385 Beacon was designed by architect Frederick B. Pope and built ca. 1869, one of ten contiguous houses built as five symmetrical pairs (377-379-381-383-385-387-389-391-393-395 Beacon), each house on an 18 foot wide lot and each pair united by a shared portico. 377-379 Beacon are one story higher than the other four pairs, and probably were built that way (they appear as such on the 1887 Sanborn map).
The ten houses were built for speculative sale by a consortium of Frederick Pope, who was both an architect and a builder, and George Martin Gibson, a builder and contractor. They shared the same business address at 81 Washington in 1870.
Frederick Pope purchased the land for 377 Beacon on March 18, 1869, and George Gibson purchased the land for 379-381-383-385 Beacon and 389-391 Beacon between March and August of 1869. Once the houses were built, they sold them to individual buyers.
The land for 387 Beacon was owned by real estate investor Charles Uriah Cotting, and the land for 393-395 Beacon was owned by dry goods merchant Eben Dyer Jordan, co-founder of the firm of Jordan, Marsh & Co. In these three cases, the houses were constructed by Frederick Pope and George Gibson under agreements with the land owners, who then sold the houses after they were built.
The land for all ten houses originally had been part of a parcel 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 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 385 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 416, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On October 1, 1869, 385 Beacon was purchased from George Gibson by John Whitney Beals. He and his wife, Virginia Arabella (Simmons) Beals, lived at 211 Beacon.
That same month, John Beals offered the house for sale through real estate dealers Apthorp, Hazard & Co. In an October 18, 1869, Boston Post advertisement, they indicated that the house “will be sold low if early application” was made to them or to John Beals.
385 Beacon subsequently was purchased by Miss Helen McClees of New York City, the daughter of iron merchant William Kennard McClees and his wife, Sarah A. (Clark) McClees. The deed was dated October 1, 1869, the same day the property was acquired by John Beals, but was recorded on October 19, 1870. In January of 1871, she married Samuel May, Jr., and they made 385 Beacon their home.
Samuel May, Jr. was a hardware and metals dealer in his family’s firm. Prior to his marriage, he had lived in Dorchester with his parents, John Joseph May and Caroline Simpkins (Danforth) May, and his grandparents, Samuel Joseph May and Mary (Goddard) May. He was known as Samuel, Jr., probably to avoid confusion with his grandfather.
On November 24, 1874, 385 Beacon was acquired from Helen May by Samuel May’s brother, John Pierpont May, a paint dealer. He and his wife, Rebecca (Clymer) May, lived in Dorchester.
By 1876, it was the home of banker Charles Emerson Fuller and his wife, Josephine (Wheildon) Fuller. They had lived at the Hotel Vendôme in 1875. They continued to live at 385 Beacon in 1878, but by 1879 had acquired and moved to 304 Beacon.
On March 13, 1880, 385 Beacon was acquired from John P. May by Elizabeth Greenough (Lewis) Gay, the widow of Dr. George Henry Gay, who had died in August of 1878. Their three sons – Frederick Lewis Gay, George Henry Gay, Jr., and Ernest Lewis Gay – lived with her. They all previously had lived at 321 Marlborough.
During the 1884-1885 and 1885-1886 winter seasons, Elizabeth Gay was traveling in Europe with her two younger sons, George and Ernest. Frederick Gay moved to 43 Mt. Vernon and then to Chicago to join the treasurer’s office of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. In June of 1889 he married Josephine Spencer; after their marriage, they lived at 84 Beacon and then in Brookline. He was a genealogist and historian.
During the 1884-1885 season, 385 Beacon was the home of Catherine (Jarvis) Hunt, the wife of Leavitt Hunt, and their son, Jarvis Hunt, an architect. Their primary residence was in Weathersfield, Vermont.
385 Beacon was not listed in the 1886 Blue Book.
Elizabeth Gay and Warren and Ernest Gay had resumed living at 385 Beacon by the 1886-1887 winter season.
Warren Gay, a surgeon, married in June of 1904 to Ellen Freeman Stickney. After their marriage, they lived at The Marlborough at 416 Marlborough, where he also maintained his medical office.
Elizabeth Gay and Ernest Gay continued to live at 385 Beacon. He was an antiquarian and book collector.
Elizabeth Gay died in December of 1907. In her will, she left the bulk of her estate, including 385 Beacon, to Warren Gay and Ernest Gay, leaving only a token bequest to Frederick Gay, noting that he “has ample means of his own.”
After her death, Ernest Gay moved to 317 Marlborough and 385 Beacon became the home of Warren and Ellen Gay. He continued to maintain his medical office 416 Marlborough.
On December 31, 1915, Warren Gay transferred his interest in 385 Beacon to Ernest Gay.
Warren Gay died in August of 1916 and Ellen Gay moved to an apartment at 409 Marlborough. 385 Beacon once again briefly became Ernest Gay’s home. He died in November of 1916 on the special Harvard Train returning from the Harvard-Yale football game in New Haven.
385 Beacon was inherited by Warren and Ellen Gay’s son, George Henry Gay.
385 Beacon was not listed in the 1918-1921 Blue Books.
By the 1921-1922 winter season, Ellen Gay and George Gay had made 385 Beacon their home. They previously had lived at 9 Massachusetts Avenue. She also maintained a home in Edgartown and later in Marblehead.
George Gay continued to live at 385 Beacon until his marriage in 1934 to Doris Louise MacCalmon. After their marriage, they lived in Marblehead and then Southborough.
Ellen Gay continued to live at 385 Beacon until about 1938, when she moved to Southborough to live with George and Doris Gay (she died there in January of 1939).
On April 11, 1938, 385 Beacon was acquired from George Gay by Agnes Mary (Amerault) Simons, wife of Dr. Sigmund Simons, a physician.
Sigmund and Agnes Simons lived in Westford and he initially used 385 Beacon as his Boston office. In the late 1940s, however, they moved to 385 Beacon and it became their home as well. They subsequently maintained residences in both Westford and at 385 Beacon.
Agnes Simons died in February of 1965, and Sigmund Simons died in July of 1995.
On June 17, 1996, 385 Beacon was purchased from Sigmund Simons’s estate by Ann M. Geupel, trustee.
385 Beacon remained a single-family dwelling in 2020.