Page 1






P. 56


P. 50

P. 30

Five Theories on Why Our Students’ Classrooms Are So Crowded




Sari Brown’s Newly Expanded Boutique Brings High Style to Newton Highlands


Chestnut Hill Malls Struggle to Update Route 9’s Dated Commercial Strip

Renowned Violinist Lynn Chang Sets His Sights on Fenway Park




Newton Living



Where to Eat Now! P. 42

O C TO B E R / N OV E M B E R 2 01 1

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Newton Living CONTENTS


Features 42 | WHERE TO EAT


restaurants are giving residents more reasons to reconsider traveling to Boston on date night. Even in a down economy, Newton’s restaurant life is looking up.



DERBY Dated commercial spaces in Chestnut Hill are pinched between wetlands, bedrock, and neighborhood activists, but the land here is too valuable for developers to let it sit idle. Meet the challenges of Route 9.


56 | WHY IS MY


CROWDED? Newton isn’t growing but public school enrollments are the highest in years. In a city with no shortage of opinions, this story examines five theories about where all these schoolchildren are coming from. BY DON SEIFFERT


One local photographer set out to showcase some of Newton’s exceptional individuals but discovered something larger, forging a new partnership to celebrate the richness of family. PHOTOS BY DREW HYMAN AND JENNIFER NOURSE. TEXT BY KEN SHULMAN



OCT/NOV 2011

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Newton Living contents

October/November 2011 Volume 1 Number 1

Departments 06 | publisher’s desk 10 | Contributors 72 | Old and New(ton) Chestnut

Hill, mid ’60s.

Village 13 | Style

Sari Brown expands her boutique, Lux Couture; Ceri; brightcolored handbags. 18 | Food

Eating vegan in the Garden City; housemade granola at The Cottage in Chestnut Hill; BOKX 109’s recipe for pork chops with heirloom apples and sage polenta. 21 | DRINK

Seasonal white wines. 22 | Home

Designer Jill Litner Kaplan outfits a Victorian home for a modern family’s lifestyle; Needham Street’s home design collaborative. 26 | Sports

New England Revolution’s Pat Phelan; high jumper Carla Forbes. 30 | Arts

Violinist Lynn Chang; event listings; books. 32 | Business

Century Bank’s Marshall M. Sloane; The Well Fed Dog; JOOS. 36 | Giving

The John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club. 38 | Affairs in the net the rev’s pat phelan with wife, maggie. “revolutionary road,” page 26.


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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State Representative Kay Khan helps fix pedestrian bridges over the Charles River; City Briefs.

photograph by

Bob Packert

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publisher’s desk

A Moveable Feast Welcome to the premiere issue of Newton Living. Many people have contributed their time and talent to fill these pages with engaging stories about life in the Garden City. Take Peggy Hernandez. Her feature story (page 18) on Newton’s restaurant revival—along with Joe Keller’s mouthwatering photography—shows we’ve got many good reasons to eat local. And that notion is only underscored by Clara Silverstein’s story on vegan dining and that killer pork chop recipe from BOKX 109 chef Jarrod Moiles. But that’s just the food. In this issue, Don Seiffert chases down answers about why Newton’s classrooms are crowded (page 56) and Judy Rakowsky examines how local developers are struggling to bring Chestnut Hill into the twenty-first century (page 50). Our pages also offer glimpses of Newton soccer, village style, home décor, healthy dog food, and the reopening of pedestrian bridges across the Charles River. Who knew this city had so much going on? As it turns out, a lot of people knew—and know—that this is a wonderful place to live and do business. Newton is somehow three places at once: a city, a collection of villages, and a community of amazing people and families. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the photographic exhibit of some remarkable Newton families opening at the library in November. We are privileged to preview a selection of those photographs in this issue (page 60). Also in these pages, you will meet violinist Lynn Chang, professional soccer player Pat Phelan, student athlete Carla Forbes, banker Marshall M. Sloane, and Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Vanessa Battista. As Shakespeare wrote, “What is the city but the people?—True, the people are the city.” A year ago this magazine was only an idea—an idea to explore Newton, to discover its richness and diversity, and to celebrate, in text and images, this place we call home. Today, you hold a copy of that idea in your hands. And I have upwards of 100 people to thank for the successful launch of Newton Living. To them—to our writers and photographers, to the designer who brought these pages crackling to life, and to the advertisers who have supported this new local venture—I offer my sincere thanks.

john sisson Editor and Publisher

off the record five things i learned working on the newton living premiere


The building that houses the cinemas at Chestnut Hill Shopping Center was a Filene’s department store until the mid-1970s.


The owners of the city’s two remaining hardware stores—Waban Hardware and Swartz’s Hardware in Nonantum—have never met.


A Gruner Veltliner, an Austrian white wine, can be decanted like a red wine to bring out more of the flavor.


The Newton Free Library circulates nearly 2 million items each year.


Newton Centre’s Sandwich Works has ice cubes made with coffee— and I probably need to cut back on the caffeine.

the cover photograph by keller + keller. The B Street Burger, prepared with aged Vermont cheddar and sweet onions, from Newton Centre’s B Street Restaurant and Bar. “where to eat, Now,” page 42.


Newton Living

oct/nov 2011

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photograph by

Keirnan Klosek

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Serving Newton since 1989 President: Ruth L. Barnett

YEARLY ACTIVITIES: Harvest Fair Halloween Window Painting Contest Holiday Lighting at Newton City Hall Mayor’s New Year’s Open House

editor and publisher

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Flower plantings in public spaces Seedling Tree Program Newton Cultural Center 225 Nevada Street Newtonville, MA 02460 617-527-8283

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Robert F. Parsons Robert Parsons Design Betsy Blazar David Hill Adam DeTour Vivek Bajaj, Alyssa Giacobbe, Peggy Hernandez, Stephanie Horst, Ralph Ranalli, Judy Rakowsky, Robin Regensburg, Don Seiffert, Clara Silverstein, Tiffany Smith Robert Boyd, Jared Charney, Sadie Dayton, Adam DeTour, Conor Doherty, Kate Kelley, Keller + Keller, Justin Knight, Dana Moscardelli, Mark Ostow, Bob Packert, Dana Smith, Anthony Tieuli, Sharon White Newton Living is distributed to every business and residential address in the zip codes 02458, 02459, 02460, 02461, 02462, 02464, 02465, 02466, 02467, and 02468. For subscriptions outside of Newton, please send an email to If your business would like additional copies for customers, please call 617-340-3668. Newton Living does not accept unsolicited editorial materials for publication and is not responsible for such submissions. events: news:

Newton Pride Greenhouse at Newton Cultural Center Leo L. Levi All America Site Selection Garden

John Sisson



617-340-3668 Newton Living P.O. Box 590718 Newton Centre, MA 02459 617-340-3668 617-299-3385 fax Newton Living is published bimonthly by Garden City Press LLC, P.O. Box 590718, Newton Centre, MA 02459, USA. Advertising rates available at The editorial content of this magazine is licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNoDerivs 3.0 United States License, Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, CA 94041, USA. Member of Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce.

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1 Joe Keller Photographer “Where to Eat Now,” p. 42

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Photographer Joe Keller of Keller + Keller ( specializes in food, lifestyle and interiors. Joe’s clients include Boston magazine, Cook’s Country, Williams-Sonoma, and Food Network Magazine. After growing up in Needham, Joe attended Ithaca College and The New England School of Photography, and settled on the South Shore. If you have a copy of Joanne Chang’s book from the Flour Bakery + Café, you’re already familiar with his work. Of his shoot for Newton Living, Joe wrote: “I think Newton is very lucky to have so many dining choices and restaurateurs that are so passionate about their food.” 2 Alyssa Giacobbe Writer “The Lux Life,” p. 14

Alyssa Giacobbe (alyssagiacobbe. com) is a former editor for Boston magazine, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Teen Vogue and has written about fashion and style for publications including New York, Lucky, In Style, and T. Of her interview with Sari

Brown, Alyssa wrote, “Sari’s convincing, but honest, which is the best sort of stylist. Of course she loves to sell, but she’ll never send you out in something that doesn’t work. That’s just bad business.” 3 Peggy Hernandez Writer “Where to Eat Now,” p. 42

Freelance journalist Peggy Hernandez lives in Newton Centre and contributes to the Food section of the Boston Globe where she formerly worked as a metro reporter and as a foreign correspondent. She has also worked at newspapers in San Francisco and San Jose, California, and in Rochester, New York. Of this issue’s cover story, Peggy wrote: “Mario Boccabella told me most Newtonites are territorial, rarely venturing too far from their respective villages to dine. Guilty! If I’m not eating out in Boston or Cambridge, I tend to sup in the villages near my Newton Centre home. In reporting this story, I ate for the first time at Bocca Bella in Auburndale and Fiorella’s in Newtonville. Those visits reaffirmed one of my adages that a good meal is worth the drive.”

4 Clara Silverstein Writer Food, p. 18

Clara Silverstein (clarasilverstein. com) is the author of three books, most recently A White House Garden Cookbook. She also coauthored The New England Soup Factory Cookbook. Her articles and essays have appeared in Runner’s World, the Boston Globe, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and WellesleyWeston Magazine. The mother of two graduates of Newton South High School, Clara and her husband live in Auburndale. “We usually look to Boston and New York for food trends,” Clara wrote of her work in this issue, but Newton has much to offer, like local vegans who take us into their home kitchens to tell us what they eat and why. 5 Tim Bower Illustrator “Why is My Kid’s Classroom So Crowded?” p. 56

Tim Bower ( is an award-winning illustrator whose work has graced the pages of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, the New

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York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, Time, Newsweek, the Atlantic, Harper’s, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Esquire, GQ, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Playboy, American Heritage, Harvard Business Review, McSweeney’s, Reader’s Digest, Wired, Outside, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, and National Geographic. Of his work in this issue of Newton Living, Bower commented, “When working with visuals, taking an idea out of the context of specifics and treating it more as a general theme allows for a wider spectrum of aspects to convey. Classroom crowding suggests to me a sort of chaos and energy that I hoped to get at with this composition, so in that spirit I just started drawing in one corner, and ended up in another, and I was done. The color was treated in a similarly random way, letting the last color applied dictate the next.” 6 Sadie Dayton Photographer Style, p. 14

Sadie Dayton (sadiephotography. com) credits her visual style to

time spent growing up on the coast of New England and studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Sadies photography has appeard in Vanity Fair, W, Time, Forbes, Real Simple, the New York Times, Boston magazine, and the Boston Globe Magazine. Of her work for this issue, Sadie said, “I adored meeting Sari, a gorgeous funny strong successful female . . . with a great sense of style . . . she inspires me to embrace the possibilities of growing more attractive inside and out with every year. From what I saw of Newton Highlands . . . it seems to me to be such an adorable quaint funky hip town . . . obviously attracting the same kind of people!” 7 Drew Hyman and Jennifer Nourse Photographers Ken Shulman Writer “All in the Family,” p. 60

This team collaborated to create Inspirational Families of Newton, photographs of dozens of exceptional individuals and families whose lives and work influence

In-home care.

the community of Newton. Their works will be exhibited November 2–29 at the Newton Free Library. Selected photographs appear in this issue. Drew Hyman (bottom right), was born and raised in Newton. He has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years, specializing in portrait work with a casual style that lends interactivity to the images ( Canton’s Jennifer Nourse Rodman (jennynoursephotography. com) is a second-generation photographer whose parents began working as photographers 65 years ago. She specializes in event photography and portrait work. Ken Shulman (krshulman@ is a print and broadcast journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek and the New York Times and on the BBC, on 60 Minutes, and on various National Public Radio shows. He is the author of the book Anatomy of a Restoration, about the Brancacci Chapel in Florence, Italy, and of an impactful, if controversial, Benetton ad campaign in 2000 entitled “We, On Death Row.” Ken, who is a graduate of Newton North High School, lives in Cambridge.

