453 Beacon was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1885-1886 by R. Sylvester Dewing, mason, as the home of Henry Augustus Whitney and his wife, Lucretia (Fall) Whitney. Building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames shows as the owner on the original building permit application, dated November 16, 1885, with Henry A. Whitney’s name added.
Henry Whitney purchased the land for 453 Beacon on November 17, 1885, from architect John Hubbard Sturgis. The lot was part of a parcel John H. Sturgis had assembled through three purchases in January and February of 1880, comprising all of the land on the south side of Beacon from a line 198 feet west of Hereford to Massachusetts Avenue, with a frontage of 442 feet. The parcel originally had been intersected by Parker Street, a 60 foot wide street located on top of the Cross Dam, which ran southwest from Beacon Street at approximately a 45 degree angle, starting about 210 feet west of Hereford on the south side of Beacon.
The land east of Parker Street had been purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on June 20, 1866, by Daniel Davies, a housewright and carpenter, and the land to the west had been purchased from the company on March 1, 1872, by a real estate investment trust (known as the Beacon Street Lands Trust) formed by Grenville T. W. Braman (Daniel Davies’s son-in-law), Henry D. Hyde, and Frank W. Andrews. Parker Street between Beacon and Boylston was discontinued as a public thoroughfare in 1877, and Daniel Davies and Grenville T. W. Braman joined with the Beacon Street Lands Trust to acquire the roadway between Beacon and Commonwealth and the land beneath it. Daniel Davies died in June of 1878, and on February 1, 1879, his heirs and Grenville Braman and his partners entered into a series of transactions to “square off” their holdings by exchanging triangular shaped lots, resulting in a north-south dividing line 265 feet west of Hereford.
453 Beacon was built partially on land that previously had been Parker Street.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 453 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the south side of Beacon between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue.
By the 1886-1887 winter season, Henry and Lucretia (Fall) Whitney had made 453 Beacon their home. He was a real estate dealer. They previously had lived in Charlestown with Lucretia Whitney’s parents, Parker Fall and Dorothy (Stewart) Fall.
Living with them at 453 Beacon were Lucretia Whitney’s two nieces, Grace Dorothea Constantine and Harriet L. Constantine, the daughters of George and Susan (Fall) Constantine.
Henry Whitney died in February of 1890. Lucretia Whitney and her nieces continued to live at 453 Beacon during the 1897-1898 winter season, but moved thereafter. She continued to own the house and lease it to others.
During the 1898-1899 winter season, 453 Beacon was the home of William De Yongh Field and his wife, Bertha Farnum (Williams) Field. He was an importer and farm owner. They also maintained a home in Weston.
In June of 1900, at the time of the 1900 US Census. 453 Beacon was the home of Copley Amory, Jr., an architect and later a broker, and his wife, Mary Forbes (Russell) Amory. Their primary residence was in Walpole, New Hampshire.
The house was not listed in the 1900-1903 Boston Blue Books.
By the 1903-1904 winter season, 453 Beacon was the home of Adelaide Watson (Ladd) Weld, the widow of cotton buyer Alfred Rodman Weld, and their infant son, Stephen Minot Weld, II. They previously had lived in an apartment at 411 Marlborough, where they probably moved soon after Alfred Weld’s death in August of 1902 (they had married in June of 1900). Her brother, William Edwards Ladd, who graduated from Harvard in 1902, also lived at 411 Marlborough.
In 1907 and 1908, Adelaide Weld was joined at 453 Beacon by her parents, William Jones Ladd, a civil and mining engineer, and Anna Russell (Watson) Ladd. Their primary residence was in Milton.
By the 1914-1915 winter season, 453 Beacon was the home of Emily James (Ladd) Sawyer, the widow of Jacob Herbert Sawyer. They had married in March of 1913, after which they had lived at 353 Beacon, where he died in October of 1913. Emily Sawyer was joined at 453 Beacon by her unmarried half-sister, Mary Holman Ladd, a retired teacher. They had lived together in an apartment at 407 Marlborough prior to Emily Ladd’s marriage.
Emily (Ladd) Sawyer and Mary Holman Ladd do not appear to have been closely related to Adelaide Watson (Ladd) Weld.
Lucretia Whitney died in January of 1922. 453 Beacon continued to be owned by a trust established in her will and to be leased by Emily Sawyer and Mary Holman Ladd.
The house was shown as vacant in the 1938-1939 City Directories.
On July 18, 1939, 453 Beacon was acquired from the trust established by Lucretia Whitney by Abraham Schultz. He and his wife, Mollie (Rottenberg) Schultz, lived in Chelsea.
That same month, Abraham Schultz’s father-in-law, Nathan Rottenberg, a real estate dealer in Chelsea, filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into three apartments.
Among the residents at 453 Beacon from 1940 were Eduardo Gomez-Duran, consul for Colombia, and his wife, Rose (Candella) Gomes-Duran. They previously had lived in an apartment at 476 Beacon. They continued to live at 453 Beacon until about 1954.
On August 28, 1945, 453 Beacon was acquired from Abraham Schultz by real estate dealer Harold (Harry) Ira Cohen. By 1948, he and his wife, Eleanor M. (Stanley) Cohen, had moved to one of the apartments. They previously had lived at 820 Beacon. By the 1950s (based on the City Directory listings) they had increased the number of apartments at 453 Beacon from three to four.
On May 27, 1960, Harry Cohen transferred the property into his and his wife’s names.
Harry Cohen died in April of 1979. Eleanor Cohen continued to live at 453 Beacon.
On September 17, 1984, 453 Beacon was purchased from Eleanor Cohen by Donna K. Koehler, trustee of the Wesley Realty Trust.
In January of 1985, the Building Department issued a notice of violation for failure to secure a permit to convert the property from three to four apartments. In July of 1985, Donna Koehler advised the Building Department that the fourth apartment had been vacated and the building had “reverted back to a three family, owner occupied status.”
On April 4, 1997, Donna Koehler transferred the property from the Wesley Realty Trust into her own name.
Donna Koehler died in October of 2006 and 453 Beacon was inherited by her brother, Wesley Koehler, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. On September 28, 2018, he transferred the property to the 453 Beacon Street LLC (Wesley H. Koehler II Living Trust, manager of record).
453 Beacon remained an apartment house, assessed as a four- to six-family dwelling, in 2020.