285 Beacon was designed by Cabot and Chandler, architects, and built in 1885-1886 by McNeil Brothers, carpenters, and Charles A. Dodge, mason, one of two contiguous houses (283-285 Beacon) designed as a symmetrical pair.
285 Beacon was built as the home of Susan (Daland) Cox, the widow of Dr. Benjamin Cox, who had been a physician in Salem. She previously had lived at 216 Beacon. She is shown as the owner of 285 Beacon on the original building permit application, dated April 23, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 15, 1886.
Susan Cox purchased the land for 285 Beacon on April 7, 1885, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The land originally had been offered for sale by the Commonwealth at its auction on November 26, 1866, and dry goods merchant Eben Dyer Jordan, co-founder of Jordan, Marsh & Company, was the successful bidder for the seven 24 foot lots running west from 283 Beacon. He subsequently sold or transferred his rights to purchase the five lots at 283-291 Beacon, and by 1881 dry goods merchant John Francis Anderson held the rights to the lots at 283-285 Beacon. On August 10, 1881, he entered into a party wall agreement with George Wheatland, Jr., owner of the right to purchase the lot at 287 Beacon, and on March 14, 1883, he entered into a second party wall agreement with Marian G. Horton, who had purchased 287 Beacon from George Wheatland, Jr. John Anderson subsequently sold or transferred his right to purchase the land at 285 Beacon and it was acquired from the Commonwealth by Susan Cox.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 285 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 418, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
Susan Cox continued to live at 285 Beacon until her death in May of 1896. She left 285 Beacon to her only living child, Sarah Silver Cox, who leased it to others.
During the 1897-1898 winter season, it was the home of Mark Hopkins, III, and his sister, Georgeanna (identified as Miss Hopkins in the Blue Book). Miss Parsons, either their aunt Georgianna Parsons or their aunt Martha Parsons, lived with them. By 1899, they all were living at 250 Beacon with Georgianna Brackett (Messer) Parsons, the widow of merchant William Parsons; she was Mark and Georgeanna Hopkins’s grandmother and the mother of Georgianna and Martha Parsons.
By 1899, 285 Beacon was the home of merchant Benjamin Loring Young and his wife, Charlotte Wright (Hubbard) Young. In 1897, they had lived at either 254 Beacon or 393 Marlborough (they are listed at both addresses in the 1897 Blue Book, and at neither in the 1898 Blue Book). They also maintained a home in Weston.
During the 1900-1901 and 1901-1902 seasons, the Youngs moved temporarily to 227 Beacon, the home of Charles and Margaret (Homer) Davis. The Youngs had lived temporarily at 227 Beacon once before, in 1893.
285 Beacon became the home of paper manufacturer Charles Vose and his wife, Mary Ann Barrett (Hersey) Vose. They previously had lived in Jamaica Plain.
The Voses continued to live at 285 Beacon during the 1902-1903 winter season, but by the 1903-1904 season had moved to 443 Beacon.
Sarah Silver Cox died in November of 1902 in Switzerland, and on June 15, 1903, Charlotte Young purchased 283 Beacon from her estate. The Youngs once again made it their Boston home.
Benjamin Young died in August of 1907 at their home in Weston.
During the 1907-1908 winter season, 285 Beacon was the home Julia White (Loomer) Hall, the widow of John Manning Hall, former president of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The Halls’ three children — John Loomer Hall, Florence Marian Hall, and Helen Hall — lived with her. They had moved by the 1908-1909 winter season. Julia Hall and her daughters probably moved to New Haven, where Helen Hall was married in November of 1908 to John Ellsworth Owsley. John Hall, a lawyer, moved to 927 Beacon. By the 1909-1910 season, Julia Hall, John Hall, and Florence Hall were living at 130 Marlborough.
In 1917, Charlotte Young was joined at 285 Beacon by her son-in-law and daughter, William Bacon Emmons and Margaret (Young) Emmons. They had lived at 465 Beacon during the 1915-1916 season. He owned Cloudrest Farms in Pomfret, Vermont, a 2,000 acre farm where he raised Jersey cattle, Southdown sheep, and Berkshire pigs, and produced maple syrup. By the 1917-1918 winter season, they had moved to 15 Gloucester.
During the 1919-1920 winter season, Charlotte Young was in Santa Barbara, California, and 285 Beacon was the home of investment banker George Cabot Lee and his wife, Madeline (Jackson) Lee. They previously had lived at 17 Brimmer. Madeline Lee died in March of 1920. By the 1920-1921 season, George Lee had moved to 242 Beacon and Charlotte Young had resumed living at 285 Beacon.
She continued to live there until shortly before her death in January of 1944.
On June 18, 1943, 285 Beacon was purchased from Charlotte Young by Charles R. Lynde. In September of 1943, he filed for permission to construct a fire escape, indicating that the building was a single-family dwelling. The Building Department informed Mr. Lynde that, based on their examination of the property, it appeared intended to be used as a lodging house and, therefore, additional requirements must be met.
On August 31, 1943, 285 Beacon was acquired from Charles Lynde by Frank C. Hatcher and Helen A. (Costello) Bleheen, the widow of Michael Bleheen. They both previously lived at 636 Beacon; they married later in 1943.
In December of 1943, they filed for permission to convert the property into a lodging house. The application was denied and their appeal was dismissed by the Board of Appeal in March of 1945.
On February 1, 1946, 285 Beacon was purchased from the Hatchers by Herman Gilbert Bunker and his wife, Ethel F. (Watts) Bunker. They lived in Saugus, where he was a real estate and insurance broker.
In March of 1947, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a lodging house, all of the necessary egress requirements having been met. On the application, Herman Bunker noted that the property was “operated as a guest home when I bought it.”
On June 20, 1950, 285 Beacon was acquired from the Bunkers by Arthur Oswell Siteman and his wife, Ruby Gladys (Anderson) Siteman, who continued to operate it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in Cambridge.
The property changed hands and on January 30, 1979, it was purchased by 285 Beacon Associates, Inc. (Robert Epstein, president). In August of that year, they purchased 283 Beacon.
In August of 1979, David and Robert Epstein filed for (and subsequently received) permission to combine 283 and 285 Beacon into one property, add two stories to the combined property, and convert it into fourteen units. The prior use of 283 Beacon was as ten apartments, and the prior use of 285 Beacon was as a lodging house.
On June 16, 1980, they converted the combined property into fourteen condominium units, the 285 Beacon Street Condominium.
In October of 1997, the 283-285 Beacon Condominium Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine Units 1-A and 1-B into one unit, and reduce the number of units from fourteen to thirteen.