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style maven sari brown, owner of luxcouture in newton highlands. see next page.

photograph by

Sadie Dayton

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Newton Living oct/nov 2011

13 9/2/11 8:20:31 AM



The Lux Life

Sari Brown’s newly expanded boutique brings high style to Newton Highlands. By Alyssa Giacobbe For years, Sari Brown operated a wildly successful online handbag business out of a Wellesley office park, sel-ling rare clutches, baguettes, and totes from up-and-coming French, Italian, and American designers to anti-status aficionados all over the world. But a devoted local clientele began to wonder if Brown might be able to do something about their wardrobes, too. Three years ago, she opened the retail iteration of LuxCouture on Lincoln Street in Newton Highlands, adding to the bags a mix of domestic and European clothing and jewelry lines. Fashion mavens flocked to the store, and this month, Brown will move a few doors down into a new location twice the size. A former retail recruiter, Brown got into selling bags when she noticed in the bag that the label-obsessed American luxcouture’s bags and market largely ignored some of the accessories. more interesting—if no less luxe— creations coming from American and European upstarts. She traveled to Paris, London, and Milan two or three times a year to scout for new designers and made regular buying trips to New York. As the economy faltered and Internet shopping became a discount destination, Brown shuttered the web version of her store. Now, though handbags still make up about a third of her business—exotic skins and interesting shapes from up-andcoming designers like Be Inthavong, Meredith Wendell, VBH, and Mods & Rockers—clothing and jewelry are taking on a more prominent role. “It’s become a denim world,” says Brown, whose jewelry collection includes bangles, gothic-modern necklaces, and delicate pendants from indie jew- appreciate customers, remembering birthdays and surgeries and kids’ elers like Rona Pfeiffer and Irit. “The names. “And we keep track of what focus now is on making your jeans people have bought in previous seaand T-shirt look fun and different.” sons so we can help them work with Brown’s keen eye for detail has certainly helped grow her business, as what they already own,” says Brown. Finds for fall include upscale pieces has the boutique’s anti–department from European designers like Semistore feel, with Brown and her amiCouture and Erbe Scotland alongable staffers going out of their way to


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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side American brands like Bodkin, Hazel Brown, and Superfine. “Our philosophy is ‘practical but stylish’; clothes that serve many purposes,” says Brown. “No one wants a one-hit wonder. When I buy something, I want to wear it, live in it, use it up.” LuxCouture, 9 Lincoln Street, Newton Highlands, 617-969-5600,

photographs by

Sadie Dayton

9/2/11 8:26:25 AM



Twenty-nine years after Ellen Shapiro opened her first Ceri boutique on Needham Street in Newton Centre, the boutique—which in recent years kept locations in Boston and Wellesley—has returned to its Newton Centre roots in a new space on Union Street. “Our Newton customers were missing us and we were missing them,” says Shapiro, who runs the business with her daughter. With help from Nantucket-based interior designer Eliza Silva, Shapiro worked to renovate the 1,500-squarefoot Union Street space into something that reflects the store’s fashion-forward philosophy: shades of white on the walls, tile flooring, and chandeliers. But, of course, it’s the merchandise that takes center stage: an upscale-casual mix of wearable clothing, handbags, belts, and jewelry from independent American, European, and Israeli designers, like Rina Zin, Roni Blanshay, Azaara, and Grownbeans. “We try to buy with our customer’s lifestyle in mind,” says Shapiro. “She works, she travels; she wants to be able to wear a piece lots of different ways.” Ceri, 103 Union Street, Newton Centre, 617527-6710, ALYSSA GIACOBBE


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Vegan Rituals Eating vegan in the Garden City— a user’s manual. By Clara Silverstein

on the menu: Lily Fein, above, dines with a friend at Watertown’s Red Lentil. Below, from left, the Shepherd’s Pie and the MacroBiotic Platter.


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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Like many women her age, 18-year-old Lily Fein watches what she eats. Yet her goal is not to lose weight. She is a vegan; she eats no animal products. “I feel better psychologically because I know I’m doing something good,” says Fein, who graduated from Newton South High School this spring and is attending Syracuse University. “Generally, I don’t think humans need to use their intelligence to exploit other living things.” Fein became a vegan earlier this year when friends at Newton South encou-raged her to try it. By giving up meat, eggs and fish to focus on a diet based on fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as beans) and grains, Fein became part of a small but devoted local community. Whether motivated by ideology or health concerns, or both, they follow a way of eating that has gained national attention. The film Forks over Knives, which played in June at the West Newton Cinema, inspired a popular companion cookbook with the same title. Vegan cooking and diet books, such as Skinny Bitch and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, have also become popular. The Boston Vegetarian Society does not keep statistics on the number of vegans in the Boston

area, but President Evelyn Kimber says that its vegan cooking classes have waiting lists each month. Its annual fall Food Festival, which does not serve foods made with eggs or dairy products, has expanded to two days to accommodate the crowds. Nationally, vegans make up about 1 percent of the American adult population, according to the most recent survey by the Vegetarian Resource Group. Vegans in Newton have little trouble finding resources to stay well fed. With no vegan restaurant in Newton—since Newton Corner’s Prana Cafe closed this summer, the closest is Watertown’s Red Lentil—vegans can usually find appropriate dishes at local restaurants, including Tango Mango, the Coconut Café, and the New England Soup Factory. Some restaurants also adapt dishes or create off-the-menu orders. Vegans also find a wide selection of products in local grocery stores. Jake Tepper, Fein’s classmate at Newton South and now a freshman at Oregon State University, said that shopping has become more interesting since he became a vegan at the beginning of this year. “It opened my eyes to a lot more foods. I never used to think about food before, and now I

photographs by

Anthony Tieuli

9/2/11 8:29:26 AM

think about it a lot,” he says. Recently added to his diet: quinoa (a grain high in protein), beans, soy milk, almond butter, collard greens, and cabbage. Basic vegan cookbooks can help beginners get started. For hands-on instruction, Heather Wish teaches vegan cooking classes at Create a Cook in Newton Highlands. She learned how to cook this way when her mother became vegan 15 years ago. In the past five years, more people have become interested in being vegan, she says. “It is a healthy living style, and health has become so important to people, especially in a place like Newton.” Wish helped develop a vegan menu that customers can order for parties at Create a Cook. Some options: spicy coconut squash soup, pad thai with roasted tofu, and dark chocolate truffle tart. Baking without eggs or butter can be a challenge, she says, but she has found recipes that work. Despite restaurants that have limited options, those who have become vegan express few regrets. Tepper, motivated by environmental concerns, originally planned to start eating this way in college but decided there was no reason to wait. “I don’t want to push my views on someone else, but people have mostly reacted positively,” he says. “My dad and stepmom have been supportive. I feel fine. I can’t imagine going back now.”

photograph by

Kate Kelley

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Quick Bite: Cottage Granola

True to its California origins, The Cottage restaurant in Chestnut Hill makes its own granola. Yet this version is more chic than hippie-crunchy. Brides hand it out as party favors. Friends bring it to each other as hostess gifts. Restaurant customers have ordered it non-stop ever since the first batch came out of the kitchen at the original Cottage in La Jolla 14 years ago. Owners John and Laura Wolfe brought the recipe east with them when they opened The Cottage in Wellesley (Laura’s hometown) and more recently in Chestnut Hill. With its hearty balance of dried cranberries, pecans, coconut and oats, the granola tastes good enough to eat by the handful. “Usually once someone tries it, they fall in love with it,” says Laura. The breakfast menu pairs it with fresh fruit and milk or yogurt for $9. Those who crave more can pick up a one-pound bag for $9.95. The Cottage Chestnut Hill, 47 Boylston Street, 617-9165413, Clara Silverstein Newton Living oct/nov 2011

19 9/2/11 8:29:38 AM



12 fresh tarragon or chervil leaves, chopped Salt and pepper, to taste Sage and Zucchini Polenta

2 1 1 2 1 1 10 1 1/2 1/2

cups whole milk cup chicken stock cup (2 sticks) butter (see note) tablespoons canola oil shallot, peeled and sliced small zucchini, sliced thin fresh sage leaves, chopped cups coarse polenta-style corn meal cup parmesan cheese

Heirloom Apple and Pancetta Hash In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the pancetta until crispy. Set aside. In another skillet, heat the oil. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat until they soften. Add the apples and reserved pancetta. Cook for 4 minutes. Add the butter, fennel, chives and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Note: To toast fennel seeds, spread them on the baking sheet of a toaster oven. Toast for 2–3 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Or place the seeds in a non-stick skillet over high heat, stirring constantly, until they toast, 2–3 minutes.

Pork Chop Shop Pork Chops with Heirloom Apples and Sage Polenta

Serves 4

This dish from Jarrod Moiles, executive chef at BOKX 109 at Hotel Indigo, combines two fall favorites, apples and sage. Sage-flavored polenta and hash made from apples and pancetta accompany grilled pork chops. Moiles layers the pieces of fried polenta on the plate first, then balances a pork chop against the polenta and spoons the hash over the top. “You get layers of color—the golden brown of the polenta, the grill marks on the pork chops, the skins of the apples that are still red, the green


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

NLON11_VFood_Recipe.indd 20

of the chives, and the brown of the sauteed pancetta,” he says. They bring out the best in each other, he says. “The sage, smoky pancetta, and apple flavors all pick up and complement the flavor of the pork.”

4 pork chops, 12 ounces each

Heirloom Apple and Pancetta Hash

8 2 2 2

ounces pancetta, diced tablespoons canola oil shallots, peeled and sliced apples, preferably an heirloom variety from a local orchard, cored and diced 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted to bring out their flavor (see note) 10 chives, minced

Sage and Zucchini Polenta Prepare a shallow baking sheet, such as a 9-by-13 inch baking pan, by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray or greasing it with butter. In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk, butter and chicken stock over medium-high heat until they begin to simmer. While the milk is heating, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the shallot and zucchini. Sauté until soft, 5–10 minutes. Stir in the sage; set aside. When the milk mixture is simmering, slowly stir in the corn meal. Continue to cook, whisking or stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick and fairly stiff. Remove from the heat. Stir in the shallot mixture, then fold in the cheese. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it evenly so it is about 3/4 inch thick. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate. Once chilled remove from pan and cut into rectangles for frying. In a deep skillet or frying pan, pour canola oil to a depth of 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Gently add the polenta rectangles and fry until golden brown on one side. Flip and fry on the other. When done the rectangles should be crisp outside, soft inside. Just before serving, grill the pork chops. Arrange the fried polenta on each plate, place a pork chop on the side, and spoon some apple hash over the top. Note: You could reduce the amount of butter to make the dish healthier, but this will make the polenta less creamy.

photograph by

Kate Kelley

9/2/11 8:31:02 AM



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version of the Pinot gris grape yields a full-bodied wine with ripe melon and almond flavors. Complements antipasto, cured meats, cheeses, savory poultry or pork. $14 at Murray’s Liquors, 747 Beacon Street, Newton Centre, 617-964-1550,


This pale yellow wine gives off a sharp, floral aroma of green apple and citrus. Pairs nicely with roasts, spicy Asian or Indian food. $12 at Upper Falls Liquors, 150 Needham Street, 617-969-9200, and Auburndale Wine & Spirits, 2102 Commonwealth Avenue, 617-244-2772,


Austrian varietal can be astonishingly complex, full of tropical fruit. Try letting it breathe. Food pairings include asparagus, roasted veal, and pork and sausage dishes. Excellent with scallops. $15 at Marty’s Fine Wines, Newtonville, 617-3321230,

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This smooth Bordeaux wine blends three diverse varietals. Try it with kebabs, spicy shellfish stew, or butternut squash lasagna. Sip it with a hot artichoke and crab dip on bread. $26 at Murray’s.

photographs by

Sharon White

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NV Sokol Blosser Evolution #9 One

of the oldest existing Oregon wineries blends nine varietals to create this complex and delicious wine. Lots of fruit. Superb with spicy Thai or Mexican food. $20 at Upper Falls Liquors and Auburndale Wine & Spirits.


A classic big California chardonnay. Drink with rich foods, such as shellfish in a buttery cream sauce. Pairs well with Brie, Camembert, or a Triple Cream St. Andre. $25 at Marty’s Fine Wines.

1160 Boylston Street Chestnut Hill (617) 264-0393 Patrick Dubsky, proprietor

9/2/11 12:59:52 PM



look book clockwise from bottom left, the living room, foyer, and office show a new, bold look.

Contemporary Creation

How a local designer transformed a former Victorian barn into a chic, modern space in West Newton Hill. by Tiffany Smith

As interior designer Jill Litner Kaplan puts it, “designers are there to help people solve problems.” The design challenge may be as simple as organizing a bookcase or more complex, like designing an entire house. When Kaplan took on one such project in West Newton Hill, she faced a conundrum: how to take a large, gutted space that had once been the barn of a late-nineteenth-century Victorian estate and style it to fit the modern sensibilities of a Back Bay family with two children and one on the way. “In our very first meeting, the couple said they wanted a house with clean lines, that was comfortable and warm,” says Kaplan. And she set about creating a contemporary space in an unlikely place.


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Embrace Color As this house exhibits, modern design does not have to be exclusively neutral and monotone. These homeowners love color (especially green) and one of Kaplan’s challenges involved translating their desired atmosphere into a working color palette. Neutrals form the basis of the home’s design, but then she layered them with intense colors and textured fabrics, brightening the space and making it come alive. Use Striking Architecture One of the most prominent aspects of this design is the use of unique cabinetry throughout the home. The photographs by

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mix of painted and natural wood within each room helps the entire space flow. The clean lines of the Shaker-style cabinets complement the simplicity of this contemporary look. As Kaplan explains, Shaker “is technically an old design, but it is perfect for a more modern interior.” Repeating architectural elements in unexpected ways also adds to the cohesiveness. For example, Kaplan designed the living room built-ins herself, with the cabinet doors echoing the irregular X pattern of the custom-made rug.

Find an Anchor Focal points create visual interest in a space. While on a trip to Miami, Kaplan spotted a focal point she thought would fit the couple’s design sense perfectly. The exotic painting of a rhinoceros by a 1930s French painter became the centerpiece of the study, and Kaplan designed the room around it. She picked up on hints of orange in the animal and carried them over into the vivid furniture and mahogany cabinets. Relying on a single piece to anchor a room is not for the fainthearted, but it brings a space to life. Create a Surprise After two years of hard work and collaboration, Kaplan succeeded in fulfilling her clients’ vision of a sophisticated contemporary interior space. The exterior of the home still projects a traditional aesthetic. “You can look at it from the outside and see another beautiful, grand Victorian Newton home,” she says. “However, once you step through the front door into the foyer, you are looking at something that feels much more akin to a Soho loft.” Jill Litner Kaplan Interiors, 381 Highland Street, West Newton, 617-558-7751,


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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joining forces gail rice and her partner, pierre matta.

