371 Beacon was designed by Cummings and Sears, architects, and built in 1886-1887 by Woodbury & Leighton, masons, for wholesale grocer Andrew G. Briggs and his wife, Rebecca (Sewell) Briggs. Andrew Briggs is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated June 23, 1886. They previously had lived at 23 Chester Square.
Andrew Briggs purchased the land for 371 Beacon on May 10, 1886, from the estate of Francis B. Hayes. The 23 foot wide lot was the western 6 feet and the eastern 17 feet of two larger lots Francis Hayes had purchased on February 7, 1868, from a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. The land was part of one of several parcels originally purchased by the trust on January 29, 1866, from the Boston Water Power Company. The trust subsequently 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 371 Beacon.
Andrew Briggs died in December of 1900 and Rebecca Briggs died in January of 1902. 371 Beacon was inherited by their daughter, Helen S. Briggs, who continued to live there during the 1903-1904 winter season, but moved thereafter. She continued to own 371 Beacon and lease it to others.
During the 1904-1905 winter season, 371 Beacon was the home of Rev. William Basil King and his wife, Esther Manton (Young) Foote King. The former rector of Christ Church (Episcopalian) in Cambridge, he had resigned in 1900 and became a novelist, writing under the name Basil King.
By the 1905-1906 winter season, 371 Beacon was the home of Augustus H. Ellis, a real estate dealer, and his sister, Angeline S. (Ellis) Josselyn, the widow of Francis R. Josselyn. They previously had lived at 211 Beacon. They continued to live at 371 Beacon during the 1908-1909 season, but moved thereafter to 252 Commonwealth.
On October 9, 1909, 371 Beacon was purchased from Helen Briggs by George Gilbert Davis , a manufacturer of woolen machinery. He and his wife, Ada Medora (Whitney) Davis, lived at 316 Beacon.
371 Beacon became the home of the Davis’s son-in-law and daughter, Dr. George Herman Powers, Jr., and Madeleine (Davis) Powers. They previously had lived at at 333 Beacon. George Powers was a physician and aural surgeon.
On June 9, 1919, George Davis transferred 371 Beacon to Madeleine (Davis) Powers and her two daughters, Madeleine Powers and Katherine Powers.
George Davis died in September of 1920 and Ada (Whitney) Davis died in December of 1920. By the 1921-1922 winter season, George and Madeleine Powers had moved to the Davises’ former home at 316 Beacon.
371 Beacon was not listed in the 1922 and 1923 Blue Books.
On May 4, 1923,371 Beacon was purchased from Madeleine (Davis) Powers and her two daughters by William Proctor Gould Harding.
William P. G. Powers was governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Formerly a banker in Birmingham, Alabama, he had served as governor of the US Federal Reserve Bank in Washington DC from 1916 to 1922.
He was a widower and his daughter, Margaret Eliot Harding, lived with him at 371 Beacon. His other daughters were Mary Elizabeth (called Elizabeth) (Harding) Prince, the wife of Frederick Henry Prince, Jr., and Alice Moore (Harding) Pell, the wife of Robert Thompson Pell.
Elizabeth Harding and Frederick Prince had married in July of 1917 in Washington DC, where she had returned home after serving in French military hospitals. Frederick Prince was on leave from the Lafayette Escadrille air squadron, which he joined after his brother, Norman Prince, founder of the squadron, was killed in action in October of 1916. Frederick and Norman Prince, the sons of Frederick Henry Prince and Abbie Kinsley (Norman) Prince, were raised at 190 Beacon. After the war, Frederick and Elizabeth (Harding) Prince lived in Europe and on Long Island.
Alice Harding and Robert Pell had married in September of 1922 while he was still a student at Harvard. After his graduation, they lived in New York City. He later joined the US Diplomatic Corps and returned to Paris in 1928.
