Every once in a while, you come across an old home that almost feels alive, like an ancient tree or shrine.
The big Victorian at 6 Maple Ave. in Cambridge — listed for just over $2.3 million — is one of those places. The home is in many ways as much a huge, picturesque house as it is a virtual museum piece set in the collection of other 19th-century dwellings along this street near Harvard Square.
From the outside, you can tell the home must have stories to tell.
The roof is that iconic Second Empire-style mansard — fitted with fish-scale slate tiles and adorned with a bell-shaped cross gable that seems to ring out to passersby. Below, at the cornice, are decorative brackets that appear to support the unconventionally wide, flat eave overhangs. The muted pink facade is clad in shiplap and graced with falsely bracketed and hooded windows and a portico. Supported by a granite foundation, the house appears determined to stick around another 160 years.
Inside, the 3,800-square-feet home with six bedrooms is just as impressive. The white ceilings of the living room and library, for example, are molded with intricate and delicate patterns of diamonds, braids, circles, crosses and plants. On the foyer, living room and library are parquet and plank floors with carefully and precisely cut wood inlays that are so ornate you probably couldn’t pay someone to replicate them today. Tucked away over the main entrance is a mesmerizing leaded, stained glass transom that feels like a window to the mid-19th century.
Then there are the rooms themselves. While most places these days make the kitchen and master bedroom suites compete for attention, here — despite a recent kitchen remodeling — the grand living room feels like the home’s anchor. Huge and bright, the hall has high ceilings and giant, old windows, including one that’s nearly floor to ceiling, looking out to Maple.
Most of the home’s beauty, which also includes a four-window bay in the dining room, white marble fireplaces, and lavish wainscoting, is found on the first floor. Reworked a few years ago, the kitchen is the only place that seems touched by the 21st century, with black granite countertops, crisp white cabinetry, a big stainless steel range and center island topped with walnut.
Upstairs, what the bedrooms offer, besides their huge size, are views of the historic street and beyond. Despite some cracked plasterwork here and there, the place appears in good shape. Thankfully, instead of carving the house into condos, the current owners have built their condo into the lower level and rear of the place, keeping the home a well-preserved example of Second Empire construction, a style that in the 1800s was considered a trendy import of French style.
The sale of the home is being handled by John Petrowsky and Christian Jones, 617-240-0799....Read more