music, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged abandoned bank, Alexander Graham Bell, bank vault, Bloc 11, Bow Street, Charles Williams Jr., coffee, Davis Square, Diesel, first telephone, Jennifer Park, latte art, latte flower art, live music, music, Neighborhood Restaurant, open mic, Somerville, Thomas A. Watson, Tucker Lewis, Union Square, vault
Leone’s Subs & Pizza has been a Winter Hill fixture since 1954, when Victor Leone Sr. purchased the restaurant from Sam Santoro of the popular Santoro Subway restaurant chain family.
Today, the restaurant is run by Vic Jr. and his brother-in-law Nick Ruccolo in the same spirit as the four generations of family that have worked to make it the neighborhood icon it has remained. They are a friendly group of people who genuinely appreciate their customers, and will somehow remember your face for months after just one visit.
In keeping with tradition, there haven’t been many changes to the menu over the years. They’ve kept prices low by continuing to run a fairly no frills operation – cash only, no delivery, and no seating; just a counter around the perimeter for the regulars who stand around and chat while enjoying a slice or sub on their lunch break.
Leone’s is particularly known for their traditional square Sicilian pies, which they sell by the slice all day long. I love that they always ask which piece you want, giving you the option of corner, middle or crust. It’s usually not too difficult to overindulge on slices when calling out for a large pizza with friends, but at Leone’s one $1.75 slice of cheese pizza will fill me up for hours, and I don’t think it would be possible to eat two in one sitting without bursting. The blend of spices in the sauce and cheese is near perfect, and the crust is thick and spongy and almost melts in your mouth. It’s definitely worth stopping by sometime, but don’t forget to hit the ATM first.
DAILY TRIVIA: Davis Square was an undefined piece of land until it was named in 1883 after Person Davis, a merchant and member of the first town government who lived in the unofficial center at 255 Elm Street. Gradually the house was surrounded by commercial buildings, eventually changing the landscape from a few dusty crossroads to a major town hub.
Posted in Boston, Dining, Economy, Family, Local, Photography, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged Broadway, cash, Davis Square, Elm Street, Leone's, Leone's Sub & Pizza, Leone's Subs & Pizza, local business, Ma & Pa, Mom & Pop, Nick Ruccolo, Person Davis, pizza, restaurant, Sam Santoro, Santoro Subway, Sicilian, slice, Somerville, subs, trivia, Victor Leone, Winter Hill
It’s great that a place like Sessa’s Italian Specialties has managed to stay afloat for more than 30 years in Davis Square. Walking in the door you are immediately greeted by all sorts of sensory treats: delicious smells emanating from the deli where they serve calzones, sauces, and other homemade foods; fresh loaves of bread stacked in front of a variety of bulk olives; and strands of cured meats, garlic and peppers hanging from the ceiling tiles.
When I first moved to Somerville I was psyched to discover this place full of Italian imported products. They actually carried the only canned sauce my grandmother would ever allow in her home: Don Peppino. A distant relative in Italy made it and sold it wholesale to Italian restaurants in America and used to bring her and her brothers cases of it when he came to visit, she told me, though the company has long since changed hands.
Being choosy about the bagged pasta and other items with a shorter shelf life is advisable. It’s not unheard of for some of the items on the shelf to have “expired” sometimes years before, and I prefer to go for the canned goods and amazing selection of olive oils. The deli meat and selection of homemade food is also quite delicious.
The owner is about as surly as my great-grandmother looks in all the old family photos, and you’ll read other statements to that effect if you check out their page on yelp. He’s rarely there, though, and it’s usually his much friendlier daughter behind the counter. You won’t find many places like this anymore, however, and it’s well worth stopping in and helping them stick around for hopefully another 30 years.
DAILY TRIVIA: The first sitting president to visit Somerville was Bill Clinton.
Posted in Boston, Dining, Economy, Family, Grocery, History, Local, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged authentic, Bill Clinton, bread, calamari, calzones, capicolla, cured meats, cutlet, Davis Square, deli, Don Peppino, eggplant, escarole, garlic, Giancarlo Sessa, imported, Italian, Italian grocery, Italy, lasagna, lentil, manicotti, meatballs, minestrone, mortadella, Napoli, old country, old world, olive oil, pancetta, pasta, peppers, pizza, ravioli, salami, sausage, Sessa's, Somerville, subs, ziti
Deriving its name from the Civil War era, Union Square was once a major recruitment center for the Union Army. Today it is a melting pot where the working class of East Somerville intersects with the city’s fashionable western parts, and is one of the oldest and largest commercial areas in town.
