151 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 151 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.
151 Beacon was purchased on July 5, 1860, by Mary Ellen (Parker) Lowell, the wife of retired merchant George Gardner Lowell. They previously had lived at 30 Mt. Vernon.
The Lowells’ two children, Francis Cabot Lowell and Anna Parker Lowell, lived with them. Anna Lowell married in June of 1879 to her cousin, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, an attorney and later President of Harvard; after their marriage, they lived at 73 Marlborough. Francis Lowell, an attorney and later a federal judge, married in November of 1882 to Cornelia Prime Baylies; after their marriage, they lived at 80 Marlborough.
George Lowell died in February of 1885. Mary Ellen Lowell continued to live at 151 Beacon until her death in April of 1915. In her will, she left 151 Beacon to her daughter-in-law, Cornelia (Baylies) Lowell.
In December of 1915, Alice Putnam (Bacon) Lothrop, the widow of banker William Sturgis Hooper Lothrop, applied to remodel the interior of the house. She lived in an apartment at Haddon Hall at 29 Commonwealth, and probably had intended to purchase 151 Beacon as her home. She subsequently abandoned the permit and by late 1916 had purchased and moved to 114 Beacon.
On July 23, 1920, 151 Beacon was acquired from Cornelia Lowell by real estate dealer William J. Stober.
On March 29, 1922, 151 Beacon was acquired from William Stober by attorney John Lothrop Motley. He and his wife, Nancy (Barton) Motley, made it their home. They previously had lived at 7 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Nahant.
The Motleys continued to live at 151 Beacon until about 1943, but had moved to an apartment at 8 Gloucester by 1944.
In May of 1943, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the house from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
It appears that the lodging house was operated briefly in 1943 by Max Feer, who owned a grocery and variety store, and his wife, Emma (Korb) Wolffers Feer. In 1942, they had lived and operated a lodging house at 323 Beacon, and were in the process of converting 113 Beacon into a lodging house, where they had moved by 1944.
On September 14, 1945, 151 Beacon was acquired from S. Clifford Speed by Mrs. Alice W. Lauren, who operated it as a lodging house. She lived at 59 Commonwealth, where she also operated a lodging house.
On August 7, 1946, 151 Beacon was acquired from Alice Lauren by Frances Willard (Hammond) Christian, widow of Dr. Andreas (Andrew) Forest Christian. She lived at 20 Hereford. That same month, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 151 Beacon into eleven apartments.
The property subsequently changed hands and on May 1, 1961, was acquired by real estate dealer and property manager Robert White. In March of 1961, he had acquired 153 Beacon, also an apartment house with eleven units.
In May of 1961, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remove a wooden shed from the rear of the two buildings. He subsequently installed parking for the tenants.
On March 31, 1970, 151 Beacon and 153 Beacon were purchased from Robert White by real estate broker and investor George Demeter. On March 16, 1984, he transferred both properties to himself as trustee of the Demeter Realty Trust.
On October 26, 1995, were acquired from the Demeter Realty Trust by the 151-153 Beacon Street Corporation.
In January of 1996, the 151-153 Beacon Street Corporation applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine the buildings and remodel them into six units. On July of 1997, it converted the building into six condominium units, the 151-153 Beacon Street Condominium.