What’s a townhouse, what’s a rowhouse?

Row house, town house, brownstone – By James McCown, The Boston Globe

It is a question that has vexed real estate brokers and lovers of urban architecture for generations: What’s the difference between a town house, a row house, and a brownstone? Boston native Kevin D. Murphy, whose book ”The American Townhouse” will be published in November, defines each:

Town house: A multistory urban house, attached or detached, that is built close to the street and scaled similarly to surrounding houses.

Row house: A multistory urban house built in a style that is consistent with, even replicating, that of adjoining houses; often built by the same architect and developer.

Brownstone: Any of the above structures whose façades are sheathed in brown sandstone.

So town house is an overall term, row house a subset of that, and brownstone a further subset of both.

Accompanying the story were photos of three properties then on the market (October, 2005).

* 348 Beacon St., Back Bay, brownstone:One garden-level, 727-square-foot studio condominium for sale. Price: $499,000
* 50 Beacon St., Beacon Hill, town house: Four condominiums for sale. Units all have three bedrooms and range in size from 2,051 square feet to 3,141 square feet. Prices range from $1.99 million to $3.99 million.
* 5 Union Park, South End, row house: One owner’s duplex with three bedrooms, and four rental apartments with two bedrooms each for sale. Five story building with 1,225 square feet per floor. Price: $2.99 million

Did they sell? Well, two of the three did, according to the public record.

* 348 Beacon St, #1: sold for $395,000
* 50 Beacon St, #3: sold for $4,400,000 (3,974+/- SF)
* 5 Union Park: listing withdrawn

Don’t shed a tear for the developer of 348 Beacon Street; while the “garden” unit sold for around 75% of asking price, the other four units in the renovated building sold for much closer to asking, at around a 5% discount, with prices from $2.2 million to $3.9 million.

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