The charm and cost of Beacon Hill

by Agatha Kereere / Beacon Staff • April 1, 2015

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As students begin the annual housing search, the Beacon will feature a different Boston-area neighborhood each week—complete with pros and cons, nightlife prospects, and advice from current residents. 

In Beacon Hill, every activity, from doing laundry to shopping for food, can come with an expensive price tag. But students who live there say it’s still worth it.

 “I really love Beacon Hill,” said senior Catherine Cloutier, “and I think some of the nicest places you’ll ever see are right here.

Beacon Hill, located north of Boston Common, is among the city’s oldest neighborhoods and only one square mile in size, according to the City of Boston website, but charms residents and visitors with its colonial architecture and densely-packed shops and restaurants. 

“It’s beautiful, and the snow made it seem like I was living in a snowglobe, because the buildings look pretty similar to a Christmas village when it's snowing,” said junior Madeline Bilis, who has lived in Beacon Hill since September. “The brick buildings, candles in the windows, and wreaths on every door are festive and lovely during the holidays.”

Cloutier, a visual and media arts major,  said she loves how much Beacon Hill reminds her of old Boston.

“You can walk past the State House, which is such a part of Boston’s history,” said Cloutier, who lives near the Bowdoin T stop.

The neighborhood’s close proximity to Emerson’s campus is another advantage, Mohn said, who said he can walk to school in about eight minutes.

But the neighborhood’s age means apartments tend to be small, antiquated, and expensive, said Austin Mohn, a junior marketing communication major, who lives off the Charles/MGH T stop.

Matthew Grein, a real estate agent from Boston Realty Group, said a studio may cost between $1,500 and $1,700 per month, and a one bedroom might have a price tag between $1,900 and $2,100. A two bedroom could have an asking price between $2,500 and $3,000. 

Emerson also owns a 7,300-square foot residence for the president, which it bought for $4.9 million before M. Lee Pelton’s arrival in 2011. The Spruce Street home is also meant for, and has hosted, events for the college community.

Cloutier, said it’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Boston and is mainly made up of families and professionals.

 “You really need to be respectful of those around you, because you’re not really around college kids; you’re around normal working people and kids,” said Cloutier.

This demographic means that nightlife is minimal. Bilis, a journalism major, said it might prove incompatible with students who enjoy party lifestyles.

 “There isn’t a lot going on,” said Bilis. “There are a couple of bars but they’re pretty low key.”

 Mohn said The Seven Ale House, a pub located at 77 Charles Street in Beacon Hill, is a good choice for an after-class beer and reasonably-priced food.

Junior Amy Post, whose apartment is close to the Charles/MGH T  stop, agreed that because it’s so quiet at night, students who enjoy hosting parties might want to look elsewhere.

 “Honestly, it feels boring for me because it’s all young adults and professionals, but it also feels pretty safe, so that’s great,” said Post, a visual and media arts major.

 Although the party scene isn’t very lively, bars in other neighborhoods aren’t far away, said Cloutier.

 “The North End is easy to get to, as is Faneuil Hall,” said Cloutier, “and TD Garden is about a 10 minute walk from where I live.”

In Beacon Hill, there isn’t a shortage of places to eat or shop—especially for people who live located near Charles Street, the main thoroughfare, said Mohn, who lives across from the Paramount Cafe.

  The Paramount Cafe, said Bilis, is great setting for get-togethers and good breakfast food—if you can get a table at the popular 44 Charles Street eatery. 

 Billis said she also frequently visits stores like Black Ink, a stationery and gift shop,  and Beacon Hill Chocolates.

 “I always stop in Black Ink if I'm walking by,” said Billis. “Its signature mix of eclectic greeting cards and other cool little trinkets is always fun to look at. I also like to stop in Beacon Hill Chocolates just for the smell. It’s so good.”