Graciously refined treasure on Beacon Hill is family-perfect
If a rowhouse is appealing on the outside, but its condos put a ceiling on the inside on how high in space you can go and how large your family can grow, a single-family townhouse that’s remained that way for 150 years awaits you today: 129 Pinckney St. on the Flat of Beacon Hill.
This 1871 hybrid of Panel Brick and Second Empire styles has lovely curb appeal with its granite foundation, stone arches and bands, oriel window, carved friezes and quatrefoils and a mansard slate roof with an ornamented pediment dormer.
Yet, instead of belying the space-challenged condo units so many of its brethren have been fragmented into, these period details truthfully reveal five levels of richly appointed, high-ceilinged, light-filled living spaces, enhanced by Cambridge interior designer Karin Weller, that are all yours from base to crest.
Your journey begins at the recessed entry, the vestibule and the front parlor that would make an attractive home office with its arched-window street view, deep double crown molding with rosette/leaf band accents and the first of several fireplaces with carved marble mantels.
The foyer follows, welcoming you warmly with patterned rose wallpaper and a carved and paneled newel post initiating the central Eastlake stairway. The hardwood floors’ faux finish, resembling diagonal white marble tiles with black square accents, offers additional salutations.
A double door with etched-glass panels introduces the formal dining room’s sumptuous feast of visuals to enrich the victuals. Italian artist Antonia D. Battista lovingly hand-painted branching flowers on the walls and birds on the gilded tea-paper ceiling to complement the carved marble mantel, the deep crown molding, the wrap-over swagged and silk-curtained window, and the leaf-scrolled chandelier dangling from a leaf-burst ceiling medallion.
The adjacent butler’s pantry has appliances so you can prepare meals then and there without having to go upstairs to the main kitchen.
The pantry handily connects to the downstairs au pair/in-law/guest/rental suite, which retains the coal bin from this level’s original servants’-domain use. An intimate sitting/reading area precedes a bedroom/office/lounge studio space built in with a wall-length workstation with shelves, a bookcase, a slider closet and a full bath.
A French door opens to a “hidden garden of Beacon Hill”: a brick-paved patio with Belgian-stone semi-walls supporting flower beds and trellises for cozy morning coffee amid private natural beauty. Off the reading area is a private entrance from Pinckney Street.
Up one flight from the foyer are the eat-in kitchen and formal living room. Renovated from a bedroom, the kitchen includes track lighting, contemporary paneled white cabinetry, a Frigidaire stainless steel refrigerator and a two-level island separating the culinary and breakfast spaces with a stone L-shaped bar, butcherblock counter and Sharp Carousel microwave.
Matching stone counters along the wall integrate a deep sink with a retractable faucet, a KitchenAid dishwasher and a Jenn-Air smooth-top four-burner electric range. Vintage tiles with scroll-painted corners backsplash the wall and butcherblock counters, complementing the remnants of the space’s bedroom days: crown and ceiling moldings, a marble fireplace and a faux finish of diagonals crossing the hardwood floor. The kitchen connects to a half bath with laundry.
The four-window oriel washes the living room in light and Pinckney Street views and further expands its humongous space for grander-scale entertaining. Further heightening this scale are side-window exposure, a deep double crown molding, a fireplace with a carved marble mantel, a chandelier of crystal-bead cascades and festoons, and twin built-in bookcases flanking the paneled double door.
The Eastlake stairway begins to spiral as it ascends to the primary bedroom suite level. The extra bedroom’s hunter-green wall treatment suits it for office or nursery use, giving it an office-worthy “desk blotter” ambiance or the appearance of “the great green room” in Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book Goodnight Moon.
Twin ceiling-height built-in bookcases bookend the arched marble fireplace. Twin closets flank the bed/desk area and a white double crown molding and ceiling offset the somberness.
By contrast, the primary bedroom is light in tone and contains a more squarish marble mantel with ornamental cast-iron grate. Again, twin closets flank the bed area.
