To the Summit!

I haven’t written this up yet because I didn’t want to jinx it, but Megan and I just bought a new house, in Union Square, Somerville. It’s a great location and it’s structurally sound, but it needs a lot of work.

What we know of the history reflects the development of Somerville as a whole. It was constructed some time around 1900, probably earlier, but we aren’t sure yet. It may have been at one time a home for unwed mothers, or a boarding house, or just one of those Prospect Hill duplexes.

By 1970 it was a dilapidated 4-family, and some people who met during a consciousness-raising workshop in the summer of ’69 bought it to turn into a collective living space. They added on to the back and converted it into a single-family home for about 12-14 hippies, all of whom kept day jobs – they turned on and tuned in, but didn’t drop out. In May 1971 they were profiled in the Boston Sunday Globe.

The commune turned it into a single-family home with one kitchen and two bathrooms, each with triple sinks. Membership changed over the years, and we’re a little vague for a couple decades. Eventually the building was owned by a couple who ran it as a collective rooming house. That arrangement ended when the couple broke up. One person stayed and one left, prompting a condo conversion in the 1990s.

The sold condo was purchased by James Welborn, who left a tech job at Akamai to open Hub Comics, just down the hill. He died in 2011 after what appears to have been a struggle with mental illness.

The condo was unoccupied from then until the time that we bought it. The commune’s mouldering triple-sink single bathroom is still there, along with a depressing kitchen, bannisters that appear to have been gnawed by dogs, and a fridge with magnets holding both a child’s artwork and a divorce-related court order.

Thanks to the work of Banco Santander and Century 21 Real Estate of Fall River, it was more than 3 months from the time we signed the Purchase and Sale agreement to the time we were able to close. That means we’ve got a tight timeline to get the building weatherproofed before winter sets in.

The list of tasks that must be completed in the next 30-ish days includes but is not limited to:

  • Replace roof and fix holes in siding
  • Replace back door
  • Replace front door locks
  • Reconnect gas service
  • Replace furnace
  • Restore rotted window sills
  • Clean & sanitize basement, install dehumidifier
  • Sage-smoke building to remove any and all ghosts

Once that’s done, we can begin the renovation proper.

2 thoughts on “To the Summit!”

  1. You got this. But just in case, you might want to buy a couple sleeping bags and blankets. Luckily, this may also lead to extra snuggling, even if it’s for body heat. Just kidding. Really, you got this.


    1. Oh, we have a temporary apartment. This one isn’t even close to livable right now. No heat. Only one working faucet. Covered in mouse droppings on almost every surface.


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