House Music

By Rachel Levitt Slade | Boston Magazine |

THEY MAY OR MAY NOT have been better times, but they sure were more interesting. Decades ago, Bay Village – the six-square-block neighborhood of 19th-century homes shoehorned between the Mass. Pike and Columbus Avenue – was a veritable cabaret of drag queens, piano bars, and gay, well, gaiety. That’s all over now, thanks to upscale tenants who don’t want the nightlife or the disco disrupting their beauty sleep.

And yet, the buildings remain – including the shell of what was once Boston’s biggest gay hangout, the Napoleon Club at 52 Piedmont. From the early ’50s to the late ’90s, hordes of night owls mingled in the club’s piano bar or sweated to the beats on the dance floor upstairs. (Rumor has it that Judy Garland and Liberace rubbed shoulders there during its heyday.) Soon after the club closed in 1998, a developer gutted the former carriage house (built in 1910) and adjacent row homes, converting them to cookie-cutter townhouses.

Come 2005, architect Charles Fletcher, principal of Charles Fletcher Designs, and his then-partner, Bill Hulseman, rescued the building. They transformed it into a completely custom home featuring an Arclinea kitchen, a Moroccan-themed guest suite, a magnificent living room with a 12-foot-high ceiling, and a master suite with an unusual walk-through bathroom configuration.

And Fletcher didn’t stop there: The 2,400-square-foot, four-story house is lovingly outfit-ted with unique details, such as the abstract wrought-iron railing pattern, an abundance of built-in cabinetry, and a lavish mosaic in one of the three bathrooms.

Because few house-hunters consider Bay Village (how many Bostonians even know it’s there?), the price is surprisingly low for an in-town property. With its one-way streets and clear boundaries, the neighborhood has a genuinely tucked-away feel, which may be just what encouraged the city’s marginalized to gather there decades ago. These days, Bay Village is far more family-friendly. But if there’s a buyer out there who loves to boogie and is looking for a huge living room with an unusually sturdy floor, it’s right here – for $1.75 million.

52 Piedmont St., Boston Listing price | $1,750,000 Listing agent | Tim Haynes, Keller Williams Realty, 617-861-3707

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