Back Bay townhouse offers size, beauty and grace on Beacon Street

Cherry wood paneling, bookcases and trim lend a feeling of calm to the living room.

Ever since it was built c.1869 as one of a row of 10 French Academic residences designed by Frederick B. Pope, 385 Beacon St. has boldly bucked two trends in Back Bay rowhouse rehab: condo conversion and total makeover.

Not only has this 5,165-square-foot, four-bedroom townhouse always been a single-family home, but its recent renovation has so carefully preserved and added historical detail that one hardly notices the state-of-the-art elevator, utilities, radiant-heated bathroom floors, sprinkler/alarm system, surround sound, automatic window shades and other smart-home high-tech lurking behind the lavishness. It lets you live like the Victorians and the Millennials simultaneously.

The Victorian elements, old and new, certainly catch the eye first. The original two-inch black walnut double door has carved panels. The vestibule is wallpapered in a Paisley pattern and the foyer displays paneled wainscoting, a new turned-baluster stairway with twirling mahogany rail, crystal/bronze double sconces and one of 12 period plaster medallions dangling ornate bronze chandeliers with crystal-glass festoons, bead-strings and pendant drops.

The faux damask wallcovering continues up and down the stairwell into each floor’s landing hall. The quarter-sawn oak flooring permeates most rooms.

Fluted Doric columns cordially introduce the front reception area, which features one of seven preserved Carrara marble mantels retrofit with gas-flame fireplaces. A half-bay window expands the space and light.

The hall’s left-hand powder room features a radiant-heated herringbone marble tile floor. A paneled walnut door modeled on the originals cleverly conceals the elevator, which has paneled wainscoting, beige cloth wallcovering and a touch-tone Trimline wall phone.

The pantry has a green granite dry bar, classic paneled cabinetry and one of several digital wall consoles for setting the temperature, lighting, shades and Sonos sound through an integrated controller.

Green granite counters and paneled cabinetry also dominate the kitchen, which features a central island counter with angled corner sink, a fireplace, a white tile backsplash of rosette reliefs, a Wolf eight-burner stainless steel gas range with keystone-arched hood vent and a cabinet-concealed Sub-Zero refrigerator.

A closet is outfitted for a standing desk with shelves and power to support a computer workstation. The rear bay window creates a sunny breakfast space overlooking the rear garden and herringbone-brick parking plaza.

The garden level’s deluxe home gym has a granite refreshment station with a Sub-Zero fridge. The laundry’s Maytag washer and dryer are below a granite sorting counter.

The hall widens into a sitting/workstation area before introducing the bedroom/family room, tastefully appointed with a classic cabinet.

The chandelier-lit half-bay sitting area looks onto the front garden where boxwoods, hostas, yews and seasonal flowers pleasantly surround an imported Italian pedestal planter.

The stylishly wallpapered bath features a granite vanity and a subway-tiled shower with granite bench.

A mudroom hall exits to the sunken English garden of boxwoods, roses and ornamental grasses surrounding a bench and a gravel walkway with sea-stones and seashells. A hydraulic ice-melting system thaws the granite steps, the herringbone-brick walk and the two-car parking space in the winter.

The second floor preserves its Victorian piano nobile tradition with a gracious front living room and rear dining room with carved marble mantels, bay-window light, chandeliers, soaring ceilings with moldings (squared off at the corners to allow for LED recessed lighting) and original paneled walnut double doors.

Cherry wood paneling, bookcases and trim lend somber calm to the living room, which conceals a Sub-Zero wine cooler in a built-in for instant drinks.

The dining room is dressed for dinner with green ragged wall treatments, gilded picture-frame moldings, marbleized wainscoting and classic china cabinets on bowed chests of drawers flanking a fireplace.

Flanking the original double-door entry are two pantries - one is a butler’s pantry with marble counter, sink and Bosch dishwasher for quicker cleanup after dinner.

The powder room off the central landing boasts a marble/mahogany vanity, a picture-framed beveled mirror and a polychrome green onyx tiled floor laid on the diagonal.

The master suite occupies the entire third floor. The front master bedroom is embellished to the hilt with flowery-leafy wallpaper, crystal/bronze chandelier, ceiling with multiple moldings, fireplace and bay-window sitting area.

Flanking the double-door entry from the chandeliered central hall are walk-in closets - one wallpapered in impressions of 19th-century letters and stamped envelopes, the other in images of vintage wine labels.

Oversized dressing closets handily precede the master bath’s diagonally laid marble tile floor with radiant heating. This introduces the granite-ledged soaking tub in the pompon-swagged rear bay, the water closet and marble subway-tiled shower with marble honeycomb floors, and the long granite twin-sink vanity with paneled cabinetry and sconce-flanked picture-framed mirrors.

On the top floor, the staircase lands at a skylight. The front bedroom treats guests to hotel elegance with a marble fireplace flanked by classic arched bookcases with white onyx counters, wallcovering striped in shades of beige, a bay-window sitting area and a ceiling medallion dangling a graceful bowl chandelier with a carousel of crystal festoons and pendant drops.

Cherry trim and moldings, fireplace-flanking cherry cabinets with diagonal mesh screens and black onyx shelves, and wallpaper images of historic maps lend a scholarly ambiance to the rear bedroom/office. Its arched door to the old servants’ stair (removed) now opens to a closet. Adjacent is a full bath with white onyx floor, honey onyx subway-tiled shower, and black onyx vanity and shower bench.

A motorized glass hatch opens to the roof deck, where a grand sweep of Boston, the Charles River and Cambridge can be enjoyed from the parquet floor of raised ipe wood decking. Water and gas connections are available for irrigation and BBQ. All-season speakers are up here, too.

Offered at $7.9 million, 385 Beacon St. seamlessly blends history with high-tech for optimum luxury and comfort.

For a private showing, contact Tracy Campion of Campion and Company at 617-236-0711 or

Address: 385 Beacon St., Back Bay

BR/BA: Four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two half baths

Size: 5,165 square feet

Price: $7.9 million

Taxes: $53,534 (Tax Year 2019)

Configuration: Attached single-family townhouse

Year built: c.1869

Features: High ceilings; quarter-sawn oak floors; multi-zone central air and heating; seven gas-retrofit fireplaces; stainless appliances and gas cooking in renovated kitchen; floor-through master suite with full bath and walk-in closets; motorized glass hatch to roofdeck with all-season speakers; two-car parking on radiant-heated rear plaza; elevator to all floors; sprinkler/alarm system; integrated controller for lights, shades, thermostats and Sonos sound system with two in-ceiling speakers in each room and four additional integrated speakers for TV sets; integrated monitoring for fire, smoke, water, glass breakage, carbon monoxide and low temperature; full-home alarm system in all doors and accessible windows

Close by: Houses of worship; shopping and dining; Boston Public Library; parks on Copley Square and Esplanade; Charles River boating; public transit on Green and Orange lines, buses, Commuter Rail and Amtrak

Contact: Tracy Campion of Campion and Company

Phone: 617-236-0711