Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue was inspired by the boulevards of Paris and lined with private townhouses. Those closest to the Boston Common Garden were the most prestigious, as owners fled to the suburbs in the 1970’s many of the buildings became rooming houses.
No. 55 was such a casualty and it lost its front stoop in the process. Adding insult to injury, a developer tried to convert the building into condominiums, destroying interior features that might have remained. By 1990 the developer was bankrupt and Lindsay’s client bought the property.
Unintentional return on investment
Lindsay’s negotiating strategy with the Landmarks Commission surprised her client. She requested a garage door on the original kitchen wing at the back alley in exchange for restoring the original 1875 front stoop. Her client not only gained the elegant front entry they’d requested, but also highly desirable indoor parking they never imagined would be possible. Inside the building, Lindsay designed an oval staircase from street to roof. She organized the formal level of the house so it is daylit and open front to back. The center section can be used as a library, a workspace and a dining room while the family room kitchen functions well to serve formal dinners.
The house was featured on the front page of the Boston Globe while under renovation and followed by an Architectural Digest article in 1992. It was in the Boston Globe again some years later when it was sold to a famous basketball coach for an astounding sales price. It remains one of Boston’s valuable homes.