Merriam Hill (Lexington, MA)

Five sets of neighbors, each of whom brought a bottle of wine, greeted Danielle Fleming and her husband shortly after they moved to Lexington’s Merriam Hill neighborhood more than a decade ago. “That doesn’t happen very often,” says Fleming, a principal broker at MA Properties in Lexington. “There’s a whole sense of community here. People are always stopping to chat with one another.”

Stretching about a mile north of Lexington’s historic town center, Merriam Hill housed a group of professionals – many of whom worked in the financial sector – who would commute to Boston in the late 1800s on a passenger rail line that shut down in the 1970s. It features a collection of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Tudor-style houses from this time and a few ranch-style and contemporary houses built within the last 60 to 70 years. These houses, which fetch $1.5 million to $2.5 million apiece, sit atop lots ranging in size from a quarter-acre to a full acre that leave plenty of space for a well-manicured lawn, decorative shrubs and a few oak or maple trees that provide shade in the summer and cover the neighborhood’s sidewalk-lined streets with leaves in the fall.

Fleming loves these sidewalks because she and her husband can walk to their favorite restaurants in the town center – the Love at First Bite Thai restaurant and Royal India, an Indian restaurant – whenever they like. Two small gourmet grocery stores — Art’s Specialties and Center Goods — are a block or two from these restaurants. Heading west from these restaurants on Bedford Street, State Route 4, takes you past a Stop & Save grocery store and an exit on Interstate 95 that’s only 19 miles from downtown Boston.

They can also walk to the Ada Govan Bird Sanctuary, which was spared from development by people who read a 1937 article Govan wrote about watching the birds in this area for Nature, or the 23-acre Chiesa Farm nature preserve, where you can take a 1-mile walking trail through the rolling terrain between Fiske Elementary and Diamond Middle Schools. Merriam Hill’s students will attend these two schools, which received an A and an A-plus on, before moving on to Lexington High School, which also received an A-plus. These high marks are why the website ranked Lexington Public Schools as the fourth-best public school system in Massachusetts. This school system offers a comprehensive performing arts program where elementary school students can learn how to play musical instruments, students at Diamond Middle can participate in a choir program that does two concerts each year, and Lexington High students can take classes in playwriting, improvisation, and set design.

Another thing Fleming loves about her neighborhood is its history. A quick walk down Meriam Street takes you to the Lexington Battle Green, where the Revolutionary War’s first shots rang out in April 1775. The town celebrates this event with its annual Patriot Days Celebration, which starts with someone in a Paul Revere costume riding a horse through the neighborhood at 6 a.m. Later in the day, everyone heads down the hill to the Battle Green to watch a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington performed by people in elaborate period costumes. And as you might have guessed, any neighborhood with this much history is bound to have a couple of quirks. “Merriam Hill has two Rs,” Fleming says, pointing out something only a person familiar with the neighborhood would know. “Meriam Street only has one.”