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Cambridge mansion asking $10.5M is an architectural potpourri

Epic spread has hosted Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren

The 8,372-square-foot mansion at 168 Brattle Street in Cambridge dates from the late 1880s, when noted Boston architect Arthur Little designed it as a Colonial Revival for original owner Sara Chapman Bull, a philanthropist and writer (and wife of noted Norwegian violinist Ole Bull).

Yet, the spread, which is now on the market through Gibson Sotheby’s for $10,500,000, goes well beyond that Colonial Revival conceit once one peels back the architectural onion. There are touches of Queen Anne and Neoclassical throughout, and even some Greco-Roman thrown in for good measure.

Norwegian design influenced the library’s makeup and the kitchen is in a French countryhouse vein. Finally, Lockwood de Forest, a major figure in the American aesthetic movement 100-plus years ago, designed 168 Brattle’s salon.

Current owner Swanee Hunt, a philanthropist herself as well as a Harvard lecturer and an ambassador to Austria under President Clinton, has hosted the likes of Hillary Clinton, Yo-Yo Ma, and Elizabeth Warren at the house, according to Boston Magazine’s Madeline Bilis. Guests much further in the past have included Jane Addams and Gertrude Stein.

We should note in closing that, if the 10-BR along the storied street gets anywhere near its current tag, it will set an all-time sales record for Cambridge. Not an easy feat. Hunt, by the way, bought the mansion in 1997 for about $4.2M in today’s dollars.

168 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

168 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA