Real estate


Back Bay condo fits big-ticket items into 475 square feet

252 Commonwealth Ave., Unit 4, Boston; $509,900

Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
The unit has a Murphy bed with cabinetry instead of a bedroom.

Patents 322,177 and 1,007,596 may help explain why this condo on the second floor of a Back Bay town house works.

Two white cabinets separated by a decorative fireplace run along the right-hand wall in the carpeted main living area. The first cabinet has three wide doors, some mirrored. The second, nearly identical, is where the patents come into play. In 1885, Sarah E. Goode was awarded a patent for her “cabinet bed,” which transforms into a desk with storage compartments when the bed is put away (she was the first African-American woman awarded a US patent), and William L. Murphy received one in 1911 for his “disappearing bed.’’ Together they influence the current iteration – a Murphy bed that when pulled down offers a bed, of course, plus built-in shelves and recessed lighting.

Just a few feet away, windows in a bump-out overlook an alley but offer a skyline view from this home, first owned by a wealthy iron merchant and his family when Rutherford B. Hayes was in the White House.


The ceilings are about 10 feet high, and the walls are topped with broad crown molding, making the main room seem much larger than the square footage would suggest. The space has a good-sized closet.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

To the left is the kitchen, which is not full-sized but offers everything you need to prepare a meal and space for a table with two seats on which to eat it. Sunlight pours through the greenhouse window of the kitchen, which has antique-white cabinets, a granite counter, and compact stainless-steel appliances.

The updated full bath is also off the main living space. It features a marble floor and backsplash, a pedestal sink, a multi-head walk-in shower with a built-in seat, and two closets.

The unit, one of six, must be owner-occupied, and pets are not allowed. Laundry and deeded storage are in the basement.

The listing agent, Jamie Curtis of the Boston realty firm Compass, will hold an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20.



Style: Condo

Year built: 1879/converted 1978

Square feet: 475

Bedrooms: 0

Baths: 1 full

Fees: $192 per month

Taxes: $3,318 (2017), includes residential exemption because property must be owner-occupied

Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
The common area in the building.
Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
The living area has a decorative fireplace.
Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
Another view of the Murphy bed and the main living area.
Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
The kitchen
Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe
The updated bath has a marble floor and a pedestal sink.

Follow John R. Ellement on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Send listings to Please note: We do not feature unfurnished homes and will not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.