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Watertown is in Middlesex County, Massachusetts west of Boston. Many people choose Watertown Apartments as more affordable alternatives to living in Boston, while still having a reasonable commute. There is more of a small town vibe here compared to most of the metropolitan areas of greater Boston.
English Puritans founded Watertown MA in 1630. It was one of the first settlements of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was originally known as Saltonstall Plantation, named after one of the leaders of that first group of settlers, Richard Saltonstall. Watertown was officially incorporated later the same year. Some early documents use the alternate spelling “Waterton”. Watertown originally encompassed a larger area, but through the 18th and into the 19th century parts of it were incorporated into surrounding towns.
The first protest in America against taxation without representation took place in 1632 because Watertown residents opposed being taxed for the building of a stockade fort at Cambridge. This led to the establishment of another American tradition – representative democracy was introduced to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
By the end of the 17th century, Watertown was known for its fine estates. It became the premier horse and cattle market of New England. The first gristmill in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was built here in 1632, as was one of the first woolen mills in America in 1662.
Watertown & the American Revolution
Leading up to the American Revolution, many citizens of Middletown were involved with the Sons of Liberty and joined in protesting the British Tea Tax, culminating in the famous Boston Tea Party. In April 1775, some 134 Watertown minutemen joined in the initial skirmishes of the American Revolutionary War, and then contributed to the subsequent siege of Boston. In 1775 and 1776 the Massachusetts Bay Provincial Congress met in the Watertown Meetinghouse, and the Executive Council convened at the Edmund Fowle House during the British occupation of Boston.
The United States Army established Watertown Arsenal in 1816 for receiving, issuing, and storing ordnance. The architect of the initial twelve buildings was Alexander Parris, who later designed Quincy Market in Boston. During the American Civil War, the military greatly expanded the facilities to manufacture carriages for field and coastal guns.
New construction was added to the Watertown Arsenal into the early 1890’s as it became a manufacturing complex, rather than a storage and distribution center. During World War I, another expansion tripled the size of the arsenal, followed by another, smaller expansion that was made during World War II.
In 1968 the army sold almost half of the arsenal complex to the Watertown Redevelopment Authority, the remainder being converted to the United States Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center. In 1995 this area also was converted to civilian use. The Watertown Arsenal site is registered on the ASCE’s List of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks and also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Landmarks Near Watertown Apartments
Armenian Library and Museum of America
Armenian Library and Museum of America at 65 Main Street in the former Coolidge Bank building houses what is considered the most extensive collection of Armenian artifacts in North America. There is an extensive library and rotating exhibits.
Perkins School for the Blind
Perkins School for the Blind is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. Internationally renowned, it has affiliations with local groups in 67 countries. Housed on the campus are the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library and the Grousbeck Center for Students and Technology. The Perkins School manufactures the Perkins Brailler, a mechanical typewriter that produces braille documents, and the SMART Brailler, which adds a text-to-speech function and digital display.
Watertown Free Public Library
Watertown Free Public Library at 123 Main Street is reportedly one of the better local libraries in the area. In 2006, the city renovated and expanded the original 1884 building. Private study and public meeting rooms are available by reservation. The onsite Red Leaf Café receives rave reviews and offers excellent sandwiches, salads, and snacks.
The Plumbing Museum
The Plumbing Museum, located at 80 Rosedale Road in a former icehouse, is dedicated to the history and development of the plumbing industry. Exhibits include artifacts from as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries, and trace the development of fixtures and piping technology.
Edmund Fowle House and Museum
The Edmund Fowle House and Museum, at 28 Marshall Street, is the second oldest surviving house in Watertown MA and the home of the Historical Society of Watertown. During the American Revolution, it was the headquarters for the executive branch of the Massachusetts government from July 1775 to September 1776. It is open for guided tours on the third Sunday of each month, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. There is a gift shop and The Edmund Fowle House is available to rent for small functions and meetings.
