355 Beacon was designed and built in 1869-1870 by Frederick B. Pope, for speculative sale, one of a symmetrical pair of houses (353-355 Beacon). At about the same time, he also designed and built a third house at 351 Beacon.
Frederick Pope purchased the land for 351-355 Beacon in several transactions. On April 7, 1869, he purchased an 11 foot wide lot from Sidney Homer and a 7 foot wide lot from John Worster, and combined them into an 18 foot lot for 355 Beacon. On March 21, 1870, he bought the 18 foot lot to the east for 353 Beacon and the 30 foot lot at the corner for 351 Beacon, both from house builder and contractor George Martin Gibson. At about the same time, Frederick Pope and George Gibson were building ten houses further west on the block at 381-395 Beacon; they shared the same business address at 81 Washington.
All of the land was part of one of several parcels originally purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on January 29, 1866, by a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. The trust had subdivided the property into lots, which it sold to investors and builders, who then frequently resold the lots to others.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 355 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 416, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On May 4, 1869, the Boston Journal reported that Frederick Pope had filed with the Board of Aldermen a Notice of Intention to build “on Beacon, near Fairfield street.” The notice may have been for both 355 Beacon (for which already he owned the land) and 353 Beacon (for which he would acquire the land in March of 1870).
On August 23, 1870, 355 Beacon was purchased from Frederick Pope by attorney George Bancroft and his wife, Sarah G. (Farley) Bancroft. They previously had lived at 5 Shawmut Avenue.
Living with them were Sarah Bancroft’s unmarried nieces, Lucy Elizabeth Phelps and Frances (Fanny) Lucretia Phelps, daughters of Dudley and Lucretia (Farley) Phelps.
On March 20, 1878, George Bancroft transferred the property into Sarah Bancroft’s name.
George Bancroft died in April of 1881, and Sarah Bancroft continued to live at 355 Beacon with her two nieces until her death in December of 1907.
Lucy and Fanny Phelps continued to live there in 1908. In June of 1908, their brother, Dudley Farley Phelps, was living with them at the time of his death by suicide. Dudley Phelps was an attorney in New York City, where he lived with his wife, Ethel Miriam (Hart) Phelps. He had served as an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York and later as an official of the US Customs Service; during the Civil War, he had served as an officer with the 20th Colored infantry corps.
On September 12, 1908, 355 Beacon was purchased from the estate of Sarah Bancroft by Susan (Emmons) Garfield, the wife of attorney Irvin McDowell Garfield, son of President James Garfield. In June of 1908, when their daughter Eleanor was born, they had lived in an apartment at 409 Marlborough.
They continued to live at 355 Beacon in 1910; but had moved to 127 Marlborough by 1911.
During the 1910-1911 winter season, 355 Beacon was the home of Dr. James Gregory Mumford, a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, and his wife Helen S. (Ford) Mumford. They previously had lived in an apartment at Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley, where he continued to maintain his office. By 1912, they lived in Centre Harbor, New Hampshire.
By the 1911-1912 winter seasons, 355 Beacon was the home of Frederic William Atherton and his wife, Ellen Maud (Tilton) Atherton. They had been married in April of 1911 and 355 Beacon probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 144 Commonwealth with his mother, Mary Edwards (Dwight) Atherton, the widow of William Atherton. Frederic Atherton was trustee of his family’s interests and one of three trustees named to administer the portion of the Estate of Arioch Wentworth designated for the establishment of the Wentworth Institute. By the next season, Frederic and Ellen Atherton had moved to Washington DC.
During the 1912-1913 winter season, 355 Beacon was the home of wholesale cotton merchant John Silsbee Lawrence and his wife, Emma (Atherton) Lawrence, Frederic Atherton’s first cousin, once removed. They previously had lived at 96 Bay State Road. In August of 1913 they acquired and subsequently moved to 59 Commonwealth.
On December 16, 1913, 355 Beacon was purchased from Susan Garfield by Miss Edith Bangs. She previously had lived at 419 Beacon. She continued to live at 355 Beacon until about 1934, but spent the 1932-1933 winter season at an apartment at 186 Commonwealth, and traveled to Europe during the 1933-1934 season. By the 1935-1936 season, she had moved to an apartment at 256 Beacon.
On November 7, 1935, 355 Beacon was purchased from Edith Bangs by Louise (Clark) Fort, the wife of Dr. Rufus Elijah Fort. Rufus and Louise Fort lived in Nashville, where he was vice president and medical director of an insurance company.
355 Beacon was not listed in the Blue Books for 1935-1937 nor in the 1935-1946 Lists of Residents, and was shown as vacant in the 1935-1946 City Directories.
On December 14, 1945, 355 Beacon was purchased from Louise Fort by William John Anderson, Jr., an investment counselor, and his wife, Helen (White) Thibodeau Anderson. In February of 1947, Helen Anderson applied for permission to install a fire escape on the rear of the building, indicating that the proposed use would remain as a single-family dwelling. She subsequently abandoned the permit.
In August of 1955, William Anderson, Jr., applied for permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a single-family dwelling and business office for “applied psychology of perceptual science.” The application was denied and his appeal of the denial was dismissed by the Board of Appeal.
On September 7, 1955, 355 Beacon was acquired from the Andersons by Barclay Harding Warburton. Barclay Warburton was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from Ipswich.
On September 15, 1955, 355 Beacon was acquired from Barclay Warburton by Ann Sutton Nichols. In January of 1956, she applied for the same permission previously denied to William Anderson, Jr.: to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a single family dwelling and business office for “applied psychology of perceptual science.” The application was once again denied and her appeal of the denial was dismissed by the Board of Appeal.
In October of 1957, Barclay Warburton sought to foreclose a mortgage he held on 355 Beacon. Ann Sutton Nichols obtained a temporary injunction, arguing that he owed her money and the checks he had given her were not honored by the bank. In the October 5, 1957, Boston Globe article on the proceedings, she was described as being of Stockton, California, and the leader of “a ‘Perceptual Science’ cult” headquartered at 355 Beacon. Barclay Warburton’s attorney indicated that the payments he made to her were related to “‘the practice of law, medicine and psychiatry for which she is neither licensed nor qualified in practice,'” and that she had claimed that she “helped members of the group in talk with God.”
She continued to live at 355 Beacon in 1968, and probably later.
On August 18, 1981, Charles Howard Davis and his wife, Libra (Libera) Vigliaroli (Roli) Davis, purchased 355 Beacon from Ann Nichols. They made it their home.
Charles Davis died in May of 1987.
On June 8, 1999, 355 Beacon was purchased from Libra Davis by Valerie Swett and Richard D. Bickelman, trustees of Rothermere Realty Trust.
The property changed hands. It remained a single-family dwelling in 2020.