251 Beacon was built ca. 1868 for real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, for speculative sale, one of six contiguous houses (241-243-245-247-249-251 Beacon), designed as three matching and symmetrical pairs. 239 Beacon was built at the same time and in the same style; 253 Beacon (since destroyed) also was built at the same time and probably in the same style.
On July 25, 1867, Henry Whitwell purchased a 97 foot wide lot from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He sold the eastern 19 feet to his brother and business partner, Frederick A. Whitwell (who built 239 Beacon as his home) and retained the remaining 78 feet, which he subdivided into four 19.5 foot lots for 241-247 Beacon. On March 19, 1868, he bought a 60 foot wide lot to the west from Edward S. Rand (who had purchased it on April 27, 1867, from the Commonwealth) and subdivided it into three 20 foot lots for 249-253 Beacon.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 251 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 419, from Clarendon to Dartmouth.
In October of 1868, Henry Whitwell advertised in the Boston Journal to lease 251 Beacon, which he indicated would be ready for occupancy on October 25, 1868. At the same time, he also advertised to sell 249 Beacon. 253 Beacon may still have been under construction and he may have wished to lease 251 Beacon until the house to the west had been completed. It is not known whether someone leased the property.
On March 4, 1869, 251 Beacon was purchased from Henry Whitwell by Augustus (Edward Augustus Holyoke) Hemenway, a shipping merchant in the South American trade and owner mines in Valpariaso, Chile. He and his wife, Mary (Tileston) Hemenway, lived at 40 Mt. Vernon and in Milton.
Augustus Hemenway purchased 251 Beacon as rental property, and soon after he acquired it, real estate dealer James T. Eldredge offered it for lease at $2,500 per year.
By 1872, 251 Beacon was the home of retired merchant Shirley Erving and his wife, Abby Sophia (Briggs) Erving. They previously had lived in Roxbury.
Shirley Erving died in February of 1873. Abby Erving continued to live at 251 Beacon in 1874.
Although she continued to be listed in the City Directories through 1880, Mrs. Erving was no longer listed at 251 Beacon in the 1879 and 1880 Blue Books. Instead, Mr. E. H. Allen was listed there in 1879 and Mr. J. S. Fay in 1880.
The 1880 entry for J. S. Fay probably was for Joseph Story Fay, Jr., an iron merchant, and his wife, Rebecca Rodman (Motley) Fay. In 1880, they were in the process of building a new home at 169 Commonwealth, to which they moved in 1881 (they were living at 88 Mt. Vernon with his parents, Joseph and Sarah (Bryant) Fay, in October of 1880, when their son, Alan Motley Fay was born, but were not enumerated there in June of 1880 at the time of the 1880 US Census).
251 Beacon was not listed in the 1881 Blue Book, and by 1882 Abby Erving had made Newport her home.
By the 1881-1882 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of attorney Francis Peabody and his wife, Rosamond (Lawrence) Peabody. They had married in January of 1881 and 251 Beacon probably was their first home together. In 1880, prior to their marriage, he had lived in Salem. Francis Peabody was known as “Francis Peabody, Jr.,” but was the son of Samuel Endicott Peabody and the grandson of Francis Peabody.
The Peabodys continued to live at 251 Beacon during the 1882-1883 winter season, but moved soon thereafter to 230 Beacon.
During the 1883-1884 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of Dr. Thomas Dwight and his wife, Sarah C. (Iasigi) Dwight. They had married in September of 1883, and 251 Beacon probably was their first home together. Dr. Dwight was a physician and professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School. By the 1884-1885 season, they had moved to 235 Beacon.
By the 1884-1885 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of Pierre Clarke Severance and his wife, Isabella Morgan (Rotch) Severance. They previously had lived at 12 Brimmer. He was an importer of and dealer in window glass. They continued to live there during the 1887-1888 season, but moved soon thereafter.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, it was the home of Henry Bainbridge Chapin and his wife, Susan Torrey (Revere) Chapin. They had married in October of 1887 and 251 Beacon probably was their first home together. He was freight manager for the Boston & Albany Railroad and later would become an investment banker and broker. They continued to live at 251 Beacon during the 1890-1891 season, but moved soon thereafter to Jamaica Plain.
