Enjoy the best of city living in this Back Bay beauty

TODD LARSON
CORRESPONDENT

If a condo that feels like a walk-in closet isn’t worth your life savings to you, just take a stroll through Unit 1 at 304 Beacon St. in the Back Bay to see how a thoughtfully preserved, renovated and expanded duplex will give you your money’s worth - and then some.

Built in 1871-1872 from a French Academic design by Charles K. Kirby as one of two symmetrically attached mansard brownstones, 304 Beacon St. was initially inhabited as a townhouse by Caroline Twombly, widow of shipping merchant Alexander Hamilton Twombly. Their son Hamilton served as financial advisor to New York Central Railroad President William Henry Vanderbilt and married his daughter, Florence Adele Vanderbilt.

The townhouse’s Vanderbilt-worthy grandeur enabled its condo conversion to give Unit 1 a bounty of bonuses spread over two floor-through levels of living. These include three bedrooms with en suite baths, a great room with a fireplace and 11½-foot ceiling, a granite kitchen, a 1,000-square-foot deck descending to a garden-level patio, a garage with two-car tandem parking and unit entry, and an elegant foyer with direct entry from the paneled common lobby.

And, yes, walk-in closets to boot: a primary-suite WIC, a kitchen pantry and a full laundry center with far-above-the-norm shelf storage.

Sounds like a single-family, no?

It certainly feels like one the moment your foyer greets you with multiple choices of space: the front bedroom suite, the stairway down to the primary and secondary suites, and the hall to the kitchen, great room and deck. The front bedroom can be an office and is formally dressed for that use with paneled walls, fluted pilasters, crown moldings, a wood burning fireplace with a classic mantel finished to resemble bird’s-eye maple and a deep window bay providing ample light for a workstation.

The en suite bath features a full shower and an oval pedestal sink.

The foyer’s arch gracefully introduces the chef’s kitchen before the great room in case you come home hungry or thirsty. Its Antico White granite counter with a backsplash neatly arranges the cherry-stained paneled cabinetry, Bosch dishwasher and GE Profile refrigerator, the stainless GE Profile microwave and oven with a five-burner gas cooktop as well as the L-shaped peninsular bar with stainless sink all in a square for optimum cooking, service and cleanup convenience. A granite wet bar with beverage cooler and china cabinetry is right there for quicker cocktail preparation. On the left is the walk-in pantry.

The kitchen serves as a gracious gateway to the great room, lowering its ceiling to make the great room’s 11½-foot height seem more awesome by comparison. The wood burning fireplace, framed by a classic mantel with fluted Doric column pairs and oval sunburst medallions, is flanked by alcoves – suitable for highboys, entertainment centers or art displays. Paneled walls, deep-cove crown moldings, crisscross parquet floor borders and a multipaned bay window extend the classicism around the periphery.

The bay window’s French door opens to the mahogany deck. Called “the backyard” by the unit’s current owners, it is a vast gathering space for banquet-sized al fresco dining and July 4th fireworks gazing amid a breathtaking panorama of the Esplanade, the Lagoon, the Charles River and Cambridge with room to spare for a fire pit, gas grill, outdoor living-room furniture, planters and more. For cozier, more private moments, a stairway descends to a Beacon Hill-style brick patio.

For private moments indoors, the stairs from the foyer descends to a central art-display hall that readily connects to the bath of each remaining bedroom suite. The secondary bedroom’s bath, featuring a granite vanity and a tumbled-tile shower, precedes a cozy bedroom tucked into the building’s deep window bay for just enough morning light. A narrow bookcase, drawer unit or wardrobe can be tucked into the alcove beside the king-size bed area. On its opposite side is a framed shelf niche for bookshelves, art displays, electronics, etc.

The primary suite’s bath is tastefully appointed with a black granite vanity, a white-veined black marble shower and Siena tile wainscoting with black marble square and diamond accents to match the shower. Across the suite’s entry hall is a walk-in closet replete with classic built-ins for two growing wardrobes.

The primary bedroom features a decorative remnant of its original use as Mrs. Twombly’s kitchen: a cast-iron Model 50 stove by Walker & Pratt Manufacturing Co. of Boston built into a brick flue - just like the stove that was installed in Peacefield, the Quincy estate of the family of John Adams and John Quincy Adams between 1848 and 1850.

