On the Market: An Extravagant, Literary Brownstone Duplex in Back Bay
Built in 1872 by the architects who designed the original MFA, this Marlborough Street condo is a rare gem of Boston history.
86 Marlborough St. #3, Boston
Size: 2,520 square feet
If you love books, history, and exquisite design, you’ll want to put an offer in on this Back Bay condo. Back in 1872, the esteemed 19th-century architecture firm Sturgis and Brigham was commissioned to design the building—shortly after having been appointed to concept the original Museum of Fine Arts, a Gothic Revival construction then located in Copley Square. Thankfully, this Marlborough Street antique still stands, and careful renovations have preserved it in time.
Though the duplex has two floors and seven rooms, there’s one space that is likely to hog the bulk of any bibliophile’s attention: the library. Paneled in walnut wood, it feels significant in size and age—original details have remained intact through the years, such as 15th-century tiles from a Spanish convent, oil friezes done by British artist John Moyr Smith, and gilded roundels along the ceiling, sculpted to depict dragons. And it wouldn’t be a library without the bookshelves, stuffed to the gills along two walls and on either side of the grand fireplace.
Even with all that rich woodwork, the room stays exceptionally bright because of the sun-soaked continuation at one end. Framed by ceiling height windows adorned with stained glass crests, the alcove boasts brownstone views and can easily serve as a music room, breakfast nook, conservatory, or study.
The library isn’t the only place you’ll find the fireplace-bookshelf combo, though. Another sitting room and bedroom do the same, and in the living room, a blue-and-white Delft tiled fireplace with a mirrored mantel sits adjacent to a glorious trio of bay windows interspersed with custom, narrow built-in bookshelves and snug window seats. Old-fashioned shutters can close off the view as needed, but the rest of the time, you can look down into leafy Marlborough Street and feel like a proper Boston Brahmin.
For information, contact Tracy Campion, Campion & Company Fine Homes Real Estate, campionre.com.
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