408 Beacon was designed by Allen and Kenway, architects, and built in 1886-1887 by D. Connery & Co., masons and builders, for Dr. Richard Manning Hodges and his wife, Frances Gardner (White) Hodges. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application.
Richard Hodges purchased the land for 408 Beacon on March 19, 1885, from George Higginson, part of a 330 foot parcel he had purchased on January 14, 1884, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 408 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
On January 18, 1887, Charles Head purchased a 50 foot wide lot at 412 Beacon from George Higginson, on which he proposed to build his home. To protect their river views to the west, on February 23, 1887, Richard Hodges and Isaac Tucker Burr, Jr., owner of 410 Beacon, purchased the lot at 414 Beacon from George Higginson, and on April 30, 1887, they entered into an agreement with Charles Head by which he agreed to limit the depth of his house to no more 83 feet 6 inches from the northern line of Beacon, and they agreed to limit the depth of any house built at 414 Beacon to no more than the depth of the house built at 412 Beacon. This agreement both assured that the house at 412 Beacon would not impede the views from 408 and 410 Beacon and that 412 Beacon’s view would not be impeded by any future house built at 414 Beacon.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, Richard and Frances Hodges had made 408 Beacon their home. Their two unmarried children, Ellen Gardner Hodges and Winthrop Taylor Hodges, lived with them. They previously had lived at 67 Marlborough.
Ellen Hodges married in April of 1890 to Robert Shaw Sturgis, a trustee. After their marriage, they lived at 27 Hereford.
During the 1891-1892 winter season, the Hodgeses were living elsewhere, and 408 Beacon was the home of banker Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Jr., and his wife, Clara (Amory) Coolidge. They had married in September of 1891, and 408 Beacon was their first home together. By the next season they had moved to 93 Beacon, and by the 1893-1894 season they were living at 170 Beacon.
By the 1892-1893 winter season, Richard and Frances Hodges were living at 408 Beacon once again. He died in February of 1896. Frances Hodges continued to live at 408 Beacon with their son, Winthrop Taylor Hodges, a mechanical engineer.
Frances Hodges died in March of 1898, and Winthrop Hodges moved thereafter to the Hotel Austerfield at 9 Massachusetts Avenue.
Under Richard Hodges’s will, 408 Beacon was inherited by his two surviving children, Winthrop Hodges and Ellen Gardner (Hodges) Sturgis.
On January 16, 1899, 408 Beacon was purchased from Winthrop Hodges and Ellen (Hodges) Sturgis by Edith Andrew, daughter of John Albion Andrew, who had been Governor of Massachusetts during the Civil War.
During the summer of 1900, she was living on Martins Lane in Hingham with her two nieces, Cornelia and Elizabeth Andrew, the daughters of John Forrester Andrew and Harriet (Thayer) Andrew, both of whom had died in the 1890s.
Edith Andrew continued to live at 408 Beacon during the 1901-1902 winter season, but moved thereafter to 32 Hereford (her late brother’s former home) with her nieces.
408 Beacon was not listed in the 1903 Blue Book.
Edith Andrew’s niece, Cornelia, married in April of 1904, to John Dudley Clark, a stockbroker and banker, and during the 1904-1905 winter season, they made 408 Beacon their home. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 84 Commonwealth with his mother, Loula (Henslee) Clark Engelmann, the widow of Benjamin Oliver Clark and of Dr. George Julius Engelmann.
Edith Andrew continued to live at 32 Hereford with her other niece, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Andrew married in July of 1905 to Charles Ellis Mason, a paper manufacturer, after which they moved to 8 Gloucester.
After Elizabeth Andrew’s marriage, John and Cornelia Clark moved to 32 Hereford and made it their home. Edith Andrew moved to the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth and continued to maintain a home in Hingham.
On February 9, 1906, 408 Beacon was purchased from Edith Andrew by Ida Vining (Moseley) White, the wife of leather manufacturer Edward Lane White. They previously had lived at 17 Exeter.
On October 21, 1911, Ida White transferred 408 Beacon to Henry Nettleton Sweet, an investment banker. He was unmarried and lived at 62 Mt. Vernon.