Henry Chapin had leased 251 Beacon from Augustus Hemenway’s estate under a lease expiring on August 1, 1895. After moving to Jamaica Plain, he subleased the house to others.
By the 1891-1892 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of Harcourt Amory and his wife, Gertrude Lowndes (Chase) Amory. They had married in April of 1891 and 251 Beacon probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage he had lived at 1 Commonwealth with his mother, Mary Copley (Greene) Amory, the widow of James Sullivan Amory. Harcourt Amory was a textile manufacturer, treasurer of the Indian Head Mills in Alabama and the Lancaster Mills.
They continued to live at 251 Beacon during the 1893-1894 winter season, but moved soon thereafter to 293 Beacon.
Mary (Tileston) Hemenway died in March of 1894, and on August 10, 1894, 251 Beacon was purchased from Augustus Hemenway’s estate by Miss Charlotte Henderson Guild. The sale was subject to the lease with Henry Chapin, which would expire on August 1, 1895.
Charlotte Guild probably lived at 80 Beacon with her mother, Elizabeth Henderson (Rice) Guild, the widow of Samuel Eliot Guild. Elizabeth Guild died in June of 1894. Charlotte Guild lived at 77 Marlborough during the 1894-1895 winter season, and was traveling in Europe during the 1895-1896 season.
During the 1894-1895 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of Theophilus Parsons and his wife, Mary Mason (Oliver) Parsons. They had married in August of 1894, and 251 Beacon was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 398 Beacon. Theophilus Parsons was treasurer of Lyman Mills in Holyoke, manufacturers of cotton fabric. In February of 1895, he purchased and they subsequently moved to 223 Beacon.
During the 1895-1896 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of Edward Williams Atkinson and his wife, Ellen Forbes (Russell) Atkinson. They had married in November of 1894 and spent the 1894-1895 winter season in Europe. He was an importer of machinery and raw materials for textile mills. By 1897, they were living in Brookline.
251 Beacon was inherited by Charlotte Guild’s brother, Samuel Eliot Guild. He and his wife, Jessie Rodman (Motley) Guild, lived at 102 Beacon. On February 17, 1922, he transferred 251 Beacon into his wife’s name. Jessie Rodman (Motley) Guild was the sister of Rebecca Rodman (Motley) Fay who probably lived at 251 Beacon with her husband, Joseph Story Fay, Jr., during the 1879-1880 winter season.
By the 1920-1921 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of William Watson Caswell and his wife, Pauline (Starr) Caswell. They previously had lived at 192 Beacon. William Caswell had been a manufacturer of ramie thread (used extensively in gas lighting mantles) and later served as treasurer of Arthur D. Little, Inc. They continued to live there in 1924, but moved thereafter, probably to New York City, where they were living in 1930.
During the 1924-1925 winter season, 251 Beacon was the home of attorney Frederick William Eaton and his wife, Jennie S. (Smith) Newman Eaton. Their primary residence was in Concord. Living with them were Harding Carruth Newman and Dorothea Newman, Jennie Eaton’s children by her first marriage, to Albert Harding Newman.
By the 1925-1926 season, they had moved to 166 Marlborough.
In 1926, 251 Beacon was a dormitory for Katharine Gibbs School.
During the 1927-1928, winter season it was the home of Arthur Cecil Butler and his wife, Cicely (Hyland) Butler. They had lived at 302 Berkeley during the 1925-1926 season. He was an importer of textile machinery. They had moved to 311 Marlborough by the 1928-1929 season.
On August 21, 1928, 251 Beacon was acquired from Jennie Guild by real estate dealer Henry S. Rogerson. On May 22, 1929, it was acquired from him by real estate dealer Henry C. Brookings, and on the same day it was conveyed by him to Robert Jordan.