Home Shopping Network

Design collaborative spreads along Needham Street.

Gail Rice is working to realize her vision of a design collaborative on Needham Street, creating a full range of home design services and products with the cooperation of other independent stores. When Rice opened the 6,000-square-foot showroom of Resource Design in early 2010, she understood the economic times demanded a creative response. So, she partnered with Pierre Matta, whose handcrafted furniture and cabinets grace the showroom. Rice also began reaching out to nearby stores, seeking opportunities for collaboration that would benefit the stores—and attract more clients. One might think the connections would have been obvious: a client redoing a kitchen might start in Resource Design’s showroom, look at appliances next door at Poirier, shop for fixtures at Splash, and consider floor coverings and backsplash options at Ideal Tile. Although the stores share a common parking lot, they had not worked to collaborate before. Now they do. And the network continues to evolve, extending outward and inward. Some of Rice’s partners are located beyond Needham Street and outside of Newton, while her own showroom has become a gallery of other vendors’ appliances and wares. “It’s a concept that’s working,” says Rice. “Especially in this roller-coaster economy, it’s beneficial for us to share and refer customers.” Resource Design, 244 Needham Street, 617 877-1892, Pierre Matta Handcrafted Furniture and Cabinetry, 244 Needham Street, 508-638-1522, Robin Regensburg

turning traditional into modern

achieve a contemporary look in your home—even if your budget is more bargain basement than back bay.

Mix up eras. “Modern” can mean a contemporary abstract piece created last month in a South End studio; it can also refer to a mid-century classic. A Knoll table from the 1960s found on Craigslist can be combined with a piece of Room & Board furniture to give a room more personality and interest. Spend carefully. Especially with modern design, it is not necessary to use all high-

priced merchandise. Blend the high with the low. Invest money in the most important piece in a room, such as a sofa, and hunt for more inexpensive accessories to complement it. Less is more. Simplify space with fewer objects and pieces of furniture. A sleeker and more modern look means getting rid of unnecessary accessories and focusing on a handful of unique pieces that express who you are.

Look for clean lines. Find furniture with simple and sleek edges and lines. Buy a couch with straight arms, rather than softer rounded ones. Stay away from items that scream “ornate.” Go big. Hanging contemporary, large-scale artwork, even in a small space, can give the room a great modern sensation. Splurge on French abstract pieces or browse the shelves of IKEA.

photograph by

Robert Boyd

9/2/11 8:54:45 AM

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heads up the revs’ pat phelan


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Fields Used

Matches on Newton fields (with the playoffs included)



6 co-ed child– parent teams. West Suburban YmCA.

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20 Co-Ed Teams. Kindergarten Soccer.

4–8 years

8 Co-Ed Teams. west suburban ymca.

6–18 years

78 Girls Teams. Newton Girls soccer.

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Adult 44 co-ed teams: Boston ski and sports club. 4 men’s teams: over the hill soccer league.

Ralph Ranalli

Men’s and women’s soccer teams at Boston College host matches in October at the soccer complex behind the law school, 885 Centre Street. Ideal for families with children, the bleachers put spectators close to the action, and the free parking and admission don’t hurt. The women’s team hosts last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference champions Wake Forest at 7 pm, October 27.

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Pat Phelan is one of few lucky and talented athletes to have turned his love of soccer into a career. A starting central midfielder for the New England Revolution, Phelan started playing soccer at age four in Enfield, Connecticut, a town less than 100 miles west of the Newton Centre carriage house he and his wife Maggie share with their white-yellow Labrador retriever Huxley. Phelan, who never dreamed of being anything other than a professional soccer player, said he’s glad to be back in New England after being traded from the Toronto FC in 2008. “It was a nice little homecoming for me and I’m glad it worked out,” said Phelan during a phone interview from Logan International Airport, before boarding a plane for the Revolution’s match against the Colorado Rapids. The red-headed Phelan is easy to pick out at Gillette Stadium, wearing number 28 on his jersey and protective headgear. The 26-year-old midfielder has suffered three concussions in the past four years. Despite injuries and the game’s physical toll, Phelan hopes to play professionally for at least another ten years. “My goal has been to play until my body tells me I can’t,” says Phelan. Before going pro, Phelan played defense for most of his life and grew up admiring soccer all-star Alexi Lalas, a fellow redhead and former defender for the Revs. Now Phelan receives his own fan mail and makes it his priority to personally answer every letter. During the off-season, Phelan and his teammates do player appearances and run youth clinics in eastern Massachusetts. He believes the future of soccer is only growing stronger. “Do I think it will ever eclipse any of the other major sports?” asks Phelan. “Maybe not in my lifetime, but I think we’re moving in that direction.” For Phelan, being on the forefront of a sport only growing in popularity in the U.S. and getting paid to do what he loves is a pretty good deal. “I think you could write a list of a million other jobs that, at least to me, would be less desirable,” he says. “I think it’s a pretty rare opportunity. Not many people get to do what they love and what they want to do, so I feel pretty fortunate.”



The New England Revolution’s Pat Phelan kicks back in Newton Centre. stephanie horst

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Jump Around Carla Forbes aims high, runs hard, and goes far. By Robin Regensburg

Newton North High School junior Carla Forbes said the fierce competition she faced this summer at her first international event has made her only hungrier to compete. Her triple jump of 42 feet, 1 1/2 inches at the U.S. World Youth Qualifiers in Myrtle Beach broke a New England high school record and earned her a place on the U.S. team that traveled to the World Youth Championships in July in Lille, France, where she placed thirteenth. Forbes, the second-youngest member of the U.S. team, first started competing as a seventh grader at Day Middle School, where her reputation attracted the attention of Joe Tranchita, who coaches track and field for Newton North and the Waltham Track Club. Since then, Forbes has been national championship gold-medal winner five times. The youngest of three children, Forbes comes from a family of athletes. Her older brothers graduated from Newton North, where they played football and competed in track and field. As a youth, her mother competed on track and field teams in Brookline and in Dorchester. And her father coached Hyde Park Youth Soccer. After graduating in 2013, Forbes says she plans to compete at the collegiate level and, hopefully, to qualify for the Olympics. But high school comes first. “Track and getting a good education are my top priorities,” said Forbes who lists math and science as her favorite subjects. One might also say she seems to be a whiz in physics—at least when it comes to defying gravity.

taking off newton north’s carla forbes leaps from the page.


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photograph by

Jared Charney

9/2/11 10:48:45 AM


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the listings

not-to-be-missed october and november events.


Hornig Foundation Jewelry Exhibit. Lasell College’s Wedeman Gallery is exhibiting jewelry from the Philanthropy Is Beautiful collection of New York designer Joan B. Hornig. The exhibit runs through October 11. The gallery is in the Yamawaki Arts and Cultural Center, 47 Myrtle Avenue, Auburndale, 617-243-2143. british antiquaries. The Magna Carta from 1225, royal portraiture, and other historical artifacts will be on display through December 11 at the McMullen Museum of Art, Devlin Hall, 617552-8100, Free admission. Art of Place and Form. The New Art Center hosts spatial process / social form, an exhibition of works by three artists exploring social, political, and religious ambiguity: Eric Ayotte (ericayotte. com), Yamini Nayar (, and Ryan O’Connor ( The exhibition runs Oct. 24–Nov. 25 at 61 Washington Park, Newtonville, 617- 964-3424, newartcenter. org. Hours: 9 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday, 1–5pm on Saturday. Free admission.


The New Philharmonia Orchestra will present American-themed works including the New World Symphony by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and American composer Edward MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Performances at 8 pm, Nov. 12, and 3 pm, Nov. 13, at First Baptist Church, 848 Beacon Street, Newton Centre, 617-527-9717. Tickets $10–30, Beethoven’s and Haydn. The Newton Choral Society performs two diverse works from the turn of the nineteenth century: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Mass in C and Franz Joseph Haydn’s Te Deum. Performance at 8 pm, Nov. 19, at Holy Name Parish, 1689 Centre Street, West Roxbury, 617-527-7464, American Music.


The Rocky Horror Show. Performances at 7:30pm on Thursdays, 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 pm on Sundays, Oct. 7–9, 13–16, 20–23, 27–30, at Turtle Lane Playhouse, 283 Melrose Street, Auburndale. Tickets $22–32, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Performances at 7:30pm, Oct. 13–15, in

Newton South’s Seasholes Auditorium, 140 Brandeis Road, Newton Centre. Tickets $10, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

Performances at 7:30 pm, Oct. 26–29, and 2 pm Oct. 30, in Boston College’s Robsham Theater. Tickets $10–15, 617-552-4002, Selected Shorts. Isaiah Sheffer brings his public radio show and a cast of actors to perform the short works of several Jewish writers. Performances at 8 pm, Oct. 29, and 2 pm, Oct. 30, at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton Street, 617-965-5226, Molière’s Tartuffe, translated by Richard Wilbur. Performances at 7:30 pm,

Nov. 3–5, in Newton North’s Performing Arts Center Auditorium, 457 Walnut Street, Newtonville, 617-559-6406,


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Violin Tendencies Whether at home in Newton or on a world stage in Oslo, Lynn Chang plays his music. By Stephanie Horst

Renowned violinist Lynn Chang performed at a crucial moment during last December’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. The Chinese government, infuriated by the international recognition being given to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, did not allow Liu to attend. The Nobel committee chairman, after delivering a moving speech on why the 2010 honor was being awarded to the imprisoned Liu, placed the Nobel medal on Liu’s empty chair. The audience rose in applause. As the chairman and audience took their seats, Chang walked onstage and stood before the expectant faces of international diplomats and dignitaries, raised his bow, and let the plaintive sound of his violin wash over the

hushed crowd. By the end of his sevenminute performance, which included two traditional Chinese folk songs, actress Anne Hathaway, who was cohosting the Nobel Prize concert the following day, was in tears. (Watch the video of the ceremony and Chang’s performance at Sitting in his home in Newton on a balmy August morning, Chang, 58, beams at the memory. “It was a real once-in-a-lifetime moving experience that I don’t think I’ll ever have again,” says Chang. “It’s, you could say, in many ways, a culmination of everything that I did and stand for.” When approached by the Nobel committee, Chang, who still has family in China, at first hesitated to accept the offer, fearing that the

photograph by

Mark Ostow

9/2/11 12:13:48 PM

the word

essential fall reading from three newton authors. A CRACK IN EVERYTHING By Angela Gerst Fiction. 270 pp. Poisoned Pen Press. $25 hardcover, $15 paperback

no strings attached violinist lynn chang.

Chinese government, which outlawed any acknowledgment of Liu’s award, would bar Chang from returning to the country. But, after serious consideration, Chang decided to perform. Having built a career as a celebrated soloist, chamber musician, and educator – teaching at Boston University, Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory – Chang says his life revolved around music from an early age. His mother, who came to Boston with his father in 1949, had received piano lessons from a US missionary until the start of the Second World War. She always regretted not being able to continue. So when Chang was five years old, she started him, along with his brothers and sisters, on the piano. Two years later, he took up the violin. Chang, who grew up in Newton, continued to study the violin under many notable teachers. His parents, however, viewed his lessons primarily

Newton resident Angela Gerst’s first novel debuted in September and has already garnered praised in Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. Gerst’s novels introduces semi-retired lawyer Susan Callisto, starting her second career as a political consultant when a high-powered client and one dead body launch her unexpectedly into a sleuthing role alongside a former beau. Although the story is set in Waltham, Gerst’s experience with Newton political campaigns—her husband Robert is a former

alderman-at-large—may have informed some of the book’s political backdrop. FENWAY PARK: THE CENTENNIAL By Saul Wisnia Nonfiction. 176 pp. St. Martin’s Press. $30 hardcover

A new book by Newton resident and former Washington Post sports and news correspondent Saul Wisnia celebrates 100 years of Red Sox baseball in words and photos and with commentary from several generations of players on an accompanying DVD documentary featuring Carlton Fisk. Wisnia has contributed to numerous books on Boston baseball history. His essays and articles have appeared in Sports Illustrated.

as a résumé builder for entry into an elite school. “Both my parents were doctors so they just assumed, like any first-generation immigrant Asian, that their son would, especially, go into something more practical like medicine or science,” says Chang. But during his junior year at Harvard University, where he was studying medicine, Chang’s parents changed their view – after watching him perform in an international competition in Italy. “At that point, when they saw how well I did compared to the others, they said, ‘Well, if this is what it’s like, why don’t you just go ahead and do it, this is probably good for you,’” says Chang. “And that’s

HOW TO KEEP YOUR VOLKSWAGEN ALIVE By Christopher Boucher Fiction. 208 pp. Melville House. $15 paperback, $9 Kindle

Named after John Muir’s famous 1969 do-it-yourself manual, Christopher Boucher’s first novel pushes metaphorical dimensions in what Publishers Weekly describes as a “wildly imaginative debut.” The author, who teaches literature and writing at Boston College, lives with his wife Lisa in Nonantum. Boucher was scheduled to return in September from a three-week tour across the U.S. to promote How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive—but he was driving a classic 1971 VW Beetle and may be running late.

when they accepted it and that’s when I withdrew from organic chemistry, which I hated.” He laughs. During his last two years at Harvard, Chang says he practiced five to six hours a day and performed in a piano trio with fellow violinist Yo-Yo Ma, a close friend of Chang’s with whom he still performs. As for the future, Chang, who is married and has two grown children, says that as a musician he is always searching for the next challenge. “I don’t know how you could top playing at Oslo, but, nonetheless—the only way I could top that would be playing, let’s say, the national anthem at Fenway Park before the Yankees,” says Chang with a smile. “That would be a kick.”

Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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9/2/11 12:14:01 PM



He’s So Money

Marshall M. Sloane discusses the furniture business, banking, cancer, philanthropy, family, and the ties that bind. By Stephanie Horst

On May 1, 1969, Marshall M. Sloane founded Century Bank from a roadside trailer parked on a sidewalk in Somerville. He took in $1 million on his first day. That was 42 years ago. To date, the family-owned bank has 24 branches in Greater Boston and closed out the 2010 year with a record $2.44 billion in assets. Sloane, dressed in a crisp dark suit that offsets his neatly combed white hair, sat one July afternoon in a large office in Century Bank’s new Newton Centre branch with his oldest son Barry, the bank’s president, and daughter Linda, executive vice president. For the 85-year-old bank chairman and grandfather of nine, family is everything. His father, Jacob Sloane, immigrated to America in 1910 from Eishyshok, a small town in Vilna (present-day Lithuania), and built Sloane Furniture from the ground up, offering payment plans and developing strong community ties. “That gave me some fundamentals of the business: how to lend money to people and do it properly and honestly,” says Sloane. “And if you did the right thing and treated them honorably, they brought the next relative and the next relative. And that’s how we built Century, doing the right thing one customer after the other.” Sloane’s father was never a banker, but he had purchased a vacant bank building in Somerville during the from the vault marshall m. sloane takes in the surroundings of century bank’s new newton centre branch.


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photograph by

Dana Smith

9/2/11 12:19:20 PM

1940s with the dream of someday luring a big bank branch to Magoun Square. In 1952, when Jacob Sloane lost his battle with cancer at age 59, Sloane took over the furniture business but never forgot his father’s dream. That’s what drove him to become a banker, says the Chestnut Hill resident, who often thinks about what his father would say if he could see him now. “My mother, thank God, lived to see a lot,” says Sloane. His voice becomes soft. “She would ask people, do you know my son Marshall? Do you know my son Marshall? My father, I don’t know. He’d be proud of me but he’d probably tell me I was wasting too much money.” “He’d be proud of you,” says his son Barry, waving away any doubt. “He never had any expectation that the family would be bankers.” “Let alone own the building,” says Sloane. “Let alone own the building?” protests Barry. “Let alone own the bank!” Sloane, a natural-born storyteller with a quick wit, a grounded sensibility and a subtle Boston accent, moved to Newton with his wife, Barbara, in 1956. Fifty years ago, Sloane was told to get his life together: he had a cancer in his stomach the size of a lemon and it had spread to his bladder. He was 35 years old with three small children. After a doctor by the name of C. C. Wang saved his life through radiation treatments, Sloane says he always felt that God had given him a second chance. Later, Sloane funded The Sloane Family Radiation Therapy Lobby at Massachusetts General Hospital, named in honor of his parents and in appreciation of Wang—and lived long enough to do Wang’s eulogy. Throughout his life and career, Sloane has donated to many other causes, as does the bank. “I just like to see people do well, people I know do well, connect people if I can help them. That’s what it’s about. God’s given me a second chance,” says Sloane. He adds, “I try to do a lot of good because God’s been good to me.”

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9/2/11 1:16:26 PM



A Dog’s Best Friend

Entrepreneur John Edwards found a healthier calling in a nearby bowl. by Robin Regensburg When Remington, Rupert and Vista have their evening meal, the three Australian Cattle Dogs may be dining on beef and sweet potato, or lamb and vegetable. You won’t find canned food or dry kibble in their bowls. “I eat natural food—why shouldn’t I give it to my dogs?” said Vanessa St. Pierre, a customer of The Well Fed Dog (, a Newton company that prepares, sells, and delivers natural dog food. “I bought fresh food all summer at the farmers market, not just for myself, but also for Remington, Rupert and Vista.” Dog owner John Edwards founded The Well Fed Dog in March after sensing that dog owners’ interest in healthier pet food might present a business opportunity. The Newton start-up provides a grain-free dog food that contains fresh fruits; vegetables and human-grade meat. The 35-year-old Edwards, leveraging a business degree and years of experience in the restaurant business, left a job working in the financial sector and, with little startup money, began formulating and

puppy chow the Well fed dog’s owner john edwards, with sasha.

testing recipes in his home. Edwards then rented a commercial kitchen where he cooks and flash-freezes each batch of fresh meals, which he sells at farmers markets and retail stores—including Newton’s Bread & Chocolate (whose display case often features “pupcakes”).

Edwards’s wife Laurie calls her husband the CEO, “Chief Everything Officer,” as he performs all of the company’s functions. “I’m working longer and harder than ever,” says Edwards. “But I’ve never been happier.” The Well Fed Dog, 617-5191738,

joos newton

twenty years of studying nutrition goes down the throat.

Newton native Lauri Meizler, founder of organic juice company JOOS (, describes her life as being the opposite of the book-turned-movie Eat, Pray, Love. Meizler traveled the world but unlike the Julia Roberts character, she says that being back home in Newton is where she’s truly found herself. The one thing Meizler could not find locally, however, was a decent organic juice bar. Having studied nutrition for the past 20 years, the 49-year-old single mother of four began concocting juice recipes in her kitchen, doling out samples of her organic, non-pasteurized creations to friends. Demand grew and JOOS was born. Meilzer currently distributes 1,200 to 1,800 juices per week, and has moved her juice-making operations to a Belmont commissary. “What’s really remarkable,” said Meizler, “is that up until this point we’ve hardly had any sales or marketing efforts, it’s been almost all organic growth.” Stephanie Horst


Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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edwards photograph by

Justin Knight

9/2/11 12:14:56 PM

Kleidocsope: Continually changing patterns and colors.

The John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton: Developing tomorrow’s leaders through a kaleidoscope of opportunities, fun-filled programs and great people.

2011- 2012 School Year

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The Boys & Girls Club of Newton by the numbers

all smiles John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton’s Youth of the Year winner Vanessa Battista.

700 number of members (300 girls and 400 boys)


40 age of club members

number of schools members attend (including all 15 Newton elementary schools)


Club’s annual budget


annual membership dues, per family

Across Generations

A local club reaches across decades in the lives of local families. By tiffany smith Vanessa Battista laughs when she remembers one special moment this past summer. Having just learned she had been named Youth of the Year by the John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton, she describes being “out of her mind” with joy—while her mother cried. For the Battista family, the honor was not simply an item to list on a college application: this award affirmed a family legacy. Vanessa’s parents, Frank and Elizabeth, first met at the club in 1982. That year Frank himself was named Youth of the Year. It is the club’s highest honor, bestowed on the member who best exemplifies character, leadership, athleticism, and concern for others. This year, staffers nominated three club members, who submitted essays and made presentations to a panel of judges about what the club has meant to them.


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“The judging process was not easy,” recalls Terri M. Petrunyak, the marketing and community affairs team leader at Whole Foods Market in Newtonville, one of the club’s many sponsors. “Each one of the nominees had such an amazing story to tell.” Vanessa, a junior at Newton North High School, has been a club member since she was six years old. She contributes her time back to the club, by manning the clock during basket-


families who receive scholarships


annual scholarship awards


square footage of the club building

40% 134 members from minority groups

fans on Facebook

membership has its privileges notable alumni.

David B. Cohen, former Newton alderman (1972–1979), state representative (1979–1998), and mayor of the City of Newton (1998–2008). Paul H. Guzzi, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Linda Leary, vice president, group operations manager at Bank of America. Scott Lennon, president of the Newton Board of Aldermen. Gino Lucchetti, deputy fire chief of the City of Newton. Gary Vitti, assistant vice president at Village Bank.

photograph by

Conor Doherty

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ball games and teaching dance classes. “The Club is my second home,” she wrote in her application essay. “Without these wonderful people in my life, I don’t know what or where I would be.” While this year’s ceremony marked the first time a second-generation member has won the award, it’s not the first time the club has reached across generations. David Sellers Jr., the club’s executive director, is also a secondgeneration member. His son Owen is a third-generation member. Their family’s connection to the club started decades ago, when David Sellers Sr. joined the club as a youth. He ran the club for many years and, in 2000, helped usher the club from its former Dalby Street location to its $3 million facility on Watertown Street. David Jr. took over in 2008 when his father retired. He speaks proudly of watching the current generation of club members performing the musical Grease and how it reminded him of being an apprehensive 13-year-old with a cracking voice in a production of the musical years ago. “It’s such a pleasure to be here,” he says with a grin, “giving kids the same opportunities I had growing up.” John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton, 675 Watertown Street, Newtonville, 617-6302066,

THE MEADOWBROOK SCHOOL An independent, co-educational day school serving students in grades junior kindergarten through eight.

Come visit Meadowbrook at an Admissions Open House. Meet the faculty, tour the campus, and learn more about why Meadowbrook is A Child’s Frontier.

The Boys & Girls Club— a brief history. The Boys & Girls Club of Newton dates back to 1890, when it was founded as the Nonantum Athletic Association. It joined the Boys Clubs of America in 1953. The club became fully coeducational in 1986 and a few years later, along with the national organization, changed its name to the Boys & Girls Club. In 1999, it was renamed in honor of John M. Barry, a Newton businessman and two-term president of the club. During his second term, when the club’s new facilities were halfway to completion, Barry was diagnosed with leukemia. He did not live to see the club move into its new home. Today, a portrait of Barry hangs in the lobby, watching over the young people who come looking for a safe place to learn and grow.

10 Farm Road, Weston, MA 02493 Tel: 781-894-1193

Sunday, October 30, 1:00 – 3:00 PM Tuesday, December 6, 9:00 – 10:30 AM


Events OCTOBER 1

The Club

Admissions Open Houses

Homestead Hayfest. Free. Noon-5pm. (Rain date Oct. 2).

1-2 Newton Community Weekend. Free museum admission for city residents. Noon-5pm. 16 Historic Newton at the Newton Harvest Fair. In Newton Centre. 11am-5pm. 23 Digging for Evidence: An Archaeology Family Program. For families with children ages 8 and up. $20 per family ($15 for members). Prepaid registration required. 1pm. 27 Unearthing a Piece of Newton’s Past: Archaeology at the Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds. Archaeologists will describe discoveries from the 2011 excavations. Free. 7:30pm.

Burying Grounds Clean-Up. Help tidy up the East Parish Burying Ground at Centre and Cotton streets. Free. 9am-Noon.

5-6 Newton Community Weekend. Free museum admission for city residents. Noon-5pm. 7

Newton’s Revolutionary Roots: The Newton History Series. Lecture. At the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street. Free. 7pm.

17 Freedom and States’ Rights: Conflicting Visions of the Civil War in the North and South. Lecture. Free. 7:30pm. 19 Is “Green” a Historic Paint Color? Hands-on workshop: painting older homes, historic colors, and using “green” products. Co-sponsored by Green Decade/Newton. $30 ($15 for members). To register, call (617) 965-1995. 1-4pm. 30 Fourth Annual Newton Historic Preservations Awards. At Boston College Alumni House, 825 Centre Street. Please RSVP by Nov. 1. Free. 6:30pm.

Jackson Homestead and Museum . 527 Washington Street . (617) 796-1450 .

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Over the River, Through the Woods

State representative Kay Khan championed the restoration of three pedestrian bridges across the Charles River. Work continues on the trails connecting them. BY Tiffany smith

bridging the gap state representative kay kHan.

