355 Beacon

355 Beacon (2019)

Lot 18' x 112' (2,016 sf)

Lot 18′ x 112′ (2,016 sf)

355 Beacon is located on the south side of Beacon, between Fairfield and Gloucester, with 353 Beacon to the east and 357 Beacon to the west.

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. He and his wife, Sarah Gibson (Farley) Bancroft, made it their home. 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. In her will, she left all of her property, including 355 Beacon, to Lucy and Fanny Phelps, and named Fanny Phelps her executor.

Lucy and Fanny Phelps continued to live at 355 Beacon 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 M. (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.

353-355 Beacon (2019)

On September 12, 1908, 355 Beacon was purchased from Sarah Bancroft’s estate 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. Prior to their marriage in October of 1907, he had lived at the Tennis and Racquet Club at 927 Boylston and she had lived at 245 Commonwealth.

They continued to live at 355 Beacon during the 1909-1910 winter season;  but moved thereafter to 127 Marlborough. They continued to own 355 Beacon and lease it to others.

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 Sherwood (Ford) Mumford. They previously had lived in an apartment at Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley, where he continued to maintain his office, and prior to that at 197 Beacon. 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 married in April of 1911 and 355 Beacon was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, Frederic Atherton had lived at 144 Commonwealth and Ellen Atherton had lived in Cambridge. He 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.

353-355 Beacon (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

353-355 Beacon (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

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 1935-1945 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. They previously had lived in Hamilton.

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, III. Barclay Warburton was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from Ipswich, where he and his wife, Margarett Sargent (McKean) Reed Warburton, lived at Saracen Farm.

On September 15, 1955, 355 Beacon was acquired from Barclay Warburton by Ann (Sutton) Nichols, an optometrist who lived in Stockton, California. She was the former wife of James Clifford Nichols (whose surname she continued to use) and of Bruno Joseph Lorenz.

Ann Nichols lived at 355 Beacon and also continued to maintain her home in Stockton.  She was joined at 355 Beacon by Evelyn Claire (Harding) Stewart, also an optometrist, the former wife of Ned Frank Stewart, Jr. Prior to their divorce, the Stewarts had lived in Norwood.

Boston Herald, 27Sep1956

In January of 1956, Ann Nichols 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  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.” The case was settled in December of 1957 in her favor, with the litigants agreeing to cancel the mortgage.

Ann Nichols married again in October of 1958 to Joaquin G. Madrid, a printer with the Stockton Record. They divorced in the mid-1960s.

Ann Nichols and Evelyn Stewart continued to live at 355 Beacon in the mid-1960s, and probably later.

On August 18, 1981, Charles Howard Davis, an aircraft mechanical engineer, and his wife, Libra (Vigliaroli) 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.

On April 15, 2003, 355 Beacon was purchased from Valerie Swett and Richard Bickelman by  John E. Eielson and his wife, Jennifer Eielson.

The property was assessed as a single-family dwelling in 2022.