223 Beacon was built in 1868-1869 for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., for speculative sale, one of four contiguous houses (223-225-227-229 Beacon) designed as a symmetrical group. 223 Beacon and 229 Beacon are on 19.5 foot lots and have double oriel windows (to which a third, smaller extension has been added at 229 Beacon), and 225 Beacon and 227 Beacon are on 18 foot lots and have single oriel windows.
George Wheatland, Jr., assembled the 75 foot lot for the four houses in two transactions. He purchased the western two feet on March 18, 1868, from attorney Edwin H. Abbot, it being the western portion of a 20 foot lot Edwin Abbot had purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 3, 1867. He purchased the eastern 73 feet on April 10, 1868, from attorney Peleg Whitman Chandler, comprising three lots Peleg Chandler had purchased from the Commonwealth: a 25 foot lot to the east he purchased on September 19, 1865, and two 24 foot lots he purchased on January 4, 1866.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 223 Beacon.
On February 27, 1869, 223 Beacon was purchased from George Wheatland, Jr., by John Rice Blake. He and his wife, Louisa (Dumaresq) Blake, made it their home. They previously had lived at the Tremont House hotel. Louisa Blake was the aunt of George Wheatland’s wife, Florence (Dumaresq) Wheatland.
John Blake formerly had been a merchant and state legislator in Brattleboro, Vermont. He and his wife moved to Boston in 1853 and he became a banker.
John Blake died in June of 1873. Louisa Blake continued to live at 223 Beacon. By 1877, she had been joined there by her nephew (and Florence Wheatland’s brother), Francis Dumaresq. He had graduated from Harvard in 1875, after which he traveled in Europe for a year. He was a merchandise broker and later would become an investment banker.
Louisa Blake died in October of 1889. Francis Dumaresq continued to live at 223 Beacon during the 1889-1890 winter season, but moved soon thereafter.
On April 30, 1890, 223 Beacon was purchased from John Rice Blake’s heirs by wholesale dry goods merchant Samuel Bradford Dana. He and his wife, Katherine Wallen (Lyon) Dana, made it their home. They previously had lived at 128 Marlborough.
They continued to live at 223 Beacon during the 1894-1895 winter season, but moved thereafter. Katherine Dana died in November of 1895, and by the 1896-1897 season he was living at 80 Beacon.
On February 20, 1895, 223 Beacon was acquired from Samuel Dana by Theophilus Parsons. He and his wife, Mary Mason (Oliver) Parsons, made it their home. They previously had lived at 251 Beacon.
Theophilus Parsons was treasurer of Lyman Mills, manufacturers of cotton fabric in Holyoke.
Mary Parsons died in October of 1895. Theophilus Parsons continued to live at 223 Beacon with their infant daughter, Susan Lawrence Parsons.
In about 1912, his sister, Elizabeth Parsons, came to live with him. She previously had lived at 398 Beacon. She died in May of 1912.
Theophilus Parsons died in January of 1916.
Susan Parsons continued to live at 223 Beacon. In October of 1919, she married Morgan Hussey Plummer. At the time of the 1920 US Census, he was a salesman for a paper manufacturer. They lived at 223 Beacon until about 1925, when they moved to Beverly Farms. They divorced in the early 1930s and she remarried in 1935 to Joseph Stanley. After their marriage, they lived at 398 Beacon.
By the 1925-1926 winter season, it was the home of Alice Lee (West) Movius, the former wife of landscape architect Hallam Leonard Movius. She previously had lived at the Hotel Gralyn at 20 Charlesgate West.
Alice Movius continued to live at 223 Beacon until about 1931. Her teenage children – Hallam L. Movius, Jr., George West Movius, and Rose Saltonstall Movius – lived with her. By 1932 they had moved to 208 Beacon.
223 Beacon continued to be owned by the estate of Theophilus Parsons until April 16, 1934, when it was acquired by Merrill Griswold. He and his wife, Lillian (Lowell) Griswold, lived at 13 Marlborough.
Merrill Griswold was a lawyer and financier. He was a founder of the Massachusetts Investors Trust in the mid-1920s, and of the American Research and Development Corporation in 1946.
By the 1935-1936 winter season, 223 Beacon was the home of Miss Elizabeth Preitenwieser. She previously had lived at 303 Beacon. In April of 1936, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install a fire escape, indicating that the building was to be used as a lodging house. She moved in mid-1936 and married in in Sweden in August of 1936 to Arthur Johanson. By 1938, she was living in an apartment at 362 Commonwealth and he was living in Sweden.
Although the legal occupancy was never changed from a single-family dwelling, 223 Beacon was operated as a lodging house from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s.
By the 1936-1937 winter season, 223 Beacon was the home of Ethel G. (Bean) James, the widow of Charles Frederick James, who operated it as a lodging house. Her two children, Arnold Burleigh James and Audrey James, lived with her. They previously had lived in Malden. They continued to live there until about 1941.
On February 1, 1947, 223 Beacon was acquired from Merrill Griswold by Frances Willard (Hammond) Christian, widow of Dr. Andreas (Andrew) Forest Christian. She lived at 328 Commonwealth. In February of 1947, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into eleven apartments.
On November 28, 1947, Robert W. Patterson, John L. McHenry, and David Burstein, trustees of the Local Finance Company of Boston, foreclosed on a mortgage given by Frances Christian and took possession of 223 Beacon.
The property subsequently changed hands and on June 13, 1960, was acquired by Nevart (Semonian)Talanian, wife of real estate broker and investor Charles Talanian.
On May 24, 1979, 223 Beacon was acquired from Nevart Talanian by Joseph Jokton DeMarco. In February of 1981, he was cited by the Building Department for operating a lodging house without obtaining a permit to change to occupancy from eleven apartments to a lodging house.
In April of 1986, Walter Grover (presumably acting on Joseph DeMarco’s behalf) filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property and reduce the number of units from eleven to five.
On September 17, 1986, 223 Beacon was purchased from Joseph DeMarco by Gerard J. Kiley and Henry S. Levin, trustees of the 223 Beacon Street Trust.
On December 17, 1986, they converted the property into four condominium units, the 223 Beacon Street Condominium.