315-317 Beacon were designed and built ca. 1871 by Frederick B. Pope for speculative sale, two of fourteen contiguous houses (303-305-307-309-311-313-315-317-319-321-323-325-327-329 Beacon) he designed and built between 1871 and 1874.
311-319 Beacon form a symmetrical composition, with 311 and 319 Beacon having bay windows that run the full length of the front façade, 313 and 317 Beacon having an oriel window on the second floor and mansard roofs with three dormers each, and 315 Beacon, in the middle, having an oriel window on the second floor and a more elaborate mansard roof with a single, central double dormer window.
315-317 Beacon were owned by one owner since the early 1900s.
By 1872, 315 Beacon was the home of Lucius Edwin Batcheller, a druggist, and his wife, Jennette (Allen) Batcheller. The previously had lived at 771 Tremont. Jennette Batcheller is shown as the owner of 315 Beacon on the 1874 Hopkins map.
Jennette Batcheller died in June of 1878, and Lucius Edwin Batcheller moved soon thereafter to the Adams House hotel.
By 1879, 315 Beacon was the home of attorney William S. MacFarlane and his wife, Margaret Elizabeth (Russell) von Stralendorff MacFarlane. They previously had lived at 28 Brimmer. They continued to live at 315 Beacon in 1880.
The house was not listed in the 1881 and 1882 Blue Books.
The Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company is shown as the owner on the 1883 Bromley map.
During the 1882-1883 and 1883-1884 winter seasons, it was the home of Miss Elizabeth S. Owen.
By the 1885-1886 winter season, it was the home of Edwin Augustus Hills and his wife, Georgine Leonardina (Dorrepaal) Hills. They previously had lived at 107 Mt. Vernon. He is shown as the owner of 315 Beacon on the 1888 and 1898 Bromley maps.
Edwin Hills was a dealer in plate and window glass.
They continued to live at 315 Beacon in 1900. By 1901, they had purchased and moved to 363 Beacon.
315 Beacon was not listed in the 1901 Blue Book.
During the 1901-1902 winter season, 315 Beacon was the home of cotton broker Philip Gardner and his wife, Virginia (Atkinson) Gardner. At the time of the 1900 US Census (soon after their marriage) they had lived in Brookline with his mother, Laura (Perkins) Gardner, the widow of Harrison Gardner. Philip and Virginia Gardner had moved to 321 Beacon by the 1902-1903 season.
It appears that, at about this time, William and Mary (Kimball) Kehew acquired 315 Beacon and merged it with their home at 317 Beacon. 315 Beacon no longer appeared in the Blue Books after 1902.
By 1872, 317 Beacon was the home of retired dry goods merchant Stephen R. Pearl and his wife, Annie E. (Smith) Marsh Pearl. In 1870, they were living in Swampscott. He is shown as the owner on the 1874 Hopkins map.
He died in April of 1876 and Annie Pearl moved soon thereafter to 11 Beacon.
By 1880, it was the home of Mrs. Anna De Wolf (Lovett) Gibbs, the widow of merchant Franklin Gibbs, and their children, Anna De Wolf Gibbs and Bradford Gibbs. Her mother, Josephine (De Wolf) Lovett, the widow of Charles Walley Lovett, and brother, James Lovett, lived with them. In 1879, they had lived at 109 Beacon.
Anna D. W. Gibbs is shown as the owner of 317 Beacon on the 1883 Bromley map.
By the 1884-1885 winter season, it was the home of George H. Brooks and his wife, Sarah T. (Smith) Brooks. Their son and daughter-in-law, George Chelson Brooks and Carrie L. (Story) Brooks lived with them.
George H. Brooks was a real estate investor, having formerly been a retail clothing merchant in Boston and then a wholesale liquor dealer in Cincinnati. George C. Brooks was a banker and stockbroker.
The Brooks lived at 317 Beacon while the Hotel Royal apartments were being built for George H. Brooks at 295-297 Beacon. They moved there when the building was completed.
