Spectacular corner house on Beacon Hill ready for you

This spacious sunken living room with a 13-foot ceiling of exposed beams is worthy of a Medieval English baronial hall.

The modest-looking corner house at 79 West Cedar St. sports typical features of a Federal-era Beacon Hill residence: sash windows with black louver shutters, a gabled slate roof and prominent end chimneys. But its anomalous leaded-glass, diamond-paned casement windows and green vertical-plank oak doors with leaded-glass inset windows give away its true age – built in 1880 - while cluing you in to many more surprises inside.

In short, this 2,208-square-foot house feels bigger and brighter than it appears from the street, kudos to its 24 windows, three exposures and a 2015 renovation by Payne | Bouchier Fine Builders of Boston that maximizes its spatial potential.

What the tight brick façade particularly doesn’t reveal is your immediate downward entry into a spacious sunken living room with a 13-foot ceiling of exposed beams worthy of a Medieval English baronial hall.

“Payne | Bouchier scrubbed the beams to make them look lighter than the typical dark patina,” said listing agent Thom McGair of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “The eight beautifully placed leaded-glass windows let filtered light in, but preserve a lot of privacy on this floor.”

The entry stairway was reconfigured to run against the wall for more floor area.

Heightening the medieval effect are a bracket-cornered soapstone fireplace with a scroll-bracketed mantel shelf, patches of ceiling brickwork whitewashed “to make it a little more French-country,” and a pair of antique glass-blown ceiling lanterns. Their glass bulges beyond the iron frameworks to give the lanterns a bulbous appearance.

A second stairway ascends to a wood-railed overlook onto the living room, just off the street-level foyer of the second oak-door entrance from Phillips Street. For guest convenience, the foyer accesses a coat closet, followed by a powder room with a classic pedestal sink. A backdoor opens to an egress alley for storage of bikes and trash/recycling barrels.

The main stairway from the foyer was placed in the house’s northeastern corner to give each level more living space, but is brightened and ventilated by full-size windows as an uplifting alternative to the dark, musty stairwells of many old houses.

“You see the gas lanterns outside as you go up the stairwell,” said McGair. “It looks so Beacon Hill and so beautiful.”

It lands at a mirror-wall in the form of a 20-pane window with a stained-glass transom that is backlit from its kitchen-side “so when you come up the stairs, it’s a beautiful accent to match the leaded-glass theme in the living room,” said McGair.

The next big surprise is the vast living-dining room occupying most of the second floor, thanks to the removal of the wall between the old living and dining rooms. The 350-square-foot space exposes its scrubbed ceiling beams, offering a picturesque corner exposure on Beacon Hill’s historic architecture. It boasts two black granite fireplaces - one for each room-use.

The dining area is defined by a glass-bell ceiling light, a vertical bank of cookbook shelves and generous white cabinetry with twisted wrought-iron handles – another medieval touch.

The kitchen has a feast of surprises. A new backsplash of hounds-tooth Carrara marble tiles is creatively laid in a herringbone pattern of chevrons.

The black-painted paneled cabinetry with open corner shelves and the leaded-glass china cupboard under the stained-glass transom blend with the house’s medieval aesthetic as a stark contrast to the white quartz counters.

A mirror-lined skylight well sheds bright light onto culinary activities. Stainless steel appliances include a Wolf four-burner gas range, a Miele convection oven, a Bosch dishwasher, a corner-angled sink with a retractable faucet and something unusual in a residence: an industrial-grade Sub-Zero refrigerator with a tinted-glass panel that lets you see what’s inside to make your food, drink and condiment choices before opening the door. A pullout freezer is below.

In-between the refrigerator and dining-room cabinetry is a powder room with unfinished pine-plank wainscoting and a chair-rail with a running toiletries shelf.

The main stairway handily lands at the third-floor laundry closet with an Electrolux stacked washer/dryer. The full bath follows, serving two bedrooms with a full tub/shower, a classic pedestal sink and Italian tiling.

Past a row of closets is the children’s bedroom with exposed ceiling beams and wall images of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. The second bedroom also exposes its beams and boasts a three-window northwestern corner exposure.

The gabled roof hardly hints at the top floor’s great space-surprise: a master suite that takes full advantage of its location – with a little help from a two-window dormer on the street-side roof-slope – for roomy expanse, quirky angles, cozy nooks and crannies, and a surprise on the opposite slope.

“They worked hard to get every possible inch in the ceiling,” said McGair.

The suite begins with the Carrara marble master bath where a soaking tub with a showerhead is nicely nestled in a one-window dormer, giving light and privacy from the slope’s surprise space. The master bedroom’s whitewashed beams demarcate different spaces for different uses: the sleeping area in the dormer (with a stepped sequence of drawers and shelves set within the diagonal of the roof slope), a sitting area lit by the twin windows under the gable and a roomy walk-in closet, where two drawer-steps rise to two more windows. One of them swings open like a door to the final surprise: a private roof deck, cozily sequestered by a high bamboo wall and the brick wall of the abutting building - great in warmer weather for morning coffee after waking up or evening wine before retiring.

The deck has a copper head house for barbecue grill storage.

“The beamed ceilings and corner aspect of this home, aside from it being so spectacular inside, make it very unique and saleable,” said McGair, who is offering 79 West Cedar St. at $2.65 million. For a private showing, contact him at 617-543-9215 (mobile), 617-587-4605 (direct), or thom.mcgair@nemoves.com.


Burdge, Margaret. “On the Market: 79 West Cedar St., Beacon Hill.” Home & Property, Boston Magazine, August 26, 2014. https://www.bostonmagazine.com/property/2014/08/26/market-79-west-cedar-street-beacon-hill/#gallery-4-5

Address: 79 West Cedar St., Beacon Hill

BR/BA: Three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, two half-baths

Size: 2,208 square feet

Price: $2.65 million

Taxes: $22,723.19 (Tax Year 2019)

Year built: 1880, renovated 2015

Configuration: Single-family

Parking: Garage parking for sale or rental in neighborhood

Features: High ceilings with exposed beams; recessed lighting; hardwood, marble and ceramic floors; two-zone central air conditioning and forced air by gas heating; storm windows; three fireplaces; sunken living room with overlook rail; stainless appliances, gas cooking and industrial-grade glass-door Sub-Zero refrigerator with freezer drawer in kitchen; in-house laundry; intercom with video doorbell; cable hookups; rubber roof with private deck; generous storage; egress alley for bikes and trash/recycling barrels.

Close by: Shopping and dining; private schools; places of worship; public parks including the Boston Common and the Esplanade; hospitals; public transit; 5-to-10-minute walks to Downtown Crossing, the Theatre District and the Financial District.

Contact: Thom McGair of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Phone: 617-543-9215 (mobile), 617-587-4605 (direct)

Email: thom.mcgair@nemoves.com

Website: https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/ma/boston/79-w-cedar-st/pid_32834050