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Lessons From a Rare Listing on Cambridge's Professors' Row

This vivid Cambridge house at 16 Francis Avenue, on the market this month for the first time in more than 50 years, has six bedrooms; three and a half bathrooms; high ceilings; crown molding; pocket and French doors; two porches; a two-car garage; a yard with formal gardens; and a $2,395,000 price tag. More alluringly, it's got an interesting pedigree.

The 5,040-square-foot house was built in 1906, and designed by Edward Graham (he also designed a slew of churches around the Hub). Its first resident was James Lee Love, a math professor from the University of North Carolina, who split Chapel Hill in the 1890s to begin a long career as an administrator at Harvard. This elegant, convenient stretch of Francis where Love settled, between College Avenue and Curtis Street, became known as Professors' Row (not to be confused with Adjuncts Alley, where people live in forts built from stacks of old dissertations and unfinished novels). As late as 1986, The New York Times, in an article asking whether Harvard Square would turn "into another Upper East Side or ... retain its academic ambiance," noted the august academic names calling the stretch home:

In addition to [James Kenneth] Galbraith, the economist, Francis Avenue counts among its residents Daniel Bell, the sociologist; Justin Kaplan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Mark Twain, and Roderick MacFarquhar, a distinguished British Sinologist. There is also Edith Kuznets, the widow of Simon Kuznets, the economist who helped pioneer the concept of the gross national product. The Gray Lady speculated about "what will happen to the street when its aging residents die." (A couple of the above have since.) "...[N]o new professor coming in now is going to be able to buy a house in Cambridge unless they are independently wealthy." And now?

· Listing: 16 Francis Avenue [Zillow]
· Figures Are Too High for Harvard Professors [NY Times]
· Our Tuesday Townhouse archive [Curbed Boston]