Laid out in 1823 as a path for coachmen who went home there after conveying affluent locals by horse and carriage, it is often called “America's most photographed street” for the time-travel antiquity tourists. And, kudos to its near-axial symmetry with 6 West Cedar, the 1827 rowhouse's Federal-style brick fašade with fanlight transom entrance, black louver shutters and granite foundation lands front and center in many of those shots and selfies, completing Acorn's Olde Boston iconography to a T.
In our age of gut-rehab, modernization and there-goes-the-neighborhood, it’s refreshing to find an old home as immaculately preserved inside and out as 6 West Cedar St. on Beacon Hill - from the wood burning fireplaces and crown moldings to the brick sidewalks and cobblestoned approach.
Which means a parting of the shutters in the study, a drawing of the curtains in the library and a raising of the shades in the front bedrooms to reveal a direct view up Acorn Street, Boston’s only remaining all-cobblestone lane.
Laid out in 1823 as a path for coachmen who went home there after conveying affluent locals by horse and carriage, it is often called “America’s most photographed street” for the time-travel antiquity tourists. And, kudos to its near-axial symmetry with 6 West Cedar, the 1827 rowhouse’s Federal-style brick façade with fanlight transom entrance, black louver shutters and granite foundation lands front and center in many of those shots and selfies, completing Acorn’s Olde Boston iconography to a T.
But the tourism won’t quell your peace and quiet at home. The house’s rear garden offers both a tranquil respite from the urban hubbub and rear access to narrow, traffic-free Cedar Lane Way as an out-of-the-way route to shopping on Charles Street or parking in the Brimmer Street and Boston Common garages.
And something else is hidden from the public eye: the home’s modest scale belies 3,895 square feet of living, entertaining and storage space extending over five floors. Which means its historic preservation does not compromise its millennial livability.
Even the brass pull-bell still works, initiating a classic Beacon Hill welcome: from the vestibule with coat hooks, a paneled door with a brass knocker, fanlight transom and sidelights opens to a marble-floored foyer from which a rod-baluster staircase gracefully curves past an arched display niche to the bedroom levels.
At the left is the study, bedecked in Beacon Hill propriety with maroon grass cloth wall covering, a wood burning fireplace flanked by twin Tuscan columns and built-in bookcases, and the shuttered triple windows framing the view of Acorn Street.
A passage from the study to the living room consolidates many amenities. A wet bar, complete with a brass sink, dishwasher, fridge and mirror backsplash, is ready for entertaining. Facing this is a closet with automatic light and a powder room with oriental wallpaper.
The living room features a fireplace with sunburst oval reliefs and two French windows opening to a balcony with a pleasant view of the garden, which is accessed from a spiral staircase.
The garden-level eat-in kitchen below features a built-in breakfast bench with decorative brass knobs and a C-shaped counter complex incorporating all appliances, including a GE four-burner electric range with upper and lower ovens, plus two stainless steel counters. The Maytag refrigerator has a water/ice dispenser.
Space is economized imaginatively: the insides of the pantry closet’s doors have spice shelves, stepped wine-bottle cubbies parallel a flue’s stepped brickwork and a half bath combines with a laundry room.
An oak parquet floor descends from the kitchen to the sunken dining room, dressed for dinner with a brass chandelier, a bowfront tableware cabinet with a buffet counter, a wall of closets and a garden-view bow window with a bench that can also be used as a buffet counter.
The dining room’s garden access allows for al fresco dining and bringing groceries straight into the kitchen from the garden’s rear entrance. Bountiful trees and vines grow tall from serpentine brick planters, making the brick-walled garden a calming oasis for dinners and cocktails as well as a frequent stop on the Beacon Hill Garden Club’s annual tours of the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill.
In the closeted passage from the kitchen to dining room, another door with attached spice shelves accesses the full basement, where a workbench with a pegboard is handy.
The foyer stairway ascends to the primary bedroom suite, which comprises a carpeted rear bedroom, a carpeted front library that can be a nursery or guestroom and a Jack-and-Jill bath serving both spaces. They have fireplaces and their green grass cloth wall coverings complement the garden’s greenery. Bookcases flank the boudoir’s bed area and its facing wall has four closets. The bath has two sinks, a mirror-backed medicine cabinet and a tub/shower combo with brass fixtures.
The library has a wall of bookcases and a double-door closet.
Upstairs are two more bedrooms with en suite baths; one has a towel-warming rack. Both bedrooms have fireplaces, generous built-in storage and oak parquet floors laid on the diagonal. In the front bedroom, bookcases flank the bed area. Closets with floor-level storage flank the facing fireplace.
The rear bedroom’s comprehensive view encompasses the garden, Beacon Hill rooftops, the spire of the Church of the Advent and the Prudential Tower in the Back Bay.
This view is reprised in the sunny top-floor rear bedroom, which boasts a cast-iron “Franklin stove” fireplace. Closets with foot-level storage flank the bed area here.
The en suite bath has a large skylight, a pedestal sink and a honeycomb-tile floor. The neighboring bedroom has track lighting and a door with roof access. Plantation shutters let in abundant light and open to a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the cobblestones and bricks.
Carefully preservation and creative configuration combine to make 6 West Cedar St. modest in scale, yet manorial in space.
Offered at $4.6 million, it may be viewed by contacting Sally Brewster of Brewster & Berkowitz Real Estate at 617-869-3443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Annear, Steve, “Acorn Street, ‘the most photographed street in the country,’ draws huge crowds — and that’s driving residents nuts,” The Boston Globe, October 16, 2019, https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/10/16/beacon-hill-acorn-street-called-most-photographed-street-country-and-crowds-are-driving-some-residents-nuts/AELhGBHDIaSxW62J0FhzlM/story.html
- Gordon, Edward W., “2-16 West Cedar Street,” Massachusetts Historical Commission Form G–Streetscape, Sept. 30, 2002.
- “Gould, Charles D. House,” Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), Inventory No. BOS.15174, http://mhc-macris.net/Details.aspx?MhcId=BOS.15174
- McIntyre, A. McVoy, Beacon Hill: A Walking Tour (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1975), pp. 65-66.
- Taylor, Glenda, “Historic Homes & More: Would You Recognize These 9 Iconic Streets Way Back When?”, Bob Vila, 2020, https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/would-you-recognize-these-9-iconic-streets-way-back-when-50680