354 Beacon was built in 1883-1884 by building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames, one of two contiguous houses (354-356 Beacon), both with bow-shaped bays on the east side, built for wire and cable manufacturer Charles Anthony Morss for speculative sale. Charles Morss and his wife, Mary Elizabeth (Wells) Morss, lived at 323 Marlborough.
The two houses were built between 386 Beacon to the west, which had been built ca. 1872, and a vacant lot to the east where 348-350-352 Beacon later would be built.
A copy of the original building permit application has not been located. However, on October 6, 1883, the American Architect and Building News reported that a permit for the two houses had been approved, with Samuel T. Ames shown as the owner and the builder.When the permit applications were filed, the houses were given the numbers 382 and 384 Beacon because they were to be built next to 386 Beacon. However, after they were completed, they were assigned the numbers 354 and 356 Beacon. This change in house numbers led to an error in Appendix A in Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, in which he indicates that Samuel T. Ames built 356 and 386 Beacon in 1883 and that the date when 354 Beacon was built is uncertain but may have been 1886.
Charles Morss purchased the land for 354-356 Beacon on April 21, 1883, from Stephen D. Bennett. It was the western 48 feet of a 73 foot wide parcel originally purchased from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation on January 24, 1881, by Frances E. Parker, and sold by him on February 12, 1881, to Arthur W. Blake. Arthur Blake sold the eastern 25 feet to Charles Walter Amory and the western 48 feet to Stephen Bennett.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 354 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
On March 27, 1885, 354 Beacon was purchased from Charles Morss by attorney William Warren Vaughan, He and his wife, Ellen Twisleton (Parkman) Vaughan, made it their home. They previously had lived at 3 Brimmer. They also maintained a home in North East Harbor, Maine.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, the Vaughans were living elsewhere and 354 Beacon was the home of Robert Swain Peabody and his wife, Annie (Putnam) Peabody. They also maintained a home in Marblehead. He was an architect; his firm, Peabody and Stearns, was one of the foremost architectural firms in Boston and designed a number of homes in the Back Bay. Earlier in 1899 they had lived with Annie Peabody’s sister, Ellen Putnam, at 355 Marlborough. The Peabodys had moved from by 1901 and were living at 22 Fenway by 1902, and 354 Beacon was once again the Vaughans’ home.
In 1936, 354 Beacon became the home of Frederick Allen Marsden, a retired physician, who operated it as a lodging house. Earlier that year, he had lived at 22 Marlborough. He had moved to 290 Marlborough by mid-1937.
On January 13, 1937, the Boston Globe reported that William Vaughan had sold 354 Beacon to Fred A. Kilgore, who (the article stated) had purchased the property with the intention of converting it into apartments. The sale was never finalized.
On April 29, 1937, 354 Beacon was acquired from William Vaughan by Sylvia (Levy) Sundland, the former wife of Dore Sundland. She lived in Brighton.
That same month, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into ten apartments. She also was the owner of 371 Beacon, across the street, which she also converted into apartments in 1937. Both remodeling projects were designed by architect Herman L. Feer.
On May 3, 1937, 354 Beacon was acquired from Sylvia Sundland by real estate dealer Bernard Brooker, and in June of 1937, he also acquired 371 Beacon from her. Both deeds were not recorded until February 10, 1939, and she was the assessed owner of both properties in 1938 and 1939. On the same day, he recorded deeds transferring both properties to The Chestnut-Beacon Realty Co.
On April 29, 1941, Julius Krinsky foreclosed on his mortgage to Sylvia Sundland, which had been assumed by subsequent owners, and took possession of 354 Beacon, transferring it to 354 Beacon Street, inc., the treasurer of which was his son, attorney David Krinsky. In June of 1941, he foreclosed his mortgage on 371 Beacon and also transferred it to 354 Beacon Street, Inc. It owned both properties for the next twenty years.
David Krinsky died in September of 1960 and his wife, Ruth (Abramson) Krinsky succeeded him as treasurer of 354 Beacon Street, Inc.
On August 1, 1961, 354 Beacon and 371 Beacon were acquired from 354 Beacon Street, Inc., by Lester Robinson of Lowell, and on April 9, 1964, he transferred both properties to his daughter, Louise Edith Robinson, as trustee of the Louise Robinson Realty Trust.
On June 14, 1965, 354 Beacon was acquired from Louise Robinson by Murray Goldshine and Carl A. Gordon, trustees of the 354 Beacon Street Realty Trust.
The property changed hands and on May 2, 1969, was acquired by Harry A. Cohen, trustee of the Marco Realty Trust. On December 28, 1976, the Marco Realty Trust was merged into the Marco Realty Corporation, of which Harry Cohen was president and his son, Kenneth W. Cohen, was treasurer.
On June 26, 1979, Marco Realty transferred the property to the Commonwealth Group, Inc., of which Harry Cohen’s son, Richard D. Cohen, was president and treasurer.
On July 14, 1980, the Commonwealth Group converted the property into ten condominium units, the 354 Beacon Street Condominium.