In March of 1923, Frederick and Elizabeth Prince divorced in Paris, and in June of 1923 she married again to Eugene Van Rensselaer Thayer, Jr., in a ceremony at 371 Beacon. After their marriage, they lived in New York City. He and his former wife, Gladys Baldwin (Brooks) Thayer, also had divorced in March of 1923 in Paris. He and his former wife had lived in Boston at 340 Beacon until about 1918, when they moved to New York City and he became president of the Chase National Bank. At the time of his marriage to Elizabeth (Harding) Prince, he was chairman of the board of the Stutz Motor Corporation.
Margaret Harding died in January of 1924, a suicide.
William Harding continued to live at 371 Beacon. During the 1924-1925 winter season, he was joined by his son-in-law and daughter, Robert and Alice (Harding) Pell.
During the 1925-1926 season, he was joined by his brother and sister-in-law, Brigadier General Chester Harding and Flora (Krum) Harding. A career officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, he had been involved in the building of the Panama Canal and then served as Governor of the Canal Zone from 1917 to 1921. Chester and Flora Harding’s primary residence was in Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard.
By the 1926-1927 winter season, William Harding had moved to the Algonquin Club. He continued to own 371 Beacon and lease it to others.
By the 1926-1927 winter season, 371 Beacon was the home of wool merchant Sidney Albert Eisemann and his wife, Helen English (Muhlfelder) Eisemann. They previously had lived at 241 Beacon.
William Harding died in April of 1930 at the Algonquin Club. 371 Beacon was inherited by his two surviving daughters, who continued to lease it to others.
The Eisemanns continued to live at 371 Beacon in 1934, but had moved to the Ritz Carlton Hotel by 1935.
The house was not listed in the 1935 Blue Book and was shown as vacant in the 1935 City Directory.
In May of 1936, the Building Department wrote the real estate firm of T. Dennie Boardman (the property managers) indicating that the building had insufficient means of egress. In July of 1936, John Dowling of the Boardman firm filed for permission to install additional fire balconies to address the violation. Mary Green died in November of 1936, and 371 Beacon was shown as vacant in the 1937 City Directory.
On June 2, 1937, 371 Beacon was purchased from Elizabeth (Harding) Prince Thayer and Alice (Harding) Pell Allen (who had divorced and remarried in October of 1935 to Julian B. L. Allen) by real estate dealer Bernard Brooker.
On June 26, 1937, 371 Beacon was acquired from Benjamin Brooker by Mrs. Sylvia (Levy) Sundland, former wife of Dore Sundland. She lived in Brighton. That same month, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into ten apartments. She also was the owner of 354 Beacon, across the street, which she also converted into apartments in 1937. Both remodeling projects were designed by architect Herman L. Feer.
371 Beacon subsequently was acquired back from Sylvia Sundland by Bernard Brooker. The deed was dated June 26, 1937 (the same day she acquired it from him), but was not recorded until February 10, 1939, and she was the assessed owner in 1938 and 1939. On the same day, she also recorded a deed transferring 354 Beacon to him, and he recorded deeds transferring both properties to the Chestnut-Beacon Realty Co.
On June 30, 1941, Julius Krinsky foreclosed on his mortgage to Sylvia Sundland, which had been assumed by subsequent owners, and took possession of 371 Beacon. In April of 1941, he had foreclosed his mortgage on 354 Beacon and transferred it to 354 Beacon Street, Inc., the treasurer of which was his son, attorney David Krinsky. After taking possession of 371 Beacon, he transferred it, too, 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, 371 Beacon and 354 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 February 16, 1965, 371 Beacon was acquired from Louise Robinson by Harvey B. Moore and Elizabeth J. B. Moore, trustees of the Harvey B. Moore Realty Trust.
The property changed hands and on March 14, 1980, 371 Beacon was acquired by the Roiff Corporation (Paul Roiff, president and treasurer) and Steven A. DiSarro, trustee of Princeton Realty Trust.
On September 25, 1980, they converted the property into ten condominium units, the 371 Beacon Street Condominium.