198 Beacon was built in 1862-1863 by contractor and builder John W. Rollins, one of six contiguous houses (198-200-202-204-206-208 Beacon), each built in the same design with all six unified by a single cornice and roof line. John Rollins and his wife, Elmira (Nutter) Rollins, lived at 85 Pleasant.
John Rollins purchased the land for 198-208 Beacon on November 18, 1861, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation. He mortgaged the property heavily and on March 7, 1863, entered into an agreement with John Borrowscale, a slate roofer, in which it is noted that “there are outstanding bills not secured for materials and labor on said houses, and said Rollins has not the means to finish the same.” Under the agreement, John Borrowscale agreed to advance funds for completion of the buildings, with the understanding that the monies would be expended “under the direction of Samuel L. Hazard,” a coal and wood dealer, and would be “sold as soon as practicable,” with the proceeds used to pay all the obligations associated with the property and the balance divided equally between Rollins and Borrowscale. The arrangement was complicated by the subsequent bankruptcy of Samuel Hazard, for whom John Borrowscale and Albert Betteley, a coal dealer, were named “assignees in insolvency.”
200-208 Beacon were sold between November of 1863 and February of 1864. On February 22, 1864, after the fifth house (202 Beacon) had been sold, John Rollins acquired all of John Borrowscale’s and Samuel Hazard’s remaining interests, leaving him with the entire equity ownership of the sixth and last house, 198 Beacon.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 198 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
By 1864, 198 Beacon had been leased from John Rollins by Richard Tucker Parker and his wife, Martha Sylvester (Thorndike) Parker, whose daughter, Mary Martha Parker, was born there in March of 1864. They previously had lived at 91 Beacon.
On March 23, 1865, John Rollins transferred 198 Beacon to his wife, Elmira.
On February 10, 1866, 198 Beacon was purchased from Elmira Rollins by Henry Flanders, owner and editor of the Boston Traveller newspaper. He and his wife, Delia Pierce (Kingsley) Flanders lived at the Hotel Pelham (southwest corner of Boylston and Tremont) and then in West Roxbury.
The Parkers continued to live at 198 Beacon, leasing it from Henry Flanders, until the fall of 1868, when they traveled abroad.
By 1869, 198 Beacon was the home of shipping merchant Alexander Hamilton Twombly and his wife, Caroline Matilda (Williams) Twombly. He died in May of 1870 and Caroline Twombly moved soon thereafter to a new home she had built at 304 Beacon.
By 1871, 198 Beacon was the home of textile manufacturer Charles Amory and his wife, Martha Babcock (Greene) Amory. They previously had lived at 9 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Nahant.
In January of 1872, Charles Amory purchased the 50 Beacon and 4 Spruce (on the same lot) from the estate of Miss Mary Otis. The Amorys probably remodeled or rebuilt 50 Beacon after acquiring it, and did not move there until the mid-1870s. They continued to live at 198 Beacon in 1872 and then moved to 225 Beacon to live with their son, Copley Amory, whose wife, Katharine Elizabeth (Chace) Amory, had died in April of 1871. By the 1875-1876 winter season they were living at 50 Beacon.
By 1873, Henry and Delia Flanders had made 198 Beacon their home.
Also living at 198 Beacon in 1873 were Dr. William Otis Johnson and his wife, Mary Upham (Wood) Johnson. He was a physician and also maintained his office at 198 Beacon They previously had lived at 23 Beacon (where he also had maintained his offices), and before that in Cambridge. He died in August of 1873, and Mary Johnson moved soon thereafter.
The Flanderses continued to live at 198 Beacon until about 1875; by 1877 they were living in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain.
On November 18, 1874, 198 Beacon was purchased from Henry Flanders by Mary Ella (Bearce) Paterson, wife of real estate dealer Thomas S. Paterson. They lived at 24 East Canton. On April 30, 1875, she sold it to Albert S. Gove of Middleborough, and on the same day he sold it to Apphia Augusta (Badger) Ball, the wife of real estate broker Eben Wallis Ball.
