Tag Archives: Prospect Hill

Louville Niles House

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.

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DAILY TRIVIA: An episode of ‘Spencer: For Hire’ was filmed in the Louville Niles House during the 1980s.

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Prettying Up Union Square

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.

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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.

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The Castle

Prospect Hill, Somerville, MA

The Prospect Hill Monument is  important not only to Somerville’s history but to that of the birth of America. Though the monument itself wasn’t built until 1902, it marks the spot where on January 1, 1776 General George Washington raised the first true American flag at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. A more detailed historical account can be found here.

Prospect Hill Monument

Often referred to locally as “the castle” that overlooks Union Square, Prospect Hill is a familiar destination for families exploring the stone structure or visiting the adjacent park and playground. It’s also a popular spot for folks to congregate on July 4, in an effort to get a glimpse of the Boston fireworks while avoiding the Boston crowds.  I did this on the last fourth of July, and in my opinion it’s not worth the trek. The view’s not too shabby in the winter, but once the leaves grow back on the trees it’s an entirely different story.

View of Boston from Prospect Hill

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DAILY TRIVIA: Somerville used to be referred to as the “City of the Hills”.

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