Learn why many Boston Creatives, Professionals, and Thought Leaders are calling Wellesley home.
You’ll know when you step into Wellesley, Mass — it has a feel and ethos distinct from the beautiful array of cities that make up the Greater Boston Area. There’s an ambiance of natural comfort, aesthetics, and pride that has coursed down through generations beginning over 350 years ago — and you can feel it.
This gem of Boston is cultured, with tranquil natural beauty and a perceptible sense of family and community.
Wellesley occupies 10 square miles of quintessential Massachusetts suburban beauty in Norfolk County and was founded originally in the 1630s, later evolving as part of Dedham, Massachusetts.
The History of Wellesley, MA
When the initial settlers of Wellesley founded the town over 350 years ago, they were so taken by the location they literally named it “Contentment.” Somehow this seems to resonate today. The first group of 19 or so settlers negotiated with Indian Chiefs Nehoiden and Maugus to purchase the land that would become Wellesley for 5 pounds of currency and 3 pounds of corn.
Wellesley was originally part of the town of Dedham, later becoming West Needham when Needham was formed and evolved as a quiet and beautiful Massachusetts farming community.
Farmers from Wellesley used to drive their goods to market in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace by horse and cart. In the 1830s, the railroad arrived connecting Wellesley directly with the city of Boston and charting a new course for the town’s social culture and commerce.
Wellesley was an important stop on the Underground Railroad during the 1800s and helped freed slaves reach freedom in the north.
West Needham became Wellesley in 1881 and was christened as such after a spirited effort by local town fathers to forge a city with its own identity. Wellesley was born and grew dramatically from this point forward and during the 1920s, becoming the first town in the United States with zoning laws.
Progress was orderly, innovative, and aesthetic — the best of what a cutting-edge New England town could be, with streetcars, the state’s first golf course, excellent schools, and orderly planning of neighborhoods.
In the 1940s, World War Two Veterans from Wellesley were given 40 acres of land by Morses Pond to establish their lives, families, and futures on.
Boston Creatives, Professionals, and Thought Leaders from Wellesley
Bordered by Newton, Needham, Weston, Dover, and Natick, Wellesley is located roughly 15 miles to the West and slightly south of Boston proper. Its beauty has only increased over time and it is one of the most wealthy and well-educated cities in the country, with a population approaching 30,000. Wellesley ranks as the 7th wealthiest city in the US.
Boston as a city is known for its culture, educational prowess, and innovation, yet Wellesley stands out even in this crowd with the 2nd highest concentration of residents with advanced degrees in the entire nation.
Thought Leaders, Business Standouts, and Creatives gravitate to Wellesley for their education and to make their homes — residents of this beautiful city have created works that have resonated across the world.
Katherine Lee Bates was a resident of Wellesley and professor at Wellesley College when she wrote “America the Beautiful” in 1893, a beautiful and iconic piece capturing the beauty of the US and popularized in World War One.
Former NY Senator and 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attended Wellesley College, graduating in 1969 and speaking at commencement as Wellesley’s first-ever student speaker. She would deliver a speech that would make national news and be written up in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and other outlets, launching national awareness of this figure who would later rise to First Lady, Secretary of State, and Presidential candidate.
Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen called Wellesley home during Allen’s tenure with the Boston Celtics. (His ‘86 Woodlawn Avenue Colonial mansion with 9 bedrooms, 9 full bathrooms, theatre, game room, and 6-car garage was sold for $4.6 million in 2013.)
Danny Ainge, President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics and his wife Michelle and family of six children have called Wellesley home for years. Ainge was a much-loved household name throughout my childhood years for his standout role as a Celtics guard. His son Crew transferred last year from Utah State to Babson, half a mile from his Wellesley home and one of the nation’s finest business schools. (Crew, a dynamic guard with the trademark Ainge tenacity and verve, originally attended Wellesley High School and New Hampshire’s Kimball Union Academy.)
Crew Ainge is a standout senior shooting guard for the Babson Men’s Basketball team majoring in real estate and finance. He’s a long-time Wellesley resident and had the following to share on the value of Wellesley’s residential community:
“I love Wellesley — the walks around Lake Waban, the beautiful golf course at Wellesley country club, and the close-knit community and friendly neighborhood vibe. Linden Deli & Tutto Italiano are the two best sub shops in Massachusetts. The walking trails along the Brooke Path are incredible. The schools are also incredible with great youth sports programs — I hope to be able to raise my family in Wellesley someday.”
— Crew Ainge – Babson Senior, Real Estate Professional, and long time Wellesley resident
Christopher Isaac (Biz) Stone grew up in Wellesley and graduated from Wellesley High School — he would go on to co-found Twitter with Jack Dorsey.
Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, has been rumored to have a home in Wellesley, but this seems difficult to substantiate and seems to be an unfounded rumor.
Education in Wellesley
Wellesley is an educational powerhouse with nationally and internationally ranked institutions of secondary and higher education:
Wellesley College is an extremely prestigious women’s liberal arts college with a student population of less than 3,000 and a 22% acceptance rate. Forbes.com ranked Wellesley college as #44 in the entire country in 2019, and students have an opportunity to earn double/combined degrees with MIT and nearby Brandeis University. Former NY Senator and 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is one of Wellesley College’s most notable alumni, along with Madeleine Albright, Diane Sawyer, and a host of others.
