422 Beacon was designed by Little and Browne, architects, and built in 1899-1900 by Norcross Brothers, builders, for Lester Leland and his wife, Frances Eugenie (Converse) Leland. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated June 8, 1899.
Frances Leland purchased the land for 422 Beacon on May 2, 1899, from Frank W. Crocker, the eastern 28 feet of a 60 foot lot he had purchased from Oliver Ames on March 31, 1896. Oliver Ames had assembled the 60 foot lot through several purchases. All of the land was part of a 330 foot parcel George Higginson had purchased on January 14, 1884, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 422 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
By the 1900-1901 winter season, Lester and Frances Leland had made 422 Beacon their home. They previously had lived at 316 Beacon.
Lester Leland was an officer of several rubber manufacturing companies, including serving as Vice President of the US Rubber Company and treasurer of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company (of which his father-in-law, Elisha Slade Converse, previously had served as treasurer and principal buying agent).
In 1902, they purchased a home, Old Tree House, in West Manchester, Massachusetts, which they rebuilt in 1905.
On October 24, 1916, the Lelands joined with the owners of 416-420 Beacon and 424-426 Beacon in an agreement to “impose a uniform restriction on their estates which will prevent the erection of any building or other structure in the rear of any of the said estates which will further materially obstruct the light, air and prospect now enjoyed.” The agreement specified that, prior to January 1, 1937, no building more than one story high could be built north of a line 92 feet north of the building line established by City of Boston for Beacon Street (the building line required a 20 foot setback from the north side of Beacon).
On September 8, 1925, the Lelands joined with the owners of 420 Beacon, 424-426 Beacon, and the vacant lot at 428 Beacon in an agreement to modify the 1916 restrictions on buildings in the rear of their properties, agreeing that no building more than one story high could be built north of a line 87 feet north of the building line established by City of Boston for Beacon Street (increasing by 5 feet the restricted area at the rear of the houses). The agreement specified that the right to erect and maintain one story stables in the rear of the houses remained in effect and that these structures could be used as garages for not more than two automobiles. Unlike the earlier agreement, no expiration date for the restrictions was set.
The updated agreement may have been prompted by plans to build an apartment house on the vacant lot at 428 Beacon, on the northeast corner of Beacon and Hereford. The agreement specified that the main entrance of any apartment building constructed at 428 Beacon would be on Hereford Street and that there would be no more than one apartment per floor except on the first floor, where two there could be two apartments. The apartment house was never built and 428 Beacon remained a vacant lot.
Lester Leland died in July of 1933. Frances Leland continued to live at 422 Beacon until her death in January of 1941.
On June 12, 1941, 422 Beacon was acquired from Frances (Converse) Leland’s estate by her nephew, Parker Converse, the son of Harry Elisha Converse and Mary Caroline (Parker) Converse. Parker Converse and his wife, June (Butler) Converse, made 422 Beacon their home. They previously had lived in Brookline. They continued to live at 422 Beacon until 1943, when they moved to Marion.
On July 22, 1943, 422 Beacon was acquired from Parker Converse by real estate dealer Henry Joseph O’Meara.
On August 5, 1943, 422 Beacon was acquired from Henry O’Meara by James Bernard Regan and his wife, Susan (Susanna) M. Josephine (McNamara) Cassidy Regan. They operated it as a lodging house. They lived at 424 Beacon, where they also operated a lodging house.
James Regan owned “Regan’s Rooms,” a lodging house at 327 Tremont. During World War I and the early 1920s, he had been a proprietor of the New Richwood Hotel at 254 Tremont (across from the Shubert Theatre) and then the Hotel Hollis at 247 Tremont.
In June of 1944, Susan Regan applied for permission to convert 422 Beacon from a single-family dwelling into a single-family dwelling and lodging house (legalizing the current occupancy). Her application was denied and she subsequently abandoned it.
The property changed hands and on January 22, 1946, was acquired by the Northern Building Supply Company. In January of 1946, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property from a single-family dwelling into a single-family dwelling and four doctor’s offices.
Louis Elliott Rudnick and his wife, Ruth (Barron) Rudnick, lived at 422 Beacon. He was a real estate agent and treasurer of Northern Building Supply. The previously had lived in Newton Highlands. They moved in 1947.
On June 15, 1959, 422 Beacon was acquired from 422 Beacon Street, Inc., by Lawrence Rill Schumann and Mark Wainer, trustees of the 422 Beacon Street Realty Trust. Lawrence Schumann, a brush manufacturer, and his wife, Edith (Rader) Jarcho Schumann, lived at 302 Beacon. Mark Wainer, a lawyer, and his wife, Ruth (Klemer) Wainer, lived in Brookline.
On June 21, 1961, 422 Beacon was acquired from Lawrence Schumann and Mark Wainer by Chandler School for Women, located at 448 Beacon. It also owned 426 Beacon and its president, George Irwin Rohrbough, owned 424 Beacon and the vacant lot at 428 Beacon.
In May of 1962, Chandler School applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 422 Beacon into school classrooms, and the same month, George Rohrbough, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to cut doors in the party wall between 422 and 424 Beacon to facilitate the school’s use of both buildings.
In August of 1967, George Rohrbough acquired 420 Beacon. Chandler School used the first floor as a library and rented the apartments on the upper floors.
In May 10, 1971, Chandler School, as the seller under the purchase and sale agreement with the College, had applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 422 Beacon from a school into a college with accessory laboratories. Similar applications for 424 and 426 Beacon were submitted and subsequently approved. The College continued to use 420 Beacon as a library and to rent the apartments on the upper floors.
In July of 1976, it changed its name to the New England College of Optometry.
In May of 1983, the College acquired 418 Beacon, which it used as a dormitory.
In April of 1992, the College applied for (and subsequently received) permission to consolidate 422 and 424 Beacon into one property, with the address of 424 Beacon.
In August of 1996, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to consolidate 420 Beacon, 424 Beacon, and 426 Beacon into one property, with the address of 424 Beacon. 420 Beacon was used for the library, classrooms, and other college facilities.
In August of 1997, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 418 Beacon and a separate former stable at the rear from a dormitory into classrooms and other college functions.
In October of 2006, the College applied for (and subsequently received) permission to consolidate 418 Beacon into one property with 424 Beacon, making a single property composed of 418-420-422-424-426 Beacon, with the address of 424 Beacon.
The New England College of Optometry continued to be located there in 2021.
Below are front and rear elevations of 422 Beacon drawn ca. 1899 by Little and Browne for Lester Leland. These are provided courtesy of Historic New England, whose collection also includes additional original architectural drawings of 422 Beacon.