237 Beacon was built ca. 1870 as the home of Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., one of two houses (235-237 Beacon) built at about the same time by Robert Tower Bourn (Bourne) and William Leavitt, carpenters. The Notice of Intention to Build at 237 Beacon, filed by Bourne & Leavitt, was reported by the Boston Traveller on May 18, 1869.
Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., purchased the 21 foot lot for 237 Beacon from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on April 1, 1871, after the house had been completed. On the same day, Robert Bourn and William Leavitt purchased the 19 foot lot for 235 Beacon, which also had been completed. The land originally had been one of several lots sold by the Commonwealth at its auction on January 23, 1863. William G. Weld had been the successful bidder and subsequently sold or transferred the deed bonds securing his right to purchase the land. Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., probably acquired the deed bonds for the land at both 235 and 237 Beacon, and entered into an agreement with Bourne and Leavitt to build both houses, after which he sold or transferred them the deed bond for the land at 235 Beacon.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 237 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 419, from Clarendon to Dartmouth.
Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., and his wife, Marianne (Devereux) Silsbee lived at 237 Beacon from about 1870. Their unmarried son, William Edward Silsbee, lived with them. They previously had lived at 183 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Milton. In about 1868, their son-in-law and daughter, Frederick and Mary (Silsbee) Whitwell, had built their home next door, at 239 Beacon.
In mid-1880, Frederick and Mary (Silsbee) Whitwell lived with the Silsbees at 237 Beacon while the Whitwells’ new home at 230 Marlborough was under construction (the permit application for which was dated February 27, 1880).
Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., died in July of 1881. Marianne Silsbee and their son, William, moved soon thereafter to 240 Marlborough.
237 Beacon was not listed in the 1882 Blue Book.
On November 11, 1881, 237 Beacon was acquired from Nathaniel Silsbee’s estate by Francis Amasa Walker. He and his wife, Exene Eveline (Stoughton) Walker, made it their home. In 1880, they had lived in New Haven.
Francis Walker was president of MIT. He served from 1861 to 1865 in the Union Army, retiring with the brevetted rank of Brigadier General. He was a noted economist and statistician. He served as Superintendent of the 1870 US Census, after which he was a professor of political economy at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale and a lecturer at Harvard. He once again served as Superintendent of the US Census in 1880, after which he was appointed president of MIT.
Francis Walker died in January of 1897; in his will, he left 237 Beacon to his wife. She moved soon thereafter, but continued to own the house and lease it to others.
By the 1897-1898 winter season, 237 Beacon was the home of attorney John Lowell, Jr., and his wife, Mary Emlen (Hale) Lowell. They had lived at 24 Commonwealth during the previous season. They also maintained a home in Chestnut Hill. By 1898-1899 winter season, they had moved to 125 Beacon.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, it was the home of Richard Hathaway Morgan, a retired manufacturer from New Bedford, and his wife, Joanna White (Davis) Morgan. They also maintained a residence in Plymouth. They had moved to 228 Beacon by the 1901-1902 winter season.
237 Beacon was not listed in the 1901 Blue Book.
On April 30, 1901, 237 Beacon was acquired from Exene Walker by the MIT Chapter of the Phi Beta Epsilon, fraternity. It previously had been located at 531 Massachusetts Avenue. It continued to occupy 237 Beacon until about 1917, when it moved to 400 Charles River Road (Memorial Drive) in Cambridge.
On August 19, 1918, 237 Beacon was acquired from the Phi Beta Epsilon Corporation by John D. Hardy of Wellesley. On October 6, 1919, it was acquired by John D. MacLeod of Newton.
During the 1920-1921 winter season, 237 Beacon was the home of Arthur Lawrence Derby, a consulting engineer, and his wife, Jeanette (Barr) Derby. They previously had lived in an apartment at 138 Marlborough. By the 1921-1922 season, they had moved to 8 West Hill Place.
On June 2, 1921, 237 Beacon was acquired from John D. MacLeod by Samuel Goldsmith of Newburyport.
On January 28, 1922, 237 Beacon was acquired from Samuel Goldsmith by Miss Emma G. Marcotte. Her mother, Emilie (Dubuque) Marcotte, the widow of Leon Marcotte, lived with her. They previously had lived at 289 Newbury.
Miss Marcotte operated a lodging house at 237 Beacon and in June of 1928, she was cited for failing to provide adequate egress. In July of 1929, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior to comply with the egress requirements.
Emilie Marcotte died in July of 1947 and Emma Marcotte moved soon thereafter.
On May 7, 1948, 237 Beacon was acquired from Emma Marcotte by real estate dealer Stuart Kates (Katze). He continued to operate it as a lodging house. He and his wife, Lenore F. (Sloan) Kates, lived in Lowell.
On September 12, 1969, 237 Beacon was acquired from Stuart Kates by attorney and real estate dealer Peter N. Kinder. It continued to be a lodging house.
On January 2, 1973, 237 Beacon was acquired from Peter Kinder by Shane A. Cunningham. On July 20, 1978, he transferred the property to Sara L. Costello, trustee of the 237 Beacon Street Trust.
In May of 1985, Shane Cunningham acquired 239 Beacon. His Sun Management Company operated both 237 Beacon and 239 Beacon as lodging houses.
On June 10, 1991, Shane Cunningham succeeded Sara Costello as trustee of the 237 Beacon Street Trust, and on March 20, 2000, he transferred the property to the 237 Beacon Street Corporation, of which he was president and treasurer.
237 Beacon remained a lodging house in 2016.