The Abraham Browne House
The Abraham Browne House, at 562 Main Street was built between 1694 and 1701. It is the oldest surviving house in Watertown MA. Captain Abraham Browne, the grandson of one of Watertown’s original settlers, built the house. He was a prominent citizen who held a number of important positions in the local government, including the captain of the militia. The house had severely deteriorated before its meticulous restoration started in 1919. It is one of only a few remaining examples of this “one-over-one” style of building in New England. Historic New England maintains the Abraham Browne House as a museum. It is open to the public a few afternoons a year.
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery is in the eastern end of Watertown MA. One can access it from Mt. Auburn Street. Dedicated in 1831, it was designed as a restful landscape; a peaceful arboretum set with monumental memorials. It is the burial site of many of Boston’s elite, and it is also recognized as a National Historic Landmark District. There are over 5,500 trees representing almost 700 species and varieties. There are three noteworthy historic buildings within the grounds. Bigelow Chapel is a granite Gothic Revival structure with recently restored stained glass windows. Storey Chapel is built of Potsdam sandstone in English Perpendicular style.
Washington Tower is built of granite to look like a feudal castle tower. At 62 feet tall, and set on top of Mount Auburn, 125 feet above the Charles River, it provides visitors with a vantage point to see the Cemetery and get an exceptional view of Boston in the distance. In addition to memorial services, the chapels and tower are popular venues for wedding ceremonies. Visitors who are respectful of the surroundings are welcome and there is parking available.
During the Civil War, Capt. Thomas J. Rodman, famous for inventing the Rodman gun, was assigned to command the Watertown Arsenal. He made his second mark in American history by commissioning what became one of the most lavish commander’s quarters of any installation of the U.S. military. This 12,700 square foot mansion was considered so excessive as to spark a stern rebuke for wasteful spending from Congress. Rodman was banished to the Illinois frontier to command the newly established Rock Island Arsenal, with a promotion to brigadier general. The Commander’s Mansion is now a beautifully renovated venue rented out for weddings and special events.
Things to Do Near Watertown Apartments
The Charles River Greenway offers an accessible path on the north bank of the Charles River in Watertown. There is a non-vehicular bridge over the river to the south bank which offers lovely views up and down the river.
Faire on the Square Festival is held in late September at Saltonstall Field behind the Town of Watertown Administration Building 149 Main Street. Like a state fair in miniature, there are food vendors, live music performances, a beer garden, amazing street performers, area dance team demonstrations, face painting, and karaoke for all ages. Throughout the grounds are dozens of booths exhibiting local businesses, organizations, clubs, and service organizations. Faire on the Square Festival is a great example of how living in a Watertown Apartment can make you part of a community with a small town vibe, while still living close to all the attractions and culture of Boston.
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts at 321 Arsenal Street is a regional arts center located in the former Watertown Arsenal complex which offers visual and performing arts productions, classes, and workshops, musical performances, and literary and art discussions. The resident professional theater company is New Repertory Theatre, which is known for its powerful and thought-provoking productions. Also at the Mosesian Center for the Arts is The Watertown Children’s Theatre, which has been offering classes for, and productions by children for 35 years. It is an outstanding resource for families living in Watertown MA.
In November the St. Stephen Armenian Apostolic Church, located at 38 Elton Avenue, hosts an annual church bazaar at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center renowned for its traditional Armenian foods. The ACEC is located around the block at 47 Nichols Ave.
More than a Feeling
Boston, the Boston-based rock group recorded the majority of their self-titled album at the Foxglove Studio in Watertown.
Transportation To and From Watertown Apartments
MBTA buses run regularly, but there is no train service. The MBTA #502 express bus runs from Watertown Square to Copley Square. Reportedly, it is about a 20 minute ride. For a schedule and more information, see the MBTA website.
Most traffic flows well around Middletown MA, typical for a small city. The main routes to and from Boston become congested during peak rush hour. It is about 10 miles to Boston, about 20 to 30 minute drive outside of rush hour. Rush hour traffic is often heavy near Watertown Square. Overall, Watertown apartments are great choices in terms of travel time into Boston.
