179 Beacon was designed by Snell and Gregerson, architects, and built ca. 1867 as the home of merchandise broker Alfred Belcher Hall and his wife, Margaret Welch (Phillips) Hall. They previously had lived at 28 Marlborough.
Margaret Hall purchased the land for 179 Beacon on October 30, 1865, from real estate dealer Henry Whitwell. It was part of a larger parcel originally purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on February 10, 1860, by Norman Munson. He and his partner, George Goss, were the contractors responsible for filling the Commonwealth’s Back Bay lands.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 179 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
In 1876, the Halls were joined at 179 Beacon by Margaret Hall’s brother, retired East India merchant John Charles Phillips, Jr., and his wife Anna (Tucker) Phillips. They had married in October of 1875 in London. Their son, John, was born at 179 Beacon in November of 1876. By late 1877, John and Anna Phillips had moved to 23 Commonwealth.
On May 29, 1915, 179 Beacon was purchased from Alfred Hall’s estate by Martha Susan (Suzette) (Jolliffe) Sears, the wife of attorney William Richard Sears. They previously had lived at 336 Beacon. Prior to moving to 179 Beacon, they had the interior remodeled, designed by architects Kilham and Hopkins.
During the 1922-1923 winter season, William and Susan Sears were living elsewhere and 179 Beacon was the home of banker Arnold Welles Hunnewell and his wife, Mary Copley (Amory) Hunnewell, who were newly married. In 1922, before their marriage, Arnold Hunnewell had lived at 261 Commonwealth, his family home, with his unmarried brother and sister, Francis W. Hunnewell and Louisa Hunnewell. Mary Amory had lived at 279 Beacon with her uncle, Frederic Amory. By the 1923-1924 season, the Hunnewells had moved to 20 Hereford and the Searses were once again living at 179 Beacon.
William Sears died in June of 1925, and Susan Sears moved to an apartment at 293 Commonwealth. She continued to own 179 Beacon and lease it to others.
During the 1925-1926 winter season, 179 Beacon was the home of John Woods Myers and his wife, Almeda (Bagley) Myers. They previously had lived in Dedham, where they continued to maintain a home. He was a banker and former leather dealer. By the next season they had moved to 158 Mt. Vernon, and by 1928 to 128 Beacon.
By 1927, 179 Beacon had become a dormitory for Erskine School, which also occupied a number of other houses on Beacon.
Erskine School had been founded in the early 1920s by Miss Euphemia E. McClintock. She had served as president of the College for Women in Columbia, South Carolina, until it merged with Chicora College in 1915. She moved to Boston, where her sister, Mary Law McClintock, operated Miss McClintock’s School at 4 Arlington and (by 1922) at 135 Beacon. Euphemia McClintock probably first was a teacher in her sister’s school, but by late 1923 had established her own institution, Erskine School.
179 Beacon continued to be an Erskine School dormitory until about 1931.
By the 1931-1932 winter season, it once again was the home of Susan Sears and the Sears children: Vyvyan Sears, William Richard Sears, Jr., and Julia Gray Sears.
Julia Sears married in April of 1938 to Reginald Henry Phelps; after their marriage, they lived in Cambridge.
By 1939, Susan Sears had moved to an apartment at 100 Beacon. William R. Sears, Jr., a photographer, and probably Vyvyan Sears, moved with her.
In March of 1939, Susan Sears applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 179 Beacon from a single-family dwelling into a single-family dwelling and lodging house, stating on the application that “absolutely no work will be done; merely wish to let a few rooms in my house.”
By 1939, 179 Beacon was the home of Warren Carleton Woodworth, who operated it as a lodging house. He previously had lived at 25 Park Drive. A former manager at Goddard Brothers department store in Lynn, he had been associated with the Charlesgate Market in the late 1930s. He was listed as Mrs. Sears’s contractor on her application to convert the house.
On September 25, 1942, Warren Woodworth acquired 179 Beacon from Susan Sears.
On November 6, 1956, Edythe E. Flaherty of Belmont purchased 179 Beacon from Warren Woodworth. He continued to live at 179 Beacon and probably continued to manage the lodging house until his death in October of 1966.
On October 26, 1978, 179 Beacon was purchased from Edythe Flaherty by 179 Beacon Associates, Inc. (Robert Epstein, president; David Epstein, treasurer).
In November of 1978, Robert and David Epstein filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the house and convert it into five units.
On March 15, 1979, they converted the property into five condominium units, the 179 Beacon Street Condominium.