Grand living in what was once the H.M. Sears mansion

TODD LARSON
CORRESPONDENT
A double door connects to the oak-paneled library, where a concave wall with curved doors mirrors the bowfront and ceiling-height bookcases foster a scholarly atmosphere.

At 5,263 square feet over two levels with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, two powder rooms, five living/entertaining arenas, eight fireplaces, two wet bars, three workstations, four back-stairway egresses, three parking spaces and built-in and walk-in storage as seemingly endless as the living space itself, Unit 2 at 287 Commonwealth Ave. hardly feels like a condo. It is listed by Lili Banani of Coldwell Banker Realty.

In fact, it feels like you’re occupying the entire building, just as banker Herbert Mason Sears, his wife Caroline and their daughters Elizabeth and Phyllis did upon moving into this Back Bay bowfront residence after its construction in 1892 from a Neoclassical design by Rotch & Tilden.

That feeling owes to Unit 2’s occupation of an entire floor plus about half the floor above, allowing the lower level more than 60 feet of frontage on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. This grants the formal dining and living rooms, library and upper-level family room gorgeous tree-lined mall views and allows all of the bedrooms generous northwestern exposures from the unusually wide rear alley.

The living room features a fireplace with ribboned festoon reliefs and tapered pilasters with scrolled capitals, flanked by arched bookcases.

High ceilings and bookcases, crown moldings, oversized windows with paneled pocket shutters and classic ornamentation add to the mansion feel the Sears family enjoyed.

But living big doesn’t mean getting lost. On the lower level, the keyed elevator alights you on one side with the kitchen - the informal dining room and formal dining and living rooms all in plain sight.

On the opposite side, the upper-level stairway is straight ahead, the library and living room are on your left, and the bedroom corridor is on the right. Ditto for the elevator’s landing at the upper-level family room and bedroom corridor.

The kitchen, centrally accessible from the dining and living rooms and the bedroom corridor, consolidates all paneled white cabinetry, appliances and sinks along an L-shaped white stone counter and in a peninsular bar.

The kitchen consolidates all paneled white cabinetry, appliances and sinks along an L-shaped white stone counter and in a peninsular bar.

Along the counter are a Thermador double wall oven and five-burner gas cooktop, a stainless steel sink with a gooseneck faucet, a KitchenAid compactor, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and pull-out spice cabinets.

The bar contains the second sink and a Bosch dishwasher. It overlooks the informal dining room for handy food service, after-dinner cleanup and chats with the cook from the bar-stool side.

The informal dining room is designed for large buffets with two long counters and china cabinet banks flanking the classic fireplace.

French doors transition the space to the dining room, which is formally dressed with ceiling beams, a chair rail and a fireplace framed by porcelain tiles depicting medieval seaside towns and ships and storybook pipers, drummers and violinists.

The living room features a fireplace with ribboned festoon reliefs and tapered pilasters with scrolled capitals, flanked by arched bookcases.

A double door connects it to the oak-paneled library where a concave wall with curved doors mirrors the bowfront and ceiling-height bookcases foster a scholarly atmosphere. A white marble fireplace mantel is carved with a fruit-basket relief and inlaid with Siena marble panels and pilaster infill strips.

Through a curved door is a wet bar with a granite counter, a fridge and a wall treatment resembling gold-leaf tea paper.

The carpeted hall to the bedrooms passes two closets and a powder room with a pedestal sink and a wallcovering of classical ornament drawings before reaching the primary bedroom suite. The bedroom is distinguished with beige grasscloth wallcovering and a marble fireplace.

The wood-floored en suite bath boasts a Japanese soaking tub, a shower with scrolled mosaic tilework and a basketweave-patterned tile floor.

Past one of two walk-in closets is the wood-floored en suite bath that boasts a rarity: a Japanese soaking tub. Beside this is a shower with scrolled mosaic tilework and a basketweave-patterned tile floor. A twin-sink marble vanity and a pocket-doored water-closet complete the bath, which accesses the second walk-in closet.

