Former schoolhouse now beautiful penthouse home in Charlestown

Arched windows are an attractive architectural feature in the generous master bedroom. Looking out these front-facing windows, homeowners enjoy vistas of an Olmsted park and the Mystic River

From schoolhouse to penthouse, it’s been a glorious journey for Unit 5A at 340 Bunker Hill Ave. In a space where children once sat, distracted from their studies by the enticing aroma of chocolate from the nearby Schrafft’s candy company, a spacious, tastefully designed corner penthouse enjoys superlative views of the Boston area. It’s a stunning contemporary property in an unexpected location.

“It’s a hidden gem because it’s not in the Monument Square area,” says the homeowner, who led a recent tour. He knows all the local history and recounts it with humor and charm.

Converted in 1996, Orchard Hill, the condominium that the unit belongs to, almost didn’t turn out this way. “The architect wanted to sell, but the Historical Society forced him to keep the building,” the homeowner reports.

The results are epitomized in this handsome penthouse. Nancy Roth of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - The Hammond Group is offering the home for $1,699,000.

The master bedroom’s big Palladian windows admit great light and views of a Fredrick Law Olmsted park, directly across the street, and the steeple of St. Frances de Sales church a block away.

Tugboats on the Mystic River are visible within the larger frame, along with the MWRA wind turbine and Assembly Row in Somerville.

Inside the bedroom, all is cheerful and comfortable with plenty of space for a king size bed on one wall and a seating area positioned in front of a gas fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves. The room’s custom walk-in closet provides generous storage for clothing and accessories.

The spa-like master bath was created using principals of Universal Design, whose hallmarks include equitable use, flexibility, intuitive function, error tolerance and low physical effort. People of diverse abilities can experience this space, which has a huge walk-in shower with frameless glass doors, a marble floor and a counter with a rounded sink.

Currently used as an office and sitting room, the second bedroom can also accommodate guests. Its beautifully appointed bathroom has a long vanity and a deep soaking tub with glass wall tiles of palest sea green.

A laundry closet is conveniently close by, holding a stacked LG washer and dryer.

As breathtaking as the views are from the unit’s first floor, the second floor offers what might be the best views in Charlestown. Boston skyscrapers, the Zakim Memorial Bridge, the Charlestown Monument and Logan Airport’s control tower are some of the most recognizable landmarks.

The interior view is just about as compelling. This open kitchen is very modern with black granite custom cabinetry in a light wood, and a large island/breakfast bar topped with a single glass panel. Deep drawers offer a plethora of storage. There are no upper cabinets; they would ruin the view.

Top-of-the-line appliances here include a Sub-Zero refrigerator, an oven and dishwasher by Miele, and a Thermador induction cooktop.

“We got it from Barbara Lynch,” deadpans the homeowner, name-checking the famous Boston restaurateur.

A barn door made of frosted glass conceals a surprisingly private powder room located near the staircase.

Other than that, there’s no separation between parts of the space on this level. A vaulted ceiling, a long table and a colorful rug define the current dining area. Rugs are part of the homeowner’s art collection and they define and enhance every room in the home.

A gas fireplace is at the center of the living area with a couch and chairs arranged opposite it. The biggest draw and true focal point of this part of the home is the private deck, steps away through sliding French doors.

“I love the streetscape,” the owner says.

He has had many opportunities to watch it from the deck. From this vantage point, the urban panorama includes a tiny red triangle (the Citgo sign in far off Kenmore Square), Harvard University’s Memorial Hall and the North End’s Old North Church. The city of Boston is displayed in every direction, including a sliver of water view.

Up a last flight of stairs, illuminated by a skylight and organized with built-ins, the office loft overlooks all. A wooden platform is built against one wall, functioning as a part of the workspace. With the layering of an air mattress onto the platform, the room transforms: it becomes another bedroom, one with an especially memorable view.

On a spring morning, the vistas are amazing, though on an evening in a little over a month, they will be far more impressive. Says the homeowner, “You should see what July 4th is like here. You see the fireworks from seven different communities, plus the ones on the river.”

Address: Unit 5A at 340 Bunker Hill Ave., Charlestown

BR/BA: Two bedrooms, one half bath, two full baths

Age: 1899, 1996, recent renovations

Price: $1,699,000

Size: 2,360 square feet

Taxes: $13,711

Condo fee: $855

Features of building: Orchard Hill at Charlestown Heights, a professionally managed elevator building converted from an 1899 schoolhouse, located at the top of the hill. Brick exterior with Palladian windows. Attractive common areas and exercise room.

Features of home: Tastefully renovated corner penthouse, elegantly customized using principals of universal design. Breathtaking views through every window. Open chef’s kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, contemporary cabinetry, black granite counter, and glass-topped island. Living and dining space opens to a private deck with panoramic views of the Boston area. Lofted office/guest area. Spa-like bathrooms, multiple skylights, numerous built-ins, two gas fireplaces, hardwood floors throughout. Laundry in unit. Garage with tandem parking for two cars. Alarm, private storage.

Close by: Doherty Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted; St. Francis de Sales church; Historic sites of the Charlestown Navy Yard and the USS Constitution; Monument Square; restaurants and shops of Boston; the North End; TD Garden; MBTA Sullivan Square stop; easy access to Storrow Drive, Route 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Contact: Nancy Roth, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage -The Hammond Group, 105 Main St., Charlestown, MA 02129.

Phones: mobile: 617-429-6396, office direct: 617-337-9010.


Details for Unit 5A at 342 Bunker Hill Ave