396 Beacon was built ca. 1872 by Bourn & Leavitt, a partnership of carpenters Robert Tower Bourn (Bourne) and William Leavitt, one of seven houses (388-390-392-394-396-398-400) built for speculative sale. E. D. Porter & Company is shown as the owner of all seven houses on the 1874 Hopkins map.
By 1880, 396 Beacon was the home of leather dealer Albert O. Smith and his wife, Maria A. (Pratt) Smith. In 1878, they had lived at 21 Allston Street. Maria A. Smith is shown as the owner of 396 Beacon on the 1883, 1888, 1898, 1908, and 1912 Bromley maps. Her unmarried sister, Helen L. Pratt, lived with them.
Albert Smith died in September of 1910. Maria Smith and their two unmarried sons, Albert P. Smith and Stanley W. Smith, and her sister, Helen Pratt, continued to live at 396 Beacon. Maria Smith died in April of 1915; her sons and sister continued to live at 396 Beacon in 1916 but moved soon thereafter (Helen Pratt and Albert Smith were living in Andover in 1920).
396 Beacon was not listed in the 1916 Blue Book.
By the 1916-1917 winter season, 396 Beacon was the home of Davenport Brown, a real estate trustee, and his wife, Marie (McKenna) Brown. They had lived in Medfield in 1916. He is shown as the owner of 396 Beacon on the 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps.
By 1944, 396 Beacon had become the home of the Browns’ son-in-law and daughter, George Glover Crocker, III, a manufacturer and former banker, and Marie Davenport (Brown) Crocker. They had lived at 327 Beacon in 1943. They continued to live at 396 Beacon until about 1952.
The property changed hands and in December of 1952 was acquired by Lawrence Clarke Hill, a salesman, as trustee on his own behalf and for the benefit of his wife, Emilie (Parrock) Hill. In February of 1953, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into five apartments. He abandoned the permit and, in April of 1953, filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into six units. It appears that he actually converted the property into seven units. The remodeling was designed by architect Leon L. Furr.
After it was remodeled, the Hills lived in one of the units. They previously had lived in Brookline.
In December of 1979, Steven A. DiSarro, trustee of the 396 Beacon Trust, purchased 396 Beacon from Lawrence C. Hill. In February of 1981, he converted the property into seven condominium units, the 396 Beacon Street Condominium.
In July of 2004, the owner of the unit on the garden level, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the building as having seven (rather than six) units.