391 Beacon is located on the south side of Beacon, between Fairfield and Gloucester, with 389 Beacon to the east and 393 Beacon to the west.
391 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 391 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 416, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On July 31, 1869, 391 Beacon was purchased from George Gibson by Charles Sprague Lincoln, an attorney. He and his wife, Louise Edna (Plimpton) Lincoln, lived in Somerville. On January 1, 1870, his brother-in-law, Dr. Samuel C. Hartwell, a physician, acquired a half interest in the property. He and his wife, Ellen (Plimpton) Hartwell, lived in Southbridge.
On September 24, 1870, 391 Beacon was acquired from Charles Lincoln and Samuel Hartwell by John Sumner Williams, a widower, his unmarried sister, Ann Dowse Williams, and their sister, Mary Sumner (Williams) Langley, the wife of Samuel Langley. They all previously had lived at the Norfolk House hotel.
John Williams and Samuel Langley were both retired merchants.
John Williams died in May of 1881 and Samuel Langley died in January of 1882. Mary Langley and Ann Williams continued to live at 391 Beacon.
Ann Williams died in December of 1899.
John Williams and Ann Williams had left part of their interests in 391 Beacon to Mary Langley and part to their sister, Helen Hathaway (Williams) Gillingham, the widow of Caspar S. Gillingham. She had died in June of 1892 and her interest was inherited by her only child, Anne Williams (Gillingham) Seaver, the wife of Jonathan Mercer Seaver. On January 22, 1900, she transferred her interest to Mary Langley.
Mary Langley died in July of 1901.
391 Beacon was not listed in the 1902-1904 Blue Books.
On October 12, 1903, and November 17, 1903, 391 Beacon was acquired by Miss Fanny Peabody Mason. She lived at 211 Commonwealth and purchased 391 Beacon to provide a home for her friend, Emma Adaline (Bixby) Vermyne, the widow of Dr. John J. B. Vermyne. Mrs. Vermyne previously had lived at 480 Beacon with her niece, Mary Alison (Bixby) Hill, and her husband, composer and music professor Edward Burlingame Hill.
Miss Mason converted the property into four apartments, with a fifth unit in the basement occupied by the “choreman” who took care of the property. It may have been at this time that the top floor bay was remodeled, possibly to create an artist’s studio.
In addition to Emma Vermyne, the earliest residents included Charlotte E. Ellis and Mary W. Ellis, sisters. They previously had been lodgers at 14 Everett. Mary Ellis died in November of 1909 and by 1910, Charlotte Ellis had been joined by her cousin, Susan Davis Ellis. They moved soon after and by 1915 were living in Brookline.
By the 1924-1925 winter season, Annie H. (Watson) Collins, the widow of portrait artist Alfred Quinton Ellis, was living in one of the apartments. She previously had lived in Cambridge. She continued to live at 391 Beacon during the 1926-1927 season, but moved thereafter.
In 1930, one of the apartments was occupied by Miss Sally Fairchild and her unmarried brother, Gordon Fairchild, a stock and bond broker. They previously had lived in Concord, New Hampshire, where he had been a teacher at St. Paul’s School. John Singer Sargent was a friend of Sally and Gordon Fairchild’s parents, Charles and Elizabeth (Nelson) Fairchild. He made several paintings of Sally Fairchild and at least one of Gordon Fairchild as a child. By 1931, they had moved to 241 Beacon.
Emma Vermyne continued to live at 391 Beacon until her death in June of 1933. She also maintained a home in Francestown, New Hampshire. There appear not to have been any other longterm residents in the other apartments.
After Emma Vermyne’s death, 391 Beacon appears to have been vacant except for Alex Carabine and his wife, Ann (Myers) Carabine. He was the “choreman” at 477 Beacon and occupied the basement apartment. The house was not listed in the 1934-1937 Blue Books.
On September 29, 1936, 391 Beacon was acquired from Fanny Mason by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson, and on December 14, 1936, it was acquired from him by Fannie (Itzkowitz/Asquith) Lang, the wife of Clarence Edward Lang. The Langs lived in Winthrop. Clarence Lang was a real estate dealer and Fannie Lang operated the Fannette Gown Shop at 85 Newbury.
On February 19, 1937, Fannie Lang transferred a one-half interest in 391 Beacon to her brother-in-law, Sally Dinn, the husband of Jennie Augusta (Itzkowitz/Asquith) Dinn. They recently had emigrated from Germany and lived in Winthrop with the Langs.
391 Beacon was shown as vacant in the 1937 City Directory.
In May of 1937, the Building Department noted that the house appeared to be being converted into five apartments. Fannie Lang provided affidavits and evidence proving that the building was, in fact, a five unit building when she purchased it and had been so for more than the past thirty years.
On August 9, 1941, Sally Dinn, by then a resident of New York City, transferred his interest back to Fannie Lang, and on August 21, 1941, she transferred the property to herself as trustee of the F. I. L. Real Estate Trust.
On January 15, 1946, 391 Beacon was acquired from Fannie Lang by Miss Elizabeth Krauss. She lived at 141 Beacon and operated a lodging house there, at 115 Beacon, and at 418 Beacon. She also owned the lodging house at 131 Beacon with her sister, Catharine (Krauss) Flanagan, the wife of Francis Ford Flanagan.
Francis and Catharine Flanagan lived at 139 Beacon, which they also operated as a lodging house. He died in December of 1948 and she died in February of 1970, and in September of 1972, Elizabeth Krauss acquired 139 Beacon.
391 Beacon remained a five unit apartment house after it was acquired by Elizabeth Krauss. In 1962, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a two story rear ell for use as a kitchen.
Elizabeth Krauss continued to own and live at 141 Beacon in the 1980s and to own 115 Beacon, 139 Beacon, and 391 Beacon.
In 1989, Gary Douglas Rose (the grandson of Elizabeth Krauss’s brother, Andrew Krauss) and Hanson S. Reynolds were named co-guardians of Elizabeth Krauss. On October 10, 1997, they transferred 391 Beacon and 139-141 Beacon to themselves as trustees of the Elizabeth Krauss 1997 Revocable Trust, and transferred 115 Beacon to themselves as trustees of the Elizabeth Krauss Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust. 115 Beacon and 139-141 Beacon were purchased that same month by Fisher College.
On February 17, 1998, Elizabeth Krauss’s trustees transferred 391 Beacon from the Revocable Trust to the Charitable Remainder Trust, and on the same day it was purchased by Clarendon Associates LLC (Harold Brown and Enrique Darer, managers).
In March of 1998, Clarendon Associates applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from five units to two units. In June of 1998, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to demolish the two-story rear ell added in 1962 for Elizabeth Krauss.
On April 12, 1999, Clarendon Associates converted the property into two condominium units, the 391 Beacon Street Condominium.