There is much to say about bustling Union Square, but for today I wanted to write specifically about one step that was taken a few years ago to better the community through art and the active involvement of its residents, a hallmark of Mayor Curtatone’s legacy.
In 2005 the Somerville Arts Council held a design competition for local artists and craftsmen to design and build street furniture. The competition was based on 4 objectives: to engage local artists/craftsmen in design and fabrication, to recognize the city’s cultural diversity, to celebrate Union Square’s unique character, and to create beautiful and innovative new street furniture designs. The uncommon furniture can be found throughout Union Square.
Glass-top benches: Aaron Binkley; copper benches: Mitch Ryerson; trash barrel covers: Christina Lanzl, Phil Manker; engraved design on glass: Heather Townsend, Jeff Czekaj, Julie Chen, Wes Boyd.
DAILY TRIVIA: The Queen Anne residential building at 113 College Ave. became a major national focus in 1968 for an alternative Jewish religious movement; it is still the home of the Havurat Shalom community.
Posted in Arts, Boston, Colonial History, Entertainment, Family, History, Local, Photography, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged Aaron Binkley, ArtsUnion Project, blue collar, Boston, Christina Lanzl, Civil War, colonial history, community, Curtatone, gentrification, gentrified, Grand Union flag, Havurat, Heather Townsend, Jeff Czekaj, Jewish, Julie Chen, melting pot, Mitch Ryerson, Phil Manker, Prospect Hill, Queen Anne, redevelopment, revitalization, Revolutionary War, Shalom, Somerville, Somerville Arts Council, Union Square, Union Square Main Streets, Wes Boyd, working class
The Nathan Tufts Park, known locally as Powder House, is a place rich in colonial history. The Massachuset Indians were drawn to the area for the abundance of alewife in the nearby Mystic River, and the natural stone outcroppings that defined the landscape provided an abundance of materials for tools as well as a clear vantage point for surveying the area.
By the early 1700’s the Two Penny Brook Quarry was established on the land to make use of the blue-brown bedrock known today as Somerville Slate or Cambridge Mudstone. A French refugee by the name of Jean Maillet bought the quarry in 1704 and erected a windmill, which was unique to the area in that it was built of stone and operated with only the top part moving to catch the wind, instead of the entire body.
The province of Massachusetts purchased the stone mill in 1747 and began using it as a gunpowder storage facility. During the 1775-76 siege of Boston the Powder House was a critical Continental Army munitions depot, or ‘powder magazine’. Peter Tufts, a farmer, purchased this land in 1818, and the Tufts family bequeathed it to the City of Somerville in 1892 to be turned into a public park.
The Field House was constructed in 1935 using stones from the demolished Highland Railroad Station as a testimony to F. D. Roosevelt’s efforts to create jobs during the Great Depression. The building is available today for public use by petition.
The Powder House mill remains the oldest stone building in Massachusetts, and is depicted in the City of Somerville’s official seal.
DAILY TRIVIA: Local legend is that a virtuous young woman once took refuge in the mill to hide from a man with dishonorable intentions, and that when he came for her, became tangled in the mill’s machinery and died.
Posted in Boston, Colonial History, Family, History, Local, Parks, Photography, Somerville, MA, Trivia
Tagged alewife, Boston, Cambridge Mudstone, colonial history, colonies, Continental Army, depot, Field House, Great Depression, Highland Railroad Station, Jean Maillet, Massachuset Indians, mill, munitions, Mystic River, Nathan Tufts Park, Native American, Peter Tufts, Powder House, Powderhouse, province, quarry, Roosevelt, Somerville, Somerville Slate, stone building, stone mill, Two Penny Brook Quarry, Union, windmill
Murals painted alongside the Rogers Foam Corp. building, Central Street.
Winter Hill Liquors on Broadway Street
Posted in Boston, Entertainment, Family, Local, Photography, Somerville, MA
Tagged art, Boston, Broadway, Central, Foss Park, murals, photography, Rogers Foam, Somerville, Winter Hill, Winter Hill Liquors