By the 1885-1886 winter season, 317 Beacon was the home of William Browne Kehew and his wife, Mary Morton (Kimball) Kehew. They previously had lived at 262 Beacon.
William Kehew was an oil merchant. Mary (Kimball) Kehew was active in numerous progressive causes in Boston. She was the first president of the Women’s Trade Union League, formed in 1903, and served as President of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union from 1892 to 1913.
Mary Kehew is shown as the owner of 317 Beacon on the 1888 Bromley map.
Mary Kehew’s sisters, Susan Day Kimball and Hannah Parker Kimball, lived with them from about 1903. They previously had lived at 325 Commonwealth with their mother, Susan Tillinghast (Morton) Kimball, the widow of Moses Day Kimball, until shortly after Mrs. Kimball’s death in March of 1900. Hannah Parker Kimball was a poet and active with her sister in the Women’s Trade Union League.
Susan Day Kimball married in September of 1906 to stockbroker and former Police Commissioner Robert F. Clark. After their marriage, they lived at his home at 9 Gloucester.
In the early 1900s, the Kehews had acquired 315 Beacon and appear to have merged it with their home. They continued to live at 315-317 Beacon until about 1907, but moved to 29 Chestnut soon thereafter. Hannah Parker Kimball appears to have moved with them (it was the address she provided when she applied for a passport in November of 1912). In 1920, Hannah Kimball purchased and moved to 25 Marlborough.
By 1908, 315-317 Beacon had been acquired by Robert and Susan (Kimball) Clark, who moved there from 9 Gloucester. Susan D. Clark is shown as the owner of 315-317 Beacon on the 1908 Bromley map.
The Clarks continued to live there in 1910, when they moved to Milton.
In the spring of 1912, 315-317 Beacon was purchased from Susan D. Clark by Charles Frederic Lyman and his wife, Isabella Ogden Reed (Macomber) Lyman. The sale was reported by the Boston Globe on March 20, 1912. They previously lived at 291 Marlborough. He is shown as the owner of 315-317 Beacon on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps.
Charles Lyman was a stockbroker. He previously had been in partnership with John Appleton Burnham, III, in the firm of Lyman & Burnham, which manufactured automobiles ca. 1904-1905 and later dealt in automobile accessories.
In November of 1912, A. T. Lyman applied for (and subsequently received) permission to build a garage at the rear of the property.
The Lymans continued to live at 317 Beacon in 1918, but by the 1918-1919 winter season, they were temporarily living elsewhere and it was the home of Rodman Paul Snelling and his wife, Eva Burnham (de Tréville) Snelling. They previously had lived in Needham. He was treasurer of the Saco-Lowell Shops, makers of textile (cotton worsted and spun silk) machinery. By the 1919-1920 season, the Snellings had moved to 151 Commonwealth and 317 Beacon was once again the Lymans’ home.
They continued to live there in 1920, but by the 1920-1921 winter season, it was the home of Horace Milton Houser and his wife, Julia Munson (Crouse) Houser. He was a retired manufacturer of farm implements from Akron, Ohio, where they had lived until early 1920. They also maintained a home in Marblehead.
The Housers had moved by the 1921-1922 winter season and 317 Beacon was the home of attorney William Henry Coolidge and his wife, May (Humphreys) Coolidge. Their primary residence was in Manchester.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, the Coolidges had moved and the Lymans were once again living at 317 Beacon.
By 1925, 315-317 Beacon was the location of the Old Colony School of Secretarial Training (for young women), founded by Miss Florence B. La Moreaux and Mrs. Margaret (Vail) Fowler, the widow of Chester Dewey Fowler. Miss La Moreaux and Mrs. Fowler also lived at 317 Beacon. Florence La Moreaux is shown as the owner of 315-317 Beacon on the 1928 Bromley map. She previously had lived at 247 Berkeley, where she was director of the Katharine Gibbs School located there.
In 1929, the school opened an annex at 345 Beacon, where it remained until about 1932.