“People used to say that this is a bridge to nowhere,” recalls Kay Khan while looking out over the Charles River. They weren’t wrong. The Lower Falls footbridge, with its crumbling supports, was an impasse: decaying railroad ties overgrown with weeds. But thanks largely to work of the state representative for the 11th Middlesex District, this bridge and two others spanning the Charles are reopening to foot traffic. It took years to get here. The trestle bridge south of Concord Street at Baker Place once carried train cars laden with building materials for Grossman’s Lumber in Wellesley. When Grossman’s closed in the 1990s, the bridge slowly deteriorated. Khan, a resident of Lower Falls for more than forty years, recognized the pedestrian possibilities the decaying bridge presented. “It seemed like something that made a lot of sense to pursue,” she said. Not everyone agreed. When Khan began promoting her vision to restore the bridge, connecting Lower Falls with Wellesley, her suggestion met with controversy. Nearby residents feared the foot traffic along the milelong path that stretches from Washington Street and arcs northeast through Lower Falls. But Khan believed in the project and won support from other residents and local groups. A ribbon cutting for the bridge was scheduled in September, but plans to improve the path, which might one day reach across Route 128 to the MBTA’s Riverside Station, remain unsettled. Fortunately, Khan’s timing was good. Meetings with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) garnered state funding for the Lower Falls bridge and two other pedestrian bridges in Newton: the Riverside Park footbridge (Pony Truss Bridge) and the Recreation Road footbridge (Stringer Bridge). Renovations of these bridges, which both connect Auburndale to neighboring Weston, should be completed over the next few years and, if Khan’s hopes are well placed, will revitalize these recreational areas along the river. Khan views the renovations of these bridges as a large part of her legacy. “Bridging neighborhoods and seeing young children and families already biking across the recently completed Lower Falls Footbridge is a joy,” she said.

city briefs Union Contracts Reviewed

After aldermen on the Finance Committee approved Mayor Setti Warren’s contracts with


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non-union and unionized municipal employees in August, the full Board of Aldermen held up approval of the agreements until its members could review the mayor’s

financial projections. At virtually the same time, the state issued emergency regulations defining a process of expedited negotiations between municipalities

and unions based on reform legislation, signed by the governor in July, that enables municipalities to modify employee health plans without going through the full

collective-bargaining process. The emergency regulations provide municipalities with a 90day window to use this negotiating tool. They expire Nov. 12.

photograph by

Justin Knight

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Aldermen expressed interest in studying the savings that might be achieved if Newton enrolled in the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), whose costs have risen at a lower rate than those of other plans. Aldermen also raised questions about long-term costs of funding a program that provides financial incentives to police who attain advanced educational degrees. The state cut funding of the program in 2009, leaving municipalities to cover most of the costs.

Candidates Race to November 8

Municipal elections on Nov. 8 will feature six contested races. In each of three aldermanat-large races, three candidates compete for two seats in Ward 1 (Nonantum and Newton Corner), Ward 6 (Newton Centre), and Ward 8 (Oak Hill). In each of three School Committee races, two candidates vie for one seat in Ward 2 (Newtonville), Ward 4 (Auburndale and Lower Falls), and Ward 5 (Upper Falls and Waban). Registered voters citywide can vote for candidates in all six races.

Walk, Pedal, Drive, Ride

A continuing public conversation about Newton’s traffic and transportation is renewed in November when the Newton League of Women Voters hosts a forum to explore questions about how we get around. The forum will examine findings of the year-long study by the

Happy Anniversary, Library

In September, the Newton Free Library celebrated 20 years in its “new” location. The city library first opened in 1870 in a Newton Corner building that required four additions before the 1960s, when public discussions about building a new library ensued. The debate was often contentious, this being Newton, and architectural designs were not approved until 1987. Today’s library at 330 Homer Street, built for $15.3 million, held opening festivities on September 15, 1991. Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), as well as transportation models that promote a balance of accommodations for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and mass transit users. The forum is scheduled for 7 pm, Nov. 29, at the Newton Free Library, 300 Homer Street.

Updating the Rule Book

The city ordinances that define how land in Newton should be used may be getting updated. The document that defines city zoning is regarded as long and littered with footnotes. It lacks sufficient illustration, offers no index, suffers from years of ad hoc tinkering by aldermen, and is open to contradictory interpretations. All of these issues present unnecessary obstacles to doing residential, commercial, and institutional projects in Newton, says Alderman Deb Crossley, who chairs the Zoning Reform Group. Since March the group has been studying how Newton’s zoning could be easier to use and understand, and how it might better support the city’s long-range plans. Later this year, the seven-member group will issue recommenda-

tions on proposed modifications and a process for making them.

Debating Newtonville’s Parking Lot

02460 Parts of the underutilized public parking lot across Austin Street from the Shaw’s market have been declared surplus by the city, meaning the land will be available for potential development. Several proposals have been presented. Aldermen will start debating options this fall.

Developer Eyes Plan B

02461 In August, neighborhood opposition halted a 16-unit residential building proposed by local developer SEB at 112–116 Dedham Street in Newton Highlands. The units would have been fully accessible single-floor condominiums with two bedrooms and two baths—the type of housing local empty nesters have clamored for in newspaper op-ed columns. At issue were the number of units, which some considered too dense for the 1.5-acre lot, the addition of school-aged children to nearby Countryside

Elementary School, and the use of $1.1 million of Community Preservation funds which would have allowed the project to pencil out with only 16 condos, with four of them meeting the city’s affordable-housing requirements. The opposition’s success may come back to haunt them, however. SEB’s options, says company president Bob Engler, include building a larger number of units without public funding, or a creating a new subdivision with five four-bedroom houses. Arguably, either option would create outcomes both the opposition and the developer’s first proposal sought to avoid.

Bike Lanes on Beacon Street?

02459, 02467 Over the summer, the traffic council approved multiple changes that could allow bike lanes to extend east from Newton Centre at Langley Road to Hammond Street, where they would almost meet bike lanes connecting to Boston and Brookline. At issue is the loss of on-street parking along Beacon Street and how that may affect residents there. Look

for more discussion and votes before the Board of Aldermen this fall.

Riverside Station

02462 In coming months, aldermen will begin debating zoning changes and a special permit that would specify how BH Normandy Riverside, LLC could develop the property it leases at the MBTA’s Riverside Station. Changes would enable the developer to move forward with its proposal to build residential and office buildings, parking structures, and retail space on what is now acres of surface parking adjacent to Route 128. The aldermen will also discuss the conditions that would be imposed on the developer, including a reconfiguration of local traffic and water and sewer improvements. Over the summer, BH Normandy presented a revised plan with lower building heights and additional traffic mitigation and proposals for public space, a green roof, rain gardens, and energy efficiencies. Neighbors have been very organized in expressing their concerns about access to the site, the volume of parking, increased traffic, pedestrian safety, building heights, and school impacts.

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9/2/11 12:27:45 PM

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One Reason to Eat Local

A relatively new tax on restaurant meals raised nearly $1.2 million in Newton revenues in the 2011 fiscal year. The “local option” meals tax, enacted by many cities last year, adds a 0.75 percent levy on top of the state’s 6.25 percent tax on restaurant meals.

apricot sorbet, lumiere

42 Where to Eat Now

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50 Demolition Derby

56 Why Is My Kid’s Classroom So Crowded?

60 All in the Family

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By Peggy Hernandez


photographs by keller + keller

Newton’s restaurant scene is blossoming, with new and growing options for casual and fine dining. Now may be the time to save your parking money and the drive into Boston, as local chefs offer great dishes closer to home.


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mario boccabella, bocca bella cafĂŠ and bistro

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Flames jump into the air of the open kitchen. As Fiorella’s chef Earl Quinn sautés pan after sizzling pan, he becomes a blur of culinary finesse and efficiency, his bald head shining in the heat. Customers arrive in a steady stream through the front door; their parked cars line Newtonville’s North Street. Though still early evening, almost all 114 seats are filled. The Italian restaurant reopened in July after remodeling and expanding, and owner Remon Karian says every night has been “crazy busy.” The new bar is crowded, the wait list is long and, judging by the happy din, no one seems to mind.

These are bustling times for Newton eateries. Nowhere is that more evident than in the city’s two dozen or so new or remodeled restaurants. Diners are filling added seats at Lumiere in West Newton and at 51 Lincoln in Newton Highlands, which have expanded to meet demand. Newer restaurants are lively as well. Couples, friends, and families wait for tables at Bocca Bella Café & Bistro in Auburndale, and at The Cottage in Chestnut Hill, and at B Street Restaurant & Bar in Newton Centre. The Deluxe Station Diner and Panera Bread, both in Newton Centre, may have garnered more press, but many are thriving in spite of the economic downturn. A convergence of factors has made Newton an attractive place to open or expand restaurants: improved consumer confidence, softening rental rates, Newton’s


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affluence, and the availability of liquor licenses. The number of applications for licenses and permits has taken even City Hall aback. “In this economy, I would not expect so many applications expanding or opening,” says Candace Havens, director of Newton’s Planning and Development Department. “And it’s mid-range places. Not fast food. Not high-end. It’s the middle range, price-wise, the kinds of places you could take children, go out to with friends, or have a drink.” None of this surprises Peter G. Christie. The president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association says Newton was primed to take advantage of a restaurant boom occurring throughout Greater Boston. “There are two things that really drive the restaurant industry and those are consumer confidence and discretionary income,” Christie says. “Over the past year, both have improved and that is set well for the Newton restaurant community.” Mario Boccabella, who has run eateries in Newton over the past 35 years, has seen trends come and go. He once owned three places in Newton Highlands: a deli, a restaurant, and a bakery. Last November, after a hiatus from restaurants, Boccabella opened the new café and bistro with his son-in-law, Anthony Vega. The new restaurant offers only 32 seats in its space, a cozy interior where a dash of modern design plays against exposed New England brick. “Restaurants, in general, are riding a wave right now, especially with young people,” Boccabella says. Children often make up a third of the diners at Bocca Bella in the evenings, as families appear drawn to the bistro’s menu of Italian specialties, salads, and burgers. “The trend is young families who don’t want to do a big takeout. They want to go to a place where they can get a home-cooked meal.” Laura and John Wolfe also welcome families at The Cottage in Chestnut Hill Shopping Center. The Cottage, which opened in June, is beach mellow on the upscale side. Customers chat amiably over California–East Coast fusion food in the 190-seat restaurant. Strollers are discretely placed out of the way. This day, several women sit at the full bar near the front door, sipping wine and ignoring the Red Sox game on a television monitor. The Wolfes were urged to expand by their customers, many of whom came from Newton to dine at The Cottage in Wellesley. When they studied the area, Laura Wolfe says they realized, “Nobody in Newton is doing what we’re doing: an upscale, sophisticated place where families can go out and eat.”

mustard-crusted bluefish, lumiere

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Growing Appetites The National Restaurant Association reports that 49 percent of every food dollar is now spent in restaurants, with restaurant revenues estimated to exceed $600 billion in 2011. Business gains over the past several years have increased 3 to 3.5 percent annually. “As long as we keep having this sustained growth, you’re going to have more restaurants in Newton,” says Christie. Restaurant owners say the city’s size and affluence make it attractive territory. Approximately 85,000 residents live in Newton’s 13 villages. Census data also shows an availability of discretionary income in Newton, with median household income at $107,412, versus $64,722 statewide. The community’s values, attitudes and interests bolster those figures. These so-called psychographic variables are as informative as the demographic ones, says Eunice Feller, chef/co-owner of Bread & Chocolate Bakery Café, which opened its second eatery last year in Newton Highlands. “Demographic profiles on income are deceiving,” Feller says. “In a highincome area, you also want to know what the educational level is, whether people travel, what are the community’s favorite issues, is this second- or third-generation money? You even want to know what movies are rented because if Rambo is number one, those people want BBQ. When you look at all those things, Newton is ideal.” Around 38 percent of Newton’s population has attended college, according to City Hall figures. Of those, a whopping 44 percent have graduate or professional degrees. Almost 70 percent of residents are management, professional and other white-collar workers. “Newton is a place where Boston chefs are always trying to attract people from,” says Alison Arnett, who for 15 years served as restaurant critic for The Boston Globe. “If Newton has restaurants people like then people will


consider whether it’s worth dri­ving into Boston, paying parking, hiring a babysitter. The big danger for Boston chefs is that people in Newton will stay in their own communities to eat.” “But it seems to me that Newton never quite bloomed,” Arnett says. “It’s undersubscribed in restaurants. There should be several Lumieres and there are not.” Chef/owner Michael Leviton opened Lumiere in 1999. The six-time nominee for a James Beard Foundation award has won industry accolades for his French new cuisine. His West Newton bistro is casual upscale. Waiters wear black shirts and blue jeans. Linen covers the windows, obscuring the less than elegant view of Washington Street. After working in San Francisco and New York City, Leviton decided to open in West Newton, observing that people often prefer to eat in their own neighborhoods. “You can serve the same caliber dishes in a more casual setting with more comfortable price points in the suburbs than in urban downtowns,” he says. Unlike many cities, Newton has multiple village centers, each with its own retail community. In Wellesley or Lexington, “it wouldn’t be smart” for a restaurant to be located outside the town centers, says Leviton. But in Newton, good real estate is not limited in Newton Centre. When faced with an option to expand, Leviton chose to stay rather than relocate, as staying represented a better financial option. Leviton, whose restaurant Persephone in Fort Point Channel closed recently, oversaw Lumiere’s expansion around the same time he opened Area Four, a restaurant adjacent to MIT. “The success of Lumiere has put me in a position to do these other projects,” he said. Asked when he felt relaxed enough about Lumiere to pursue his other ventures, Leviton says, “What gives you the impression I’m relaxed?”

owners welcome diners to elegant, updated spaces: michael leviton, top right, and elli kaplansky, bottom left. the salmon At b street, bottom right.

