In addition to the top-notch public school system (the main reason families beeline here, though some have worried of late that the schools have reached a point of being too competitive, too high-pressured), residents of Newton Centre most appreciate its walkability. Shops and restaurants, the Green Line’s D Line, and a Whole Foods, as well as neighborhood schools, synagogues, a large park, and a swimmable lake are all easily accessible on foot. That’s a feature many suburbs simply can’t boast. Plus, there’s Rosenfeld’s Bagels.
Restaurateurs, in particular, have become enamored with Newton Centre, as seen by the recent openings of the French bistro Sycamore and the quickly popular Farmstead Table.
Residents are so enamored of the community, says real estate agent Sarina Steinmetz, that when they decide to upgrade, they don’t go far, usually staying right there within Newton Centre, sometimes just moving a few doors away.
And there’s the occasional likelihood of stardom, another odd suburban trait. Amy Poehler, Matt LeBlanc, and Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold are just a few well-knowns who were born in Newton. Jack Lemon attended Newton Centre’s Ward Elementary School, and John Krasinski graduated from Newton South High School. If you prefer a more historic bent, Samuel Francis Smith, who wrote the lyrics to “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,’’ lived on Centre Street.
When Fig Newtons were born … In keeping with the tradition of naming its products after local communities, the Cambridge-based Kennedy Biscuit Co. (later, Nabisco), named its fig-filled cookies after the town of Newton. In 1991, Newton and Nabisco celebrated the 100th anniversary and served a 100-inch Fig Newton.
The percentage of residents who don’t drive to work … As in most suburbs, most Newton Centre residents drive to work. However, a significant number walk (13 percent), or take public transit (14 percent). This can be attributed to pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and a centrally located T stop.
The number of places on the National Register of Historic Places … Out of 187 Newton sites on the List of Registered Historic Places, 34 are in Newton Centre, including private homes, Crystal Lake, the First Baptist Church, and the Newton Centre Branch Library (now housing municipal offices).
The acreage of Newton Centre Playground … This grassy expanse is home to play structures, baseball and soccer fields, a basketball court, sledding hills, and clay tennis courts. There’s also an off-leash dog area and a rec center, known as “the hut,’’ with a gym and activity rooms.
In Newton Centre, the public school system spends $10,090 per student, almost twice the average national expenditure; 30 percent of students graduate from four-year colleges, compared to 16 percent nationally; and 43 percent earn graduate degrees, compared to 9 percent nationally.
It may not rival Walden Pond, but Newton Centre’s 24-acre Crystal Lake is a gem tucked behind historic homes on a neighborhood side street. Residents can swim, boat, or fish for rainbow trout. Amenities include docks, a small sandy beach, a shaded lawn with picnic tables, and a bathhouse with recently refurbished restrooms.
Money doesn’t go a long way in Newton Centre, where lovely homes within walking distance to local conveniences sell for a premium. The median sale price for a home in Newton Centre during the period of December 2013 to March 2014 was $1,015,000. For the same period, the median sale price in Newton overall was substantially lower, at $699,999.
The D Line that goes into Boston from Newton Centre has its moments when it zips along, but more often, especially during the morning and evening commutes, it’s tortuously slow, and it makes 10 stops to get to Copley Square. It’s convenient, but if speed is a priority, you’ve been warned.
Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at StyleCarrot.com. Send comments to [email protected].