Florence La Moreaux died in April of 1930 and Margaret Fowler died in October of 1931.
The Old Colony School continued to be located 315-317 Beacon until about 1933.
315-317 Beacon was not listed in the 1934 Blue Book.
By 1934, 315-317 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Margaret M. Thomson, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived in Lowell. Margaret M. Thomson probably was Margaret M. (Noonan) Thomson, the former wife of Robert Waugh Thomson, general manager of the Butterfield Printing Company in Lowell. She continued to live at 317 Beacon until about 1937.
The State Street Trust Company is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
By 1939, 315-317 Beacon was owned by Shirley Clifford Speed.
S. Clifford Speed was a real estate dealer who converted many Back Bay houses into lodging houses and apartments.
By 1946, 315-317 Beacon was owned by Henry Siskind. In September of 1946, he filed for permission to convert the property from a lodging house into a girls’ dormitory. He subsequently abandoned the application.
By 1955, 315-317 Beacon was owned by Toba Esther Finn (Tresa E. (Finkelstein) Friedman), the former wife of Julian Friedman. She previously had lived at 300 Commonwealth.
After buying 315-317 Beacon, Toba Finn converted it into a restaurant specializing in organic and specially-prepared foods. A February 4, 1955, article in the Newport Daily News described her purchase and transformation of the property: “”A few months ago, she bought the 17-room house in which she is now living, cleaned it out single-handedly, moved in some of her prize antiques, and set it up as ‘Ambrosia House.'”
The article noted that “Commercially, it is located in one of the most unlikely places possible for a dining establishment — in a staid Beacon Street brownstone. You’d never find it if you didn’t know exactly that it is at number 317. … Once inside, you pass a large reception hall and a quaint ‘old Boston’ front parlor to get to the cozy dining room. Having seated you, Miss Finn will listen to your victual desires, then proceed to tell you what really should eat, backing her recommendations with the argument that you have atrocious eating habits and you’d better mend your eating ways. … ‘Eat food that is close to its natural source with as little as preparation as possible’ Miss Finn advises. … Miss Finn is firm in her opinion that if a person is going to enjoy good health and a sharp mind, he must have the highest quality blood. And for grade A blood, he must eat high quality, natural, organically grown food, she said.”
In March of 1955, Toba Finn filed for permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling and lodging house into a single-family dwelling and lodging house with catering and massage. The application was denied and her appeal to the Board of Appeal was dismissed.
She continued to live at 317 Beacon in 1959.
By 1961, 317 Beacon was occupied as a dormitory by Emerson College.
By 1962, it was owned by Ann R. Tillinghast. In April of 1962, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into a dormitory for Emerson College. It continued to be a Emerson College Dormitory in 1963.
By 1966, 315-317 Beacon was owned by Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College, which operated it as the Suffolk and Newman Dormitory.
In October of 1971, Joseph F. DeMarco acquired 315-317 Beacon from Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College.
In May of 1983, Sam Y. Kim, trustee of the 317 Beacon Street Realty Trust, purchased 315-317 Beacon from Joseph DeMarco, and in August of 1983, Dorothy F. Wirth, trustee of The Beacon Group Trust, purchased 315-317 Beacon from Sam Y. Kim. The next month, she purchased 313 Beacon.
In July of 1983 (prior to the date of Dorothy Wirth’s purchase of 315-317 Beacon), The Beacon Group filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 315-317 Beacon from a dormitory into twelve apartments. In August of 1983, it amended the permit application to include the additional of a second story to the ell at the rear of the property. The application was denied and The Beacon Group’s appeal of the denial was dismissed by the Board of Appeal.
In December of 1983, The Beacon Group filed for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units from twelve to eleven. That same month, Dorothy Wirth converted 315-317 Beacon into eleven condominiums and, at the same time, converted 313 Beacon into four condominiums. All three buildings were owned by the same condominium trust. 313 Beacon remained a separate property, however, with a separate entrance from 315-317 Beacon.