163 Beacon was built in 1870-1871 for real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, one of four houses (161-163-165-167 Beacon) built on land he purchased on October 21, 1861, from shipping merchant and US Congressman Samuel Hooper.
The original parcel, with a 78 foot frontage, had been purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on September 10, 1859, by George Goss and Norman Carmine Munson, the contractors responsible for filling the Commonwealth’s Back Bay lands. On the same day, they had sold it to banker Franklin Haven (one of the three Commissioners on the Back Bay responsible for the sale of the Commonwealth’s land), who then sold it on December 17, 1859, to Samuel Hooper.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 163 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
Henry Whitwell subdivided the parcel into a 19 foot lot at 161 Beacon, an 18 foot lot at 163 Beacon, a 20 foot lot at 165 Beacon, and a 19 foot lot at 167 Beacon, leaving an additional one foot six inches at the western boundary of his land. He built his own home at 161 Beacon in 1863-1864. In February of 1865, he sold the lot at 167 Beacon to Arthur Devens, and in November of 1865 he sold him the addition one foot six inch strip of land (which Arthur Devens sold that same day to Paul Wallis, who combined it with the land where 169 Beacon was built). In May of 1868, Henry Whitwell sold Anna Flagler, the wife of John Haldane Flagler, the lot at 165 Beacon. He retained the lot at 163 Beacon.
Henry Whitwell lived at 161 Beacon with his parents, Samuel Whitwell and Sophia (Story) Whitwell, and his unmarried sister and brother, Sophia Louisa Whitwell and Samuel Horatio Whitwell (who also was his business partner).
Henry Whitwell’s mother died in December of 1867. In June of 1870, he bought back the lot at 167 Beacon and on October 10, 1870, he filed with the Board of Aldermen a Notice of Intention to build at both 167 Beacon and 163 Beacon.
Henry Whitwell’s father died in March of 1871. Soon thereafter, Henry, Sophia, and S. Horatio Whitwell moved to the new house at 167 Beacon.
In August of 1871, Henry Whitwell offered the new house at 163 Beacon for sale. In an August 18, 1871, advertisement in the Boston Daily Advertiser, he described it as “finished throughout in the best manner, in hard wood, for sale on liberal terms.” It remained unsold until 1872.
On March 5, 1872, 163 Beacon was purchased from Henry Whitwell by Daniel Denny, Jr. He and his wife, Mary DeForest (Bigelow) Denny, made it their home. They previously lived on Savin Hill Road in Dorchester. They also maintained a home in Milton.
The Dennys continued to live at 163 Beacon until about 1878, when they made their home in Milton their year-round residence.
On April 29, 1878, 163 Beacon was purchased from Daniel Denny by retired iron merchant Roger Newton Allen. He and his wife, Lydia Goodwin (Russell) Allen, made it their home. They previously had lived in Montreal.
During the 1892-1893 winter season, the Allens were living elsewhere and 163 Beacon was the home of Herbert Merriam and his wife, Fanny (Hawes) Merriam. Herbert Merriam owned and operated Cherry Brook Farm in Weston, which also was their primary residence. They had lived at 351 Marlborough during the 1891-1892 winter season. The Merriams had moved by late 1893, and 163 Beacon was once again the Allens’ home.
On December 4, 1907, Roger Allen transferred 163 Beacon into his wife’s name.
By the 1911-1912 winter season, the Allens were joined by Lydia Allen’s maternal aunt, Lydia Goodwin (Hedge) Lothrop, the widow of Dr. Joshua Rich Lothrop.
On January 19, 1917, Roger Allen transferred 163 Beacon to his daughter, Rosamond (Allen) Evans, the wife of Dr. David James Evans, a physician. They lived in Montreal.
Roger Allen lived at 163 Beacon until shortly before his death in June of 1919. At the time of his death, he was a resident of Brookline.
163 Beacon was not listed in the 1920 and 1921 Blue Books.
During the 1921-1922 winter season, it was the home of Mrs. Constance Baillie (Rose) Ripley, the former wife of stockbroker Louis Arthur Ripley, from whom she had been divorced in about 1916. Their four children — Julie, Constance, Louis, and Sidney Dillon Ripley — lived with her. They previously had lived at 193 Beacon . They also maintained a home in Litchfield, Connecticut. S. Dillon Ripley later would become a noted ornithologist and would serve as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution for twenty years.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, David and Rosamond (Allen) Evans had made 163 Beacon their home. He had recently retired as a physician in Montreal. They also maintained a home in Dover, Massachusetts.
Rosamond Evans continued to live at 163 Beacon until about 1965.
On August 18, 1965, 163 Beacon was purchased from Phillips Ketchum, conservator of the property of Rosamond Allen Evans, by Rose Bornstein, trustee of the Rochelle Realty Trust.
Rose Rochelle (Goldberg) Levin Glazer Bornstein was the former wife of Reuben Levin and Max L. Glazer. She was a retired pianist and entertainer who performed as (and legally changed her name to) Rose Rochelle. She had married in the early 1960s to Morris Bornstein, after which she was known as Rose Bornstein. He died or they separated by 1965. She owned and lived in an apartment house at 273 Beacon, and also owned several other apartment buildings and lodging houses in the Back Bay and South End. In 1964, she had briefly owned 165 Beacon.
On December 22, 1965, 163 Beacon was acquired from Rose Bornstein by Burdett College.
163 Beacon was shown as vacant in the 1966-1968 City Directories.
On April 4, 1968, 163 Beacon was purchased from Burdett College by Michael Aifer, trustee of the A&A Realty Trust. In March of 1968, prior to finalizing his purchase of the property, he had applied for (and subsequently received) permission to change the occupancy from a single family dwelling and lodging house (with twenty lodgers) to twelve apartments.
On June 5, 1972, 163 Beacon was acquired from Michael Aifer by William F. Mullen. On December 6, 1979, he converted the property into twelve condominium units, the 163 Beacon Condominium.