Sapphire City House – Somerville, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Sapphire City House

A home decorated by its owner with eye-catching and captivating assemblages of found objects 


Located on a main street in Somerville, this property is decorated with a huge, colorful variety of found objects. The blue bottle assemblage out front is “Sapphire City” and the animal collection on the roof “Dance Party.” Also in front is “The Friend Smithsonian Museum,” a “tiny museum” exhibit space for local artists.

While much of the art is viewable from the sidewalks at any time, between 11 a.m. and dusk you can enter the path by the right side of the house and visit “Emerald City,” along with other collections there, such as the “Teapot Graveyard” and “Babies on Horseback.”

The artist, Martha Friend, has lived in Somerville over 40 years. Originally a professional photographer, later earning an MSW, she has always had an interest in assemblage art and collage. Aside from her other artwork, Martha has added installations to her house and grounds for over a decade. She notes she has “a huge basement studio filled with a gorgeous collection of rusty farm implements, sea shells, driftwood, vintage ceramics, old dolls, broken lamps, costume jewelry, religious statues, plastic dinosaurs, printed ephemera, and a million other treasures.”

If you visit during the yearly Somerville Open Studios in April and May then you can also tour the inside of the house, which is just as visually rich and engaging.

Know Before You Go

The house is located at Highland Avenue and Sycamore St, between Central St and School St. You'll know it when you see it. The nearest square is Union Square, a 15-minute walk away.

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