277 Beacon was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1876-1877 by I. and H. M. Harmon, masons and builders, for merchant, cotton manufacturer, and real estate developer Charles William Freeland, for speculative sale, one of six contiguous houses built in the same style: 271-273-275-277 Beacon built in 1876-1877 and 279-281 Beacon built in 1881. 271-277 Beacon form a symmetrical group, with the bays of 271-273 Beacon on the west side of each house, and the bays of 275-277 Beacon on the east side of each house. Both 279-281 Beacon have bays on the east side of the house.
The original building permit application for 271 Beacon has not been located. The building permit applications for 273 Beacon, dated September 28, 1876, and for 275-277 Beacon, dated November 1, 1876, do not indicate the name of the architect. However, the permit applications for 279-281 Beacon, originally submitted in 1877, abandoned, and re-submitted in 1881, indicate that Peabody and Stearns was the architect of these houses, and it is reasonable to assume the earlier four – which are of the same design — also were designed by them (in his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting attributes all six houses to Peabody and Stearns).
The land on which 271-281 Beacon were built was purchased by Charles W. Freeland from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in several parcels: Four 25 foot wide lots to the east on May 26, 1874, and a 50 foot wide lot to the west on October 30, 1877. 271 Beacon is 26 feet wide, 273-275-277-279 Beacon are each 25 feet wide, and 281 Beacon is 24 feet wide.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 277 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 418, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
On November 4, 1876, the Boston Globe reported that I. & H. M. Harmon had received permits to build 275 and 277 Beacon. Construction probably started soon thereafter. The final building inspection report was dated December 21, 1877.
277 Beacon was not listed in the 1876-1878 Blue Books, and was shown as “vacant” in the 1879-1881 Blue Books.
On April 6, 1881, 277 Beacon was purchased from Charles Freeland by John Goldthwait, a carpet merchant. He previously had lived at 6 Chester Square, where his wife, Helen (Brown) Goldthwait, died in May of 1880.
Living with him were his daughters, Elizabeth Brown Goldthwait and Helen Maria Goldthwait, and his son, Charles Brown Goldthwait. Charles Goldthwait was a salesman with Joel Goldthwait & Company, carpet merchants, which had succeeded John Goldthwait’s firm when he retired (Joel Goldthwait was John Goldthwait’s brother; he died in 1901).
Helen Goldthwait married in November of 1884 to attorney Simon Davis; after their marriage, they lived with John Goldthwait at 277 Beacon. Charles Goldthwait married in December of 1893 to Caroline Alexander and moved to Maplewood.
On May 11, 1897, John Goldthwait transferred 277 Beacon to his two daughters.
John Goldthwait died in January of 1899.
Simon and Helen Davis continued to live at 277 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Falmouth.
On October 27, 1902, Elizabeth (Goldthwait) Peirce transferred her interest in 277 Beacon to Helen (Goldthwait) Davis.
Simon and Helen Davis continued to live at 277 Beacon until about 1906, when they moved to Brookline. His unmarried sister, Mercy E. Davis, lived with them. After they moved, Helen Davis continued to own 277 Beacon and lease it to others.
By the 1906-1907 winter season, 277 Beacon was the home of banker William Pratt Lyman and his wife, Helen (Beeckman) Lyman. They previously had lived at 331 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Nahant. They continued to live at 277 Beacon during the 1911-1912 season, after which they made Nahant their year-round home.
By the 1913-1914 winter season, it was the home of Beatrice (Hardcastle) Lowell, the widow of banker Charles Lowell, and their adult children, Mary Beatrice Lowell and Alfred Putnam Lowell, a lawyer. They previously had lived at 3 Fairfield.
Mary Lowell married in June of 1915 to Frederick Southgate Bigelow and moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania. Alfred Lowell married in October of 1915 to Catherine Hay Bowles and moved to 56 Brimmer.
On April 17, 1923, Beatrice Lowell acquired 277 Beacon from Helen Davis.
On May 12, 1930, 277 Beacon was acquired from Beatrice Lowell’s estate by Charles H. Hemenway. On the same day, he transferred the property to Ethel G. (Carmichael) Ball, the wife of real estate dealer Edward J. Ball.
That same month, Edward Ball filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 277 Beacon from a single-family dwelling into six apartments.
On October 17, 1930, Ethel Ball transferred the property back to Charles Hemenway.
The property changed hands and on September 30, 1947 was acquired by the Primus Realty Company, one of several real estate firms owned by Julius Kalman (Kalmanovitz). In September of 1943, 275 Beacon had been acquired by Victory Realty, Inc., another of Julius Kalman’s firms.
In July of 1950, Primus Realty filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 277 Beacon as ten units.
In March of 1954, Julius Kalman’s real estate firms were identified as among the victims of George L. Maitland, who had been indicted for obtaining loans based on fraudulent representations. On February 6, 1956, Julius Kalman committed suicide at his home in Allston. The Boston Globe reported that the suicide was “on the eve of one of the trials growing out of the so-called Maitland loan fraud case” in which he “was to have been a star witness” for the prosecution.
On March 28, 1957, Primus Realty transferred 277 Beacon to Jennie Loitman Barron, Mark R. Werman, and Jacob Grossman, executors of the will of Julius Kalman.
On August 1, 1958, 277 Beacon was acquired from Julius Kalman’s estate by Max Ross. He also acquired 275 Beacon from the estate on the same day.
275 Beacon and 277 Beacon changed hands and on December 1, 1980, were purchased by Robert S. Epstein, David R. Epstein, and John R. Svenson, trustees of the 277 Beacon Trust. In August of 1981, David Epstein filed for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units at 277 Beacon from ten to nine.
In June of 1982, the 277 Beacon Trust transferred 275 Beacon to 275 Beacon Associates, Inc., and transferred 277 Beacon to 277 Beacon Associates, Inc. Robert Epstein was president of both companies.
On the same day, 277 Beacon Associates converted 277 Beacon into nine condominium units, the 277 Beacon Street Condominium, and 275 Beacon Associates converted 275 Beacon into nine condominium units, the 275 Beacon Street Condominium.