Robert Jordan and his wife, Jane Laurel (Malcolm) Jordan, lived at 133 Commonwealth. He was a director of his family’s dry goods and department store, Jordan, Marsh & Co. He died in November of 1932.
On April 14, 1936, 251 Beacon was purchased from Robert Jordan’s estate by Margaret Cochran (Dewar) Porter, the widow of Dr. Charles Allen Porter. Their three adult children – Isabel DeCourcy Porter, Margaret Dewar Porter, and Charles Burnham Porter – lived with her. They previously had lived at 116 Beacon.
Charles Porter and Margaret Dewar had married in April of 1898 in Stirling, Scotland. Prior to their marriage, she had served as resident surgeon at Sheffield Hospital in England. She had graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1894, among the first women in Scotland to receive a university degree and the first to receive a university medical qualification. Although she was a registered physician in Massachusetts, she appears not to have practiced after their marriage.
In mid-1941, Charles Burnham Porter joined the British Royal Navy, transferring to the US Navy as a lieutenant in January of 1943.
Margaret Porter married in January of 1942 to Chandler Bigelow, who was serving as a captain in the Army Air Force. After their marriage, they moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he was assigned to active duty.
In August of 1942, Isabel Porter, a landscape architect, enlisted in the US Navy Waves and was stationed in Washington DC.
Margaret (Dewar) Porter continued to live at 251 Beacon until 1945, when she moved to Beverly Farms.
On October 1, 1945, 251 Beacon was acquired from Margaret Porter by Julius A. Wentzel and his wife, Hazel Olive (Townsend) Wentzel. They previously had lived in Waban. He was an architect and construction manager for Woolworth’s.
On May 20, 1946, 251 Beacon was purchased from the Wentzels by Dorothy Bruce (Fetherolf) Muller, the wife of Robert Arthur Muller. They previously had lived in Wellesley Hills. He was vice president of the Atlas Plywood Corporation.
On September 2, 1948, 251 Beacon was acquired from Dorothy Muller by Francis Lyster Jandron. He and his wife, Ada Woldin (Reynolds) Jandron, made it their home. They previously had lived in an apartment at 180 Commonwealth. Francis Jandron was a director of the Christian Science Church. Ada Reynolds Jandron was a Christian Science practitioner and served as president of the church.
On June 29, 1953, he transferred the property into his wife’s name.
They continued to live at 251 Beacon until 1961, when they moved to 1 Emerson.
On April 27, 1962, 251 Beacon was acquired from Ada Jandron by Shirley Clifford Speed, a real estate dealer who converted many Back Bay houses into lodging houses and apartments.
On July 9, 1962, 251 Beacon was acquired from S. Clifford Speed by Octavia Morley (Sawyer) Walsh, widow of Edward M. Walsh. She previously had lived at 191 Beacon. She owned the Walsh Sprinkler Company, dealers in automatic sprinkler systems. She continued to live at 251 Beacon in 1964, but had moved to 52 Bay State Road by 1965 and to 218 Commonwealth by 1966.
On August 20, 1964, 251 Beacon was purchased from Octavia Walsh by Rev. Joe Brown Love and his wife, Ruth Preston (Winfield) Love. Joe Brown Love was chaplain at Boston University; Ruth Love was a speech therapist.
In March of 1965, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as a two-family dwelling and lodging house, which they indicated was the existing condition.
In June of 1970, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the house from a two-family dwelling and lodging house into to a three-family dwelling and lodging house. In the application, Rev. Love explained that he had just retired and the additional unit was for occupancy by himself and his wife, the second unit was for occupancy by his son and family, and the third was a studio apartment.
On October 28, 1978, 251 Beacon was purchased from the Loves by the 251 Beacon Realty Corporation. In December of 1978, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into six apartments. On February 20, 1979, it converted the apartments into six condominium units, the 251 Beacon Street Condominium.
In November of 1989, the condominium association filed for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units from six to four, reflecting remodeling and consolidation of the previous units. On April 29, 1991, the condominium unit owners amended the master deed to reflect the reduced number of units.