Serving both rooms is a quaint Jack-and-Jill bath boasting an old-fashioned cast-iron tub with a hand-held shower head, rose-vine wallcovering, a green-tiled floor and an aproned bowfront porcelain sink set in a scroll-arched alcove amid generous linen/medicine cabinets and drawers with green-painted panel borders. Mercury glass doorknobs adorn all paneled doors on this level.
The spiral stairway summits at a brightly skylit landing, which introduces three more bedrooms and a central skylit full bath featuring a vintage soaking tub with three body shower heads and a rain shower head, a sink on a turned-post pedestal, and a white mosaic-tiled floor. At the rear are two single-window bedrooms - one with a marble mantel and flesh-toned vintage wallpaper, the other with wall-mounted shelves for remote office use.
The kid-friendly front bedroom benefits from the triple dormer window for radiant light and captivating views. Twin closets flanking the bed area accommodate a child’s growing wardrobe. Kids will love the arched marble mantel framing a painted image of a tuxedo cat atop a gold chainette-fringed, red velvet-upholstered ottoman in a blue-and-white porcelain-tiled alcove with a yarn ball and a mouse painted below.
Flanking this are an alcove fit for a child’s study desk and a built-in bookcase supporting a growing child’s library.
For further space expansion, the roof can accommodate a deck, pending local board and Beacon Hill Architectural Commission authorization.
Offered at $4.5 million, 129 Pinckney St. capitalizes on its high Victorian spaces, windows, details and townhouse stature to create a single-ownership situation that grows up with the family and adapts to ever-changing lifestyles while holding onto its history.
For more information, contact listing agent Robb Cohen of the Engel & Völkers Robb Cohen Team at 617-962-0142 or email@example.com.
Address: 129 Pinckney St., Beacon Hill
BR/BA: Four-to-six bedrooms, three full bathrooms, one half bath
Size: 4,188 square feet
Housing type: Single-family townhouse
Price: $4.5 million
Taxes: $40,009 (FY 2020), not including $3,153/year residential exemption
Parking: Rental parking in three neighborhood garages
Year built: 1871, renovated 1990 and c.2016
Number of floors: Five
Features: High ceilings, deep crown moldings, hardwood floors, three exposures from large windows, hot-water baseboard and radiator gas heating, one-zone central air conditioning, eight fireplaces, decorative paintings and faux finishes, dining room with hand-painted mural and tea-paper ceiling, eat-in kitchen with granite/butcherblock island and stainless appliances including electric cooking, half bath with in-house laundry, central Eastlake staircase with spiral segment, skylights on top level, built-ins with generous storage and shelf space, “hidden garden” brick patio with flower beds, rebuilt fire escape, lower-level living space with bath and separate entrance suitable as au pair/in-law/guest/income unit.
Close by: Shopping and dining, private and public schools, places of worship, public parks including the Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Esplanade, public transit, Massachusetts General Hospital, 5-to-10-minute walks to Downtown Crossing, Theatre District and Financial District.
Contact: Robb Cohen of the Engel & Völkers Robb Cohen Team
- Brown, Margaret Wise, Goodnight Moon, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1947.
- Bunting, Bainbridge, Houses of Boston’s Back Bay: An Architectural History, 1840-1917 (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967), pp. 188-194.
- Cole, Regina, 129 Pinckney Street: A Gracious Example of Fine Period Architecture, Boston: Engel & Völkers Robb Cohen Team, 2021.
- Grover, Kathryn, and Neil Larson, “129 Pinckney Street,” Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory Form B, Form No. 15863, file://localhost/Users/toddlarson/Documents/ BUSINESS/The HouseWriter/ BOSTON HOMES/105. 129 Pinckney St., Beacon Hill/bos_15863.pdf
- “Parker, Charles S. House,” Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), Inventory No. BOS.15863, https://mhc-macris.net/Details.aspx?MhcId=BOS.15863