Flanking the stove are built-in paneled cabinets – one with entertainment-center shelves.

Across the room is copious wall space for a king-size bed and two sizable nightstands. The rear bay window with raised ceiling yields a quiet, sunny sitting area looking out to the patio.

A French door in the bay accesses the long, roomy laundry center with Samsung stacked washer/dryer, sorting counter, generous shelving, bonus refrigerator, tiled floor and garage access. This also makes the space a good mudroom for direct entry to bed from your car – the ultimate “walk-in” closet! To extend your privacy back outside, the laundry room accesses the patio, another connection to the garage.

Offered at $3.2 million, Unit 1 at 304 Beacon St. invites you to come out of the closet and live like the Vanderbilts and Adamses on a scale most condos can’t offer.

For more information, contact Robb Cohen at 617-962-0142 or robb.cohen@engelvoelkers.com, or Scott Paskerian at 617-678-8603 or scott.paskerian@evrealestate.com, both of the Engel & Völkers Robb Cohen Team.

SOURCES:

- “304 Beacon,” BackBayHouses.org, https://backbayhouses.org/304-beacon

- BrianK, “Huge old kitchen stove - help ID?”, Non-EPA Woodstoves and Fireplaces, Firewood Hoarders Club, July 17, 2018, https://firewoodhoardersclub.com/forums/threads/huge-old-kitchen-stove-help-id.29221/ - post-847731

- “Hamilton McKown Twombly,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_McKown_Twombly

- Steger, Martha, “The Adams Residence: Getting Presidential in Quincy,” American Lifestyle, Sept. 2012, p. 22, http://www.searchlawrence.com/magazine/magazine-sept-2012.pdf

- Steinhart, Jim, “Peacefield, Home of John Adams & John Quincy Adams, Quincy, Photos,” Travel Photo Base World Image Collection, 2011, http://travelphotobase.com/u/MA/MAQP.HTM

Built in 1871-1872 from a French Academic design by Charles K. Kirby as one of two symmetrically attached mansard brownstones, 304 Beacon St. was initially inhabited as a townhouse by Caroline Twombly, widow of shipping merchant Alexander Hamilton Twombly.

DETAILS:

Address: 304 Beacon St., Unit 1, Back Bay

BR/BA: Three bedrooms, three full bathrooms

Size: 2,082 square feet

Housing type: Duplex condominium

Price: $3.2 million

Condo fee: $843/month

Taxes: $18,071 (Tax Year 2020)

Parking: Two deeded garage parking spaces

Year built: 1871-1872, renovated 1915, 1962, 1979 and 2009

Number of units: Four

Features: Floor-through layout, high ceilings, recessed lighting, parquet and mahogany floors, updated two-zone heating and air conditioning, two wood burning fireplaces, granite kitchen with gas cooking and wet bar, primary suite with walk-in closet and bath with marble shower, in-house laundry, generous storage, security system, intercom, 1,000-square-foot deck overlooking Charles River.

Building amenities: Rubber roof; pets negotiable; condo fee includes heat, hot water, water and sewer, master insurance, exterior maintenance, landscaping, snow removal, extra storage and reserve funds.

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

Contact: Robb Cohen or Scott Paskerian of Engel & Volkers’ Robb Cohen Team

Phone: 617-962-0142 or 617-678-8603

Email: robb.cohen@evrealestate.com or scott.paskerian@evrealestate.com

Website: www.robbcohen.com/SearchDetails.cfm/MLS/72737854/Details

Virtual tour: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=rXVELAgrSiS

 

This mahogany deck is a vast gathering space for banquet-sized al fresco dining and July 4th fireworks gazing amid a breathtaking panorama of the Esplanade, the Lagoon, the Charles River and Cambridge with room to spare for a fire pit, gas grill, outdoor living-room furniture, planters and more.

 

The wood burning fireplace in the great room is framed by a classic mantel with fluted Doric column pairs and oval sunburst medallions and is flanked by alcoves - suitable for highboys, entertainment centers or art displays. Paneled walls, deep-cove crown moldings, crisscross parquet floor borders and a multipaned bay window extend the classicism around the periphery.