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COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT

Swampscott

Drifted sand surrounds a dinghy at Fisherman's Beach. Swampscott's beaches have long been a vacation lure. Drifted sand surrounds a dinghy at Fisherman's Beach. Swampscott's beaches have long been a vacation lure. (John Blanding/Globe Staff)
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August 3, 2008

THE GOODS: Nearby Revere Beach may hold claim to being America's oldest public beach, but Swampscott makes a claim on being the country's first beach-resort community. Indeed, Lynn was once the dividing line between the working-class public beach in Revere and the private beaches favored by the wealthy who flocked to Swampscott in the summer. Swampscott's heady days of being the play place for the rich are long gone, and it has since evolved into a quiet, residential community. The history of affluence, however, is evident in the local architecture, housing stock, and planning. A commuter rail station eases what can be a tedious commute into the city, and Route 128 is nearby for suburban workers.

PROS: A Swampscott address is as nearly as desirable as one in other upscale North Shore communities, but comes at a tad more affordable price. One reason is that the town has resisted the building booms that have puffed up other communities with McMansions, which can drive up overall housing prices, as well as apartment complexes and other developments. That means Swampscott has a number of older homes. The shoreline offers the kind of spectacular manses that can give even the hard-hearted house envy. Inland is a mix of styles and sizes of housing in good shape.

CONS: Property taxes are relatively high, possibly due to little commercial development.

DAVE COPELAND

Swampscott

Median home price: Single-family, $437,050; condominiums, $213,500

Residential tax rate: $13.63

Average tax bill: $7,293

Choice location: Marian Court College, a private, coeducational, two-year institution located on a seaside estate, founded in 1964 by the Sisters of Mercy as a school for women.

Cocktail party nugget: Ebenezer Thorndike invented the lobster pot, which revolutionized lobster harvesting, in 1808 in Swampscott.

SOURCE: Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue

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