Wellesley College is a stunning expanse of brick, beautiful lawns, and trees exploding into color in the Fall.
The New England beauty of the campus is striking and grand with a sense of warmth, beauty, and sophistication that is rare in this world today.
This is a moving piece on the broad international impact of Wellesley College in the words of many prominent alumni: Campaign LAUNCH: This Is The Place (long).
Generally regarded as the top school internationally for entrepreneurship education, Babson was founded in 1919 by Roger Babson as an all-male school and is now a coeducational institution with a student enrollment slightly north of 3,000.
The 350-acre campus located in Wellesley is a beautiful synthesis of colonial architecture and natural elements. Babson’s global alumni network is made up of over 43,000 graduates in 119 diverse countries of Earth — which should give you an idea of the international aspect this school brings to Wellesley.
Notable alumni include Arthur M. Blank (co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons), Daniel Frank Gerber (founder of Gerber Products Company), Jamie Siminoff (CEO and Co-founder of Ring), Alberto Periman (founder and CEO of Zumba Fitness), and many more.
Wellesley High School
A prestigious high school originally established in 1938 with an enrollment of over 1,500 students, Wellesley High School offers an array of educational and practical activities, with a strong arts department as well as a flourishing sports scene.
Notable alumni include Michelle Chamuel, Biz Stone, Crew Ainge, Benjamin Rawitz, Nate Freiman, Aneesh Raman, and many more.
Sustainable luxury is increasingly popular and Wellesley encourages environmental awareness and sustainability at a young age through the Wellesley Green Schools Initiative.
Best explained in this statement:
“Wellesley Green Schools is a collaborative group of students, parents and staff working together to reduce the schools’ ecological footprint and inspire them to be ecologically minded citizens. The goal is to inspire students to create a healthy sustainable world. Together, we can help Wellesley school students learn environmental responsibility through various waste and energy reduction, and other Earth-friendly initiatives. This in turn will help create healthy, sustainable, schools, and communities. For more information, or you have ideas to share please visit WellesleyGreenSchools.com.” (www.wellesleygreenschools.com)
The Wellesley Train station is picturesque in its own right — originally designed by prominent American Architect H.H. Richardson — it’s a 12-minute ride to downtown Boston or Back Bay on a good day. Boston’s Logan International Airport is an 18-mile, 22-minute drive from Wellesley in a car — the Mass Pike is easy to access.
The quality of life in Wellesley along with its dining options are exceptional:
Best Bakery/Coffee House in Wellesley:
The “best” is always debatable, but this is my favorite:
Quebrada Baking Co.
272 Washington Street
Quebrada is open 6am to 6pm daily and literally checks all the boxes in the eternal quest for the perfect coffee house.
Family owned with locally sourced ingredients, and simply happy good people — they bake fresh in the wee hours of the morning to guarantee perfection when their dedicated client base rolls in.
Can’t say enough good things.
You can grab breakfast on the run here with excellent locally roasted coffee — the Blueberry Walnut Coffee Cake is peerless.
“Quebrada” (pronounced “Kay – bra – da” is a Spanish geographical term used throughout Central and South America to donate a break in the terrain.
Dining in Wellesley:
You can’t miss with any of the following:
13 Central Street
You can feel the care, love, and creativity when you step into Juniper — this is Eastern Mediterranean cuisine at its finest with dashes of Greek, Morrocan, and Lebanese influence — all produced and served in a warm, welcoming, and original environment.
Dave Becker is the owner of Juniper and has a typically Boston straightforward and authentic approach — source fresh ingredients and create food people will love with ingredients that speak for themselves without being pretentious.
I would say Juniper does this and more — they make their own couscous, pita bread and hummus in house and the originality is simply off the charts.
The seared manchego cheese is out of this world — envision the world’s finest grilled cheese but without the bread. The chicken schnitzel is consistently excellent and even the English Muffins are homemade. The homemade donut holes with a cranberry glaze demand enjoyment.
There are places on Earth where it is a joy to be — this truly is one.
Step into this warm space, enjoy the good people and delicious fare, and hear Dave hold court on his philosophy behind great food — you will not be disappointed.
Dave also produces incredible custom pottery that simply adds to the overall aesthetic, just released a cookbook, and is genuinely funny.
Papa Razzi Wellesley
16 Washington Street
This beautiful Italian Trattoria is headed by Chef Andrede, a master chef originally from Brazil with 20 years of experience in Boston’s culinary scene in Kenmore Square and Downtown Boston.
The pizzas are delicious as is the rest of the menu.
The Black Figs pizza is a standout with gorgonzola, prosciutto di parma, and baby arugula. For dessert you can’t go wrong with the Limoncello Mascarpone Cake, a Sicilian lemon infused sponge cake with Italian Mascarpone cream.
As of this writing, Papa Razzi is now open for in-person dining (with reservations strongly recommended).
