Somerville Historic Preservation

Posted on April 25, 2011


This past weekend a dear friend of mine from NYC and her little sister from Las Vegas came to stay with me in Somerville. They were here to visit colleges but we also had time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and see some of “my” Somerville. On Friday, we had brunch at Renee’s Cafe in Teele Square, drove around Davis Square, made our way to the Prospect Hill Monument to check out the views, and then ventured down the hill to Union Square (home of the famous “Fluff Festival“). I’m not sure how other people show their friends their city – maybe they talk about their favorite places to eat, or hear live music, or shops they like to visit? I always end up talking about houses. Go figure.

As we made our way from Teele to Union on Friday afternoon we had fun keeping a lookout for purple houses. (Purple is my friend’s sister’s favorite color and you’d be surprised at how many of purple houses there are between Davis and Union! Apparently there aren’t that many purple houses in Las Vegas. The photo with the blog is of one of the most beautiful purple homes we passed.) Along the way I chatted about the houses and the history of the city. It helps that my friend is an urban planner and she loves this stuff too! At one point I pulled the car over and before my friend and her sister could object I started in on a lesson in historic preservation, focusing on roof styles and single material: slate, asphalt shingle made to look like slate (with built-in shadow lines), and architectural shingle. Fun times, right? My friend and her sister humored me.

My preoccupation with roof styles and shingle materials is directly related to my recent appointment to the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission. Being on the Commission is a great experience. I’m learning about preservation and the history of the city directly from expert architects, restoration contractors, and the knowledge staff. I bring to the Commission my own experience as Realtor, historian, former brownfield redevelopment specialist and affection for all things home and home renovation related. I love it.

As a Commissioner I help review demolition cases (any structure in the City of Somerville that is over 50 years must be researched and reviewed and the demolition approved by the Commission before anyone can take it down) as well as proposed improvements or alterations to any existing locally designated historic properties.

May is Historic Preservation Month in the City of Somerville and I’ll be posting upcoming events on my blog. Feel free to contact me with any questions about real estate or historic preservation in Somerville. For more information on the Commission check us out here.

Mission of the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission

a. Protect, enhance and preserve cultural and historical resources, including those districts which represent or reflect elements of the City’s cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history.

b. Safeguard the City’s historical and cultural heritage by improving historical and cultural resources by creating historic districts.

c. Foster wider public awareness of and pride in accomplishments of the past.

d. Encourage private efforts of Somerville citizens in support of such purposes.

e. Promote the use of historic districts as a stimulus to local business and industry.

f. Enhance the City’s image to residents, visitors and tourists and make the City a more attractive and desirable place in which to live and work.