1789 with later alterations. Pair of 3-storey basement and attic, 3-bay terraced classical houses. Droved Craigleith sandstone ashlar with polished dressings. Rock-faced basement; channelled rustication at ground; cill/band course at 1st floor broken by windows (perhaps lowered); fluted band course between 1st floor; swagged frieze (broken by enlarged windows at No 28), dentilled cornice and blocking course (raised to solid parapet at No 29). Regular fenestration; architraves to 1st and 2nd floors. Simple architraved doorpieces with consoled cornices to outer bays at ground; converted to window at No 28. No 29 with small decorative cast-iron balconies at 1st floor. No 28 with massive full-width lead faced attic; pair of canted windows; No 29 with mansard and pair of ashlar fronted bipartite corniced dormers, with slate hung sides.
4-storey rear elevations; No 29 deeper, with central full-height bow.
Timber sash and case windows; 4-pane to No 28; 15-, 18- and 9-pane to No 29 (plate glass to dormers). Grey slates; ashlar coped mutual skews; reduced dressed stone mutual stacks (rebuilt rubble to W). Central and flanking recessed channels for cast-iron downpipes and rainwaterheads.
NO 28: Entrance Hall with fine enriched ceiling (circle within lozenge with subsidiary details), cornice and shaped corniced overdoors with tablets (signs of removed chimneypiece). Apsidal-ended former Dining Room with dado, plaster panelled walls (swagged tablets above doors), dentilled cornice and enriched ceiling, with shallow beam across apse, overdoors as above; painted timber chimneypiece with fluted cornithian pilasters and frieze and central tablet; 2-leaf door in apse gives access to No 29. Eccentric rear right room with single square corner at far right; painted timber chimneypiece with panelled pilasters, urns and tablet. Oval rear left room (sub-divided as cloakrooms) with pilastered window with swagged frieze, flanked by subsidiary windows, and 3 balancing corniced swagged overdoors. Compact curving cantilevered stair, every 3rd banister decorative cast-iron, Vitruvian scrolled band marks 1st floor; enclosed lobbies at ground and 1st floor with curved walls and doors reflecting room plans, corniced overdoors with medallions and foliate decoration; at 1st floor, double doors to former Drawing Room with single swagged frieze, consoled cornice and pair of arches overhead (left door false), whole set into wall. Former Drawing Room (subdivided) with simple enriched ceiling (swags in oval) and rose; elaborate doorpieces framed by panelled pilasters, frieze with tablet and figures, and cornice; splayed window reveals with enriched heads; modern chimneypiece. Bow-ended (internal wall) rear right room with 3 doors to bow, central 1 with corniced overdoor with framed figures and eagle; stripped gesso chimneypiece with panelled pilasters and fluted frieze, urns and swagged tablet, bold modern marble insets; dado; tripartite window. Rear left room subdivided with bowed outer wall; central window flanked by cupboards; painted (gesso?) chimneypiece with pilasters urns and frieze; dado. At 2nd floor further full flight to attic (timber stairs) introduced in late 19th century with decorative contemporary cast-iron banisters, partly supported by arcaded brackets; this flight divides shallow fan-headed niche on outer wall of stairwell; magnificent circula cupola supported on 4 arches and pendentives, whole decorated with finest neo-classical plasterwork, incorporating circular trophy panels. 2nd floor rooms with 19th century detailing, grey marble chimneypieces to rear rooms, single front room subdivided. At attic, single front room lit by dormers and rooflights; further timber stair to garret .
NO 29: Entrance Hall divided by later glazed screen; W wall with pilastered recess containing recent press; walls with oval plaster figurines; fine acanthus cornice, simple enriched ceiling (lozenge and rose); corniced overdoor with tablet to stair hall, (later ?) door to former Dining Room. Former Dining Room virtually identical to No 28, but with slightly more decorative ceiling, and the walls with flat rather than moulded panels; no chimneypiece. Single full-width room at rear with central bow; flat panels to walls; 3 pilastered windows in bow, and further window to right, with enriched splayed heads; dentilled cornice, window breast to left but no chimneypiece, full-height niche to right; overdoor as above. Central stair hall with compact curved cantilevered stair; swagged frieze; decorative cast-iron banisters as No 28, but alternate; Vitruvian scroll as No 28. At 1st floor, landing with swagged frieze, corniced overdoors with similar frieze to former Drawing Room. Former Drawing Room with enriched ceiling (oval and rose, identical to No 28); splayed window reveals with panelled pilasters, enriched heads and swagged friezes (as room at rear ground); full-height niche to E wall, facing fine gesso chimneypiece with panelled pilasters, urns and foliate frieze and tablet, grey marble slips and iron register grate; plain doors. Rear right room extended awkwardly into bow (presumably formerly press); rear left room with curious recess (as hall). At 2nd floor, landing with shaped hand rail; shallow niche as No 28; enriched circular cupola supported on arches and pendentives, as No 28 but not so fine; skylight, rather than being conical, is pitched (containing modern velux); front left room with oculus to stair well; archway with timber return stair to attic.
RAILINGS AND LAMP STANDARDS: spear-headed cast-iron railings; old wrought-iron lamp standards to No 29.
Statement of Special Interest
No 28 was built for Robert Allan and No 29 seems to have been built speculatively by James Nisbet, presumably with the mason James Tait; together they were responsible for building No 28. Nisbet had bought the plot from David Stewart, a banker who had acquired it in 1779 (Stewart later bought No 8), and sold the house as soon as it was built. A significant surviving part of the original fabric of Edinburgh?s New Town, one of the most important and best preserved examples of urban planning in Britain; Queen Street was built to take advantage of the northern views, and has survived remarkably unaltered to this day. The pair came under the single ownership of William Hunter, a bookbinder, in 1888, and were acquired by The Society of Accountants in Edinburgh on the 20th November 1948. Hunter built the bindery to the rear, against the wishes of many residents, which the Institute converted for training purposes in 1981; it is now known as Stewart House. No 28 is extensively described by the RCAHMS, as a representative example of a smaller Queen Street house, although it is of course one of the finest in the street, and as such hardly representative; it has one of the most exotic plans of any New Town house, with hardly a square room, and a cupola of outstanding quality. It is possible that the functions of some doors and cupboards have been interchanged, especially at the ground floor, where access to the Dining Room is likely originally to have been from the central hall. No 29 is unique in the street in having a single rear room, if only at ground, and is also distinctive for the niches in this room and the Drawing Room. The enclosed stairwells are also of particular interest. Both houses can be compared with No 64 (where the cupolas is treated as at No 29), and Nos 66-7 Queen Street, which must also have been largely built by Nisbet (see separate listings).