The Local. Wellesley.
11 Forest Street
Brick walls, textured ceilings, and a classy but not fully formal vibe with delicious food. Chef Wallace Benica is the point man overseeing the kitchen operations and menu development for the Local. Wellesley and her 2 sister restaurants.
Chef Benica is Italian by birth, later living in Brazil prior to the United States. It’s a casual eatery with native New England ingredients in a British gastropub-like setting. For starters there’s a spicy Chex mix or truffle parmesan fries made from scratch that are intensely delicious and really a must-try. The homemade potato chips are also exceptional when paired with a homemade French onion dip.
On the casual dining front, the lobster roll and flatbread pizzas kill it — granny smith apple, caramelized onion, and bacon topping on a thin crust flatbread — delicious. The prime burgers are also a solid hit. As one hits the entrees known as “Bigger Things” the steak tips and the homemade truffle parmesan fries are excellent. Desert…? The coffee ice cream pie is the perfect closer.
Downtown Wellesley and Linden Square have a diverse array of boutique shops, upscale retail outlets, eateries, and retail and service opportunities.
Architecture & Luxury Homes and Real Estate in Wellesley
Wellesley Farms (also known as The Farms) is an upscale neighborhood within Wellesley spanning 100 acres of New England beauty. With ample New England countryside, the majority of these homes are 3-5 bedroom (or more) single-family homes. Many were built prior to 1939.
The median home price in Wellesley Farms is $1,729,039, essentially in the top 1% of US neighborhoods. Homes in Wellesley Farms look like they were crafted as part of a historical narrative — each with ample property, trees, and the kind of beauty that can only be found in New England.
Wellesley itself comprises 7 neighborhoods, and there are currently 75 homes for sale in Wellesley, Massachusetts with a cost range from $515,000 to $9,800,000. The Median sale price for a home in Wellesley is $1.6 million. There are a number of architectural styles in Wellesley including Victorian townhouses, and Tudor homes, as well as Colonial and Cape Cod-style homes.
These are some of the top real estate agents in Wellesley that I would suggest contacting if you are interested in buying or selling a home in Wellesley:
Gibson Sotheby’s International Real Estate.
Debi has been Wellesley’s top real estate agent for 14 straight years, with 31 years of experience in the Wellesley/Weston area and over $1 billion in sales. Debi has been ranked in the top 100 agents in the United States for the past 9 years by the Wall Street Journal/Real Trends.
Lili is Coldwell Bankers’ top luxury agent in Boston with listings across the city and many in Wellesley. Lili has a 20-year history with Coldwell, speaks both German and French, and is ranked in the top 200 agents in the nation by the Wall Street Journal/Trends.
Lili currently has numerous beautiful listings in Wellesley worth consideration if you are looking to purchase.
The Shulkin/Wilk Group – Compass
A former CPA with experience at Fidelity and Goldman Sachs, Traci Shulkin specializes in the Wellesley/Weston region and surrounding markets. Traci has numerous stunning properties on the market in Wellesley.
Lisa Curlett, Maura Dolan, Tricia Parmele
Beyond Boston Properties – Compass
As a trio of dynamic Boston real estate professionals with decades of experience, this savvy group specializes in Wellesley, Weston, and the surrounding region. With several decades of combined real estate experience joined with professional PR and business acumen, this group has an exceptional level of vitality, professionalism, and care. Their Wellesley listings are simply stunning.
Home Design and Remodeling Trends in Wellesley, MA
Design-Bid-Build is the process that has been introduced over the past 150 years or so whereby you hire an architect to draft plans and design your project — to then have it bid out to contractors seeking to perform the project. This approach has many liabilities for the client due in no small part to the fragmented spheres of responsibilities that exist. There is no single person or entity fully accountable to the client for the entire project’s success. Thus you can have impractical and expensive design work, impractical planning, numerous change orders, shoddy craftsmanship, and projects which are off timeline and over budget. In the end, the client can be left damaged. You may have experienced this in the past.
Design-Build is clearly the way to go if you want to save on time and money, reduce stress, and eliminate a fragmented sense of project responsibility in the people working for you. Design-Build is a model that stresses single-source accountability with the creative design, planning, and remodel executed start to finish by one firm.
Design-Build is turned to by professionals, families, and individuals as the cutting edge of efficiency, aesthetics, practicality, and accountability when it comes to designing and remodeling a home. This approach packages architectural design and interior design services with highly-skilled and artisan-level building and remodeling services. This natural synthesis makes for a simple, efficient, and accountable creative process followed by a streamlined and responsible execution process, reducing cost, time of execution, and client stress throughout. In the Design-Build modality, the client is dealing solely with one fully accountable firm.
New England Design and Construction does Architectural Design Build with a specialty focus on sustainable luxury homes. Here are several examples of beautiful Design-Build remodels we have done in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and the Boston area.
Modern Luxury Boston Common feature October, 2020: BOST Oct 20
Wellesley is elegant and cultured with a distinctly special aesthetic and flair. It has a rich history, defined sense of sophistication, education, beauty, elegance, and comfort — in my opinion one of the finest areas one could choose to live in Boston.