408 Beacon was not listed in the 1912-1915 Blue Books and it appears that the Whites were living elsewhere. However, Edward White continued to be listed at 408 Beacon in the City Directories and the family may have lived there during some part of the year. At this time, their primary residence probably was in Little Falls, New York, where Edward White and later three of his sons (Richmond Lane White, Barrie Moseley White, and Maurice Towle White) were associated with the Barnet Leather Company.
By the 1915-1916 winter season, the Whites had resumed living at 408 Beacon, and on December 8, 1919, Henry Sweet transferred the property back to Ida White.
Edward White died in November of 1922 in Little Falls.
Ida White continued to live at 408 Beacon with their unmarried son, Gordon K. White, an investment broker. They lived there during the 1927-1928 winter season, after which they made their home in Beverly Farms.
On September 26, 1927, 408 Beacon was acquired from Ida White by John Edwin Watkins, trustee for the benefit of William E. Watkins. On November 1, 1928, it was acquired from him by real estate dealer Joseph P. Brennan, and on April 3, 1930, it was acquired from Joseph Brennan by M. M. Daly.
On November 16, 1931, the Columbian National Life Insurance Company foreclosed on its mortgage on 408 Beacon and transferred the property to real estate dealer Henry C. Brookings. Two days later, he conveyed the property back to Ida White. She continued to live in Beverly Farms and converted 408 Beacon into a lodging house.
By 1932, 408 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Ida M. (Jackson) Morgan Christenberry, the former wife of Harry Morgan and of William Oscar Christenberry, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 468 Commonwealth. Her daughter, Mrs. Mabel F. (Morgan) Reynolds, the former wife of Robert Burns Reynolds, lived with her. Ida Christenberry’s father, George S. Jackson, also lived with her in 1932; his usual residence was in New Hampshire.
Ida Christenberry and Mabel Reynolds continued to live at 408 Beacon in 1933, but had moved to 8 Commonwealth by 1934.
The house was not listed in the 1934 Blue Book and was shown as vacant in the 1934 City Directory.
Columbian National Life Insurance leased the property to the Boston Speech School for Crippled Children and Copley School of Expression, operated by Mrs. Emma Louise (Grinnell) Tunnicliff, the former wife of Dr. Edmund Harrison Tunnicliff, Jr. She also lived at 408 Beacon. The schools (and her home) previously had been located at 284 Commonwealth.
In May of 1935, the Building Department cited Columbian National Life Insurance for changing the use of the building from a dwelling into a school without obtaining a permit.
The schools continued to be located there in 1936, but had moved to 324 Commonwealth by 1937.
In May of 1936, Columbian National Life Insurance filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into seven apartments.
On March 16, 1944, 408 Beacon was acquired from Columbian National Life Insurance by Miss Clara Rita Drucker, a legal secretary, and on March 21, 1944, it was conveyed by her to Beaconside Properties, Inc. (Maurice H. Saval, president and treasurer).
On May 15, 1947, 408 Beacon was acquired from Beaconside Properties, Inc., by Alexander L. Lercari and his wife, Dr. Alma A. (Binasco) Lercari. In September of 1947, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a one-car garage at the rear of the property.
Alexander Lercari was a painting contractor specializing in the interior decoration of churches, theatres, and other public buildings. Alma Lercari was a physician and obstetrician. They lived in one of the apartments at 408 Beacon and she maintained her medical office there until her retirement in 1950. They previously had lived at 536 Commonwealth.
Alexander Lercari died in October of 1978. Alma Lercari continued to live at 408 Beacon until her death in February of 1986.
On June 19, 1986, 408 Beacon was purchased from Alma Lercari’s estate by Christopher W. Kelly and Stephen Palmer, Jr., trustees of the 408 Beacon Street Realty Trust.
On September 18, 1986, they converted the property into seven condominium units, the 408 Beacon Street Condominium.
In June of 1987, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from seven apartments into three apartments. In September of 1987, they amended the permit and received permission to add a penthouse floor and to reconfigure the apartments into three duplex units. And on June 14., 1988, they amended the condominium master deed to reflect the additional story and reduce the number of units from seven to three.