246 Beacon was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1887-1888 by George Eldridge, mason, as the home of Dr. George Webb West, a physician, and his wife, Rose Lee (Saltonstall) West. They previously had lived at 70 Chestnut.
The land on which 246 Beacon was built was purchased from Frederic Amory on January 10, 1887, by George W. West’s sister, Mary Endicott West, of Salem. The lot had been assembled from portions of two parcels purchased from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation on October 20, 1863, one by Francis Cabot Lowell, Jr., trustee under the will of his brother, attorney Edward Jackson Lowell, and the other by Lydia (Gray) Ward, the widow of merchant and banker Thomas Wren Ward. The original land deeds specified the obligations of the purchasers with respect to party walls that would be built on the land, and these included the eastern party wall that would be built between 244 and 246 Beacon. On the same day as Mary West purchased the lot for 246 Beacon, she also entered into a party wall agreement with Frederic Amory with respect to the wall to the west (where 250 Beacon would be built), which lot Frederic Lowell still owned but sold to Georgianna Parsons later that same month.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 246 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
George West is shown as the owner of 246 Beacon on the original building permit application, dated March 16, 1887, with his name crossed off and his sister’s name, Mary E. West, entered instead. She also is shown as the owner on the final building inspection reported, dated August 13, 1888.
Plans for the house are included in the Peabody and Stearns Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference PS/MA.165).
The house was designed somewhat differently than most houses of the period in order to accommodate Dr. West’s office and waiting room. In most houses, the kitchen was located in the rear of the basement and the dining room was located above it on the first floor. The second floor usually was devoted to two parlors, or a parlor and a library or music room.
At 246 Beacon, the basement included the laundry, various storage and service rooms, and two furnaces. The front half of the first floor included the entry hall, Dr. West’s office (in the front), his waiting room (behind the entry hall on the eastern side), and a large main stair hall (on the western side). The servants hall and service stairs and the kitchen were located in the rear half of the first floor. The dining room was located in the rear on the second floor, above the kitchen, with a parlor in the front.
The front half of the house extended the full width of the lot in the front, but the eastern wall of the rear half was set back about five feet from the property line to allow for a shallow bay extending from the basement through the second floor and for a three foot wide open passageway. This matched a similar three foot wide open space at 244 Beacon (built in 1882-1883), allowing both houses to have access to additional light and air. It also allowed Dr. West’s waiting room to have a window overlooking the open area.
Click here to view the original plans for 246 Beacon.
On November 28, 1890, Mary Endicott West transferred 246 Beacon to George W. West.
246 Beacon was not listed in the 1898 Blue Book.
On August 23, 1898, 246 Beacon was purchased from George W. West’s estate by Warren L. Lord, a carpenter.
One week later, on August 30, 1898, it was purchased from Warren Lord by merchandise broker Nathaniel Perez Hamlen.
Nathaniel Hamlen was a widower and purchased 246 Beacon as trustee of a trust he had established in May of 1877 following the death in childbirth of his wife, Gertrude (Loring) Hamlen, in January of 1877, for the benefit of their four children: Miriam Perkins Hamlen, Elizabeth Perkins Hamlen, Paul Mascarene Hamlen, and Gertrude Loring Hamlen. They lived with him at 246 Beacon. They all previously had lived at 108 Beacon.
Paul Hamlen, who was a merchandise broker in association with his father, married in December of 1901 to Agnes Dorothy Devens. After their marriage, they lived at 845 Boylston. Gertrude Hamlen married in November of 1904 to Daniel K. Catlin, an attorney from St. Louis where they lived after their marriage.
Nathaniel Hamlen died in December of 1904. Miriam and Elizabeth Hamlen moved to 49 Chestnut, and then by mid-1907, to 130 Marlborough.
On June 1, 1905, 246 Beacon was purchased from Nathaniel Hamlen’s estate by Agnes Lloyd (Woodruff) Holder, the wife of Frederic Blake Holder, a retired metals dealer and importer. By the 1905-1906 winter season, they had made it their Boston home. They previously had lived at 229 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Weston.
On July 31, 1907, 246 Beacon was purchased from the Holders by Frederick Oakes Houghton and his wife, Mary Irwin (Laughlin) Houghton. The sale was reported by the Boston Globe on August 2, 1907, which noted that the buyer would “make extensive improvements.” They previously had lived in Cambridge. They also maintained a home in Milton.
Frederick Houghton was passenger agent for the White Star Line and other major steamship lines serving New England.
They continued to live at 246 Beacon during the 1910-1911 winter season, but moved soon thereafter to 133 Beacon.
246 Beacon was not listed in the 1912 Blue Book.
On January 12, 1912, 246 Beacon was purchased from Frederick Houghton by Ezra Charles Fitch. By the 1912-1913 winter season, he and his wife, Helen Louisa (Stevens) Fitch, had made it their home. They previously had lived at 265 Commonwealth.
