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Townhouse Living: 3 Distinguished Private Homes in the City

Luxury Defined presents a collection of fine townhouses in popular cities worldwide

The Townhouse, an elegant dwelling once imagined solely as a pied-à-terre for the rural nobility, no longer requires proximity to the king, the court and castle. High city land prices inspired verticality as well as upscale fittings and finishes. 

Fast forward to the Industrial Age, when urban developers found vast cost efficiencies in rapid, less expensive construction of townhouses for the upwardly mobile. Their legacy? The million-dollar rowhouses, mews cottages, and planned garden communities of the 21st century. 

In this Luxury Defined edition, we spotlight a collection of townhouses in cities far and wide. Consider a Georgian terrace in the Fair City of Dublin, a classic canal house in old Amsterdam, or perhaps, an Upper East Side townhouse in New York City. The townhouse is here to stay. 

1. Keizersgracht Canal House in Amsterdam, Netherlands 

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This classic canal house is on the regal Keizersgracht (“Emperor’s Canal”) in Amsterdam’s historic city center. The four-story residence was built in 1686 for Dutch writer Frederik van Loon and is listed as a national monument. 

The property underwent extensive restoration and refurbishment in recent years, but the original character of the house has been beautifully preserved throughout the 15,478-square-foot floor plan.  

On the main level, the visitor encounters two elegant reception rooms with decorative plasterwork and monumental stone fireplaces. A grand staircase (and an elevator) rises to the upper floors, where nine en suite bedrooms await. Above is the attic, with its beamed ceiling and large window with a view onto the Keizersgracht. 

The basement offers two multipurpose rooms leading out to a covered courtyard, nearly a third of an acre of private gardens, and a charming summer house. 

Amsterdam’s world-class cultural attractions, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, are within a few minutes’ walk, as are the charming cafés and boutiques of the “Nine Little Streets” canal district. 

2. 4 Fitzwilliam Street Upper in Dublin, Ireland 

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Forming part of a continuous terrace of townhouses lining the west side of Fitzwilliam Street Upper, this fine circa-1820 townhouse is an important piece of Dublin‘s Georgian heritage.  

The mellow, Flemish bond brick façade contrasts with the granite dressings and hand-crafted ironwork. The handsome Doric doorcase with its fanlight forms the decorative focus. It is flanked by Doric columns supporting paneled lintel entablature. Above sit three rows of sash windows adorned with wrought-iron window boxes.  

The order and symmetry of the original Georgian design is evident throughout the 4,575-square-foot interior, elegantly proportioned and refurbished throughout yet retaining many original period details: Greek Revival plasterwork, ornate ceiling cornices, and marble mantelpieces.

The reception rooms and private quarters (eight bedrooms and seven full bathrooms) are tastefully presented, and an elegant “London style” courtyard garden is at the rear of the house.  

The property is in the city’s central business district, minutes from historic St Stephen’s Green and the great shopping of Grafton Street. The National Art Gallery, National Concert Hall, and Leinster House are a short stroll away.  

3. 123 East 80th Street in New York, New York 

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This distinguished five-story townhouse at 123 80th Street presides over the leafy streetscape between Park and Lexington Avenues in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Built in 1901, its notable past residents include movie producer Neil F. Agnew and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.   

The brick and limestone Neo-Georgian façade opens to the light-filled garden level. Beyond the grand foyer is a powder room, sitting room, an office, and double doors to the patio. Also on this level is a chef’s kitchen with a wood-burning fireplace. One of seven in the home, the fireplace is adorned with pictorial Delft tiles, which, combined with the latticework, boxed parquet floors, echoes the early Dutch influence of New York City townhouses. 

The parlor level houses the formal living room, the dining room, and wet bar. The third floor offers a lavish primary suite with a wood-burning fireplace, large walk-in closet, and full bathroom. Across the landing is a wood-paneled study with a full bathroom. 

The staircase rises to two fourth-floor bedrooms, each with ample closet space, a full bathroom, and a working fireplace. A huge skylight atop the stairs floods the fifth floor with natural light.

The highlight here is a sitting room with a wet bar and French doors onto a delightful 126-square-foot terrace. Rounding out this level is an en suite bedroom, guest powder room, and laundry area. 

The basement offers a second laundry, mechanical room, walk-in cedar closet, and a custom-built wine cellar with temperature-regulated storage for up to 750 bottles. 

Searching for a place to hold court in the city? Explore our luxury collection of townhouses here.