195 Beacon was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1871-1872, one of three contiguous houses (191-193-195 Beacon), with 193 Beacon and 195 Beacon forming a symmetrical pair. 191 Beacon and 193 Beacon were built for James Henry Blake, and 195 Beacon was built for Nathaniel W. Curtis.
The land for 191-193 Beacon was purchased by James H. Blake from William Carpenter in two transactions, 193 Beacon on December 21, 1870, and 191 Beacon on March 23, 1871. The land for 195 Beacon was purchased by Nathaniel Curtis on December 16, 1870, from Francis E. Parker, a lawyer, who had purchased it from William Carpenter on April 11, 1870. William Carpenter was a builder and it is possible that he constructed all three houses. The land had previously had several owners and originally was part of two larger parcels acquired from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 7, 1860, and May 2, 1860, by Norman Munson. Norman Munson 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 195 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates that 191-193-195 Beacon were built in 1872. Based on the wording of the party wall agreements, however, it appears that the houses were begun in 1871 and nearing completion in 1872 (both the agreement on December 16, 1870, between the owners of the lot at 195 Beacon and of the house at 197 Beacon and the agreement on April 24, 1871, between the owners of the lot at 191 Beacon and of the house at 189 Beacon, indicate that construction is about to begin). This is consistent with an August 23, 1871, Boston Traveller article on work underway by Peabody and Stearns, which indicated that the three houses were “half finished.”
Nathaniel William Curtis and his wife, Sarah James (Scull) Curtis, made 195 Beacon their home. They previously had lived at 47 Chestnut. He was a commission merchant dealing in pig iron.
Living with the Curtises at the time of the 1880 US Census were his nieces, Madeleine Curtis Mixter and Helen Kortright Mixter, daughters of Charles and Frances Louisa (Curtis) Mixter. Madeleine and Helen Mixter had survived the shipwreck of the Ville du Havre on November 22, 1873; their parents and grandfather, Nathaniel Curtis, were killed.
By 1884, Madeleine Mixter was living at 120 Marlborough. Helen Mixter married in June of 1888 to Randolph Morgan Appleton, a lawyer in New York City, and they lived in Hempstead, Long Island, and then in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Nathaniel and Sarah Curtis continued to live at 195 Beacon during the 1892-1893 winter season. By 1894-1895 season, they were living at The Charlesgate at 535 Beacon.
195 Beacon was not listed in the 1894 Blue Book.
On October 28, 1893, 195 Beacon was purchased from Nathaniel Curtis by Dr. Frederick Irving Knight, a physician specializing in throat and chest diseases. He and his wife, Louisa Armistead (Appleton) Knight, made it their home and he also maintained his medical office there. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his office) at 377 Boylston.
On June 1, 1909, 195 Beacon was acquired from Frederick Knight’s estate by Mary Haughton (Richardson) Jones, the wife of Dr. Daniel Fiske Jones. They previously had lived at 114 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Matunick, Rhode Island.
Daniel Fiske Jones was a noted surgeon who specialized in colon and rectal cancer. He maintained his medical offices at 195 Beacon.
A Spring, 2008, Harvard Medial Alumni Bulletin article, “Sistine Scalpel,” by Anthony S. Patton, described Dr. Jones as “a brilliant surgeon” who “knew how to make an entrance” and “visited local hospitals in a chauffeured Pierce-Arrow, often followed by another large chariot carrying his scrub nurses and other assistants.” Mary Haughton Jones was the daughter of the noted architect, Henry Hobson Richardson.
Daniel Jones died in September of 1937. Mary Jones continued to live at 195 Beacon in 1938, but had moved to an apartment at 6 Arlington by 1939.
On November 3, 1938, 195 Beacon was purchased from Mary Jones by Jacob Leroy Garber. In January of 1939, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
J. Leroy Garber was a postal clerk and realtor. He and his wife, Edith (Edythe) Ila (Chasens) Garber, lived at 13 Haviland. In September of 1941, they purchased and moved to 350 Marlborough, which they also operated as a lodging house.
J. Leroy Garber continued to operate 195 Beacon as a lodging house until 1949. In July of 1949, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the house into ten apartments.
On June 30, 1960, 195 Beacon was acquired from J. LeRoy Garber by real estate dealer and contractor Michael J. Smith. He and his wife, Georgia Constance (Rigas/Rigopoulos) Smith, lived at 322 Marlborough. On July 18, 1960, he transferred the property to the Remik Realty Corporation, of which he was the president and treasurer.
The property subsequently changed hands, and on September 6, 2005, was acquired by the 195 Beacon Street LLC (James E. Keliher, manager of record). On October 12, 2005, it converted the units into ten condominium units, the 195 Beacon Street Condominium.