Ezra Fitch was president of the American Waltham Watch Company and then of the Waltham Watch Company.
Their daughter, Helen, lived with them until her marriage in April of 1913 to Julian P. Fairchild, a banker in New York.
Ezra and Helen Fitch continued to live at 246 Beacon during the 1921-1922 winter season, but moved thereafter to Manchester.
On April 12, 1922, 246 Beacon was purchased from Ezra Fitch by Josephine (Cable) Wing, the wife of Daniel Gould Wing, president of the First National Bank. They previously had lived in West Newton.
On April 1, 1926, 246 Beacon was purchased from Josephine Wing by 250 Beacon Street, Inc. As part of the transaction, the Wings entered into a lease to continue living at 246 Beacon until September 1, 1927.
250 Beacon Street, Inc., had been formed by William W. Cherney and David Carlin, trustees of the Kilsyth Realty Trust, to own and build a new apartment building at 250 Beacon, replacing the existing townhouses at 250 and 252 Beacon. When it purchased 246 Beacon, 250 Beacon Street, Inc., entered into a mortgage with the Kilsyth Realty Trust which it then assigned to Levertt A. Haskell.
On June 14, 1927, 246 Beacon was purchased from Leverett Haskell by Lloyd Dewitt Brace. He was the nephew of Daniel Wing, the son of Daniel Wing’s sister, Elizabeth Russell (Wing) Brace and Dewitt Bristol Brace. Lloyd Brace and his wife, Helen Barnes (Rhodes) Brace, lived in Brookline. He was an investment broker.
On September 7, 1927, Lloyd Brace joined with the owners of 236-244 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.
On September 19, 1927, Lloyd Brace applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a garage at the rear of the property. The garage was designed by architect Henry Bailey Alden.
The Wings continued to live at 246 Beacon during the 1928-1929 winter season and also maintained a home in Northport, Maine. By the 1929-1930 season, they had moved to Brookline.
On April 18, 1929, 246 Beacon was purchased from Lloyd Brace by Edwin Wesley Preston, who held the property in a trust he had established on March 2, 1929. He and his wife, Mabel (Peck) Preston, made it their Boston home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Statler in Park Square. They also maintained a home in Marblehead Neck.
Edwin Preston was general manager of the Boston Herald newspaper.
Mabel Preston died in January of 1935. Edwin Preston continued to live at 246 Beacon until early 1941 (he died in Beverly Hills, California, in December of 1941).
On May 29, 1941, 246 Beacon was purchased from the Old Colony Trust Company, successor trustee for Edward Preston’s trust, by real estate dealer Henry J. O’Meara.
On June 27, 1941, 246 Beacon was acquired from Henry O’Meara by Mary W. Harris. In August of 1941, she applied for permission to remodel the property from a single-family dwelling into ten apartments. Her application was denied, but the denial was reversed by the Board of Appeal, with the proviso that the number of units be reduced to 8, and that the attic and basement not be used for habitation.
On December 23, 1943, 246 Beacon was acquired from Mary Harris by Nathan M. Alpert, a retail butcher on Salem Street in the North End, and on December 27, 1944, it was acquired from Nathan Alpert by Hyman Yaffe.
On November 29, 1946, 246 Beacon was acquired from Hyman Yaffe by Earl Sprickett Clark, trustee of the Rockwood Trust. He and his wife, Muriel Borden (Nicoll) Clark, lived in Arlington.
In June of 1949, the Building Department cited the trust for violating the occupancy limits by renting the basement as an office and the attic as an apartment. The trust subsequently filed for permission to increase the occupancy to ten apartments, but the application was denied.
Earl Clark died in January of 1951, and on April 1, 1951, his widow and his son, Clarence Leslie Clark, as the surviving trustees of the Rockwood Trust, transferred 246 Beacon to themselves as tenants in common.
On November 18, 1953, 246 Beacon was acquired from Muriel and Clarence Clark by Dr. Howard Cartnick Reith and his wife, Frances Ellen (born Frances Eleanor Lillian) (Gardner) Reith. He was a dentist and maintained his office at 370 Commonwealth; they lived in Winthrop. They also owned 244 Beacon.
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 July 1, 1971, the Elden Corporation purchased 244 Beacon and 246 Beacon from the Reith Realty Corporation.
On February 13, 1979, Charles C. Smith, Jr., and William A. Ryan, trustees of the 246 Beacon Street Associates Trust, purchased 244 Beacon and 246 Beacon from the Elden Corporation.
On November 15, 1979, they converted the property into twenty condominium units, ten at 244 Beacon and ten at 246 Beacon, the 244-246 Beacon Street Condominium.