Built in 1913 as Jordan Marsh & Company's stable for horses that delivered and transported goods for that department store (now Macy's in Downtown Crossing), this five-story brick structure was rechristened Jordan Lofts for its 2016 residential-commercial renovation by Hacin + Associates and The Holland Companies of the South End.
Who would have thought that a livery stable for horses on demand could become a living situation for demanding homebuyers?
The architect across the street, that’s who.
Ever the trailblazer of adaptive reuse of historic structures in history-honoring ways, David Hacin envisioned a horse of a different color within 481 Harrison Ave.’s high ceilings, open floor plans, oversized windows, and space-giving angled front wall from the window of his South End office.
Built in 1913 as Jordan Marsh & Company’s stable for horses that delivered and transported goods for that department store (now Macy’s in Downtown Crossing), this five-story brick structure was rechristened Jordan Lofts for its 2016 residential-commercial renovation by Hacin + Associates and The Holland Companies of the South End.
It now meets neighborhood standards for light-filled, clean-lined, open-concept loft living amid relics of the building’s “hay day.”
Exemplifying these qualities is Unit 5A – the only Jordan Lofts unit that takes advantage of the southeastern arched window trio and 11.5-foot ceilings for extra light, lofty soar and historical aura throughout its floor plan. In fact, each window defines one spatial function: the living room, the dining-kitchen area and the master bedroom.
And the front wall’s angle, paralleling the slant of Harrison Avenue, forms the unit into a trapezoid that yields each function’s required space. Thus, the widest end accommodates two bedrooms, a study and two full baths. The middle section has floor-through dining-kitchen space fit for an expandable table; and the narrowest end compacts the living room with the diminished vestibule, foyer, laundry, pantry and powder room.
Hacin’s smart space-planning is evident upon entering the small square vestibule and handily finding a left-hand closeted foyer and a right-hand powder room that establishes the unit’s grayscale palette with a dark gray honeycomb-tiled floor, medium-gray walls, a light gray laminate sink and black subway-tile wainscoting.
Crossing the foyer is a convenient cross-route along the laundry/refrigerator corridor at right and the passage between the kitchen counters at left for come-home-and-eat convenience.
The laundry has a honeycomb-tile floor and a side-by-side washer and dryer under a sorting counter. A folding door opens to an L-shaped pantry that can accommodate a second refrigerator.
An arched window beckons you out of these small spaces into the sun and soar of the living room.
“All windows are UV-treated, so it’s safe for artwork,” said listing agent Sarah Glovsky of The Charles Realty. “The windows are operable and they have two kinds of automatic blinds: sheer, to cut glare, but let in light, and blackout, for sleep.”
Contrasting the historical character of the light gray-painted exposed brick wall that runs along all windows is a contemporary medium-gray-tiled gas-powered fireplace with a row of flames leaping out of a bed of sea stones next to a white built-in bookcase.
A speckled-gray laminate peninsular bar juts out of a square column, openly separating the living room from the dining room.
“The owner wanted open space, yet wanted to delineate between the dining and living rooms,” said Glovsky.
A contemporary chandelier of clear globe lights, interconnected by a tensile web of black iron rods, defines the dining area. A speckled-gray waterfall island counter with bar seating, a Bosch dishwasher, a stainless sink and a gooseneck faucet sets off the open kitchen. A light grayscale subway-tile backsplash backdrops the Wolf four-burner gas range. White cabinets are above while dark gray cabinetry conceals trash and recycling receptacles, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, two freezer drawers and a pantry cabinet for a microwave.
Off of the kitchen are the study and second bedroom. The study boasts a deluxe woodgrain laminate built-in office unit running along two walls, complete with an L-shaped desk, drawers, a wall area for note-posting, plentiful cabinetry and an overhead bookcase.
Medium-gray walls create a somber setting for study. For a breather, a slider opens to a small balcony with a refreshing view of Peters Park.
The second bedroom shares that view with the John Hancock Tower in the background. The en suite bath with a full tub/shower reprises the powder room’s honeycomb floor, contrasted with white subway-tile walls.
Tipping the hat to the building’s horse-history is a double barn-door slider with a tubular black wrought-iron handle, opening to the master bedroom from the dining room. The bedroom’s southeastern exposure wakes you to a pleasant sunrise, intensified by the light gray wall treatment.
Contemporary needs are well served by a full wall of cabinets plus an alcoved woodgrain laminate bookcase/drawer/counter-display unit. Adjacent is a walk-in closet of built-ins. On the other side of the king-size bed area is the master bath with variegated honeycomb-tile floors, a roomy standup shower with hand-held and fixed showerheads, and a white laminate vanity with twin sinks.
The concierge-staffed lobby references the building’s stable-stage with a wrought-iron-studded timber-beamed ceiling, a stable-like wooden semi-wall, a black iron mesh infill and a re-creation of a “JORDAN MARSH & CO. Stables & Delivery” sign painted on the brick.
Outside is a neighborhood where you’ll really feel your oats: the SoWa Art + Design District of galleries and open artists’ studios, which have produced commissioned art that hangs in Jordan Lofts’ common areas. International restaurants and cafés are aplenty as well, along with recreational space in Peters Park and Rotch Playground.
“We love the fact that it is a small ‘boutique’ building, with only 12 residential units, and respectful of its historic origins,” a Jordan Lofts resident reported to Hacin + Associates’ H+ Design Culture magazine. “It’s great to be in such a thriving, artistic part of the city.”
Offered at $3,695,000, Unit 5A at 481 Harrison Ave. may be viewed by contacting Sarah Glovsky or Jean French at 617-236-0353 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cyrus Dahmubed, “Reinvention” A New South End Story,” H+ Design Culture, Issue No. 5 (Boston: Hacin + Associates, 2017), pp. 78-91.
- “Jordan Lofts,” Hacin + Associates [website], www.hacin.com/portfolio/jordan-lofts