173 Beacon was designed by architect Luther Briggs, Jr., and built in 1866 by builder and real estate dealer Paul Dean Wallis, one of three contiguous houses (169-171-173 Beacon) he built for speculative sale. He and his wife, Mary Caroline (Pierce) Wallis, lived in West Roxbury.
169 and 171 Beacon form a symmetrical pair, with the entrances centered between two bays extending through the mansard roof. 173 Beacon is of the same design with the entrance on the west side. 173 Beacon appears to have been built in anticipation of there being a companion building at 175 Beacon, forming another symmetrical pair. However, it was designed by a different architect and, although subsequent remodeling of 175 Beacon has obscured its original design, it does not appear that it was originally a “sister” house to 173 Beacon.
Paul Wallis assembled several parcels of land to create the three 19 foot wide lots for 167-171-173 Beacon. He bought the bulk of the land – a lot with a 50 foot frontage — on May 23, 1866, from Robert Scott. He combined it with two smaller lots he had already acquired on November 17, 1865, a 5 foot 6 inch lot on the west of Robert Scott’s lot which he purchased from real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, and a 1 foot 6 inch strip on the east of Robert Scott’s lot which he purchased from Arthur Lithgow Devens (who had acquired it from Henry Whitwell on the same day). The 1 foot 6 inch strip to the east was part of a parcel originally 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. The rest of the land was part of a parcel purchased from the Commonwealth on February 4, 1860, by Norman Munson.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 173 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
On November 28, 1865, Paul Wallis filed a Notice of Intention with the Board of Aldermen to build 169-173 Beacon. On March 12, 1866, the Boston Evening Transcript reported that “three first-class freestone houses are to be erected on the south side of Beacon street, just below the Public Garden, designed by L. Briggs of 20 Joy’s Building, and owned by Mr. P. D. Wallis. They are to be four stories in height, and the fronts elaborately wrought. The foundations are already laid, and they will probably be completed in early summer, when they will be on the market.”
Completion of the houses may have been delayed by a law suit filed by Andrew Mudge, who owned the property at 175 Beacon. He secured a preliminary injunction to prevent Paul Wallis’s construction of the houses at 169-173 Beacon on the basis that they would violate the restrictions in the land deeds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requiring that the houses be set back twenty feet from the street (with exceptions for bays and entrance stairs and porticos). In June of 1866, the Supreme Judicial Court dissolved the preliminary injunction, presumably finding that the design would not violate the setback requirement.
On April 29, 1867, Paul Wallis offered all three houses for sale at public auction. The auction notice published in the Boston Traveller by auctioneers N. A. Thompson & Co. noted that the houses were “just completed” and that “each contain two spacious drawing rooms, large entrance hall, dining room, reception parlor, billiard room and seven chambers, with spacious and pleasant kitchen and laundry accommodations. … Each house has two expensively finished bath rooms for family use, and one for the use of the servants, with large cedar closets, several spacious wardrobe and linen closets, and a water closet in each story, two separate stair cases, inside shutters and blinds, and large plate glass windows back and front.”
The auction notice also indicated that “one of these houses, at least, will be sold to the highest bidder without reserve, and the other two also, should a sufficient competition warrant their being put up.” Only 173 Beacon was purchased at the auction.
On April 30, 1867, the Boston Traveller reported that the winning bidder for 173 Beacon had been grocery importer and dealer Samuel Stillman Pierce. Either the transaction was not completed or he sold his right to purchase the property, and he did not take title to the property.
On April 8, 1868, 173 Beacon was purchased from Paul Wallis by retired shipping merchant Jonathan Willard Peele. He and his wife, Sarah Ann (Silsbee) Peele, made it their home. They previously had lived in Beverly, where they continued to maintain a residence.
J. Willard Peele died in September of 1871.
Sarah Peele continued to live at 173 Beacon. Their son, Willard S. Peele, lived with her and, by the late 1870s, they were joined by her son-in-law and daughter, Daniel Appleton Dwight and Mary Silsbee (Peele) Dwight. Daniel Dwight was a cotton broker and in the early 1870s had served as president of the White Water Valley Railroad in Ohio.