Watertown Apartments – Parking Availability
Most of the streets in Watertown, MA have free parking. There is a restriction during the winter for overnight parking. At Watertown Square there is a metered municipal parking lot, and there are parking meters in the commercial areas. Most businesses, employers, and residences have their own parking spaces.
For commuting to Boston there is an MBTA parking lot at Watertown Yard accessed from Water St. It has a capacity of 200 spaces. The fee is $2.50/day or $43.75 for a monthly pass.
Watertown School System
Watertown Public Schools include Early Steps Preschool, Cunniff Elementary School, Hosmer Elementary School, Lowell Elementary School, Watertown Middle School, and Watertown High School.
Private schools in Watertown, MA:
- Perkins School for the Blind – Founded in 1829, Perkins School has been located in Watertown since 1912. It has 167 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 2 to 1.
- Jewish Community Day School – A small Jewish private school servicing grades K-8. It currently supports 184 students and has a student-teacher ratio of 6 to 1.
- St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School – A small Christian school servicing grades K-5. Current enrollment is under 200 students. It has a low student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1.
- Atrium School – A small private school with under 150 students in grades PK, K-8. It has a very low student-teacher ratio of 4 to 1.
- Beacon High School – A very small private alternative school located in Watertown, MA. It has 57 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 5 to 1.
There are no major colleges in Watertown, MA.
What it’s Like to Live in Watertown Apartments
Living in Watertown MA does not have the same intensity as being directly in Boston or some of its other suburbs, but it also is more affordable. Many families have been here for generations and many newcomers decide to stay in these well-established neighborhoods.
There are a range of excellent restaurants here, and there are many parks to enjoy. There is nightlife centered on Watertown Square and the restaurants along Main Street and Mt Auburn Street. For many upwardly mobile young professionals, a Watertown Apartment is more economical than living in Boston, while still having easy access to the excitement of the city.
By the census of 2000, there were 32,986 people, 14,629 households, and 7,329 families residing in the city. The population was spread out with 14.1% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 39.8% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. Niche.com currently reports that 63% of residents have a bachelor’s or advanced college degree and median household income is $93,171.
Watertown, MA does not have any hospital facilities within its boundaries. Area hospitals nearby include Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, McLean Hospital in Belmont, and Newton/Wellesley Hospital in Newton. In town urgent care walk-in clinics include AFC Urgent Care, Partners Urgent Care, and Minute Clinic.
Watertown Cable/Internet Providers
RCN and Verizon serve almost all of the residents in Watertown. Xfinity (Comcast) offers service to almost half of the residents.
Affordability of Watertown Apartments & Housing
The median home value in Watertown is $480,500. There is a good balance between residents that own homes (52%) and those who rent (48%).
Rental statistics from February, 2019 show the average rent for a Watertown apartment to be $2679. On average, a one-bedroom Watertown apartment will cost $2361 per month.
Watertown Real Estate Market
Most of Watertown, MA is comprised of residential streets lined with close-set houses, making it a good place to purchase more affordable property than in Boston. Many Watertown Apartments are in multi-family houses, in addition to those in apartment buildings and noteworthy complexes.
New or Notable Watertown Buildings
River Park Lofts
River Park Lofts at 60 Howard Street is a newly constructed luxury apartment community offering one, two, and three bedroom apartments. River Park Lofts also offers live-and-work units consisting of a one bedroom plus office space, which is legally zoned for business, and includes free on-site commercial parking for clients and business associates. There is also a function/meeting room nearby that can be used for presentations and meetings.
Additional amenities include a heated parking garage, in unit laundry, central air conditioning, and private decks. This is a pet-friendly complex, next to How Park, which features a fenced in off-leash area for dogs. The Charles River Greenway is just across the street.
Arsenal Apartments at 465 Arsenal Street is close to Route 20 and the Massachusetts Turnpike for commuting into Boston. It is also just a block from The Arsenal on the Charles complex, where the national headquarters of Athena Health is located.