Paying the Rent Newton restaurateurs say operating an eatery is thrilling, financially risky, exhausting and not going to make them rich. “You have to love doing this,” says Christina Patsios, who in July opened her eponymous Greek restaurant in Newton Highlands. Christina’s Café has a 20-year lease for the space, which the owner completely remodeled. The walls are covered in a faux gray reptile motif, the chairs are padded, purple glass candleholders

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decorate the black tables and two mock Parthenon marbles have pride of place amid the modern Euro décor. Patsios’ $400,000 investment in the 30-seat restaurant is obvious. Patsios believes a restaurateur has to invest value to earn value. For the past 12 years, the Sharon native ran a 300-seat Greek restaurant near Stockholm with her Swedish husband. She relocated to Newton because she believes the local Jewish population will appreciate the Mediterranean

qualities of her homemade Greek food. And if they don’t, Patsios says she’s already learned that Newton customers will tell her. “They’re very frank,” Patsios says. “But that’s how I want it. That’s how you fix things.” When he opened Fiorella’s 11 years ago, Karian was 24 years old. “It wasn’t easy,” he recalls. “It was blood, sweat and tears. I really questioned what I got myself into.” Karian says it took five years before he thought about expanding.

Boccabella, a former realtor, signed a 10-year-lease on his Lexington Street establishment and invested $250,000 in equipment and fixtures. “If you can’t get a long-term lease for a restaurant, it is best not to open since it costs so much money to outfit a space (and) takes so many years to recoup the investment,” he says. Retail rental rates across Newton can cost as much as $60 per square foot, according to city data from 2000– 2002. Newer data was not available, Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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colin walsh, bocca bella café and bistro

parking hassles, for two?

parking requirements thwart owners and employees.

Every morning, Simon Robinson rides the T from Quincy to Newton Centre, carting a box full of lobsters for B Street Restaurant and Bar where he is the chef. Robinson doesn’t drive because finding long-term parking is difficult. His lobster supplier refuses to come into Newton, also because of parking difficulties, so the two meet at Robinson’s home before the chef’s daily commute. While restaurant patrons may be inconvenienced when they cannot find a parking space, a lack of parking hits restaurant owners and their employees every work day. Restaurant owners say attracting workers to Newton can be difficult because employees must bear the out-of-pocket transportation costs in MBTA fares or parking meters. “My employees run out every two hours to feed the meters or move their cars,” says Ellen “Elli” Kaplansky, owner of B Street. “It’s crazy because the city wants us to do business here but they don’t make it easy for employees.” City zoning ordinances require Newton restaurants to provide one off-street parking space for every three seats, plus more spaces for employees. This requirement applies whether or not the restaurant’s building has an off-street lot. In village centers, most do not. Certain properties inherit parking credits for spaces that don’t actually exist. And this grandfathering of phantom spaces depends not on the current or proposed use of the retail space but on what type of business may have once operated there. Spaces in municipal lots are not counted in the equations. Had Joseph Heller presented these requirements in Catch-22, they might be humorous. Instead, they create a barrier to doing business in Newton, a situation some city planners and aldermen hope to rectify. (See brief on page 39.) Laura Wolfe says she and her husband were initially offered a lease for 225 seats for The Cottage, in Chestnut Hill. They planned to put some of those seats outside. But they were allowed only 190 seats based on the city’s parking calculations. Wolfe says Macy’s was open at that time and she hopes to reapply for more seats in the future based on the store’s closure. Mario Boccabella also had hoped to have more than 32 seats allowed in his Auburndale bistro. He glances at the half-empty municipal lot across the street. “You can’t count public space in the formula,” he says. “The city can do more on this issue. They could be more forgiving on parking.”


and restaurant owners keep the information confidential. Regardless, the costs of leasing space and building a commercial kitchen in Newton can be formidable. Profitability often depends on having a liquor license, either a wine and beer license or the more desirable full liquor license. Booze can increase profit margins and attract a larger customer base. The City of Newton has both types available. In Boston, all full liquor licenses are taken, so new restaurants usually have to buy one from an exis-ting owner. This scenario plays out in many Massachusetts cities and towns. Of the 93 full liquor licenses allot-

ted to it by the state, Newton has 23 left to distribute, according to figures released by the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission in August. Financially, it makes sense for a restaurant to obtain a full license, particularly if the numbers aren’t adding up without one. Such was the case for Ellen “Elli” Kaplansky last year. When she opened Pie Bakery and Café in 2007, Kaplanksy envisioned it as a modern-day soda shop for Newton Centre. But Pie was buffeted by the 2009 economic woes and competition from nearby coffee shops. “We did well,” Kaplansky says, “but not well enough.”

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Kaplansky assessed her situation. Pie had a wine and beer license, but customers wanted more. So, Kaplansky obtained a full liquor license, closed Pie last November, and completely remodeled the restaurant’s space to create B Street Restaurant and Bar, which opened in February. The restaurant, whose space Kaplansky likens to a supper club, offers a touch of modern swank with burgundy tones, a dark wood bar, matching tables and an Americanbistro-style menu. “If I couldn’t get a license, I wouldn’t have reopened a new place,” she says. “I wanted the atmosphere of a full bar with a full menu available.” Negotiating City Hall While the cost of doing business in Newton presents its challenges, restaurant owners say some of the biggest hurdles to opening are found at City Hall. Newton strictly controls how many seats each restaurant is allowed based on parking formulas. (See sidebar.) Fewer seats mean less income with which to pay the rent. Restaurateurs can seek waivers but the process can become a political battle. Restaurateurs also complain that the licensing and permitting processes are unnecessarily onerous. Speaking off the record, restaurant owners express frustration at the

the index

New, renovated, and updated restaurants around newton.

Angora Ice, 3 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, 617730-8900, angoraice. com. B Street, 796 Beacon Street, Newton Centre, 617-332-8743, Bill’s Pizza, 753 Beacon Street, Newton Centre, 617-964-1116, Bocca Bella, 442 Lexington Street, Auburndale, 617928-1200, boccabella Bread & Chocolate Bakery Café, 4 Hartford Street, Newton Highlands, 617-795-0500, breadn C. Tsar’s Mediterranean

lack of coordination between city departments, but admit they did not complain for fear of antagonizing city personnel and exacerbating their application processes. “I’ve opened larger restaurants in bigger cities and this city was by far the most difficult,” one owner says. Others offer anecdotes of their frustration. One could not pay staff for two weeks because, without income, the eatery was closed until every permit was signed. Nearly every owner saw opening dates delayed—owing to what they view as inefficiencies at City Hall. “Things should be more transparent,” says one restaurant owner, speaking not for attribution, calling one city department “bullying, antiquated and patronizing.” Yet, the owner adds, “Once you open, most of these headaches go away. It’s just getting open that’s hard.” Newton officials are trying to improve the process. In January, the Planning and Development Department published an informational brochure on opening a new business in Newton, defining the necessary steps and the city departments involved. Restaurateurs had been asking for exactly such a document. The city also hired an economic-development planner to work as a liaison between business owners and City Hall. City

staffers continue working to take the mystery out of starting or expanding a business in Newton, says Havens, the department’s director. “We understand it can be confusing,” she says.

Bistro & Bar, 344 Walnut Street, Newtonville, 617-332-4653, Café St. Petersburg, 57 Union Street, Newton Centre, 617-467-3555, Cherry Tree, 1349 Washington Street, West Newton, 617-965-9796. Christina’s Café, 1203 Walnut Street, Newton Highland, 617-916-5532. Comella’s, 1 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill,

617-969-9990, fiorellas Inna’s Kitchen, 19 Pelham Street, Newton, 617-2445345, blog.innaskitchen. com. Kouzina, 1649 Beacon Street, Waban, 617-558-7677, kouzinares L’Aroma, 15 Spencer Street, West Newton, 617-630-0006, Lumiere, 1293 Washington Street, Newton, 617-2449199, lumiererestaurant. com. Nudo’s Gelateria,

617-278-2400, comellas The Cottage, 47 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, 617-916-5413, cottagechestnuthill. com. Daikanyama, Chestnut Hill Mall, 225 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, dkyama. com. Deluxe Station Diner, 70 Union Street, Newton, 617-244-2550, Fiorella’s, 187 North Street, Newtonville,

Finding the Sweet Spot Despite the challenges of opening a restaurant in Newton, business owners continue to be attracted to the city’s demographics, including John Fortin and Paul Louderback. They are in the process of bringing the success of their Rox Diner in West Roxbury to Newtonville, with plans to open the diner as early as November in the corner building vacated by Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell. They are applying for 38 seats, and a wine and beer license. “Paul grew up in Newton,” Fortin says, “and we love the prominence of the location and the feel of the community. It’s not too far from home, so we feel like we’ll be in tune with the local culture and contribute our best efforts to the already enriching and diverse community.” Newton is fortunate to have a variety of restaurants, says Christie of the state restaurant association. “There’s a lot of individuality,” he says “Restaurants are one of the last kinds of entrepreneurial frontier. The cutting edge of innovation is done by chefs, sole proprietors, not chains, by the people who listen to customers.”

308 Watertown Street, Newton, 617-795-0213, Panera Bread, 1241 Centre Street, Newton, 617-5599850, Rox Diner, roxdiner. com. Sweet Potato Bistro, 870 Walnut Street, Newton, 617-9690888, sweetpotatobistro. com. Wally’s Wicked Good Ice Cream, 419 Lexington Street, Auburndale, 617-244-3555,

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Developers struggle to give the Chestnut Hill commercial corridor a much-needed makeover. but nearby residents are a tough sell. demolition derby by Judy Rakowsky photographs by bob o’connor


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Demolition dust rising from the construction site on route 9 signals

a step forward. Here, in the span of asphalt and rubble between The Capital Grille and Milton’s, a new commercial development begins to take shape. After roughly a decade of opposition, debate, revision, and two economic downturns, progress is coming to this busy stretch of Chestnut Hill. It has not been the brightest decade in the corridor’s long history. On the 11-acre site now being rejuvenated by New England Development, five people were killed in an office building fire in 2000. The site sat dormant after the Omni Foods grocery store closed five years ago. Since then, shoppers have watched as noted tenants have gone out of business or pulled their stores out of the Atrium Mall, The Mall at Chestnut Hill, and the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center. Some observers have been quick to tie recent departures to the pull of newer malls like Legacy Place in Dedham and the Natick Collection. “Legacy Place killed the Atrium,” declared Marsha Nourse, a summering college professor who was on her way to shop at Bloomingdale’s. Nourse gladly headed to this, the company’s only Massachusetts store, even though the Wrentham Outlets are just eight minutes from her home in Westborough. “I’m partial to this mall; I come here for specific things,” she said. While the retail landscape of Greater Boston has changed considerably, competition is nothing new. Sixty years ago—a year after stores at the nearby Chestnut Hill Shopping Center first opened—the original Shoppers’ World opened in Natick with 44 stores, creating one of the larger suburban shopping centers of its time. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the attractiveness of Chestnut Hill’s real estate. “For one to five miles around it’s got some of the best demographics in the country,” says Rob Gifford, a Newton Centre resident who has decades of real estate investment experience and works as president of AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. “But when you’ve got a burned out Omni site and an empty Macy’s, it’s hard to envision,” Gifford acknowledged. Many of Route 9’s retail buildings, surrounded by ample parking lots, were designed for a different period of U.S. history. Newer shopping centers are designed to be more inviting, with an inward focus on onsite amenities. Many


upscale retail developments have trended toward what is called a “lifestyle center,” in which traditional shopping mall functions are mixed with other uses, such as fine dining, leisure amenities, office space, and residential units. Retail complexes of today and tomorrow must offer a lot of different activities, says David Dixon, a principal of Goody Clancy and leader of the Boston architectural firm’s planning and urban design division. Research shows that shoppers crave destinations where they can work, shop, dine, visit a doctor, take in a movie, or go bowling before they have to move their cars. There also has been a major demographic shift in Greater Boston since the Chestnut Hill malls were built, what Dixon describes as a seismic change. “Most households don’t have kids, and environmental responsibility has been deeply embraced; we went from a generation of people fascinated by cars to one that sees them as a big nuisance.” today, two local developers are trying to bring the area’s older commercial spaces forward in time. At Chestnut Hill Square, the design calls for locating the cars in the center of the complex—so they’re not visible from Boylston Street—and adding landscaping, benches and pocket parks for pedestrians. The development’s plan calls for creating 160,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants, a grocery store, office space, and luxury residences. “We’ve tried to make it a very walkable site,” said Douglass Karp, executive vice president of New England Development. “We spent a lot of time figuring out how a person will feel in it.” The hope, he said, is that visitors will go to the health club, grab dinner at a restaurant, buy running shoes, and hit the grocery store. “All of that using one parking

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douglass karp, new england development.

space; we think that is unique to Massachusetts,” Karp said. At the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center nearby, WS Development plans, among other things, to raze the building housing City Sports and Century Bank and replace it with a three-story building for retail and offices. The developer has taken into account recommendations from a 1999 study by graduate students in an MIT planning program, said Richard Askin, the firm’s director of planning and design. One recommendation, says Askin, calls for trying to make the old carriage path parallel to Route 9 less like “a rifle shot from end to end for more than a quarter mile.” The existing shopping center is oriented to cars and fairly hostile to pedestrians and bikes, he said. But for the next phase, he said, “the strategy is to activate and animate and have more shops that are smaller and have more glazed storefronts.” Plans call for adding plantings, outside tables and more inviting open spaces, as well as crosswalks for pedestrians.

