A rare glimpse

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Telegram tours luxury townhouse featured in The New York Times, and you can take our video tour

A St. John's town house selling for $1.55 million is in the global spotlight thanks to one of the world's most-read papers.

The east wing of the BIS building on 60 Queen's Rd. was the latest property featured in an international real estate series running in The New York Times.

A St. John's town house selling for $1.55 million is in the global spotlight thanks to one of the world's most-read papers.  Photos by Mark Burt/Special to The Telegram

A St. John's town house selling for $1.55 million is in the global spotlight thanks to one of the world's most-read papers.

The east wing of the BIS building on 60 Queen's Rd. was the latest property featured in an international real estate series running in The New York Times.

The property appeared in the "Great Homes and Destinations" section April 20 under the headline, "House Hunting in ... Newfoundland, Canada."

And the publicity is already paying off, according to Justin Spurrell, the ReMax United realtor who listed the property.

"It's just given this property huge international exposure," he said, adding he's been corresponding with a prospective buyer in Norway who read the story.

Besides showcasing the luxurious townhouse, the article cited the province's hot real estate market.

The selling price of a single family home in St. John's, it pointed out, rose 19.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, to $241,709.

Given that the BIS property is in the global spotlight, The Telegram asked for a tour. Spurrell enthusiastically agreed.

"I'm amazed every time I come in it," he says.

The building was constructed between 1877 and 1880 and was the longtime home of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS).

A decade ago, it was transformed into three estate homes.

Spurrell sold the 5,200 square foot east wing to its current owner - the only person who's lived in it - but wouldn't say who that is.

The fact that it's a desirable property is obvious as soon as you enter on the ground floor - after walking through a five-car parking area that includes a one-vehicle garage.

To the left is a four-foot thick, exposed stone wall that extends to the top floor. On the right is the first flight of a four-storey original staircase that's been restored. The steps are on the steep side, but quite impressive.

Straight ahead, the hall leads to an entertainment room, an elevator, a three-piece bath and an art gallery.

The ceilings on the ground floor are 12 feet high, with deep mouldings.

"They're crown moldings, but they're huge," Spurrell acknowledged.

The next level includes a 24 by 15 master bedroom with a 14-foot ceiling, chandelier, hardwood floors and plenty of closet space, as well as the main bath, two guest rooms and access to a stone courtyard facing the Basilica to the rear of the house.

The ensuite bath also has a chandelier, a custom glass shower, a large jacuzzi tub and marble tiles.

There's a mini-bar outside the entrance to the deck. Visible from the landing are the courtyard, a soon-to-be completed electronic waterfall and a man-made pond.

The third floor - well, that's like something out of Hollywood. At the top of the steps is a sitting area with an high arched window with a view of The Narrows, Signal Hill and downtown.

An archway through the stone wall leads to what used to be the Nickel Theatre in the BIS days. The room measures 38 by 22 feet. In the far-left corner is an open kitchen with built-in appliances. A granite-topped raised eating area wraps around the cooking area.

At the front of the kitchen is a living area with a fireplace and arched windows with views of city landmarks.

The room has a 20-foot ceiling and an exposed stone wall with at least three kinds of brick, which is Spurrell's favourite feature. He's intrigued by its history.

"How they would actually build that back in 1877? (Imagine) the work to construct the building, and how labour-intensive it would have been back then, as opposed to the modern conveniences we have today."

The fourth floor has 400 square feet of loft space that could be used as a library or home office.

Despite the age of the property, there are plenty of modern features, including a visual intercom that allows people to see who's at the front door or communicate with people on other floors, an eight-zone, state-of-the-art sound system and in-floor and impressive light fixtures.

It's one of the most expensive homes on the local market.

"You can buy a piece of history of St. John's," Spurrell says.

If, of course, the bank approves your $1.55 million mortgage.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Benevolent Irish Society, New York Times, Queen's Nickel Theatre

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada Norway Hollywood Signal Hill

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Recent comments

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    St. Johns in totality would be worth about that

  • Sounding
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Nice view of the oil tanks on the south side for 1.55 mil $. That is when you can see them.

  • corner girl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I thought the Nickel Theatre was on the west side- sure looked like it in the old pictures

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Hahaha, only a fool would pay that. Might be worth 500,000, but not a red cent more. Sorry, but the wages here would never justify the asking price. NEVER!

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    St. Johns in totality would be worth about that

  • Sounding
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Nice view of the oil tanks on the south side for 1.55 mil $. That is when you can see them.

  • corner girl
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    I thought the Nickel Theatre was on the west side- sure looked like it in the old pictures

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Hahaha, only a fool would pay that. Might be worth 500,000, but not a red cent more. Sorry, but the wages here would never justify the asking price. NEVER!