375 Beacon

375 Beacon (2013)

375 Beacon (2013)

Lot 19' x 112' (2,128 sf)

Lot 19′ x 112′ (2,128 sf)

375 Beacon is located on the south side of Beacon, between Fairfield and Gloucester, with 371 Beacon to the east and 377 Beacon to the west.

375 Beacon was designed by architect Carl Fehmer and built in 1886 by James Smith, mason, as the home of Charles Bartlett Wells, Jr., cashier of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, and his wife, Louisa Trumbull (Blake) Wells.  He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated March 17, 1886, and on the final building inspection report, dated November 13, 1886. They previously lived at 54 Pinckney.

Charles Wells purchased the 19 foot wide lot for 375 Beacon on February 15/16, 1886, acquiring a one foot wide strip on the east from the estate of Francis B. Hayes, and an 18 foot lot on the west from Charles F. Choate, both part of larger lots 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 375 Beacon.

On March 30, 1887, Charles Wells transferred 375 Beacon into his wife’s name.

From the 1888-1889 winter season through the 1893-1894 season, Charles and Louisa Wells were living at various addresses on Beacon Hill and in the Back Bay (56 Chestnut, 89 Mt. Vernon, 7 Massachusetts, and 12 Brimmer) and 375 Beacon was the home of Royal Robbins and his wife, Theresa (Huntington) Robbins. They had married in November of 1888 and 375 Beacon probably was their first home together.  Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 44 Commonwealth with his parents, Royal Elisha Robbins and Mary Elizabeth (Horton) Robbins.  Royal Robbins was treasurer of Robbins, Appleton & Co., agents for the American Waltham Watch Company, founded by his father.

Royal and Theresa Robbins continued to live at 375 Beacon during the 1893-1894 winter season, after which they moved to 341 Marlborough.

Second floor plan of 375 Beacon, bound with the final building inspection report, 13Nov1886 (v. 16, p. 60); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Second floor plan of 375 Beacon, bound with the final building inspection report, 13Nov1886 (v. 16, p. 60); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

By the 1894-1895 winter season, Charles and Louisa Wells had resumed living at 375 Beacon.

During the 1900-1901 winter season, the Wellses were again living elsewhere and 375 Beacon was the home of Albert Farwell Bemis, president of the Bemis Brothers Bag Company, and his wife, Faith M. (Gregg) Bemis.  They previously had lived at The Charlesgate at 535 Beacon. They had moved to Newton by the next season and the Wellses were once again living at 375 Beacon.

Charles Wells died in March of 1902, and Louisa Wells continued to live at 375 Beacon. On July 20, 1903, she transferred the property to a trust established under her husband’s will.

During the 1907-1908 winter season, she was living elsewhere and 375 Beacon was the home of Susan Player, the widow of lawyer John Preston Player, and their son, Preston.  They previously had lived at 405 Beacon.  In April of 1908, Preston Player purchased 311 Marlborough, which he and his mother made their home.

Louisa Wells resumed living at 375 Beacon by the 1908-1909 winter season and continued to live there through the 1913-1914 season.

Also listed in the City Directories at 375 Beacon in 1911 and 1912 was John H. Thomas, manager of the Boston office of the White Star steamship line.  By 1913, he had moved to 304 Marlborough.

During the 1914-1915 winter season, 375 Beacon was the home of Felton Broomall Elkins and his wife, Burton (Oliver) Kronowith Elkins.  The Elkinses lived in Burlingame and Santa Barbara, California, where they were prominent in society.  He was a budding author and playwright, and they had come to Boston so that he could attend a class for aspiring playwrights at Harvard.  They were close friends of Eugene O’Neill, also a student in the class, whom they entertained at 375 Beacon.

A September 26, 1914, article in The Wasp (a California society magazine) commented on the Elkinses impending trip to Boston: “Everyone is interested in the news that that the Felton Elkins’ are planning to spend the winter in Boston, where Felton will be a pupil of Professor George P Baker at Harvard, who is the dean of American instructors in dramatic art.  We have known for some time that Felton was an author and playwright in embryo, but it is indeed a surprise to learn that he intends to apply himself seriously.”

The Elkinses continued to live at 375 Beacon during the 1915-1916 season, but returned soon thereafter to California, where they were divorced later in 1916.

Louisa Wells was once again living at 375 Beacon by the 1916-1917 winter season, and by the 1917-1918 season she had been joined by her daughter, Louisa (Wells) Gray, wife of Gerald Hull Gray, an attorney in New York City, from whom she was either separated or divorced.

Louisa Wells died in December of 1920. Under the trust established by Charles Wells’s will (to which Louisa Wells had transferred 375 Beacon), the property was held for her benefit and for the benefit of their daughter, Louisa (Wells) Gray, with the principal to be distributed to Louisa Gray’s children upon her death. On November 21, 1922, her three children — Geraldine Hull Gray, Charles Bartlett Wells Gray, and Edward Richmond Gray – transferred their prospective interests to Philip Dexter as trustee on their behalf.

Louisa Gray continued to live at 375 Beacon. She also maintained a home in Richfield, Connecticut. Her son, Edward, lived with her until the mid-1930s.

375 Beacon (ca. 1955), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

375 Beacon (ca. 1955), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

Louisa Gray died in November of 1951.

On March 20, 1952, 375 Beacon was purchased from the Wells-Gray family trusts by Ruth Frances (Gallan) Hanna, the wife of attorney Paul Charles Hanna. They previously had lived in Framingham.   They continued to live at 375 Beacon in 1957. They subsequently moved back to Framingham, and then, in 1960, to 174 Marlborough.

On November 14, 1957, 375 Beacon was acquired from Ruth Hanna by Yvonne (Pene du Bois) McKenney, the wife of steel company executive J. Harvey McKenney.

Yvonne McKenney’s father, Guy Pene du Bois lived with them.  He was a noted artist, author, and art critic.  He died while living at 375 Beacon in July of 1958.

The McKenneys continued to live there until about 1962.

On December 27, 1961, 375 Beacon was purchased from Yvonne McKenney by John Cornish Nott and his wife, Genevieve Margaret (Cronin) Nott. They previously had lived at 31 Fairfield.  They were dance instructors with a studio on Newbury Street.  They continued to live at 375 Beacon until about 1971, when they moved to Duxbury.

On July 1, 1971, 375 Beacon was acquired by Margery Ruth (Loewenberg) Goldman, the wife of attorney and financial consultant Maynard Goldman. They continued to live at 375 Beacon until the late 1970s, when they divorced. She subsequently married to Peter G. Arnold.

On May 23, 1983, 375 Beacon was acquired from Margery Arnold by Elizabeth C. Jones. trustee of the Three Seventy Five Beacon Trust. On November 23, 1988, she transferred the property to Maynard Goldman.

The property changed hands. It remained a single-family dwelling in 2017.