B rownstone architecture is graceful, dignified and maybe even a bit soulful. “Urban sophistication without pretence,” is how it’s described by Cathy Taub, senior global real estate advisor and associate broker of Sotheby’s International Realty in New York.
Brownstone is so named because this type of sandstone weathers to a reddish-brown hue owing to the presence of iron in it. The brownstone architectural style is heir to the terraced home that originated in Europe. Taub says: “Each brownstone has its own character. How the stone is carved and the decorative flourishes of the façade will yield a unique and cherished quality to the building, differentiating one brownstone from its neighbour.”
On New York’s Upper West Side by Central Park, a rare-to-market brownstone sprawling over seven stories is one of the best examples of a loving and meticulous restoration. At 22ft, it is substantially wider than the typical brownstone property and the interior space amounts to 11,000 sq ft. It also offers the level of amenities of new developments, featuring, for example, a fitness centre with a regulation height half-basketball court, a temperature-controlled wine cellar and a rooftop terrace, accessible by a lift, with a full outdoor kitchen.
“Every square inch is absolutely gorgeously renovated,” says Taub. “There’s rarely been a brownstone that marries historic character and charm with 21st-century conveniences the way this does.”
Carmi Bee, president and design principal of RKTB Architects in New York, has owned a brownstone in Brooklyn for 44 years. He says the enduring appeal has “a lot to do with the spaciousness, the wonderful details, the 12ft ceilings”, and that scarce urban perk, a backyard.
And then there’s something that’s intangible: “You feel like you’re walking into the past,” says Bee. “You can feel a connection with history.”
New York, New York
Located on the premier Central Park block of the Upper West Side, 32 West 76th Street is an exceedingly rare offering: a 22ft wide townhouse with a full extension that includes the cellar level, delivered with a triple-mint renovation to the highest specification and completed in 2020. Sprawling over seven stories, it has six bedrooms and six bathrooms, with three powder rooms. Situated prominently in the centre of the block, it is surrounded by boutique shops and restaurants, five-star dining, world-class schools and museums, excellent transportation, great dog parks, and, of course, Central and Riverside Parks. Characterised by a one-of-a-kind copper-clad rounded bay window, this property has a magnitude rarely seen in Manhattan real estate.
Property Web ID: VJ4QZD
Sotheby’s International Realty – East Manhattan Brokerage Cathy Taub +1 212.606.7772
Lyndale House is regarded as one of the finest homes of its period. The historic Grade II-listed, Queen Anne-style five-bedroom family residence is set across 294 sq m and forms part of a terrace known as “The Bank”. The lower-ground-floor kitchen leads to an intimate yet formal dining room with access to a wine cellar. A further three receptions, with an abundance of period features and charm, offer versatile entertaining spaces, and cater perfectly to modern family living.
Property ID: QXZ35D
United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty Lee Koffman + 44 (0) 20 74959580
New York, New York
Recently renovated and in pristine condition, this 1889 townhouse is an exceptional architectural masterpiece of superb scale, light and outlook. Sited on the most desirable block of the Central Park West Historic District, it overlooks a row of 18 Neo-Georgian mansions. An impressive parlour floor boasts an enfilade of three elegant reception rooms with 13ft 6in ceilings. Distinguished by the superb restoration and meticulous maintenance of the marvelous mahogany, sycamore, cherry and oak detail throughout, the 20ft-wide house is the perfect marriage of rich 19th-century detail and 21st-century luxury, with a landscaped garden, seven fireplaces, five zones of central air conditioning and a state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen.
Property Web ID: W5KE7C
Sotheby’s International Realty – East Manhattan Brokerage Roberta Golubock +1 212.606.7704
A historical landmark Gold Coast Brownstone, the Vinnedge is an exceptional two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with European character. It features French windows and doors, crown mouldings, a custom Italian mosaic fireplace, hardwood floors and stained glass. The master bathroom features one of two private balconies and two floor-to-ceiling closets. There are also two common courtyards. There have been significant updates in the past five years including, custom built-in bookcases, cabinets and a desk workspace.
Property ID: 11297402
Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty Sally LaJoie +1 847 721 7777
A complete recently undertaken rebuild sets the tone of this East Lincoln Park brownstone. This home offers 5,800 sq ft of tastefully designed luxurious living space with clean, transitional finishes. Highlights include hardwood and porcelain tile floors, high ceilings, crown moulding, designer lighting and plentiful natural light. There are four en-suite upstairs bedrooms, including a spacious primary bedroom with spa bath and steam shower. The lower level includes a huge family room plus a fifth en-suite bedroom and laundry area. There is ample outdoor space including fenced front and rear yards, plus a 400 sq ft deck over the garage complete with pergola, outdoor kitchen, comfortable seating and dining spaces.
Property ID: WQDPEQ
Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty Mark Markarian +1 312 342 1531
Spanning 200 and 202 Beacon in Boston is this double-wide second, parlour and garden floor maisonette. The spacious second floor includes a 40ft wide living room, large library, dining room and kitchen. With spectacular views of Charles River, it is perfect for entertaining. The residence offers a private entrance, high ceilings, a lift to all three levels and a rooftop deck.
Property ID: 83LZYJ
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Beth Dickerson +1 617 510 8565