121 Beacon was built in 1865, one of two contiguous houses (119-121 Beacon), a symmetrical pair with a shared portico entrance.
The houses originally were numbered 121-123 Beacon, but were renumbered 119-121 Beacon by 1868.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting does not attribute 119-121 Beacon to a specific architect. However, an August 19, 1865, article in the Boston Daily Advertiser indicates that they “are about completed” and that Charles K. Kirby was the architect.
Charles Kirby purchased the land for 121 Beacon on April 18, 1864, from William Warren Goddard and Abbott Lawrence. It was part of a tract of land William Goddard and Abbott Lawrence’s brother, T. Bigelow Lawrence, had purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on August 1, 1857. That tract included all of the land on the south side of Beacon Street from Arlington to Berkeley. Charles Kirby did not own the land for 119 Beacon; it was owned by Charles Blake, who presumably contracted with Charles Kirby to design his home along with 121 Beacon.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 121 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land on the south side of Beacon from Arlington to Berkeley, north of Alley 421.
On November 25, 1865, 121 Beacon was purchased from Charles Kirby by Roberta (Walker) McKinney, the wife of banker Andrew McKinney. They previously lived at 1 Derne Street. The McKinneys continued to live at 121 Beacon in 1872, but had moved to New York City by 1874. Roberta McKinney continued to own 121 Beacon and lease it to others.
By 1873, it was the home of dry goods merchant and importer Joseph Swain Lovering and his wife, Mary (Taylor) Lovering. They had lived at 103 Beacon in 1872. They continued to live at 121 Beacon during the 1880-1881 winter season, but moved thereafter. By the 1882-1883 season, they were living at 188 Beacon.
On December 1, 1881, 121 Beacon was purchased from Roberta McKinney by Elisha Slade Converse.
Elisha Converse was treasurer of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company and president of the First National Bank of Malden. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1880-1881, and of the State Senate in 1882. He and his wife, Mary Diana (Edmands) Converse lived in Malden and when it incorporated as a city, he served as its first Mayor. It does not appear that they ever lived at 121 Beacon. However, by the 1883-1884 winter season, they maintained a Boston residence at 1 Gloucester.
121 Beacon was not listed in the 1882 Blue Book.
During the 1882-1883 winter season, 121 Beacon was the home of Rhodes Lockwood and his wife, Henrietta (Niles) Lockwood. They previously had lived in Charlestown. He was a manufacturer of rubber goods for druggists, surgeons, and other specialized uses. By 1884, they had moved to 118 Beacon.
121 Beacon was not listed in the 1884 and 1885 Blue Books.
On October 27, 1884, 121 Beacon was purchased from Elisha S. Converse by Samuel Rowland Hart, a commission merchant and real estate investor. He was unmarried. 121 Beacon became a lodging house, with S. Rowland Hart as one of the residents. He lived there until about 1886, when he moved to 85 Dudley. He continued to own 121 Beacon, which continued to be operated as a lodging house.
By the 1884-1885 winter season, 121 Beacon also was the home of Mrs. Jessie Maria (Barteaux) Waldron, the widow of Samuel Wallis Waldron, who may have operated the lodging house for S. Rowland Hart. Her two young daughters, Jane Wallis Waldron and Martha Waldron, lived with her. They previously had lived at 79 Boylston.
Among the lodgers at 121 Beacon from about the same time was Clarence Walker Barron, He was financial editor of the Boston Transcript and in 1887 established the Boston News Bureau, which published bulletins of financial news. He later would acquire Dow, Jones & Company.
Jessie Waldron and her daughters continued to live at 121 Beacon until 1890, when they moved to 601 Boylston. Clarence Barron moved with them as a lodger. By 1894, they had moved to 285 Newbury, and by 1896 to 253 Newbury. Clarence Barron and Jessie Waldron married in June of 1900. After their marriage, they lived at 253 Newbury and then at 334 Beacon.
By the 1889-1890 winter season, among the lodgers at 121 Beacon was attorney and US Commissioner Henry Larned Hallett and his wife, Cora (Lovell) Hallett. They previously had lodged at 140 Beacon, also owned by S. Rowland Hart. In 1891, they moved to 31 Chestnut, and they were living in Dorchester by the time of Henry Hallett’s death in December of 1892.
