A charming 19th century manor house
Come in to this Beverly Farms manor house reminiscent of when Boston’s elite came to the “gold coast” for the summer. Welcome to a house where you feel you have stepped back in time the minute you walk through the door.
This home sits on a wooded hill, and the most unique feature about it is that the house, while in perfect condition, is almost unchanged from when it was built. All the architectural details of moldings, paneled doors, and other beautiful period touches are intact. The ceilings are lofty, the floors are waxed (not varnished), and the brass details - locks on the windows, shelf brackets, and many of the bathroom faucets - are original. What renovators find so stylish to reproduce today, you find here in the original (the soapstone sinks are over 100 years old). The house is charming, naturally elegant, and welcoming.
While comfortable and updated, this house really takes you back to when life was conducted at a more leisurely, elegant pace. A time when families dined graciously in the huge dining room, not in a granite and stainless kitchen. When they walked to the beach, not to a pool, and sat on the screened-in porches in the evenings, listening to crickets instead of the hum of air conditioners. When they really needed that butler’s pantry for the dinners and receptions.
Imagine, if you will, walking into a front hall the size of many living rooms, complete with a working fireplace. A dining room big enough to hold a table for 12 and a concert grand piano. A kitchen with a built-in, 1901 cooking/heating stove, a harvest table that will seat 20, a screened-in porch, a butler’s pantry and a larder.
Fireplaces abound, one in almost every bedroom, and closets have built in chests of drawers. The master suite is enormous, with some of the original wooden appointments in the master bath. On the third floor, there is a delightful tin bathtub in a hard pine surround, a lofty, cozy study, and bedrooms with built in cedar closets.
Then there’s the fact that the house is exceptionally large – almost 7,000 square feet of living space. Some would call it an “English Muffin House” because it has so many nooks and crannies. And there are other treasures at every turn – murals by Sidewalk Sam in the nursery, a maid’s bath, an airy plant room. With a double living room, ten bedrooms, four and a half baths, six fireplaces, and a full basement, this house, while large, wraps one in comfort and an atmosphere of years past.
Tales from the past ...
Many histories have grown up around the house. Built circa1830 by John Dexter on land purchased for $1 from financier John Storrow, the house was originally a summer home. Historian Henry Adams (and grandson of John Quincy Adams) courted socialite Clover Hooper on the front porch prior to marrying her. The story goes they had originally met at the Harvard Library, where when he saw what she was reading, exclaimed, “Plato! In the original!” “Well,” she replied, “I don’t like translations.”
The house was in disrepair when owners Linda and Leland McDonough bought it. But they were young and strong, and over the years carefully and painstakingly renovated the entire house from top to bottom, without compromising any of its original architectural features. Linda is a talented interior designer, specializing in antique interiors, and this house has been a labor of love. The original soapstone sink, and the marvelous 1901 wood stove remain in the kitchen. If you search, you will find a laundry tub, originally for the maids to use, in the basement. Wallpapers and furnishings reflect the period of the house. The fireplaces are always used, and the only items that were lost (when the wiring was replaced) were the bells to call the servants.
Then there’s the atmosphere. Large, yes, elegant, yes, but as Linda McDonough says, “This house is lived in – happily run through by children and dogs.” The house is not intimidating despite its size; it welcomes one in. There is no granite island dividing the kitchen; but a wall of long windows, casting warm light on the harvest table, rag rugs, and rocking chairs, the antique telephone blooming from the wall. It is an enchanting and welcoming atmosphere.
This is also a very private home. Situated atop Storrow Hill, with one and a half acres of land, the house is quiet and remote, yet neighbors are just down the hill. It is only a five minute walk to the ocean or to downtown Beverly Farms where you find the train station, bank, bakeries, bookshop and excellent local restaurants. It truly has the best of many worlds.
This unique manor house has only had three owners since the early 1900s. Through the years, as Linda and Leland lovingly renovated it, they knew that someday it would pass on to another family. So, it will be for sale sometime soon, as the McDonoughs begin to think about downsizing. To them, this is not just a purchase, but an inheritance they have created for the new owners. It is their hope that a family – a large one - will move in and enjoy this gracious and delightful home.