421 Beacon was built ca. 1869, one of eight contiguous houses (419-421-423-425-427-429-431-433 Beacon). The houses were designed as four matching symmetrical pairs (419-421 Beacon, 423-425 Beacon, and 427-429 Beacon, and 431-433 Beacon). 433 Beacon was remodeled in about 1897 and the entrance moved to 12 Hereford.
The land on which 419-433 Beacon were built was purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on February 20, 1863, by banker and broker Robert Marion Pratt. He was unmarried and lived at 13 Louisburg Square with his parents, George Williams Pratt (one of the founders of the Boston Stock Exchange) and Mary Barrow (White) Pratt. The Pratts also maintained a home, Oakley, on Belmont Avenue in Watertown (it became the Oakley Country Club in 1898).
Click here for an index to the deeds for 421 Beacon, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 415, from Gloucester to Hereford.
On October 1, 1868, Robert Pratt sold the land on which 419-425 Beacon would be built to George M. Gibson, and the land on which 427-429 Beacon would be built to Caroline (Carrie) Beal (Burgess) Sawyer, the wife of attorney Frederic William Sawyer. He retained the lot at the southeast corner of Beacon and Hereford and the one to the east of it until after the houses were built at 431-433 Beacon.
George Martin Gibson was a builder and contractor, and built the houses at 419-425 Beacon (in the 1869 deed by which he sold 423 Beacon, he refers to it as “the third lot and house from the eastern end of the block now in process of erection by me”). It appears likely that he also built the houses at 427-433 Beacon under contract to the Sawyers and Robert Pratt. George Gibson and his wife, Frances Rebecca (Esten) Gibson lived at 72 Pinckney and later in Brookline.
On June 2, 1869, 421 Beacon was purchased from George Gibson by Charlotte (Wakefield) Lilley, the widow of John Lilley, an umbrella manufacturer. She previously had lived at 5 Gouch. Her five unmarried children – Charlotte Lilley, Adeline Lilley, Mary E. Lilley, Frances Lilley, and Robert M. Lilley – lived with her. Also living with her was her sister-in-law, Miss Hannah Lilley.
Mary Lilley died in August of 1870.
On March 11, 1880, Charlotte W. Lilley transferred 421 Beacon to her eldest daughter, Charlotte.
Charlotte W. Lilley died in August of 1882 and her sister-in-law, Hannah Lilley, died in April of 1884. Charlotte, Adeline, Frances, and Robert Lilley continued to live at 421 Beacon.
On December 25, 1889, Charlotte Lilley transferred 421 Beacon to her brother, Robert. Frances Lilley died in January of 1890, Charlotte Lilley died in June of 1891, and Adeline Lilley died in April of 1893.
Robert Lilley, who was an umbrella manufacturer and dealer, married in June of 1897 to Agnes C. Bennett. After their marriage, they lived at 421 Beacon.
Robert Lilley died in August of 1906. Agnes Lilley continued to live at 421 Beacon in 1907.
On October 31, 1907, she sold 421 Beacon to Caroline M. (Blake) Young, wife of Dr. John F. Young. Agnes Lilley moved and by 1910 was living in Los Angeles.
By the 1907-1908 winter season, John and Caroline Young had made 421 Beacon their home. He was a physician and also maintained his office there. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his office) at 129 West Broadway in South Boston.
On August 22, 1910, 421 Beacon was purchased from Caroline Young by Mrs. Louise Godey (Seeger) McMichael, former wife of Morton McMichael, III. Louise McMichael’s mother, Mrs. Marion (Godey) Seeger, the widow of Roland Seeger, lived with her. Marion (Godey) Seeger was the daughter of Louis Godey, publisher of Godey’s Lady’s Book.
In July of 1911, Marion Seeger applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a storage building at the rear of the property.
Marion (Godey) Seeger continued to live with Louise McMichael until about 1919, and had resumed living with her by the 1925-1926 winter season. She died in November of 1930 at Pine Wood in South Sudbury, the summer home of her other daughter, Maria Godey (Seeger) Bradlee, the wife of ornithologist Thomas Stevenson Bradlee.
Louise McMichael continued to live at 421 Beacon until her death in February of 1946.
The house was shown as vacant in the 1946 City Directory.
On August 4, 1946, 421 Beacon was purchased from the estate of Louise McMichael by Gordon Vincent Comer and his wife, Josephine (Puckett) Comer. They previously had lived in Colorado.
Gordon Comer was a Christian Science practitioner. He was a lecturer and clerk at the Church of Church Science in Boston from the mid-1940s until his retirement in 1968, and also served as president of the church.
The Comers continued to live at 421 Beacon until about 1952 , when they moved to an apartment at 65 Commonwealth.
On December 27, 1951, 421 Beacon was purchased from the Comers by Clark Goodman, a nuclear physicist, and his wife, Mary Ellen (Hohiesel) Goodman, an anthropologist. They previously had lived in an apartment at 236 Marlborough.
On June 28, 1956, Justin W. Griess and his wife, Katherine (Haskell) Sears Griess, purchased 421 Beacon from Clark and Mary Ellen Goodman. They previously had lived in an apartment at 176 Commonwealth.
Justin Griess was founder and owner of Yankee Maid Products, a household design and outfitting firm on Newbury Street. After he retired, he purchased and remodeled houses in the Back Bay and Beacon Hill. He also was a prominent breeder of poodles.
By 1959, Justin and Katherine Griess had converted the property into three apartments, one of which they occupied. One of the other two apartments was occupied by Robert M. Light, an art dealer specializing in rare prints, and his partner, Donald Graham Outerbridge, a painter and photographer, who operated the Museum Color Slide Association. They previously had lived in Cambridge. They continued to live at 421 Beacon until 1964, when they moved to 190 Marlborough.
In September of 1960, Justin and Katherine Griess acquired 419 Beacon, next door.
Justin Griess died in June of 1975. Katherine Griess continued to live at 421 Beacon in 1976.
On February 12, 1976, William E. Crawford and his wife, Francine O. Crawford, purchased 421 Beacon from Katherine Griess. They continued to maintain the property as a three-family dwelling until the mid-1980s, when they converted it back into a single-family dwelling.
421 Beacon remained assessed as a single-family dwelling in 2020.