House owned by deviled ham Underwoods hits market

Buying Home of the Week Belmont
Built-in cabinetry under the loft. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

70 Common St., Belmont

Style: Italianate villa
Year built: 1898
Square feet: 3,828
Bedrooms: 5
Baths: 5 full
Sewer/water: Public
Taxes: $17,157 (2017)

At some 120 years old, this former Italianate carriage house that once served one of Belmont’s most prominent families has a history. But a pet bear? Exploding canned clams? Deviled ham?

All three things are connected to the Underwoods, who built this carriage house-turned-villa and kept it in the family for generations — until now. It is on the market, having undergone three interior renovations in recent years.

Parking is on the paved drive right out front. Past a cobblestone walkway is the ogee-arched entry door the Massachusetts Historical Commission took note of in 1982. Inside, however, much has changed, and it’s really only the height of the ceilings and the industrial-strength exposed trusses that hint at this home’s equine-related past.

Past the mudroom, the foyer — graced by a chandelier and railings forged by Henri Pouenat — offers access to three bedrooms, including the master suite, and a laundry room.

The master is off to the right and features 12-foot ceilings, recessed lighting, white built-in cabinets and shelves, and a lighted alcove for displays. The suite’s sitting area has French doors leading to a patio with a fountain designed by Tim de Christopher. A short hallway with dual walk-in closets (with custom cabinetry) on either side leads to a European-inspired bath. The flooring is Italian tile in a Greek key pattern. There is a single vanity and a shower with a glass door and a ceramic tile surround.

Two other bedrooms and a bath with a double vanity, black marble floor, and a soaking tub against a wall of alphabet tiles complete this level. The flooring in the bedrooms is maple.

The home’s most visually arresting space is one floor up, an open layout encompassing the living and dining areas and the kitchen. Here there is a 30-foot-high ceiling with dark wooden trusses and cabinetry with horizontal beveled-wood planks, a Victorian style carried over from the cabinetry on the first floor. There is a wood-burning stove, a wall of windows at least 12 feet long, and at the peak of the room, a cupola with windows that can be cranked open. The living room offers space for a dining table that seats 10. The flooring here is the original hardwood, maple added when a member of the Underwood family decided to turn this level into a squash club in 1915.

In the left-hand corner, an angled island with a gas stove and sink sets the kitchen apart from the rest of the room. The counters are clad in a dark ceramic tile, and the custom cabinetry is faced with horizontal planks. The flooring is blue linoleum from France.

Off the living room, there is an office and a bedroom suite with a claw-foot tub, an Italian sink, and French linoleum floor. Both spaces have wood window coverings that slide like barn doors that are original to the house.­

A stairwell leads to an expansive loft with a full bath that could serve as a bedroom suite.

The home’s fifth bedroom is on its lowest level. It has a separate entrance and offers myriad windows that look out over a stone terrace and a large portion of the 0.55-acre lot. The room has its own sink. Around the corner there is a full bath with a shower and, in a nautically themed room of its own, a hot tub with a glass-tile bottom that’s clad with mahogany.

Speaking of nautical, let’s get back to the canned clams. The carriage house’s historic owner, William Lyman Underwood, teamed up with an MIT professor, Samuel Cate Prescott, and discovered a way to can clams that did not explode, a big food-service industry breakthrough.

Oh, and deviled ham? Look for it on supermarket shelves. It still carries the Underwood name, though it’s no longer the family business.

And let’s not forget the bear. That was Underwood’s black bruin, Bruno, whose sojourn in Belmont was documented in the book, “Wild Brother: Strangest of True Stories From the North Woods.’’

Linda Cody of Lila Delman Real Estate International is the listing agent. Her website is

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