4 Charlesgate East (535 Beacon) is located on the SE corner of Beacon and Charlesgate East, with 531 Beacon to the east, 534 Beacon (1 Charlesgate East) to the north, across Beacon, and 10 Charlesgate East to the south.
4 Charlesgate East (535 Beacon) was designed by architect J. Pickering Putnam, and built in 1891 by Gibson & Knight, builders, as a seven story apartment hotel, The Charlesgate. The building had entrances on both Beacon and Charlesgate East and for many years 535 Beacon was the primary entrance.
The Charlesgate was owned by members of the Putnam family, including John Pickering Putnam, the architect, and his brother-in-law and sister, Horace John Hayden and Harriet (Putnam) Hayden. The Haydens lived in New York City, where Horace Putnam was vice president of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. “J. Pickering Putnam and others” are shown as the owners on the original building permit, dated May 28, 1891. Harriet (Putnam) Hayden, trustee, is shown as the owner of The Charlesgate on the 1895, 1908, and 1917 Bromley map.
J. Pickering Putnam and his wife, Grace Cornelia (Stevens) Putnam lived at The Charlesgate from the time it was completed. They previously had lived at The Oxford (southeast corner of Exeter and Huntington).
The Charlesgate accepted both travelers and permanent guests. The emphasis, however, was on permanent guests and, unlike the Hotel Vendôme and the Hotel Somerset, The Charlesgate did not have a ballroom nor other large rooms for public events.
As originally designed, The Charlesgate occupied an irregularly shaped lot with frontages of about 103 feet on Beacon and 105 feet on Charlesgate East. The April 4, 1891, edition of the American Architect and Building News commented on the building:
“The basement and first story will be constructed of Indiana limestone, the remainder of brick, with limestone trimmings. A picturesque effect is obtained by grouping the bays on the Charlesgate East front in pairs, and surmounting each pair with gables of brick work in the Queen Anne style, and by relieving these features against a high roof of green slate. The Beacon-Street front repeats the motif of the Park front in the form of gables. The building is to be of slow-burning construction. All of the main portions from basement to second story are of brick. … The main entrance halls and corridors will be built of fireproof materials, and the staircases will be built of marble on the entrance and basement floors. There will be four electric elevators, and the building will be lighted by electricity throughout. The ground plan of the ‘Charlesgate’ lot is peculiar in having a large open area in the rear for sun and air. Of some 14,000 in the plot almost 6,000, or over a third, is to be left open and laid out in grass-plots and flower beds; while the building being of an L-shape, following the lines of the two streets, has practically no point of depth of more than two rooms, and every rear room is allowed almost unlimited sunshine.”
In 1892, The Charlesgate acquired 10 Charlesgate East (463 Marlborough) which had been built in 1889 as the home of publisher Thurlow Reed Barnes and his wife, Isabel Frances (Morris) Barnes. The Charlesgate expanded into 10 Charlesgate East, building additional floors to match the height of its original building. The addition resulted in The Charlesgate’s western façade extending the entire length of Charlesgate East between Beacon and Marlborough.
The September 17, 1892, edition of the American Architect and Building News noted that the property “is now being raised in height, giving about six additional suites to the hotel.” As with the earlier structure, “the additional work will be of ‘slow burning’ construction,” which the article described in detail.
In August of 1897, Horace J. Hayden applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct an addition in the back yard of 535 Beacon for an “electric lighting plant.” The permit application indicated the structure would be 20 feet by 20 feet, and 10 feet high. The addition was designed by J. Pickering Putnam.
This structure was followed by additional structures built in the rear area, and by 1908, the Bromley maps shows virtually all of rear courtyard and garden had been filled.
In about 1908, The Charlesgate acquired 459 Marlborough which had been built in 1889 and had remained a private residence. The lot increased The Charlesgate’s frontage on Marlborough to approximately 125 feet.