On December 9, 1875, the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank foreclosed on its mortgage to Henry Flanders (which had been assumed by the subsequent owners) and sold 198 Beacon at public auction to Francis Henry Morgan, a mortgage and note broker, who sold it the same day to Henry L. Wetherell. On December 28, 1875, he filed a permit application to construct a stable for two horses and carriage house at the rear of 198 Beacon, to be designed by architect Fred Pope and built by James W. Seavey, mason. On January 29, 1876, the Boston Globe reported that the permit had been granted; however, the permit subsequently was abandoned.
Henry Wetherell was a paper box maker. He was married to Lorinda (Laurinda) Eliza (Winslow) Wetherell, whose brother was Rev. Ezra Dyer Winslow. On January 18, 1876, Henry Wetherell sold 198 Beacon to Susan Caroline Ayres (shown as Ayers on the deed) of Newton, as trustee for the benefit of Arthur Francis Winslow, the son of Ezra Dyer Winslow and his wife, Sarah Jane (Ayres) Winslow, Susan Ayres’s sister.
Ezra Dyer Winslow was soon to become known as one of Boston’s prominent swindlers. His creditors established that he had used the transactions by his brother-in-law and sister-in-law to hide his assets, and brought legal action to obtain 198 Beacon.
Ezra D. Winslow had settled in Boston following the Civil War, in which he had served as a chaplain. He established himself as a Methodist minister and agent for the Zion Herald and soon became an active real estate and mortgage dealer. He and his wife settled in the Auburndale area of Newton, where he developed the Islington area in the early 1870s. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1872-1873, and of the State Senate in 1875. By 1874, he also was publisher of the Boston Daily News and the Post newspapers.
On December 20, 1874, Ezra and Sarah Winslow’s home in Auburndale was destroyed by fire. During the following weeks, it came to light that he had forged the names of several business associates to a number of notes which he used as collateral with various Boston banks, and also issued fraudulent shares of Boston Post company stock, which he also used for collateral. He fled to England, where he was arrested but ultimately released, America’s highly-publicized efforts to extradite him having failed due to an impasse over the terms of the extradition treaty. He subsequently settled in Buenos Aires, where he lived under the name Dwight Warren Lowe. A January 13, 1884, note in the Boston Globe‘s “Table Gossip” column described his life in Buenos Aires: “Boston’s reverend forger, E. D. Winslow, lives in a handsome quinta at Buenos Ayres [sic], owns a fine block of buildings, and drives the best pair of horses in the city. He is not practicing law but editing a newspaper.”
When he acquired 198 Beacon in December of 1875, Henry Wetherell had entered into a mortgage with the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank. The bank subsequently assigned the mortgage to Andrew Wellington and, on March 26, 1877, he foreclosed and took possession of the property. Two days later, on March 28, 1877, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered that Susan Ayres transfer the equity interest in 198 Beacon she held as trustee to Ezra D. Winslow’s assignees in bankruptcy.
On April 6, 1877, 198 Beacon was acquired from Andrew Wellington by Ruth Wetherbee (Brooks) Prescott, the widow of Otis Brigham Prescott, and on April 9, 1877, Ezra D. Winslow’s assignees in bankruptcy released their interest in the property to her.
By the 1877-1878 winter season, Ruth Prescott had made 198 Beacon her home. Her two unmarried daughters, Sarah Prescott and Harriet E. Prescott, lived with her. They previously had lived at 9 Beacon.
Ruth Prescott was living elsewhere during the 1879-1880 winter season, and 198 Beacon was the home of dry goods merchant Nathaniel Willard Pierce and his wife, Catherine Hatch (Collamore) Pierce. They previously had lived at 41 Chestnut.
