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COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT

West Roxbury

In the 1840s, Brook Farm was home to a Transcendentalist commune and author Nathaniel Hawthorne was a member. In the 1840s, Brook Farm was home to a Transcendentalist commune and author Nathaniel Hawthorne was a member. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File 2006)
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June 1, 2008

THE GOODS With its tree-lined streets, numerous churches, strong civic spirit, and block after block of single-family homes, West Roxbury is about as suburban in character as an urban neighborhood can be.

Family life is a defining characteristic of this Boston community, where Easter egg hunts, Kentucky Derby parties, and youth sports leagues are a typical part of the local calendar. Home to the esteemed Roxbury Latin School and many of Boston's civil servants, West Roxbury historically attracted a heavily Irish-America population steeped in politics. The complexion of the neighborhood has changed a bit with time, but it remains a largely white community where children, families, and civic involvement are widely prized. That's particularly evident at a place like Millennium Park, a 100-acre green space with walking trails, wintertime sledding, and playing fields often jammed with kids. The food scene is spotty, but the additions of West on Centre and Masona Grill have upped the culinary ante here, and a few of the long-standing ethnic eateries provide a gustatory departure from the Irish-themed pubs found here.

PROS Large graceful Victorians and other classics anchor the neighborhoods close to the center. These are big houses with lots of preserved details that would fetch even higher prices in tony suburbs. These are tidy neighborhoods where it is unusual to see a home in any state of disrepair. The outlying neighborhoods have more modest housing that offers affordable entry points for first-time buyers. A commuter rail stop right in the center makes for an easy trip into the city. Centre Street has enough small businesses with enough staying power for a shopping destination, especially with Roche Bros. supermarket serving as a retail anchor.

CONS Swaths of the small post-war housing in the outlying sections have an ordinary, even drab feel to them. Smaller houses can also be on smaller lots, limiting play space for the young ones. Though more lively than in years past, the Centre Street business district still sees businesses come and go.

SACHA PFEIFFER

Median home prices Single-family home, $367,500

Residential tax rate $10.97 (citywide)

Average tax bill $3,091 (citywide)

Choice location Theodore Parker Church. Named for the abolitionist and social reformer, the handsome stone building has an astonishing collection of stained-glass windows from Tiffany Studios.

Cocktail party nugget Nathaniel Hawthorne fictionalized his experiences at Brook Farm, the short-lived 19th century Transcendentalist commune, in the novel "The Blithedale Romance."

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