Sarah Peele died in December of 1887. The Dwights and Willard Silsbee Peele continued to live at 173 Beacon until 1894. They also maintained a home in Dublin, New Hampshire. By 1895, Willard Peele was living in Beverly, and by the 1895-1896 winter season, the Dwights were living at 312 Marlborough.
On October 11, 1894, 173 Beacon was purchased from the Peele family by Mary King (Squibb) Munro, the wife of Dr. John Cummings Munro. He also maintained his medical offices there. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his office) at 367 Boylston.
John Munro was a physician and surgeon, and was the first surgeon-in-chief of Carney Hospital.
John Munro died in December of 1910. Mary Munro continued to live at 173 Beacon during the 1913-1914 winter season, but moved thereafter and by 1920 was living in Milton. She continued to own 173 Beacon and lease it to others.
By the 1915-1916 winter season, 173 Beacon was the home of investment banker Walter Hunnewell, Jr., and his wife, Minna Cornelia (Lyman) Hunnewell. Walter Hunnewell was the grandson of J. Willard and Sarah Ann Peele, who had owned and lived at 173 Beacon in the 1870s and 1880s (Walter Hunnewell’s mother was Jane Appleton Peele). The Hunnewells continued to live there during the 1919-1920 season but moved thereafter to 36 Commonwealth.
On September 3, 1920, 173 Beacon was purchased from Mary Munro by paper manufacturer Valentine Hollingsworth. He and his wife, Ruby Julia (McCormick) Hollingsworth, had married in June of 1920 and 173 Beacon probably was their first home together. By 1923, they had moved to 191 Marlborough.
On August 24, 1922, 173 Beacon was acquired by Channing Harris Cox. He and his wife, Mary (Young) Cox, made it their home. They previously had lived at 90 Fenway. They also maintained a home in North Scituate.
Channing Cox served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1921 through 1924. After leaving office, he retired from politics and became a banker, serving as vice president of the First National Bank and then as president of the Old Colony Trust Company.
The Coxes continued to live at 173 Beacon until about 1949, when they moved to an apartment at 172 Beacon.
On September 15, 1949, 173 Beacon was acquired from Channing Cox by real estate dealer Thomas J. Diab.
On November 14, 1949, 173 Beacon was purchased from Thomas Diab by Paul Revere Barros Lundgren and his wife, Mary Gloria (Cordeira) Lundgren. They previously had lived at 30 Gloucester. He was a salesman with a furrier and later would operate a construction company. He was born Paul Revere Barros, but took the surname of his step-father, Frans Anders Johan Lundgren.
In February of 1951, he applied to change the occupancy from a single-family dwelling into a three-family dwelling and lodging house. He abandoned the permit and in February of 1954, he applied again, seeking to legalize the occupancy as a single-family dwelling and lodging house. The change in occupancy was subsequently approved.
Paul and Gloria Lundgren lived at 173 Beacon and operated it as a lodging house.
On January 7, 1954, they transferred the property into Gloria Lundgren’s name, and she transferred it to herself as trustee for the benefit of their two daughters, Joan Glora (Lundgren) Ikasalo, the wife of Stanley E. Ikasalo, and Pauline Barbara Lundgren.
The Lundgrens divorced in the late 1950s; he remarried to Lucy Emma Kressling and they moved to Reno, Nevada, in 1958. Gloria Lundgren continued to live at 173 Beacon until about 1980.
On January 5, 1981, 173 Beacon was purchased from Gloria Lundgren and her daughters by the 173 Beacon Development Corporation (Arthur E. Simons, president and treasurer). On August 6, 1981, it sold the property to the 173 Beacon Development Corporation (Young K. Park, president and treasurer).
In October of 1981, the 173 Beacon Development Corporation applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property into six apartments.
On April 9, 1982, it converted the property into six condominium units , the La Residence Condominium.