400 Beacon

400 Beacon (2014)

Lot 26' x 150' (3,900 sf)

Lot 26′ x 150′ (3,900 sf)

400 Beacon is located on the NE corner of Beacon and Gloucester, with 398 Beacon to the east, 404 Beacon (2 Gloucester) to the west, across Gloucester. and 1 Gloucester to the south, across Beacon.

400 Beacon was built in 1871-1872 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 Beacon) built for George H. Peters and his partners in the firm of Edward D. Peters & Co., commission merchants, for speculative sale. In late August of 1871, Bourn & Leavitt filed a Notice of Intention to Build the seven houses with the Board of Street Commissioners (reported in the Boston Herald on August 29, 1871).

The seven houses were built on the western 180 feet of a 200 foot lot George Peters purchased from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation on March 1, 1872, after the houses were under construction.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 400 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.

A July 19, 1872, Boston Traveller article on “present building operations” in the Back Bay indicated that 388-390-392-394 Beacon were “brick with brown freestone trimmings” and 396-398-400 Beacon were of “brick and Nova Scotia stone.”

400 Beacon (2014)

400 Beacon (2014)

All seven houses were completed by 1874 and are shown on the 1874 Hopkins map. However, only 388 Beacon was sold immediately. The remaining six houses at 390-400 Beacon were unsold, and possibly unoccupied, until 1877.

In May of 1876, real estate dealer James T. Eldredge advertised in the Boston Daily Advertiser, offering three of the houses – 392, 396, and 400 Beacon – for sale.  The advertisement noted that they would be sold “at prices to meet the times,” and that “each house has parlor, dining-room and library on the first floor, and one has an additional drawing room on the second floor.”

400 Beacon remained unsold and on March 10, 1877, it was offered for sale at public auction by auctioneers Samuel Hatch & Co., who advertised it in the Boston Daily Advertiser as an “octagon front and rear French-roof 3-story brick dwelling house” with a “drawing room, library and dining room on the first floor and eight good chambers, kitchen, laundry, cellar, &c, &c.  The plumbing is especially good and well protected from frost.”

The successful bidder probably was Olivia Howard (Brown) Griffith, the wife of Meriweather Hood Griffith, who purchased the house on March 17, 1877, from George Peters. They previously had lived at 4 Commonwealth. He was an East India shipping merchant.

The Griffiths continued to live at 400 Beacon during the 1890-1891 winter season, but moved thereafter to The Charlesgate at 535 Beacon.

On August 4, 1891, 400 Beacon was purchased from Olivia Griffith by Andrew Gray Weeks. He and his wife, Harriet Pitts (Pierce) Weeks, made it their home. They previously had lived at 14 Newbury.

Andrew Weeks was a wholesale druggist in partnership with Warren B. Potter. Among their holdings had been the Guilford Mineral Springs Company in Guilford, Vermont, which operated a hotel and spa, and also bottled spring water sold throughout New England. The company had ceased operations in the 1870s. Andrew Weeks acquired most of its property and he and his wife maintained a second home in Guilford. In the early 1990s, their descendants donated much of the land to the New England Forestry Foundation and Vermont Land Trust.

In September of 1894, Andrew Weeks purchased the stable at 328 Newbury. The Weeks family continued to own it until 1911.

Andrew Weeks died in June 1903. Harriet Weeks continued to live at 400 Beacon.

On January 26, 1907, Andrew and Harriet Weeks’s three children – Warren Bailey Potter Weeks, Andrew Gray Weeks, Jr., and Harriet Pierce (Weeks) Anthony, the wife of Silas Reed Anthony – transferred their interests in 400 Beacon to their mother.

Harriet Weeks died in August of 1909.

400 Beacon was not listed in the 1910 Blue Book.

Architectural rendering of new front entrance to 400 Beacon (1910), by Bigelow and Wadsworth; courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Architectural rendering of new front entrance to 400 Beacon (1910), by Bigelow and Wadsworth; courtesy of the Boston City Archives, City of Boston Blueprints Collection

On March 25, 1910, 400 Beacon was acquired from Harriet Weeks’s estate by Miss Rose Linzee Dexter. She lived at 250 Beacon.

Prior to occupying 400 Beacon, Rose Dexter had it remodeled, including adding a fourth story and lowering the front entrance to street level. The remodeling was designed by Bigelow and Wadsworth. Plans for the remodeling — including partial elevations and floor plans — are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston City Archives (reference BIN A-5).

Click here to view scans of the floor plans for the 1910 remodeling.

Rose Dexter had moved to 400 Beacon by the 1910-1911 winter season.

In 1925, her nephew, attorney William Dexter, and his wife, Constance Van Rensselaer (Thayer) Dexter, lived at 400 Beacon with her.  They had married in April of 1923 and then lived briefly at 6 West Hill Place. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 65 Marlborough with his parents, Philip Dexter and Edith (Wood) Dexter.  By the 1925-1926 winter season, William and Constance Dexter had moved to 67 Marlborough.

Rose Dexter continued to live at 400 Beacon until about 1944.

On July 20, 1944, 400 Beacon was purchased from James Garfield, Rose Dexter’s conservator, by Bertha R. (Cohen) Rose, the wife of Edward Rose (born Rosenthal).

Partial view of 400 Beacon (ca. 1942); photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

When they bought the house, Edward Rose was president and treasurer of the Epstein Drug Company.  He subsequently became president of the Rose-Derry Company, manufacturers of mattresses and baby products, and the Beried Company, Inc., an investment firm.  Edward and Bertha Rose endowed the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, dedicated in June of 1961.

Edward Rose died in August of 1975.  Bertha Rose continued to live at 400 Beacon until her death in October of 1979.

On April 29, 1980, 400 Beacon was purchased from Bertha Rose’s estate by real estate investment and travel company executive Alan E. Lewis and his wife, Harriet R. Lewis.

On July 6, 1981, the Lewises purchased the eastern half of Gloucester, between Beacon and Back Streets, from the City of Boston.

In the late 19th Century, when it developed its land on the north side of Beacon, the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation had retained the land west of 400 Beacon between Beacon and Back Streets, as a privately owned extension of Gloucester, 40 feet in width. In October of 1894, it had sold the western half of this private way to Susan Loring, wife of William Caleb Loring, who owned the abutting property at 2 Gloucester (404 Beacon). The eastern half had remained the property of the corporation and in May of 1895, the City of Boston designated the extension of Gloucester between Beacon and Back Streets as a public street. The western half, however, remained the Lorings’ property. In May of 1981, the City declared the extension of Gloucester between Beacon and Back Streets as no longer needed for public purposes and sold the eastern half of the street to Alan and Harriet Lewis.

On December 19/20, 1990, the Lewises transferred 400 Beacon and the eastern half of Gloucester Street between Beacon and Back Street to themselves as trustees of The Lewis Realty Trust I.

400 Beacon continued to be assessed as a single-family dwelling in 2021.

396-400 Beacon (2014)

396-400 Beacon (2014)