Harvard Club annex is offered for sale
The venerable Harvard Club of Boston, a Back Bay landmark between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East for 100 years, is seeking offers for its adjacent annex building at 380 Commonwealth Ave.
Jason Weissman and Christopher Sower of Boston Realty Advisors are soliciting proposals for the four-story brick double house constructed in 1883.
Weissman said no formal asking price has been set, and the building is free and clear of existing debt. No deadline has been set for the submission of offers either, he said.
The city valued both the private main clubhouse and the annex and land in fiscal year 2012 at more than $9.225 million but did not separate the values of the main building from the annex.
Behind the annex is a 19,672-square-foot parking lot on Newbury Street, a separate parcel, which is not part of the solicitation.
The annex comprises 19,653 square feet of space that presently houses offices, a library, several small conference or dining rooms and 17 guest rooms.
“The conversion opportunities are numerous,” said Weissman. The building would be ideal for condominiums or a single-family home or a boutique hotel or long-term-stay apartments for corporate use.
Or, the buyer could continue to do what the Harvard Club is doing, said Weissman. The questions are: “What will be the impact to the club? Will it add value to the club itself?
“Luxury condominiums with large floor plates would be an option,” he continued, adding that Guy Grassi of Grassi Design has drawn up preliminary plans that depict such a concept.
The directors are not exclusively focused on price, continued Weissman. They want something that is compatible with the Harvard Club. On the west side of the annex is a six-story building with 25 condominiums. On the east side of the club is the small, historic Eliot Hotel.
On the north side of Commonwealth Avenue are several turn-of-the-century mansions that have been combined and converted to outstanding deluxe condominiums in recent years. Among them are the Meads at 415-419 Commonwealth Ave. and, more recently, the Bradley Mansion at 407-411 Commonwealth Ave.
The Park Entrance Land Company developed 378 and 380 Commonwealth Ave. in 1883. Henry M. Whitney, who started the West End Railway between Brookline and downtown Boston, headed the Park Entrance Land Company.
The city building permit identified its location as west of West Chester Park (which later became Massachusetts Avenue when it crossed the Charles River).
Peabody and Stearns, the premier architectural firm of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, designed the houses, which mirror each other and together measure 60 feet wide and 77 feet deep.
Each features a huge arched entry and a three-window bay that rises three stories; courses of brick accent the façade. Today, the entry to 378 no longer exists; in its place is a large arched window in a paneled frame.
The grand lobby at 380 Commonwealth includes a huge marble fireplace about 8 feet wide with an interesting inverted tiered wooden mantelpiece. Opposite the fireplace is a magnificent staircase with wide steps, handsome spindles and a paneled stairhall.
Off the lobby at the front of the building is a large room with a three-window-bay and a 12-foot-high ceiling rimmed with crown molding. Called the MacIntyre Room, it also has a fireplace with a marble surround. Toward the back is another dining room/conference room called the Presidents Room, where the shoulder-high wainscot lists past presidents’ names in the individual panels.
On the second floor is a library that spans the entire front of the annex and looks out onto tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue and the avenue underpass. It is surprisingly quiet.
At one end of the room is a fireplace with a surround of black and white marble. Recessed lights shine on a billiard table in the middle of this area. At the other end of the room is a matching fireplace flanked by bookshelves. Above the mantel is a portrait of Harvard’s 24th president, Nathan Marsh Pusey.
Guest suites are on the second, third and fourth floors. Some are simple rooms while others have sitting rooms with a fireplace adjacent to a small bedroom.
The baths have either marble or ceramic tiles, pedestal sinks and combination showers/tubs.
Weissman said the Harvard Club would consider pledging valet services and surface parking spaces in its lot behind 380 Commonwealth Ave. If garage parking were to be created beneath 380 Commonwealth, the club would have to relocate the rear entrance to its building.
The gross living space of 19,653 square feet at 380 Commonwealth does not include the first-floor dining room, which the club plans to retain, said Weissman.
The Harvard Club acquired 378-380 Commonwealth Ave. in the late 1920s, inferred from city building permits. The club itself was established in 1908 and built the expansive clubhouse between 1912 and 1913. It was another prominent architectural firm, Parker, Thomas and Rice, that designed the Harvard Club.
Address: 380 Commonwealth Ave., Back Bay
Size: 19,653 square feet
Age: 1883; 1920s; recent updates
Price: By offer
Taxes: To be determined
Features of building: Four-story classic brick building with bay windows and basement, presently used for offices and guest suites; original detail abounds with high ceilings, crown moldings, paneled wainscoting, decorative marble fireplaces and carved wooden mantelpieces; up-to-date en suite baths.
Close by: Back Bay restaurants; Newbury Street shops; Copley Place, Shops at the Prudential; Fenway Park, Back Bay Fens, Charles River Esplanade; easy access to Storrow Drive, Route 90.
Contact: Jason Weissman or Christopher Sower, Boston Realty Advisors, 745 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116. Phones: 617-850-9608 (Weissman) or 617-850-9633 (Sower). Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Websites: www.380commonwealth.com or www.bradvisors.com
This property may be seen by appointment.