In recent years, the shopping center has lost longtime tenants, such as Rugged Bear. However, the Legal Sea Foods does steady business. Next door, The Cottage Chestnut Hill recently opened and has proven to be another dining draw. “There’s been a little bit of ebb here on this property but it’s pretty exciting as we look to the next generation,” Askin said. WS Development’s biggest challenge, however, is how to reinvent the empty 130,000-square-foot building that, until recently, housed Macy’s. Askin said this firm hopes to make the building into an inviting space for multiple retailers. With its south entrance closed and no adjacent parking, the building has turned a cold shoulder to Boylston Street for years, he said. “We’re working on it,” said Askin. “We’re talking to a number of tenants that have been interested.” the history of this stretch of Route 9 speaks to the

challenges of development here. As a 1950 newsletter published by the Boston & Worcester bus line described Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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it, Chestnut Hill Shopping Center arose from swampland: “At first B&W riders saw just a few sticks in the swamp by Hammond Pond. Then came a semi-circle of holes in the ground . . . then the girders, the bricks, the masonry.” The newsletter described the completed shopping center as “one of the most glamorous store developments to be found in the whole Northeast.” In 1974, a few hundred yards away, The Mall at Chestnut Hill was built into the side of a hill. This year, New England Development has had to blast through a bedrock ledge to create holding basins for storm water runoff. Construction at Chestnut Hill Shopping Center will contend with working on the former swampland and managing the storm runoff from the asphalt parking lots to stem the pollution of Hammond Pond. And then there are external forces. Karp said he knows only too well how economic swings and the city’s extensive planning process can affect a project that has a range of components. The original plan called for two condo towers and a hotel, both of which were casualties of the


plunging economy. “We’ve learned it’s not an easy thing to execute and it takes a lot of time,” he said. “as economies change and cycles change.” Complexes that combine retail, restaurants, office space, and residential units are trickier for developers to pull off. Each component has different economic sensitivities that must be figured in, Karp explained. Some, like medical offices, carry heavier parking demands. “Everybody likes the idea of a city feel with a retail base and apartments above,” he said. “But there has to be a market for it, the proper layout, and a critical mass of retail and residential for it to work.” Economic pressures make developers avoid risk, says Carol Todreas, a Newton resident and founder of Todreas Hanley Associates, a Cambridge firm that consults on urban mixed-use developments, including the revitalization of public places and the reuse of historic structures. Todreas, who worked on non-traditional mall projects like Faneuil Hall Marketplace, said many of the trailblazing shopping complexes that seemed promising in past

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entrance to the vacant Macy’s store, bottom left. Demolition underway at the old omni site after many years of disuse.

decades failed because of economic slumps, which led mall developers to sign safe national tenants. “There just aren’t many successful and interesting shopping developments these days,” Todreas said. So many malls look the same across the country, she said, and so far she sees nothing truly different about the plans for updates in Chestnut Hill. “I think we’re going to have the same old same old,” Todras said. Civic groups and city officials had expressed hopes that the malls and shopping centers on this corridor could be more cohesively linked for pedestrians. Some even talked about elevated walkways similar to the Copley Square and Prudential shopping complexes downtown.

(for Infrastructure Investment Incentive), which would provide the $15 million to finance those improvements. The bonds would be issued by the state but guaranteed by Newton, and the city would have a lien on the property to protect its position were the developer to default. It’s not clear whether those changes will really solve congestion and bottlenecks on Route 9, but further help is expected down the road from a state plan to improve the Route 9 interchange at Route 128, a project that is only on the drawing boards now, according to state transportation officials. Developers say that traffic and transportation challenges can be addressed. What is vexing, they say, is the opposition of community naysayers who bird-dog development. The corridor here spans two municipal governments and four separate community groups. “A lot of people don’t want any kind of change whether it’s good for them or not,” Askin said. “They just don’t want to hear it.” Karp said it was an ordeal to please all the civic groups as well as the city planners and the 24-member Board of Aldermen. Janice Kahn, of the Chestnut Hill Alliance, lives in a neighborhood of single-family homes behind the Chestnut Hill Square site. She criticized New England Development for not doing enough to accommodate her neighborhood’s concerns even after car access to Florence Street, on the south side of the site, was eliminated. “It was a very painful and long, drawn-out process,” said Kahn, “I’d give it a ‘D.’” The original plans that included a hotel and condo towers, she said, “were more appropriate for Route 9 in Natick—that does not abut residential neighborhoods.” Newton resident Mark Rubin would disagree. Rubin is president of Maric Inc., a developer specializing in ambulatory care facilities. “The natural order of things is for urban areas to become more | continued on page 70

traffic along route 9 is a major draw to retailers—but a stumbling block to development. Newton alderman Ruth Ann Ful-ler, past president of the Chestnut Hill Association, said everyone supports Route 9 commercial development, in theory. “It’s a natural place for stores, restaurants, office buildings, apartment buildings. All of that in theory is great. The question is, can our infrastructure handle the additional cars that come with that additional development,” she asked. On weekdays, an estimated 60,000 cars travel in both directions of Route 9, according to a recent study. The Chestnut Hill Square plans call for $15 million of improvements that include what’s next for the atrium? widening lanes on Route 9, into medical office Property Group, which When the Atrium Mall and making changes to the space while keeping signed major draws opened in 1989, it was a Hammond Street and Langley some retail shops and like the Cheesecake revolutionary concept: restaurants on lower Factory and national only 206,000 square Road intersections along with floors. Mark Rubin, retailers, but the mall’s feet of stacked retail widened lanes, signals and president of a firm that fortunes have not layers on a wedge of develops ambulatory improved. The mall is property, no surface signage. Construction hinges care centers, said that widely seen as a flop parking, and a mix of on critical infrastructure would be logical. because it lacks a critismall, higher-end retail“It certainly would cal mass of space and ers with no large anchor improvements to Route 9 and be a sensible use to its underground parking store. Chestnut Hill surrounding streets. Newton’s explore if there’s an has proven unpopular seemed too hot to fail. appetite on the part with shoppers. But 10 years later, foot Board of Aldermen will be of the major providers,” Today, some traffic was flagging. working out the details of a Rubin said. “People speculate that the New England Develophave looked at the bond proposal, called I-Cubed Atrium may be turned ment sold it to Simon

Atrium in the past as something that would make an interesting conversion to ambulatory health care space.” Nearby, Beth Israel Deaconess already has a radiology center, and Brigham and Women’s has pain management and ambulatory care centers. However, spokesmen for both hospitals said they knew of no plans to occupy the Atrium.

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Why Is My Kid’s Classroom So Crowded? Five theories reveal the answer’s not so simple. By Don Seiffert

Illustration by tim bower

Newton’s elementary schools have the largest number of students enrolled since the 1970s. In fact, enrollment overall has grown for six years in a row and is expected to continue growing for another seven years. Since 1980, however, Newton’s population has remained relatively unchanged, falling to 82,585 residents in 1990 and inching up to 85,146 residents today, according to U.S. Census figures. So, if Newton isn’t exactly growing, where are all these kids coming from? ¶ Theories about school enrollment abound. Some are a mix of fact and believable fiction. Some bear scrutiny. Others don’t add up. But nearly all of them touch on elements of complex and evolving demographic trends. David Fleishman, superintendent of Newton’s schools, says predicting enrollment is inherently difficult, especially in the lower grades. “Kindergarten is the hardest to project,” he said. “Two things you don’t know: who’s going to have kids, and who’s going to move in.” ¶ However, Fleishman and Claire Sokoloff, chair of the Newton School Committee, both agree on several factors that attract people with children to Newton: the school system’s good reputation and the city’s proximity to Greater Boston. Communities seeing similar enrollment increases form a ring around Boston,


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while farther-flung towns like Andover and Lexington—also known for good schools—have seen lower enrollment increases in grades K–5 over the past five years. The diversity of Newton’s population compared to that of Weston or Wellesley may also attract new residents. “We have both ethnic diversity and a strong international reputation,” Sokoloff said. “A lot of people want their children to go to school with kids from a lot of different backgrounds.” While the city’s increasing diversity may attract new residents, neither Newton’s proximity to Boston workplaces nor the reputation of city schools has changed in the past five years. So, what can explain the increasing school enrollments? This article examines five watercooler theories. 1. Invasions. These theories want to suggest that some group is responsible for enrollment increases. For example, parents moving from other countries for well-paying jobs or research appointments in the Boston area may choose Newton over less diverse communities. Jody Klein, director of the schools’ English Language Learners program, says many parents involved with the area’s hospitals and universities move to the city for just two or three years. Those families tend to have younger kids, she said, meaning they may be one factor affecting elementary school enrollments. School data shows that the number of students considered English language learners has been increasing, but represented only 6.5% of 2010 enrollment. The strength of special education in Newton Public Schools may attract families with children who need those programs and services. According to the annual enrollment report, 19.4% of Newton students received special education services as of October 2010, up only slightly from 18.4% five years earlier. While the number of international students and special education students may have increased as a


percentage of the total student population, school data does not suggest that these groups are a driving force behind enrollment increases. 2. Economic Downturn. This theory proposes that, given the state of the economy, fewer Newton families are willing to pay private school tuition and are instead enrolling their children in public schools. In fact, private school enrollment among Newton’s school-age children has increased every year since the 2005–2006 school year, according to data provided by Sandy Guryan, deputy superintendent and chief administrative officer of Newton Public Schools. 3. Larger families. According to this theory, Newton families have more children than they did in earlier years. Peter Francese, a demographic forecaster for the New England Economic Partnership, believes that, nationwide, affluent couples are having more children. But no data is available to confirm a local trend. Using ballpark calculations, one could compare school enrollment numbers

and city population. For example, in 1970, not long after enrollment in city schools peaked, nearly one in five Newton residents (19.2%) was a student attending a city school. Twenty years later, as school enrollments were bottoming out, little more than one in 10 residents (11.5%) was. In 2010, the ratio of students to residents (13.7%) was up slightly from 1990 but nowhere close to its 1970’s ratio. While interesting from a historical perspective, these comparisons are too clumsy to explain current trends about the size of Newton families. Other variables, say school officials, would need to be taken into account, among them the number of school-age children from Newton enrolled in private schools and the number of school-age children attending Newton schools as part of the METCO program or as children of faculty members. 4. Overdevelopment. A common scapegoat for recent enrollment increases are housing developments, specifically three apartment complexes built in recent years. Avalon at

From Baby Boom In the superintendent’s office, a line graph of Newton public school enrollment has been handed down for many years. It illustrates a textbook case of how the Baby Boom affected school populations in the twentieth century. Starting in the late 1940s, when the city’s schools had around 11,000 students, the graph shows a steep incline as postwar enrollment increases until peaking at 18,424

students in 1967. During those two decades, Newton built 14 new schools and added onto 13, until the city had 24 elementary schools (grades K–6 in those days) and five junior highs (grades 7–9). For the next 21 years, the line trends down. In the end, enrollments would be cut in half by 1988, when Newton had only 9,142 students. In response, the city began closing and consolidating schools. Former

Newton mayor Theodore Mann, who served at the city’s helm for 22 years, was known as a fiscal conservative. Memorial School shut its doors in 1976. One after another, schools were closed: Carr, Davis, Emerson, Hamilton, Hyde, and Oak Hill elementary schools, Warren and Weeks middle schools. The decision was understandably controversial. Rodney Barker, a School Commit-

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Newton Highlands (2003), Avalon at Chestnut Hill (2006), and Arborpoint at Woodland Station (2007) have indeed brought a number of students into Newton classrooms. The increase of school-age children from the Newton Highlands apartments is considered a strain on Countryside Elementary School, where enrollment increases may have been compounded by the number of new families with children moving into the neighborhood and the closure of two nearby elementary schools (Emerson and Hyde) decades ago. School-age children from these three developments make up only a fraction of school enrollment: 180 students of 11,775 total citywide, according to last year’s enrollment analysis. Yet, with Newton’s average class size of 21–22 students, 180 students would fill nine classrooms. Every year, across the city, new housing units are being built. In every year since 1970, on average, 120 new housing units get built. Yet, over the same four decades, city population and school enrollment have both fallen and risen— making correlations tenuous.