In about 1912, Herbert Garfield Summers became manager of The Charlesgate. He and his wife, Fanny M. (Smith) Summers, lived in the hotel.
The Putnam family continued to own The Charlesgate and J. Pickering and Grace Putnam continued to live there.
In June of 1915, Harriet Hayden filed for (and subsequently received) permission to replace a small window in the basement on the east side of 459 Marlborough under the “bay window nearest back” with “two larger windows with 16 inch brick pier between them.” The remodeling was designed by J. Pickering Putnam.
In May of 1916, Harriet Hayden filed for (and subsequently received) permission to enlarge eight basement windows on the Marlborough façade “so as to give more light in these rooms.” The remodeling was designed by J. Pickering Putnam.
J. Pickering Putnam died in February of 1917. Grace Putnam continued to live at The Charlesgate.
In about 1923, Herbert Summers acquired The Charlesgate. Herbert G. Summers et al were the assessed owners from 1924, and Herbert Summers and Mary G. Potter are shown as the owners on the 1928 Bromley map. He continued to manage the property, and he and his wife continued to live there. He also owned the Cliff House hotel in Scituate.
Herbert Summers died in February of 1937. Fanny Summers continued to live at the hotel and their son, Richard Norman Summers, assumed management of the property. The Heirs of Herbert Summers and Mary G. Potter are shown as the owners on the 1938 Bromley map.
In mid-1947, the Charlesgate Hotel was acquired by Boston University. In its August 1, 1947, article on the transaction, the Boston Globe commented that “stepping into the Charlesgate is like stepping back into the 1890s. The small, dimly-lit lobby with its Austrian marble and flowered slipcovers, is exactly the same as when the hotel opened… ‘There never has been a bar or a cocktail lounge in the Charlesgate,’ a member of the hotel staff said proudly last night. ‘Not one drop of liquor has ever been served by the management. And we have had no big parties or balls. It is a quiet, Boston-type hotel.'”
All of the residents of The Charlesgate were required to move by September 1, 1947, among them, Grace Putnam and Fanny Summers.
In July of 1947, Boston University applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a dormitory for 400 female students, to be called Charlesgate Hall.
It remained a Boston University dormitory until the early 1970s, when it was purchased from Boston University by Anthony Wine and Shirley J. Wine, trustees of the Charlesgate Realty Trust.
The property changed hands, including going through foreclosure, and in November of 1975 was acquired by Marcor Associates, Inc. Although the legal occupancy remained a dormitory, Marcor Associates operated the property as a multiple dwelling, either apartments (as it was described in the city directories) or a lodging house, retaining the name Charlesgate Hall used by Boston University.
In November of 1979, Modern Continental Enterprises purchased Charlesgate Hall from Marcor Associates. It continued to operate the property as a multiple dwelling.
In June of 1981, Emerson College purchased Charlesgate Hall from Modern Continental Enterprises. It operated the property as a dormitory.
In September of 1995, 4 Charlesgate East LLP purchased Charlesgate Hall from Emerson College. In April of 1996, 4 Charlesgate East LLC applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory into 102 apartments. It subsequently transferred the property to the Charlesgate Realty LLC.
In December of 1996, Charlesgate Realty LLC filed for (and subsequently received) permission to subdivide the property, creating one lot of approximately 12,259 sf at 4 Charlesgate East, equivalent to the original Charlesgate Hotel, with 57 units, and a second lot of approximately 7,339 sf at 10 Commonwealth, equivalent to the former houses at 10 Charlesgate East and 459 Marlborough, with 24 apartments. In January of 1998, Charlesgate Realty LLC amended its original permit to reduce the number of units at 4 Charlesgate East from 57 to 56 units.
In January of 1998, Charlesgate Realty LLC converted the two buildings into two separate condominiums: the Charlesgate Condominium at 4 Charlesgate East with 56 units, and the Barnes Mansion Condominium at 10 Charlesgate with 24 units.