S. Rowland Hart died in March of 1891. His estate continued to own 121 Beacon and lease it to others.
In July of 1893, 121 Beacon was leased by Dr. Edward de la Granja, a physician, who made it his home and medical office. He previously had lived and maintained his office at 265 Shawmut. After moving to 121 Beacon, he converted 265 Shawmut into a private surgical hospital, St. Omer Hospital, which formally opened in January of 1894. He served as a member of the staff at the hospital as well as maintaining an office at 121 Beacon.
Dr. de la Granja was joined at 121 Beacon by Miss Julia (Juliet) A. Wells, who also previously had lived at 265 Shawmut. Julia Wells was a vocalist and vocal teacher, and maintained her studio at 121 Beacon. Previously, from about 1886 until about 1892, she had joined with T. J. Mapes in presenting “illustrated song recitals” in which she performed songs accompanied by projected stereopticon illustrations prepared by Mr. Mapes and designed (as described in an October 23, 1886, Philadephia Inquirer article) to be “closely in harmony with the sentiments of the songs.”
In 1896, Rachel Adine Noah, who taught elocution and dramatic arts, joined Julia Wells in teaching students at 121 Beacon. She lived at the Hoffman House, 126 Berkeley, where she previously had maintained her own studio. Rachel Noah had been a member of the Boston Theatre’s stock company and had performed in numerous roles, including appearing with Edwin Booth. She was the widow of Shirley H. France, also an actor.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, Dr. de la Granja and Miss Wells had been joined at 121 Beacon by Dr. Edgar Strayer, recently appointed as house physician at the St. Omer Hospital. They all continued to live at 121 Beacon during the 1898-1899 winter season.
In January of 1899, Edgar Strayer was accused of stealing medical instruments from Dr. Joseph Meigs of Lowell. He left Boston before his arrest. The most of the instruments subsequently were recovered and it appears that the charges were not pursued.
By the 1899-1900 winter season, Edward de la Granja and Julia Wells had resumed living at 265 Shawmut, which also continued to be the St. Omer Hospital. He moved his medical office to 62 Beacon and she moved her teaching studio to the same address. At the time of the 1900 US Census, she was listed as living at 265 Shawmut as his housekeeper, with her occupation shown as being a music teacher.
Dr. de la Granja died in May of 1903. In his will dated October of May 2, 1902, he left all of his real estate (including 265 Shawmut) to the Massachusetts Maternity and Foundlings Hospital, with the condition that they pay an annuity to “my friend, Julia A. Wells.” He also named Julia Wells as his residual legatee and co-executor. On October 3, 1902, he executed a codicil to the will eliminating all provisions relating to Julia Wells.
By June of 1900, 121 Beacon was the home of Henry Salisbury Millard and his wife, Harriet (Stevens) Millard. He was a real estate agent and formerly had been a boot and shoe manufacturer in North Adams, Massachusetts. The Millards operated 121 Beacon as a lodging house.
On July 15, 1900, a fire was discovered in the house and extinguished before there was significant damage. Subsequent press reports indicated it was set by a former cook who had been discharged by Henry Millard.
By 1901, the Millards had moved to 125 Beacon, next door, which they also operated as a lodging house.
On March 1, 1902, the estate of S. Rowland Hart transferred 121 Beacon to his unmarried sister, Susanna Miller Hart. She died in December of 1903. Her estate continued to own 121 Beacon.
121 Beacon was not listed in the 1901-1903 Blue Books.
During the 1903-1904 winter season, it was the home of Mary (Nicholson) Gaddis, the wife of William C. Gaddis from whom she was living separately. She previously had been a lodger at 21 Marlborough.
121 Beacon was not listed in the 1905 Blue Book.
By the 1905-1906 winter season, 121 Beacon had become the home and office of Dr. John Joseph Hurley, a throat specialist. The house continued to be a lodging house, with six other residents also listed there in the 1905 City Directory.
Dr. Hurley continued to maintain his office at 121 Beacon in 1908 but had moved his residence to 37 Montfort.
By 1909, Dr. Hurley had moved and two other doctors — Dr. Richard Dexter and Dr. George A. McEvoy — had established their offices there.
