108 Beacon was designed by architect Gridley J. F. Bryant and built ca. 1856. It was originally numbered 104 Beacon, but re-numbered as 108 Beacon ca. 1862 when homes were built on the south side of the street.
108 Beacon is one of seven contiguous houses (104-106-108-110-112-114-116) built ca. 1856 in the same design, all in brownstone with French Academic details, ridge roofs, and a common cornice line (the copper-clad oriels at 106, 108, and 110 Beacon were added in the mid-1880s). 104-106 Beacon, 108-110 Beacon, and 112-114 Beacon are each symmetrical pairs.
Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay does not attribute 104-116 Beacon to a specific architect. However, the October 1859 edition of the Architect’s and Mechanic’s Journal, commenting on the houses built on the first block of Beacon in the Back Bay, indicates that they were “from the designs of Mr. G. J. F. Bryant, architect.”
108 Beacon was built as the home of John Templeman Coolidge, president of the Columbian National Bank, and his wife Louisa Riché (Tilden) Coolidge. They previously had lived at 51 Summer. Louisa Coolidge’s brother-in-law and sister, George Middleton Barnard and Susan Livingston (Tilden) Barnard, lived next door, at 106 Beacon.
John Templeman Coolidge purchased the land for 108 Beacon on June 28, 1855, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 108 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
The Coolidges’ son, John Templeman Coolidge, Jr., lived with them until his marriage in March of 1860 to Anna Tucker Parker, after which they moved to a newly-built home at 148 Beacon. John Templeman Coolidge, Jr., was a shipping merchant in the firm of Joseph S. Coolidge & Co.
By June of 1880, at the time of the US Census, the Coolidges had been joined at 108 Beacon by their divorced daughter, Mary Louisa Coolidge, who formerly had been married to her second cousin, Joseph Swett Coolidge. Prior to their separation in the mid-1860s, Joseph and Mary Coolidge had lived next door, at 110 Beacon.
Also living at 108 Beacon in 1880 were Joseph and Mary Louisa Coolidge’s son and daughter-in-law, John Templeman Coolidge, III, and Catherine Scollay (Parkman) Coolidge, who had married in September of 1879. He was an artist and antiquarian. They moved to Paris in the early 1880s, returning in May of 1885, after which they lived at 114 Beacon.
Joseph and Mary Louisa Coolidge’s daughter, Louise Riché Coolidge, also lived at 108 Beacon with her mother and grandparents until her marriage in November of 1882 to William Duncan McKim, a physician and surgeon. After their marriage, they lived in New York City.
On April 11, 1893, 108 Beacon was purchased from the estate of John Templeman Coolidge by Nathaniel Perez Hamlen, a merchandise broker. He previously had lived at 18 Commonwealth.
Nathaniel Hamlen was a widower and purchased 108 Beacon as trustee of a trust he had established in May of 1877 following the death in childbirth of his wife, Gertrude (Loring) Hamlen, in January of 1877, for the benefit of their four children: Miriam Perkins Hamlen, Elizabeth Perkins Hamlen, Paul Mascarene Hamlen, and Gertrude Loring Hamlen. They lived with him at 108 Beacon.
On September 25, 1897, he transferred 108 Beacon to his eldest three children, all of whom had reached their majority, noting the fourth, Gertrude Loring Hamlen, as ”being a minor and for whom I shall otherwise provide.” On the same day, Miriam, Elizabeth, and Paul Hamlen transferred the property back to him as a trustee on their behalf, under the same terms as the original trust.
They continued to live at 108 Beacon until August of 1898, when he purchased and they moved to 246 Beacon.
On August 15, 1898, 108 Beacon was purchased from Nathaniel Hamlen by Jane Norton (Wigglesworth) Grew, the wife of Henry Sturgis Grew. They lived at 89 Beacon.
108 Beacon became the home of the Grews’ son-in-law and daughter, attorney Boylston Adams Beal and Elizabeth (Elsie) Sturgis (Grew) Beal. They previously had lived at 73 Beacon. They moved to 108 Beacon in the latter part of the 1898-1899 winter season, having first lived temporarily at 89 Beacon with Elizabeth Beal’s parents while 108 Beacon was being remodeled. Boylston Beal’s parents, James and Louisa (Adams) Beal, lived at 104 Beacon. Boylston and Elizabeth Beal also maintained a home in Manchester.
On August 7, 1902, Jane Grew transferred 108 Beacon to Elizabeth (Grew) Beal.
During the 1907-1908 and 1908-1909 winter seasons, the Beals were living elsewhere and 108 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Rose (Lee) Gray, the widow of attorney Reginald Gray. She previously had lived at 392 Beacon. By the 1909-1910 season, she had moved to 22 Marlborough and the Beals were once again living at 108 Beacon.
In the fall of 1909, Boylston Beal purchased The Ledges in Manchester, Massachusetts, from the estate of Mortimer B. Mason and had the house remodeled by Arthur Little. He named the remodeled house Clipston.
In January of 1928, the Beals acquired 110 Beacon, next door. In February of 1928, Elizabeth Beal applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interiors of both houses, including cutting doors through the party wall between the houses to consolidate them into one residence with the address of 108 Beacon.
On December 3, 1957, 108-110 Beacon was purchased from Second Bank-State Street Trust Company, conservator of the property of Elizabeth S. Beal, by Fred L. Arata, a retail liquor dealer and real estate investor. He and his wife, Annette Flossie (Crovo) Boggiano Arata, lived in Brighton.
On November 9, 1959, 108-110 Beacon were acquired from Fred Arata by M. Henry Garrity.
108-110 Beacon were not listed in the 1958-1960 Lists of Residents and were shown as vacant in the 1958-1961 City Directories.
On July 31, 1961, 108-110 Beacon were acquired from M. Henry Garrity by Fisher College. It already owned 112-118 Beacon, and acquired 102-106 Beacon in June of 1962.
In August of 1961, Fisher College applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 108-110 Beacon into classrooms and other college facilities.