5. Generational Turnover. This theory points to what happens when empty nesters sell their homes to families with children. “You just have that changeover where homes suddenly have kids in them where there weren’t any before,” said Anne Larner, who served on the school committee for 17 years. “Now we’re loaded with kids.” A 2005 study by the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) found the generational turnover of residential properties in Massachusetts has considerable impact on schools, far outweighing that of new housing construction. “This is the reason many slow-growth communities, especially those with strong school systems, have experienced sharp increases in their school-age populations,” the report said. Data on residential property sales in Newton school districts may be in alignment with that finding. The school’s annual enrollment report shows an average of 1,200 residential property sales per year from 2003 through 2009, roughly 10 times the number of new housing units built

each year. Over that seven-year period, the Countryside school district alone had more than 900 residential properties change hands, the highest number of any district in the city. Larner suspects current rise in enrollment may be a natural process of ebb and flow—and that it will taper off. “Because we are a mature suburb, we’re pretty much built out,” she said. “There is an upper limit.” Newton is not alone in wrestling with these phenomena. While enrollment is declining in urban centers like Boston, elementary schools in Brookline, Belmont, Cambridge, and Quincy have seen double-digit enrollment increases in the past five years. In Brookline, where K–5 enrollment growth has been higher than anywhere else in the state, School Committee chair Rebecca Stone says that after years of analysis, she’s convinced there isn’t any one answer. “It’s not just one thing,” she said. “Anytime we think we’ve got the answer, it falls apart under analysis . . . it’s anybody’s guess what the particular combination is.”

to Tomorrow’s Classrooms tee member from 1992 until 2000, says among the most contentious closing was that of the Hyde School in Newton Highlands, where Barker was a PTA member. “At the time, many of us were begging them not to close the Hyde School,” he said. Many argued that enrollments would increase again, Barker said. “It was very shortsighted.” Anne Larner, who also served on

the committee, is more sympathetic. While Mann has been widely criticized in hindsight for his closing of schools, she says, “at the time, he was hailed as a genius for managing some other financial difficulties.” In 1989, student numbers began to rise again, if slowly. Some closed schools were reclaimed: Bigelow Middle School, which reopened in 1993, and Oak Hill Elementary School,

which reopened as a middle school in 1997. But most of the buildings were sold off. Today, the city operates with 15 elementary schools (K–5) and four junior highs (6–8). In 2007, Newton made a long-term needs assessment of all school buildings, considering each building’s condition and space, and its potential in addressing long-term changes in enrollment and educa-

tion. The study recommended replacing three elementary schools— Angier, Cabot and Zervas—and expanding at least two schools near the city’s center, to absorb enrollment fluctuations, said Claire Sokoloff, School Committee chair. Strong financial and political incentives exist to avoid building new schools in the wake of both the recession and last year’s opening of

Newton North, the most expensive high school project in the state. “The combination of those two things lead us to be extremely cautious,” said Sokoloff, who also believes that an ongoing update of the 2007 study will confirm the best option is to build flexibility into the schools. That means an average of three classrooms per grade, plus an extra one if needed some years. In years when enrollment is down,

the extra space can be rented to appropriate non-profit organizations. In the past, people were resistant to such uses, said Larner. “There used to be a lot of public outcry about leasing out space in schools,” she said. “I think there’s a different political climate now . . . I think the community would be receptive to that in order to deal with the ups and downs of enrollment.” Don Seiffert

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Inspirational Families of Newton is a photographic project that attempts to capture the essence of the remarkably successful community that is Newton. This broad sampling of the city’s residents and businesspeople is framed by the families who nurture, support, and inspire them. There are peace activists, civil servants, clergymen, teachers, students, and store owners. Some have attained international renown. Others are authentic local heroes. Many have overcome significant hardships to make equally significant contributions to the community and the world. With its rich, diverse population, and its unparalleled civic life, Newton suffers no shortage of accomplished or inspiring people and families. This is the soul we sought to catch in these portraits. And the spirit we hope will inspire others to make an even greater difference with their lives.

Newton photographer Drew Hyman and his colleagues have worked to capture the essence of Newton’s exceptional families. Their labor of love has yielded remarkable portraits of bigwigs and civic leaders and local heroes who have responded to adversity with activism and philanthropy.

All in the Family Photographs by Drew Hyman and Jennifer Nourse Text by ken shulman

Rebecca Kantar Student, CEO of Minga Group

When she was in fourth grade at Zervas Elementary School, Rebecca Kantar (center) helped raise $1,000 to help disadvantaged children. At 15, she delivered a speech to the CEOs of Bank of America and Exxon and 15 professors at Harvard University, where she is currently a sophomore. “I owe a lot to my family and my community,” says Kantar, who directs the Minga Group, an NGO that helps raise awareness of the global child sex trade; it’s a cause Kantar has championed since junior high. “Had they shot down my ideas in elementary school, I doubt I’d be where I am today.”

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Reverend Howard Haywood Pastor Emeritus, Myrtle Baptist Church

After a life full of spiritual unrest, Howard Haywood at last turned to God for help. “I said, here I am,” recalls Haywood, who at the time was married and working as a construction manager at the MBTA. “And if you want to use me, you have to fix me.” Continuing full-time at the MBTA, Haywood studied nights to become ordained as a Baptist minister. In 1984, still working full-time, he took over the pulpit at Myrtle Baptist Church, where, among other things, he organized food drives, reached out to Newton’s other communities of faith, and established a prison ministry. “My job was to be a good listener,” says Haywood. “To listen, to offer a little advice, and then to point my parishioners toward places where they could get real help.”


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The McDonald Family

At 12 years old, Ross McDonald was diagnosed with type I diabetes. That same day he vowed to become the first athlete with his condition to qualify for the Olympics. Parents Kevin and Diana became certified as state track officials. Sister Samantha organized a fundraiser for diabetes research at the All Newton Music School. All three learned to administer insulin injections. A state record holder in the pole vault at Newton South, Ross hit a personal best of 15 feet, 11 inches last year as a freshman at USC. Samantha, also at USC as a graduate student in journalism, attended each and every meet. “At first we were shell-shocked,” Diana admits. “But soon after we said we were going to do whatever it took to help Ross achieve his dream.”

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Setti Warren Mayor of Newton

Setti Warren still lives in his childhood Newton home, with his wife Tassy and children Abigail and John David. Son of a lifelong educator and activist, Warren spent four years in the Clinton White House, and later worked for Senator John Kerry. In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq as a naval intelligence specialist. “Our citizens have such a high level of commitment, and equally high expectations,” says Warren, who was inaugurated as mayor in 2010. “As someone who grew up with those same expectations, leading this city is a wonderful challenge.”


The Zakim Family

Like the bridge that bears his name, New England Anti-Defamation League executive director Lenny Zakim forged connections between Boston’s diverse communities and neighborhoods. When Zakim succumbed after a long battle with cancer in 1999, his family picked up the slack. Daughter Shari works at Jewish Vocational Services. Daughter Deena works at a homeless shelter in Roxbury. And son Josh just finished up a term at Greater Boston Legal Services. “The sense of community and connection we have here in Newton is so rare,” says Zakim’s widow Joyce, who works for the Lenny Zakim Fund. “So many like-minded people, focused on the public good.”

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Walter Cuenin Coordinator of Interfaith Chaplaincy, Brandeis University

As the Catholic Church clergy sex scandals came to light, Father Walter Cuenin organized a group of priests calling for Boston Archbishop Bernard Law to resign. “I don’t know if it was my faith, or my sense of responsibility,” says Cuenin. “I just felt that as priests we had to do something.” The former pastor at Our Lady of Christian Help in Newton, Cuenin had already raised eyebrows when he offered baptism rites to children of single parents and same sex couples. “My image of Jesus is of someone who reached out to people who were marginalized,” says Cuenin, who was forced to resign in 2005. “All were welcome at our church.”

The Prestejohns Cabot’s Ice Cream

Joseph and Catherine Prestejohn opened Cabot’s Ice Cream on Washington Street when they came to Newton in 1969, establishing a reputation for good food, courtesy, and community service. Today Joe Jr. continues the tradition, donating ice cream for the city’s Fourth of July celebration, countless fund-raisers, and even serving as one of the judges at the Lincoln-Elliot vocabulary challenge. “We get a lot of support from the community because they see us working as a family,” says Joe, whose daughters Danielle and Katelyn still work at the store. “And the nicest part of our business is seeing customers who used to come in here as children return here with their children.”

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exhibit inspirational families of newton.

November 2–29 at the Newton Free Library.

Jennifer Chrisler Executive Director of the Family Equality Council

Jennifer Chrisler (right), Cheryl Jacques, and their two sons moved back to Massachusetts from Washington D.C. in 2007. For Jacques, a judge and former state senator raised in Needham, it was a return home. It was also a sort of homecoming for Chrisler, who grew up outside of Syracuse, New York. “Newton is an incredibly progressive city,” says Chrisler. The couple were married in 2004. “It’s one of the few places where I can remember feeling we didn’t need to worry about being a same-sex family. It was a place where our kids could go to school, play little league, in short, where they could just be kids.”

Jothy Rosenberg HiGH-Tech entrepreneur, motivational speaker

In 1973, at age 16, Jothy Rosenberg lost his right leg to cancer. Three years later the disease claimed most of his left lung. After his final chemotherapy session, he drove non-stop from Detroit, Michigan, to Alta, Utah, planning to spend his remaining days on earth as a ski bum. Instead, he survived to complete a Ph.D., to marry, and to build a career as a high-tech entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. “We have a very busy household of five humans and four dogs,” says Rosenberg, who each year bikes the-192 mile Pan Mass Challenge and swims across San Francisco Bay for charity. “And I think I can consider myself a success in life, because my children genuinely like me.”

Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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urbanized,” Rubin said. “You want high density. The more you have, the less people drive around and pollute.” Balancing neighborhood concerns with the developers’ need to make the numbers work, says Rubin, is always a battle. To him, some neighbors are unrealistic. “A lot of these people that live in these neighborhoods want it to be the way it was 50 years ago,” he said. “If you want that, move west.” Land in Chestnut Hill is only going to get more valuable, spurring further development, suggests Saul B. Cohen, a Newton native and president of Hammond Residential Real Estate in Chestnut Hill. Those are facts that residents will have to get used to, given their proximity to a commercial stretch. “I’m sympathetic they want consideration but this was the score when they bought their house,” he said. Given the strength of the residential market in Chestnut Hill—which never lost more than 20 percent of value even at the economic bottom—Cohen sees more residential complexes taking the place of single-family homes on the corridor. “As you drive west from Hammond Street,” he said. “you can see every once in a while a one-story office building and some modest houses like on Langley Road, and as land gets valuable enough, someone will want to put a tower up.” A resident of a nearby neighborhood of Brookline Lucha Shalhoub said she blamed activist neighbors for making all change difficult. She was heading to THE Apple Store at The Mall at Chestnut Hill. “iPhones don’t work in my area because Chestnut Hill didn’t want another cell tower either,” she said, admitting that she herself once sued to halt the building of a parking garage near her property. real estate and retail experts say of Chestnut Hill that the past decade has been merely an awkward phase. The underlying strengths of this corridor include the proximity of wealth and office workers, a critical mass of shopping

Richard Askin, WS development.

complexes, and ample traffic with access to these commercial sites. An analysis that New England Development had done for the Chestnut Hill Square project estimated that average household income within a mile of the site was $174,503, with 49 percent of adults holding a graduate degree. It also showed that, within a mile of the Route 9 corridor, there are 516 businesses with 5,269 employees. This close proximity of wealthy and educated consumers, as well as office workers, is a big draw to retailers. The density of the residential population is especially appealing, says retail expert and Newton resident Joel Kadis. “In Brookline and Newton you have this unique combination of money and density that you don’t have in Weston or Lincoln,” said Kadis, a partner in Linear Retail, which owns 57 malls in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “All a retailer cares about is, how many people are available to buy my product?” Gifford, the president of AIG Global Real Estate Investment, concurs. “You’ve got great real estate with some of the best demographics in the country,” says Gifford, who sees a bright future for the newest shopping center. “Chestnut Hill Square has such a good location that it’s inevitable, like water flowing down hill,” he said. As for the challenges, Gifford said, “The developers and managers involved are a very competent, sophisticated group of people and companies. They’ll figure it out.”


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old and newton

What happened to the Newton Savings Bank?

1831 1957 1974 1981 1991

Newton Savings Bank founded

merged with Newton Centre Savings Bank

name changed to First Mutual Bank for Savings

merged with Suffolk Franklin Savings Bank

failed during savings and loan crisis and acquired by Bank of Boston

1996 1999

became BankBoston in merger with BayBank


became FleetBoston Financial in merger with Fleet Financial

Chestnut Hill, mid ’60s


Time seems to bend in this photograph of a photograph, as if approximating a merger of two Chestnut Hill Shopping Centers, decades apart. The storefronts have changed considerably since this mid-1960s photograph was taken, but the space remains eerily familiar. The two-story brick building that anchors the strip’s west end (at left) was built for Franklin Simon, a department store whose locations once stretched from Buffalo to Miami. That building today houses medical offices. Retailers in this strip included old Boston companies like Lauriat’s Books and Thomas Long’s Jewelers. Brigham’s Ice Cream, the popular ice creamery founded in Newton Highlands in 1924, sat alongside the bakery Dorothy Muriel’s. The departed also include Howe’s Cleanser, Richard’s Shoes & Boutique, and Newton Savings Bank. Since 1950 when this shopping center was built, its east end has been anchored by Star Market. Although the building was razed and reconstructed two years ago, the supermarket provides the shopping center’s only continuity. john sisson

about the photo

Newton Living oct/nov 2011

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acquired by Bank of America

The photograph comes from a 6-centimetersquare film negative found in the archives of Historic Newton. Sara Goldberg, acting curator, dated the image by referencing store names to city directories of the period. To create the print shown here, the negative was digitally scanned by Watertown’s Ultra Color Lab.

photograph by

Adam DeTour

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Newton Living magazine  

October/November 2011 issue

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