A Triple-Decker For The 21st Century: Airtight And Solar-Powered

Two triple-deckers that were recently renovated with energy efficiency in mind on Stanton Street in Worcester. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Standing in front of her three-level house in Somerville, Lena Sheehan looks down at the construction of a new high school and transportation hub just a block away.

“I can’t get over it, I haven’t been here in so long,” she says. “This is the new T — isn’t that brilliant, right beside the house.”

After immigrating from Ireland in the early 90s, Sheehan and her husband bought this property on School Street in 1998 against the advice of friends.

“It was a crazy idea really, because Somerville wasn’t the place it is now,” she says. “We were very young and naive; it was such a big risk.”

Then one day, she saw a good omen. Her husband found an album of old Irish music a previous tenant had left behind, and played her a song about his tiny home village.

“It’s not a very nice song,” she says, laughing and humming the tune. “But he played it and the two of us were dancing around in the living room. And we were laughing. And I remember thinking, OK, that has to be a good sign — maybe this wasn’t a terrible mistake after all.”

Their bet on the house paid off. The city started to gentrify, and three decades of rent from the three-story building allowed them to buy two more rental properties, and their family home in Newton.

Read the rest of the story at WBUR’s website.