The Pierces had moved by mid-1880 and 198 Beacon was once again the home of Ruth Prescott and her daughters, Sarah and Harriet. By the 1881-1882 winter season, the Pierces were living at 339 Beacon.
By 1880, Ruth Prescott’s daughter Katherine (Kate) Smith (Prescott) Ward also was living at 198 Beacon. She was the widow of Charles Chandler Ward and their son, Prescott (Charles) Temple Ward, lived with her. Katherine Ward and her son previously had lived at 9 Marlborough (she was separated from her husband, who died in January of 1879). Katherine Ward and Prescott Ward continued to live at 198 Beacon in 1882, but moved thereafter.
Also by 1880, Ruth Prescott had been joined at 198 Beacon by her brother, Nathaniel P. Brooks, a coal dealer. He previously had lived at 570 Columbus.
In 1886 and 1887, 198 Beacon also was the home of Charles Greenleaf Wood, treasurer of the John Hancock Insurance Company. He was a widower and had lived with his son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Mary (Knight) Wood, at 274 Marlborough until about 1884.
By 1888, Charles Wood, Sr., had moved to 241 Boylston. He subsequently moved to Exeter Chambers (southeast corner of Exeter and Blagden) and then, by 1893, to 20 Fairfield to live with his son-in-law and daughter, Francis and Elizabeth (Wood) Allen.
Ruth Prescott died in November of 1887.
After her death, her daughters, Sarah and Harriet, continued to live at 198 Beacon along with their uncle, Nathaniel Brooks. He died in August of 1890.
The Misses Prescott accepted lodgers on occasion, and during the 1891-1892 winter season, they were joined by Almon Augustus Strout and his wife, Mary Robertson (Sumner) Strout. He was a lawyer from Portland, Maine, who had recently opened an office in Boston in partnership with William H. Coolidge. By 1893, they had moved to the Hotel Vendome.
On February 29, 1924, 198 Beacon was acquired from Ruth Prescott’s estate by Dr. Algernon Coolidge and his wife, Amy Peabody (Lothrop) Coolidge. They had lived at 487 Commonwealth in 1923. They also maintained a home in Cotuit.
Algernon Coolidge was a physician and professor of laryngology at Harvard. He was the son of Dr. Algernon Sidney Coolidge, also a physician, and Mary (Lowell) Coolidge, and was named Algernon Lowell Coolidge at birth. Neither he nor his father used their middle names and, until his father’s death in 1912, he was referred to as Algernon Coolidge, Jr., to avoid confusion.
In February of 1924, Dr. Coolidge filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the laundry house at the rear of the property into a garage.
They continued to live at 198 Beacon until his death in August of 1939. Amy Coolidge moved soon thereafter to 101 Chestnut.
On October 1, 1940, 198 Beacon was purchased from Amy Coolidge by Donald Carter Starr and his wife, Ethel (Polly) Randolph (Thayer) Starr. They previously had lived at 5 Otis Place.
Donald Starr was an attorney, author, and avid sailor. In the 1950s, he led efforts to create parks and lagoons at the banks of the Charles River in conjunction with construction of Storrow Drive. Polly (Thayer) Starr was a noted artist.
In June of 1967, the Starrs applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install a new picture window on the fifth floor in the rear of the house.
On March 3, 1998, 198 Beacon was purchased from Harvard College by Paul J. Donahue, Sr., as trustee of the 198 Beacon Street Realty Trust.
On September 23, 1998, 198 Beacon was purchased from Paul Donahue, Sr., trustee, by real estate developer Joseph F. Perroncello and his wife, Lisa (Griffel) Perroncello. They divorced in 2015, and on January 2, 2017, Joseph Perroncello transferred his interest in the property to Lisa Griffel-Perroncello.
In November of 2019, Lisa Griffel-Perroncello received approval to legalize the existing basement apartment as a separate unit and change the occupancy from a single-family to a two-family dwelling.
198 Beacon remained a two-family dwelling in 2021.