The primary-suite hallway connects to the carpeted corridor to three other bedrooms and their shared full bath across the corridor.

The primary bedroom suite is distinguished with beige grasscloth wallcovering and a marble fireplace.

One bedroom has a classic fireplace with interlaced festoons, white subway tiles and hand-painted leaf motifs. Another bedroom has a built-in office complex: a window desk and cabinets.

The third bedroom boasts a wall-length built-in workstation, two windows and an en suite bath with a reddish-brown marble vanity and a tub/shower combo with a floral tile beltcourse.

Another bedroom has a built-in office complex: a window desk and cabinets.

The hallway angles rightward past a pantry and a coat closet back to the kitchen.

A handsome staircase with paneled newel post and slender balusters ascends from the elevator to the upper level. The right-hand family room reprises the library’s curved bowfront and rear wall. A full wall of built-ins with a central Fujitsu Plasmavision TV faces a travertine fireplace with a mantel carved with leaf-scroll brackets, flanked by bookcase/cabinet built-ins.

A corner wet bar accesses a laundry hall with a Kenmore Elite washer and dryer and Kohler sink with a gooseneck faucet. This opens to an office/gym/storage space lined with built-in cabinets, a wall-length triple-slider-door closet and double French doors to the hall to two bedrooms with en suite baths.

Across the hall is a wood-floored powder room wallpapered in vintage balloon images.

One of the six bedrooms has a classic fireplace with interlaced festoons, white subway tiles and hand-painted leaf motifs.

The two-window bedroom has a pink marble fireplace surrounded by a classic mantel with a beveled mirror flanked by Grecian urn reliefs with cherubs. Its en suite bath boasts a Carrara marble vanity and a water-jet soaking tub with a Carrara marble ledge that continues into the shower as a shelf. The one-window bedroom’s bath has an Italian marble vanity and a ceramic beltcourse of scroll reliefs running over the tiled wainscot.

“What is unique is this much square footage on two levels on the sunny side of Commonwealth Avenue,” said Banani, who is offering Unit 2 at 287 Commonwealth Ave. at $7.5 million. “You have it all in this unit.”

For more information, contact her at 617-407-0402 or lili@lilibanani.com.

People entering 287 Commonwealth Ave. are welcomed in the elegant, upscale lobby.

DETAILS:

Address: 287 Commonwealth Ave., Unit 2, Back Bay

BR/BA: Six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, two half baths

Size: 5,263 square feet

Housing type: Duplex condominium

Price: $7.5 million

Condo fee: $2,288.92/month, includes professional management, insurance, water/sewer, outside maintenance

Taxes: $2,289/month, $86,672.76/year (additional $1,363.62 for parking)

Parking: Three deeded parking spaces in rear alley

Year built: 1892, renovated 1903, 1998 and 2010-2020

Number of units: Six

Features: High ceilings, recessed lighting, surround-sound ceiling speakers, hardwood and carpeted floors, central heating and air conditioning, fireplaces, curved doors, oversized windows, large eat-in kitchen with gas cooking, large primary bedroom with walk-in closets and en suite bath with Japanese soaking tub, en suite baths for four of the other bedrooms, two powder rooms, in-unit laundry, two wet bars, copious storage, private two-sided elevator access to both floors, four back-stair egresses, two basement storage units

Building amenities: Elegant lobby, front garden, professional management, outside and common-area maintenance, pet-friendly

Close by: Schools; houses of worship; medical facilities; shopping and dining on Newbury and Boylston streets; Boston Public Library; parks; fitness trails; boating on the Charles River; public transit on Green and Orange lines, buses, commuter rail and Amtrak; highway access

Contact: Lili Banani, Vice President, Coldwell Banker Realty

Phone: 617-407-0402

Email: lili@lilibanani.com

Website: https://lilibanani.com/featured-listings/287-commonwealth-avenue