Bell Watertown Apartments
Bell Watertown Apartments at 100 Woodview Way is a pet-friendly complex that offers one to three bedroom apartments. Amenities include parking, a 24-hour fitness center with free weights and Yoga studio, a picnic area with gas grills, a saltwater outdoor pool, a dog park area, on-site maintenance and management, package receiving, a sundeck with a fire pit, a nature preserve path, a business center, clubhouse with billiards, bike storage, a media/game room, and an outdoor playground. Short-term leasing is available.
Watertown Square Apartments
Watertown Square Apartments at 20 Watertown Street is a pet-friendly and smoke-free complex conveniently located just across the street from Watertown Yard MBTA Station. One and two bedroom apartments are available, each with a balcony, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and in-unit full size washer and dryer. Amenities include a rooftop deck, fitness center, business center, movie screening room, Wi-Fi service in common areas, package service, reserved parking, on-site zip car vehicles, electric car charging stations, resident social events, and on-site management. Extra storage is available.
Watertown Mews at 1 Repton Place offers Studio, 1BR, 2BR and 3BR apartments in one of the more upscale, elegant apartment complexes in Watertown MA. Apartment amenities include stainless steel EnergyStar appliances, dishwasher, quartz countertops, washer and dryer, and nine-foot ceilings. Some apartments include a gas fireplace, walk-in closet, and private patio and balcony. Watertown Mews is a smoke-free, pet-friendly complex with direct access garage parking. Community amenities include:
- Saltwater pool and sun deck
- BBQ courtyard
- Large clubhouse with Wi-Fi
- Game room
- Pet spa
- Bike storage
- Business center
- Guest suite for residents’ guests
- Media room
- Package concierge
- Off-street parking
- EV charging stations
- On-site management
- Available additional on-site storage
- 24-Hour fitness center with free weights and state of the art cardio equipment with individual TVs
- Yoga / group fitness studio with free Yoga classes
Riverbend On the Charles
Riverbend On the Charles at 270 Pleasant Street offers studio, one, and two bedroom apartments in a pet-friendly, upscale complex next to the Charles River. Apartment amenities include 14-foot ceilings, large walk-in closets, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and in-unit washer/dryer. Some units offer a private balcony. Community amenities include a clubhouse with billiards room, dry cleaning with free pickup and delivery, heated pool and hot tub, sun deck, and state of the art fitness center.
Hamilton Place at 233 Main Street offers studio, one, and two bedroom apartments across the street from Saltonstall Park. Apartment amenities include private balcony, ceramic tile bath, spacious walk-in closets, fully appliance kitchen, individually controlled heat and air conditioning, and heat and hot water included. Community amenities include a fitness center, laundry facilities, and on-site management. Parking is available, and one cat or dog per apartment is welcome.
Village Condominiums at 36 Pierce Rd is a 308-unit condominium complex offering townhouse units for sale. Community amenities include a clubhouse, outdoor pool, and one free parking space per unit with a second available for a monthly fee.
Gables Arsenal Street
Gables Arsenal Street at 204 Arsenal Street is a secure, pet-friendly, non-smoking community that has been awarded Bronze Certification from the National Green Building Standard. It offers one to three bedroom apartments starting at $2,335. Amenities include a fitness gym, business center, resident clubhouse swimming pool, and WI-FI in all community spaces.
Charlesbank Apartment Homes
Charlesbank Apartment Homes at 120 Pleasant Street offers a pet-friendly, smoke free environment with garage parking, controlled access with voice intercom, and smart-home technology in every apartment. There is direct access to the Charles River Greenway right behind the building.
Whitney Towers Apartments
Whitney Towers Apartments at 275 Main Street is a family owned and operated eight-story apartment building offering 92 well-kept apartments. Amenities include indoor swimming pool, game room with a pool table and ping-pong, gym with treadmills, elliptical machines, and free weights, business office, Yoga studio, solarium, parking for tenants, and coin-operated laundry rooms on each floor.