On November 12, 1909, 121 Beacon was acquired from the estate of Susanna Hart by Mrs. Annie (Ternan) Hickman, the widow of Harry Hickman. She continued to operate it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 4 Walnut. Her sister, Nora (Ternan) Higginson, widow of Storrow S. Higginson, lived with her. She previously had lived at 66 Mt. Vernon with a third sister, Nellie S. Ternan.
On September 21, 1911, Annie Hickman transferred 121 Beacon to her sister, Nora Higginson, and on May 19, 1914, Nora Higginson transferred it back to Annie Hickman. At about the same time, Nora Higginson moved to 246 Newbury. Annie Hickman continued to live at 121 Beacon and operate it as a lodging house.
Among Annie Hickman’s longer-term lodgers at 137 Beacon was Charles Hammond Gibson, Jr., who lived there from about 1912. He previously had lived at 48 Beacon and before that briefly at 59 Beacon, prior to which he had lived at 137 Beacon with his parents, Charles and Rosamond (Warren) Gibson. Although he had worked as an investment banker for several years in the early 1900s, he was primarily an author and poet. He continued to live at 121 Beacon in the 1920s. By the 1921-1922 winter season he appears to have resumed living at 137 Beacon with his mother, by then a widow, but also to have continued to maintain a residence at 121 Beacon until about 1930 (he is listed at 137 Beacon in the Blue Books from 1922, but also is listed at 121 Beacon in the Lists of Residents through 1928 and in the City Directories through 1930).
Also among the longer-term lodgers at 121 Beacon was George Porter Fernald, an architect with the firm of Little and Browne. He lived there from about 1910 until about 1918, when he traveled to Italy where he died, in Taormina, in July of 1920.
Annie Hickman continued to live and maintain a lodging house at 121 Beacon in 1925. By 1926, she had moved to 652 Columbia in Dorchester and by 1930 was living there with her sisters, Nora Higginson and Nellie Ternan.
On August 25, 1925, 121 Beacon was acquired from Nellie Ternan, acting as Annie Hickman’s conservator, by Mrs. Susan Jane (Northridge) Taylor, the widow of Thomas Brierley Taylor She continued to operate it as a lodging house. She lived at 139 Newbury (although she listed herself at 121 Beacon in the Blue Books).
By 1929, Susan Taylor had moved from 139 Newbury to 84 Commonwealth, and during that year she remarried, to David R. Jones, a roofing contractor. She continued to list her residence as 121 Beacon in the Blue Books until 1936.
In 1935, 121 Beacon was the home of Jonas Edward (Edward Johan) Olsson, a machinist, and his wife, Johanna (Hanna) K. (Johanson) Olsson, who probably operated the lodging house for Susan Taylor. In April of 1935, they acquired and subsequently moved to 119 Beacon.
By 1937, 121 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Margaret Frances (Lyons) Garside, the former wife of George H. Garside. She leased it from Susan Taylor and continued to operate it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 12 Hemenway.
On August 26, 1942, George Alpert, receiver for the Conveyancers Title Insurance and Mortgage Company, foreclosed on its mortgage on 121 Beacon. He subsequently transferred the property to the Conveyancers Realty Company, and on August 27, 1943, it was acquired from the Conveyancers Realty Company by Bror August Lindstrom, a mechanic, and his wife, Alida Kristina (Akerblom) Lindstrom. They lived at 317 Marlborough.
Margaret Garside continued to live and operate a lodging house at 121 Beacon until about 1945, when she moved to 208 Commonwealth.
By 1945, Bror and Alida Lindstrom had moved to 121 Beacon. They continued to operate it as a lodging house.
Bror August Lindstrom died in June of 1972. Alida Lindstrom continued to live at 121 Beacon and operate it as a lodging house lodging house until about 1976.
On December 13, 1976, 121 Beacon was acquired from Alida Linstrom by Robert A. Pantano, who then transferred it to himself as trustee of the One Twenty One Beacon Trust.
On January 30, 1979, 121 Beacon was acquired from Robert A. Pantano by the Phaeton Corporation (Paul S. Cohen, president and treasurer). The previous year, it had purchased 119 Beacon and was in the process of converting it into six condominiums.
In May of 1979, the Phaeton Corporation applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 121 Beacon into six apartments and also added a 12×13 foot “roof top den” eight feet high.
On November 5, 1979, it converted the six apartments into condominium units, the 121 Beacon Street Condominium.