149 Beacon is located on the SW corner of Beacon and Berkeley, with 303 Berkeley (147 Beacon) to the east, across Berkeley, 151 Beacon to the west, 132 Beacon to the north, across Beacon, and 304 Berkeley to the south, across Alley 420.
149 Beacon was designed by architect Abel C. Martin and built in 1860-1861, one of six contiguous houses (149-151-153-155-157-159 Beacon) built at the same time in a symmetrical pattern. The two houses on each end (149-151 Beacon and 157-159 Beacon) feature arched, extended entries and dormers with peaked roofs, and the two houses in the center (153-155 Beacon) have entries flush with the façade and originally had dormers with arched roofs (the dormer on 153 Beacon was remodeled sometime after 1942 to have a peaked roof matching the dormer on 151 Beacon).
149-159 Beacon were built on a parcel of land with a frontage of 125 feet purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on September 2, 1858, by George Goss and Norman Carmine Munson, the contractors responsible for filling the Commonwealth’s Back Bay lands. On the same day, the parcel was purchased from them by Peleg Whitman Chandler, Jonathan Amory Davis, and Henry Lee, Jr.
On July 5, 1860, the partners subdivided the property into six lots. Peleg Chandler bought 149 Beacon and Henry Lee and J. Amory Davis bought 157 Beacon; the other four lots were bought by individual buyers.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 149 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
On August 2, 1860, Abel C. Martin filed a Notice of Intention to Build with the Board of Aldermen. The notice indicated plans to build at the corner of Beacon and Berkeley, on land owned by “P. W. Chandler and others.” Neither the number of houses to be built nor the dimensions were included in the notice; however, it appears likely that it comprised all six houses at 149-159 Beacon.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates 149-159 Beacon were built by Bourne & Leavitt. Robert Tower Bourn (Bourne) and William Leavitt were house carpenters. They bought the lot at 159 Beacon on July 5, 1860, and sold it with the completed house on August 10, 1861. It appears likely that they built the house and, as indicated by Bunting, also built the other houses at 149-157 Beacon.
By 1862, 149 Beacon was leased from Peleg Chandler by Charles Henry Minot and his wife, Maria Josephine (Grafton) Minot. In 1861, they had lived in New York City. He was a shipping merchant in partnership with Francis Minot Weld in the firm of Weld & Minot, and in the 1860s became a partner in and treasurer of the Tudor Company, a shipping merchant specializing in the worldwide shipping of ice.
In about 1865, they moved to a new house they had built at 301 Berkeley (43 Marlborough). Bourn & Leavitt were the carpenters for their new home.
On June 23, 1868, 149 Beacon was purchased from Peleg Chandler by Elizabeth Lyman (Eliot) Bullard, the wife of Stephen Hopkins Bullard. The acquisition was made by a trust established by them in 1863 for her benefit, with his brother, William Story Bullard, and her brother, Charles William Eliot, as trustees. Stephen and Elizabeth Bullard previously had lived at 70 Chestnut.
Stephen Bullard and his brother, William, were partners with Henry Lee, Jr., in the shipping merchant firm of Bullard, Lee & Co. By 1868, Stephen Bullard also was president of the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company.
149 Beacon was not listed in the 1895 and 1896 Blue Books.
On May 25/27, 1898, 149 Beacon was purchased from Elizabeth Bullard’s heirs by Charles Lowell. He and his wife, Beatrice Kate (Hardcastle) Lowell, made it their home. They previously had lived at 73 Marlborough.
Charles Lowell was a banker and served as Vice President and actuary of the State Street Trust Company. He died in May of 1906. Beatrice Lowell and their two children, Mary and Alfred Lowell, had moved to 3 Fairfield by 1907.
By the 1906-1907 winter season, 149 Beacon was the home of Morris Gray and his wife, Flora (Grant) Gray. They had lived at 283 Commonwealth during the previous season. Morris Gray was an attorney and trustee of estates, and served as President of the Museum of Fine Arts.
On August 10, 1908, 149 Beacon was purchased from Charles Lowell’s estate by Caroline Tileston (Hemenway) Taintor, the wife of bond dealer Charles Wilson Taintor. They previously had lived at 304 Marlborough.
In May of 1916, Caroline Taintor applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct an elevator on the rear of the building, built within the existing rear ell at the basement level and rising to the top story within a shaft built onto the rear façade at the southwest corner of the building. Plans for the elevator — designed by architects Bigelow and Wadsworth — are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston City Archives (reference BIN C-33).
The Taintors continued to live at 149 Beacon until about 1935. They also maintained a home in Topsfield.
On October 30, 1936, 149 Beacon was acquired from Caroline Taintor by real estate dealer Henry C. Brookings.
On March 8, 1937, it was acquired from Henry C. Brookings by Doreen Simpson (Woodyatt) Bowman, the wife of Dr. Edward Francis Bowman. They previously had lived at 1 Spruce Court and before that at 183 Bay State Road. They also maintained a home in Scituate.
Edward Bowman was a physician and maintained his medical offices at 322 Beacon, which he and his wife had purchased in April of 1935 and converted into apartments and an office.
After acquiring 149 Beacon, and sometime before 1942, the Bowmans remodeled the top floor, expanding the dormer.
During the 1936-1937 winter season, and possibly later, Edward Bowman’s brother and sister-in-law, Wordsworth W. and Caroline E. (Bessette) Bowman, also lived at 149 Beacon. Wordsworth Bowman was a wholesale shoe dealer. They previously had lived in one of the apartments at 322 Beacon.
In the mid-1950s, Edward Bowman purchased 287 Commonwealth and moved his medical office there from 322 Beacon.
By the mid-1960s, the Bowmans had subdivided 149 Beacon into several apartments.
On January 31, 1966, Doreen Bowman transferred 149 Beacon into both her and her husband’s names.
Edward and Doreen Bowman continued to live at 149 Beacon in the early 1970s.
On December 9, 1977, 149 Beacon was purchased from the Bowmans by John T. Manelas, Jr.
On May 31, 1978, he converted the property into six condominium units, the 149 Beacon Street Condominium.
Although it had been apartments for many years. The property had never been legally converted from a single-family dwelling, and in September of 1979, John Manelas was cited for not changing the legal occupancy. In March of 1980, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as six units.