274 Beacon was designed by George Clarke Whiting, architect, and constructed by Barrows & Company in 1929 as a ten story, sixteen unit apartment house. The 274 Beacon Street Trust is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated March 1, 1929.
Plans for the building are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference BIN B-5 and D-2).
During the 1930s or 1940s, the number of units was reduced to nine, with a two-floor duplex on the eighth and ninth floors.
In August of 1948, the 274 Beacon Street Trust (F. H. Barrows, trustee) filed for (and subsequently received) permission to make separate apartments on the eighth and ninth floors, and increase the number of units to ten.
274 Beacon (Demolished)
When it was built in 1929, 274 Beacon replaced a house designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and built in 1881.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates that 274 Beacon was built for Henry Lee Higginson, an investment banker with his family’s firm — Lee, Higginson & Company — and founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Henry Lee Higginson may have built 274 Beacon, but he did not live there. He and his wife, Ida (Agassiz) Higginson, lived at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth from the time it was built in 1873 until his death in 1919.
274 Beacon was the home of his brother, Francis Lee Higginson, also an investment banker with Lee, Higginson & Company. He is shown as the owner of 274 Beacon on the 1883 Bromley map, George and F. L. Higgonson, trustees, are shown as the owners on the 1888 and 1895 maps, and Francis L. Higginson is shown as the owner on the 1898, 1908, and 1917 maps.
Francis Lee Higginson lived at 274 Beacon with his first wife, Julia (Borland) Higginson, from about 1882. They previously had lived at 294 Beacon. They divorced in December of 1895 and he remarried in April of 1898 to Corina Anna Shattuck. They continued to live at 274 Beacon and also maintained a summer home at Prides Crossing.
Francis Higginson died in August of 1925 and Corina Higginson moved soon thereafter to 101 Chestnut.
274 Beacon was not listed in the 1936-1928 Blue Books.
During the 1928-1929 winter season, it was the home of Walter Rogers Whiting and his wife, Gertrude (Clarke) Whiting. Their primary residence was in Hingham.
Walter Rogers Whiting was vice president of the Bankers Electric Protective Association, an alarm company.
The house was razed in January of 1929. The Whitings’ son, George Clarke Whiting, was the architect of the apartment house which replaced it.