289 Beacon was designed by architect George A. Avery and built in 1881-1882 by Warren Dexter Vinal and Charles A. Dodge, masons, for speculative sale, one of two contiguous houses (287-289 Beacon). Vinal & Dodge are shown as the owners on the original building permit application, dated June 20, 1881.
The land for 287-289 Beacon was purchased on January 24, 1882, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by building contractor George Wheatland, Jr. 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 George Wheatland, Jr., held the rights to the lots at 287-289 Beacon. On August 10, 1881, he entered into a party wall agreement with John Francis Anderson, who held the right to purchase the lot at 285 Beacon. It appears that George Wheatland, Jr., entered into an agreement with Vinal & Dodge to build 287-289 Beacon on the land and, when they were nearing completion, he exercised his right to acquire the land from the Commonwealth. He retained the house and land at 287 Beacon and transferred the house and land at 289 Beacon to Vinal & Dodge on September 15, 1882.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 289 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 418, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
On September 23, 1882, 289 Beacon was purchased from Warren Vinal and Charles Dodge by William Rotch. He and his wife, Mary Rotch (Eliot) Rotch, made it their home. They previously had lived in Jamaica Plain. They also maintained a home in Nonquitt.
William Rotch was a consulting civil engineer and manager of trust properties.
On September 13, 1895, 289 Beacon was purchased from William Rotch by James Frothingham Hunnewell. He and his wife, Sarah Melville (Farnsworth) Hunnewell, made it their home. They previously had lived at 321 Dartmouth in Boston and at 13 Green in Charlestown.
James Hunnewell was a merchant and author of historical and genealogical works.
Their only son, James Melville Hunnewell, lived with them. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1904, practiced law in Boston, and served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
James F. Hunnewell died in November of 1910, and 289 Beacon was inherited by James M. Hunnewell.
Sarah Hunnewell and James M. Hunnewell continued to live at 289 Beacon. He married in April of 1911 to Emeline Cushman Ticknor, after which they lived at 39 Chestnut.
Sarah Hunnewell continued to live at 289 Beacon until her death in April of 1917. After her death, James M. Hunnewell leased 289 Beacon to others.
289 Beacon was not listed in the 1918-1921 Blue Books.
By the 1921-1922 winter season, it was the home of Mrs. Harriet H. (George) Green, the widow of Frank R. Green, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 27-29 Newbury, where she also operated a lodging house. She continued to live at 289 Beacon during the 1923-1924 season, but moved thereafter; by 1930, she was living in Ossipee, New Hampshire.
By the 1924-1925 winter season, 289 Beacon was the home of Miss Ada M. Farr, who operated it as a lodging house. She continued to live there in 1932.
In November of 1932, James Melville Hunnewell applied for a lodging house license for 289 Beacon. He was advised by the Building Department of fire safety improvements required before the property could be legally used for that purpose.
In May of 1933, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to install smoke partitions and self-closing doors to the hallways. He does not appear to have requested permission to convert the property to a lodging house, but the property was recognized as such by the Building Department thereafter.
By 1933, 289 Beacon was the home of Fuller Carpenter Scofield, a heating contractor, and his wife, Jessie (Lintott) Briggs Scofield, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in Hull, where they continued to maintain a home.
They continued to live at 289 Beacon until about 1937.
On July 20, 1954, 289 Beacon was acquired from the estate of James M. Hunnewell by the National Realty Company, Inc. (Charles Talanian, president; Thomas J. Diab, treasurer). It remained a lodging house.
The property changed hands and on June 2, 1961, was acquired by Robert M. Freedman and Donald E. Devine, trustees of the Devine and Freedman Realty Trust (formerly the D. and F. Realty Trust). That same month, the trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into ten apartments.
On March 1, 1965, Charles S. Elkind foreclosed on a mortgage given to him by Robert M. Freedman and Donald E. Freedman, and sold 289 Beacon to Richard Mays.
The property changed hands and on September 8, 1978, was acquired by real estate dealer George P. Demeter. On February 1, 1996, he transferred the property to the George P. Realty Limited Partnership.
289 Beacon remained an apartment house in 2016.