Magnificent home ready for you on the Flat of Beacon Hill
Charles River Square, built in 1910 on the Flat of Beacon Hill from a Georgian Revival design by Frank R. Bourne, was modeled on English residential squares that wrap uniformly built rowhouses around a central court as a unified statement of elegant, reposeful solidarity in residential life. Which explains why a first glance at the largely selfsame brick rowhouses of this U-shaped cul-de-sac might make you think it’s all the same inside as well.
However, 20 Charles River Square tells a different story – as in, different from the typical floor plan of this style of home.
For starters, this 2,984-square-foot townhouse retains its single-family status, unlike many of the other Beacon Hill and Back Bay rowhouses that have been cut up/carved into condos.
Another difference greets guests as they enter, inviting them into the parlor/library to hang their coats in its built-in armoire and then sit and make themselves at home amid the classic fireplace, illuminated book/display shelves, and grasscloth wallcovering. No more scrounging in the hall to find the coat closet and scurrying to find a place to sit.
Just down the entry hall is another deviation from the norm: a full-sized kitchen right off the hall (not tucked in the back of the house) that lets you start dinner right when you come home. Well-equipped for that task are a GE Spacemaker II microwave and Jenn-Air wall oven, a Sub-Zero refrigerator with a bottom freezer drawer and a three-sided running counter incorporating an Asko dishwasher. There’s also a deep sink with a retractable faucet and hot water spigot, a Wolf four-burner gas cooktop and a rare second fridge.
Another kitchen rarity is the brass-chrome rack that runs all along the counter’s edge, letting you hang and use dishtowels and washcloths wherever you happen to be. A white subway tile backsplash adds grace to most of the counter space.
A swing door connects the kitchen to a formal dining room with an uncommon “star” ceiling light (in lieu of the standard chandelier), a classic fireplace, paneled wainscoting, crown molding and plantation shutters on all four windows.
Unlike most townhouses, the living room is upstairs, boasting an anomaly in Charles River Square: three French windows sharing a Juliet balcony offering radiant northern exposure and a stunning view of the square’s verdant trees and shrubs.
Other enrichments include a classic fireplace with pilasters, paneled wainscoting, crown molding and space in the rear for an informal dining or gaming table.
Off the living room is an alternative to the average powder room in the hall: a full bath with an old-fashioned iron clawfoot tub with a phone-cradle hand-held shower head. Complementing its Victorian character are a honeycomb tile floor, a square pedestal sink and a crystal chandelier.
The rear carpeted family room with a fireplace and plantation shutters has a rarity of its own: double crown molding with a running slot for picture-hanging.
The living room’s open stairway ascends to a full-floor primary bedroom suite with a most unusual feature: a pathway from the skylit stair hall through the carpeted bedroom, en suite bath, walk-in closet, carpeted office/nursery and back to the hallway. This allows for convenient morning navigation from bed to bath to dressing to work. It also gives you a choice of entry from either end: at the office to go to work or at the bedroom to go to sleep.
The walk-in closet of built-ins proceeds from the office/nursery entry into the bath, which adorns your daily routine in an unusually tasteful way: with a bowed vanity with brass oval sinks and gooseneck faucets that rise out of arched piping structures connecting old-fashioned “turnstile” handles that read ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ in French: ‘CHAUD’ and ‘FROID.’
The shower is refined with subway-tiled wainscoting and brass fixed and hand-held shower heads, bar and soap basket.
Also unique for a bath are the dressing areas with built-in drawers and coatracks (one has brass belt hooks) on either side of the vanity for dressing right after showering if you’re on the go.
The palatial primary bedroom is brightened by three windows that let you wake to the beauty of the square, wallpapered in white and gray vertical stripes, embellished with Beaux Arts sconces with shield shades and mirrors framed in gilded scroll/leaf motifs.
The fireplace’s medieval-style stone mantel is carved with an elliptical arch and bulging pilasters with abstractions of shields.
Yet another stairway ascends to yet another specialty: a private roof deck for soaking up the sun over cocktails, coffee or al fresco dining. Evergreen shrubs in planters enhance the occasion as do views of the Charles River, Beacon Hill rooftops and the string of white classical balustrades and brick posts that unify the square’s crescent of rowhouses.
Just as special is the garden-level bedroom suite with a separate entrance from Revere Street. The mudroom opens to a sizable carpeted bedroom with a corner closet, a tray ceiling and two windows.
The bedroom connects to a full bath with a hexagon-patterned tile floor, a subway-tiled shower and a pedestal sink. A closeted hall with a checkered tile floor laid on the diagonal links the bedroom to a full laundry center with Maytag washer and dryer and a corner shelf unit with an L-shaped sorting counter.
Parking your car at this home is easy – there’s a deeded space right in front of the building.
Offered at $4.1 million, 20 Charles River Square offers an out-of-the-ordinary living experience in a time-tested tradition of English elegance.
For more information, contact Rebecca Davis Tulman or Leslie Singleton Adam, both of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, at 617-510-5050, 617-901-3664 or BeckyandLeslie@GibsonSIR.com.
Address: 20 Charles River Square, Beacon Hill
BR/BA: Three bedrooms, three full bathrooms
Size: 2,984 square feet
Housing type: Single-family townhouse
Price: $4.1 million
HOA fee: $1,000/year for landscaping, plowing and other maintenance of common court
Taxes: $42,145.85/year (Tax Year 2022)
Parking: One deeded parking space in front of property
Year built: 1910
Number of stories: Four
Features: High ceilings, hardwood floors, recessed and track lighting, two-zone central heating and air-conditioning, five fireplaces, reception parlor/library with built-in armoire, chef’s kitchen with gas cooking and stainless appliances, second-floor living room with French windows and Juliet balcony, bath with iron clawfoot tub, carpeted family room, whole-floor primary bedroom suite with spa bath and office/nursery, private roof deck, carpeted garden-level suite with separate entrance, in-house laundry with storage
Close by: Shopping and dining; schools; places of worship; parks including the Boston Common, Public Garden and Esplanade; public transit; hospitals; 5-to-10-minute walks to Downtown Crossing, Theatre District and Financial District
Contact: Rebecca Davis Tulman or Leslie Singleton Adam, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty
Phone: 617-510-5050 (Rebecca), 617-901-3664 (Leslie)