240 Beacon was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1871-1872 by I. and H. M. Harmon, masons and builders, as the home of Edward Bangs, a lawyer, and his wife, Anne (Annie) Outram (Hodgkinson) Bangs. He is shown as the owner on the Notice of Intention to Build filed by I. & H. M. Harmon in late October of 1871 (reported in the Boston Herald on October 24, 1871) and on the final building inspection report, dated October 17, 1872. They previously had lived in Watertown. They also maintained a home in Wareham.
Edward Bangs purchased the land for 240 Beacon on November 23, 1871, from wholesale textile merchant Joshua Huntington Wolcott. He and his wife, Harriet (Frothingham) Wolcott, lived at 238 Beacon. J. Huntington Wolcott had purchased the land from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation on October 20, 1863.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 240 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
On July 28, 1873, Edward Bangs transferred 240 Beacon into his wife’s name.
The Bangs’s five children lived with them: Alice Bangs, Anne Outram Bangs, Charles Appleton Bangs, Outram Bangs, and Francis Russell Bangs.
Alice Bangs married in June of 1881 to Robert Hallowell Gardiner, a lawyer; after their marriage, the lived in Chestnut Hill. Anne Bangs married in March of 1880 to Russell Sturgis, III, a medical student and later a physician; after their marriage, they lived at 31 Hereford. Outram Bangs married in November of 1892 to Elizabeth (Lizzie) A. Murray. They appear to have separated not long after, and he continued to live at 240 Beacon with his parents.
Edward Bangs died in February of 1894. Annie Bangs continued to live at 240 Beacon with their three sons.
Francis Bangs, a lawyer, married in December of 1897 to Anna Dummer Anderson; after their marriage, they moved briefly to 353 Commonwealth and then to 42 Fairfield.
Annie Bangs died in November of 1905. Edward Bangs, a lawyer, moved to 553 Huntington. Outram Bangs, an ornithologist and Curator of Mammals at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, moved to 555 Huntington.
On January 19, 1906, 240 Beacon was purchased from Annie Bangs’s estate by Katharine McLane (Tiffany) Abbott, the wife of Gordon Abbott. They previously had lived at 491 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in West Manchester. Gordon Abbott’s mother, Ellen Maria (Bangs) Abbott of 406 Beacon, was the first cousin of Edward Bangs (her father, George P. Bangs, was the brother of Edward Bangs’s father, Isaac Bangs).
Gordon Abbott was a banker with Old Colony Trust Company, joining the company in 1893 as vice-president and retiring in the 1930s as chairman of the board.
In June of 1927, Gordon Abbott acquired 242 Beacon.
On September 7, 1927, while they owned both houses, Gordon and Katharine Abbott joined with their neighbors at 236-238 Beacon and 244-246 Beacon in an agreement prohibiting for ten years (until January 1, 1938) any new building or structure behind their houses any taller than 26½ feet. In August of 1928, when he sold 242 Beacon, Gordon Abbott included an additional restriction on that property specifying that for three years, “in the first remodeling and restoration of the building now on the premises the height thereof shall not be increased above the present height.”
Gordon Abbott died in January of 1937. Katharine Abbott continued to live at 240 Beacon until about 1943.
On June 9, 1944, 240 Beacon was acquired from Katharine Abbott by the Massachusetts School of Physiotherapy. That same month, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 240 Beacon from a dwelling into a school. The school remained there until 1957, by which time it had expanded to include a physiotherapy clinic.
On March 7, 1958, Harold L. Levin, trustee, foreclosed on a mortgage given by the school and sold 240 Beacon to architect and real estate developer Saul E. Moffie, who also owned 236-238 Beacon, which he had remodeled into twenty apartments in 1950-1951.
That same month, Saul Moffie applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 240 Beacon from a school into seven apartments. On the same day, he also applied for (and received) permission to cut doors between 236-238 and 240 Beacon, combining the three houses into one property and eliminating the entrance at 240 Beacon. It appears that it was at this time that the front entrance of 240 Beacon was lowered to street level, the mansard and dormers were modernized, and a penthouse was added (or expanded) covering western two-thirds of the house.
In January of 1970, the Beacon Street Improvement Trust filed for permission to raze 236-238-240-242-244-246 Beacon Street and replace them with a 36 story steel framed and brick clad tower at the northwest corner of Beacon and Dartmouth. The building would have 133 units and a 135 car garage. A companion, 32-story building was proposed at the same time on the northeast corner of Beacon and Dartmouth, replacing 222-224-226-228-230-232-234 Beacon. The proposed twin-tower project met with strong opposition from residents and was abandoned after the City established height limits on all buildings in the residential portion of the Back Bay.
On December 7, 1971, 236-238-240 Beacon were acquired from Saul Moffie by real estate developer Elisha Russell (Greenhood) Greenwood, and June 9, 1972, they were acquired from him by Property Development Associates, Inc., of which he was the president.
On August 25, 1972, Property Development Associates converted the property into 28 condominium units, the 236 Beacon Condominium.