This five-story 3,850-square-foot Victorian rowhouse greets you with well-preserved historical details and views of historic Beacon Hill from front and rear windows.

At 160 Mt. Vernon St., history is on your doorstep in more ways than one.

This five-story 3,850-square-foot Victorian rowhouse greets you with well-preserved historical details and views of historic Beacon Hill from front and rear windows.

It also abuts former residences of two prominent Bostonians: historian Samuel Eliot Morison, whose grandfather built 156-160 Mt. Vernon in 1871-72 as income properties beside their Brimmer Street house, and Mayor Kevin White, who lived at No. 158 until his death in 2012. No. 160 has its own claim to fame as a home of Thalassa Cruso, hostess of the old PBS gardening and household-advice shows Making Things Grow and Making Things Work.

Its present owners made many things grow and work in their 34 years there. They created a backyard garden that has been on the Beacon Hill Garden Tour. They also offer a much-coveted rarity: private off-street parking. They renovated the garden level for office, family room, workshop and laundry use. They underpinned the foundations in cement. They updated the kitchen with granite counter space, classic cabinetry and stainless appliances. They built a full-roof deck where Boston’s architectural history from the gold dome to the glass skyscraper unfolds before your eyes.

The house’s brick façade, carved brownstone lintels, slate mansard roof, oriel window and paneled vestibule provide a stately introduction to the salmon-colored parlor that greets guests with unusually warm intimacy for a reception hall.

An arched marble fireplace carved with a scrolled keystone, a sitting area by the fire and a windowed alcove are unified by a double crown molding and paneled wainscoting.

These elements continue through the central dining room and rear kitchen with open-concept continuity rare for Beacon Hill, but relevant for today.

The dining room is distinguished with an elliptical-arch entry and yellow-striped wallcovering. For cocktail convenience, the owners inserted a dry bar and floor-level cabinet under the classic staircase. Beside it they squeezed in a florally wallpapered powder room featuring a marble vanity with a scalloped sink.

A folding pocket door introduces the kitchen that preserves a marble mantel and is compatibly updated with paneled white cabinetry, a Fisher & Paykel refrigerator and a desk unit with cookbook shelves. A polished granite counter incorporates a sink with a retractable faucet, a Jenn-Air dishwasher, a Wolf four-burner gas cooktop and two Jenn-Air ovens.

A pleasant garden view enhances the “country kitchen” atmosphere.

The stairs by the kitchen entry descends to an office/family room, containing all you need for working and unwinding. A running corner desk incorporates drawers, ceiling-height bookcases and a garden window. A smaller workstation by the stairs can be an entertainment center. The central brick fireplace can be fueled with firewood stored in the outdoor brick shed by the garden gate, an Art Nouveau cast-iron sculpture of curling and spiraling “vines.”

From here, a scrolled cast-iron rail descends to a cozy sunken brick patio by a wood-plank wall with vine-growing trellis.

A two-level diagonal-plank deck offers a “perch” for coffee or cocktails. The main herringbone-brick terrace, bordered by fern and evergreen planters with serpentine brick edges and wooden walls supporting lush greenery, is a peaceful urban oasis.

“It’s very silent here,” said listing agent Sally Brewster. “Though it’s in the middle of the city, it’s like being in the country.”

A sliding barn door, memorializing the “horsey neighborhood” Morison grew up in before the advent of the auto and electric trolley, opens to Lime Street – ready to receive your car or garden-tour guests.

A multi-closeted hallway with a cedar closet connects the office/family room to a workshop with workbench, vise and arts-and-crafts table. The full bath is handy for an au pair.

The unusually comprehensive laundry center has a soaking sink with a gooseneck faucet and a Maytag washer and dryer under a sorting counter. An au pair-friendly separate entrance from Mt. Vernon Street serves this level.

The parlor’s wainscoting and crown molding proceed up the main stairs to continue the elegance on the second floor. The hall-accessible master bath has a pink marble two-sink vanity, a tiled shower, floral hunter-green wallpaper and a linen closet.

The south-facing master bedroom boasts a triple crown molding, pale green walls, a marble fireplace carved with rosettes and an ornamental keystone, and cabinet units with picture niches facing each other across the entry.

The bay window grandly expands the front living room’s space and light as a broad, bright sitting area framing the Church of the Advent’s majestic Gothic spire, the neighborhood of historic brick rowhouses, and occasional lines of children from the Advent School.

A fireplace with a paneled marble mantel, a double crown molding with curved frieze and high bookcases complete the refinement.

The upstairs suites have similar elements of elegance in both bed and bath. The southern pale green bedroom’s galley bath is appointed in green marble, echoing the garden’s serenity. The pale blue northern bedroom’s bath reprises the parlor and kitchen’s salmon walls.

The mansard roof’s quirky wall angles and high ceilings give the top-floor bedrooms a more casual studio atmosphere, aided by the southern bedroom’s parquet floor, track lighting and skylight. A cedar closet and a sky-lit full bath serve both bedrooms.

A sky-lit stairway accesses the roof deck, where a picturesque panorama encompasses Beacon Hill’s regiment of brick chimneys and slate roofs marching up to the golden State House dome, the Financial District’s skyscrapers soaring above the fray and the glistening waters of the Charles River flowing past MIT and Cambridge.

The view signifies how central the house’s location is to Boston’s best – a block and a bridge to the Esplanade’s Hatch Shell for concerts and 4th of July fireworks, brisk walks to the Boston Common and Public Garden, and antique shopping and fine dining along Charles Street, to name a few.

Offered at $6.25 million, 160 Mt. Vernon St. has passed history’s test and grown over time to serve a growing family in the modern age.

For a private showing, contact Sally Brewster of Brewster & Berkowitz at 617-869-3443, 617-367-0505 or


- McIntyre, A. McVoy. Beacon Hill: A Walking Tour. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1975.

- Morison, Samuel Eliot. One Boy’s Boston: 1887-1901. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962.