27 Hereford was designed by Alfred S. Bither, architect, and built in 1879 by Goldthwait & Chapin, builders, for building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames. It was one of four contiguous houses (364 Marlborough and 27-29-31 Hereford) built for Samuel Ames, probably for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated March 27, 1879.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting attributes 364 Marlborough, 27-29-31 Hereford, 435 Beacon, 7-9-11 Hereford, and 216-218 Commonwealth – all built in 1879 – to R. S. Bither. This is a misreading of the handwriting on the permit applications. It is clearly written as “A. S. Bither” on several of the permit applications, and is less legible on several others. There was no R. S. Bither listed in the Boston City Directories at any time in the 1870s or 1880s, whereas Alfred S. Bither was a practicing architect there from 1870 to 1880.
By the 1879-1880 winter season, 27 Hereford was the home of attorney James W. Preston and his wife, Elizabeth J. (Honniker) Preston. They probably leased the house from H. Whitney, who is shown as the owner on the 1883 Bromley map. They previously had lived at 70 Chandler.
Living with them were their adult unmarried children: Willard Preston, George W. Preston, and Caroline Preston. George Preston was a ship broker and commission merchant, and Willard Preston was a bookkeeper, probably with his brother’s firm.
Also living with them were Elizabeth Preston’s sister, Mary Anne Honniker, and James Preston’s nephew, Andrew A Yonge, the son of Andrew and Caroline (Preston) Yonge. Andrew Yonge was a clerk, probably with George Preston’s firm.
The Prestons continued to live at 27 Hereford during the 1886-1887 season. By 1888, James Preston had become treasurer of the MacFarlane Machine and Manufacturing Company and they had moved to Brookline.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, 27 Hereford was the home of Mrs. Frances Maria (Swett) Newell, widow of James Montgomery Newell, and her sisters, Ellen L. Swett and Eliza G. Swett. Frances Newell is shown as the owner on the 1888 Bromley map.
They continued to live there during the 1889-1890 season, but moved thereafter.
By the 1890-1891 winter season, 27 Herford became the home of Robert Shaw Sturgis and his wife, Ellen Gardner (Hodges) Sturgis. They had married in April of 1890 and 27 Hereford probably was their first home together. The house was owned by Ellen Sturgis’s father, Dr. Richard Manning Hodges, a physician and professor of surgery at Harvard. He is shown as the owner on the 1890 and 1895 Bromley maps. He died in February of 1896 and his wife, Frances Gardner (White) Hodges, trustee, is shown as the owner on the 1898 map.
Robert Shaw Sturgis was a trustee and managed the financial affairs of his step-brother, George Santayana, the noted author and philosopher.
The Sturgises continued to live at 27 Hereford during the 1900-1901 season, after which they moved to a new home they had built at 133 Bay State Road.
27 Hereford was not listed in the 1902 and 1903 Blue Books.
By the 1903-1904 winter season, it was the home of naval architect Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield and his wife Priscilla (MacPhail) Crowninshield. They previously had lived at the New Hotel Bellevue at 19-21-23 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Marblehead. They continued to live at 27 Hereford until about 1908, but had made Marblehead their sole residence by 1909.
By the 1908-1909 winter season, 27 Hereford was the home of Albert Davis Bosson and his wife, Alice Lavinia (Campbell) Bosson. They previously had lived in Ipswich. Alice C. Bosson is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.
Albert Bosson was a lawyer and served as Mayor of Chelsea in 1891. He subsequently was named a judge of the Police Court (later the District Court) of Chelsea.
They continued to live at 27 Hereford until his death in April of 1926.
In early 1927, 27 Hereford was purchased from Alice Bosson by Clara Louise Erickson. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on February 27, 1927. She is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map and was the assessed owner through 1930. Clara Erickson was a legal secretary and lived at 27 Bay Drive in Dorchester with her parents, August Erickson and Hannah (Anderson) Erickson.
By 1928, 27 Hereford was the home of Adriaan Martin De Groot, a portrait and landscape painter, who probably leased the house from Clara Erickson. He continued to live there in 1929.
The house was not listed in the 1930 Blue Book.
By the 1930-1931 winter season, 27 Hereford was the home of John E. Hannigan and his wife, Annie (Judson) Hannigan. They previously had lived at 34½ Beacon. Annie Hannigan was the assessed owner of 27 Hereford from 1931 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
John Hannigan was a lawyer and law professor at Boston University and Boston College. Annie Judson Hannigan was a journalist and had served as president of the New England Woman’s Press Association in 1923.
In September of 1931, Clara Erickson married the Hannigans’ son, John Judson Cabot (called Judson) Hannigan. He was a lawyer in his father’s firm and later would become an official of the Economic Cooperation Administration. After their marriage, they lived in Belmont until about 1939, when they joined his parents at 27 Hereford.
Annie Hannigan died in January of 1942. John Hannigan continued to live at 27 Hereford. Judson and Clara Hannigan lived with him until about 1944, after which they made their home in Kittery, Maine.
John Hannigan continued to live at 27 Hereford until about 1945, when he moved to the Boston City Club at 14 Somerset. He was the assessed owner of 27 Hereford through 1945. In the late 1940s, he was a leader of the Beacon Hill residents group opposing construction of an underground garage at the Boston Common. According to his New York Times obituary, he suffered a stroke while serving in this capacity which led to his death in February of 1949.
By 1946, 27 Hereford was the home of Edgar H. Cobb and his wife, Katherine V. (Denny) Cobb. Edgar H. Cobb et al were the assessed owners from 1946. He was president of the Boston Lumber Company. They continued to live there until about 1950.
In early 1950, 27 Hereford was purchased from the Cobbs by Mrs. Henry M. Dawes. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on February 5, 1950.
By 1951, 27 Hereford was the home of Donald E. Breckenridge and his wife, Joyce (Cook) Breckenridge. They previously had lived at 262 Newbury, which also was the location of his business, Breckenridge Inc., which sold kitchen cabinets and equipment. He was the assessed owner of 27 Hereford from 1951. They continued to live there until his death in June of 1957.
In October of 1957, James Cushing Bayley and his wife, Janet (Carr) Bayley, acquired 27 Hereford from Joyce Breckenridge. They previously had lived in an apartment at 199 Marlborough.
James Bayley was an attorney. He served as a Boston City Councilor from 1944 to 1947, and as a member of the State House of Representatives from 1949 to 1958.
The Bayleys continued to live at 27 Hereford until his death in January of 1979. They also maintained a summer home in Swampscott.
In September of 1980, John C. Becker and his wife, Georgiana E. Becker, purchased 27 Hereford from Janet C. Bayley. In May of 1984, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a two-family dwelling.
In April of 1994, Dr. Herbert Y. Kressel, a physician and professor of radiology, and his wife, Shirley Kressel, a landscape architect and urban designer, purchased 27 Hereford from John and Georgiana Becker.
In December of 2004, the Kressels entered into a “Preservation Restriction Agreement” with the National Architectural Trust for the purpose of ensuring the preservation of 27 Hereford’s exterior.
27 Hereford remained a two-family dwelling in 2014.