468 Beacon was designed by Fehmer and Page, architects, and built in 1891-1892 by Benjamin D. Whitcomb & Co., builders, for James Brown Case, one of two contiguous houses (468-470 Beacon) built for him: 468 Beacon on a 36 foot wide lot and 470 Beacon on a 24 foot wide lot. In 1890, before the houses were built, he received approval to build a 52 foot wide stable behind both houses. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for the stables, dated November 4, 1890, and on the applications for 468 Beacon and 470 Beacon, dated June 9, 1891.
James Case was a wholesale dry goods merchant. He also served as president of the National Bank of Redemption and subsequently as president of its successor, the First National Bank.
The land for 468-470 Commonwealth was purchased on October 15, 1890, by James Case’s wife, Laura Lucretia (Williams) Case, from real estate investor Nathan Matthews. It was part of a larger parcel Nathan Matthews had purchased on August 1, 1890, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.
The deeds from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation for the land between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue included language specifying that only dwellings and associated outbuildings (including stables) could be built on the land and that the buildings were to be set back 20 feet from Beacon. The deeds for the land between 460 Beacon and Massachusetts Avenue were entered into in the early 1890s and also included restrictions limiting to one story any building in the rear north of a line 90 feet from Beacon. The deeds for the land between Hereford and 458 Beacon, which were from 1886, did not include language limiting buildings in the rear. As a result, the owners of the land at 448-458 Beacon entered into individual agreements to limit the depth of the houses that were built on their land and restrict the height of outbuildings in the rear to one story. On August 2, 1909, all of the owners of the property on the north side of Beacon between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue (other than the Mt. Vernon Church) entered into an agreement to “continue for twenty years longer [to December 31, 1929] the existing freedom from irregular building and obstruction of view which they now enjoy from the rear portion of their houses.” On December 30, 1929, the owners of 448-480 Beacon extended this agreement to expire on December 31, 1939.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 468 Beacon, including additional information on the deeds and agreements limiting buildings in the rear of the lot, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
Construction of 468-470 Beacon began in July of 1891. In its July 4, 1891, report on the house, the Boston Herald commented that “eighteen months are allowed the contractors in which to finish their work. As the job might be completed, say the building fraternity, inside of a year if rushed, there is all evident intention to spare no expense or care in the building of the two new houses.”
By the 1893-1894 winter season, 468 Beacon had become James and Laura (Williams) Case’s Boston home. They previously had lived at 120 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home, Rocklawn, in Weston, which they had built in 1889, designed by architect Ernest N. Boyden. Their unmarried daughters, Louisa Williams Case and Marian Roby Case, lived with them.
470 Beacon became the home of the Cases’ son-in-law and daughter, real estate dealer James Goldthwaite Freeman and Caroline Sumner (Case) Freeman. They previously had lived at 457 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Weston. On December 18, 1893, Laura Case transferred 470 Beacon to Caroline Freeman, but retained the bulk of the rear yard and the stables behind 470 Beacon, to be held as part of 468 Beacon.
James Case died in April of 1907. Laura Case and Louisa and Marian Case continued to live at 468 Beacon and in Weston.
In 1909, Marion Roby Case purchased land adjacent to her parents’ home in Weston and established Hillcrest Farms (renamed Hillcrest Gardens in 1920). In 1910, she created a practical school of agriculture and farming on the property as a work/study program for local boys during their summer vacations. Hillcrest Gardens and the school continued to operate until 1942. She died in July of 1944. In her will, she left Hillcrest Gardens to Harvard University for the use of the Arnold Arboretum.
James Freeman died in December of 1912. After his death, Caroline Freeman sold her Weston home to her sister, Louisa, and continued to live at 470 Beacon.
Laura Case died in December of 1918, and Louisa and Marian Case continued to live at 468 Beacon and in Weston. Caroline Freeman died in November of 1919. She had no surviving children and 470 Beacon was inherited by Louisa and Marian Case.
On January 20, 1920, Laura Case’s estate transferred 468 Beacon and the rear yard of 470 Beacon to Marian Case. 470 Beacon was not listed in the 1921-1923 Blue Books and probably was maintained as an annex to 468 Beacon.
Louisa and Marian Case continued to live at 468 Beacon during the 1922-1923 winter season, after which they made Weston their year-round home.
On July 24, 1924, 468 Beacon was purchased from Marian Case by May Elizabeth (Bennett) Loring, the wife of Homer Loring. They previously had lived at 468 Commonwealth. In 1925, they built a second home in Ashland, Massachusetts.
Homer Loring was an investment banker and broker with major railroad and textile interests..
The Lorings continued to live at 468 Beacon until shortly before his death in June of 1939.
On October 1, 1938, 468 Beacon was acquired from May Loring by Mary E. McNally, who (according to an October 9, 1938, Boston Globe article on the transaction) took “title for the benefit of an institution that will occupy the house in the near future.”
On December 14, 1938, she transferred the property to The Lloyd Library, a collection on canon law assembled by Rt. Rev. John T. Creagh, pastor of St. Aldan’s Church in Brookline. It remained there until mid-1949, when it was moved to the Creagh Memorial Library at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton.
On June 3, 1949, 468 Beacon Street was acquired from The Lloyd Library by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston and was converted it into the offices of the Archdiocese’s Department of Education. It continued to be located there in the 1980s, and probably later.
On March 24, 1994, 468 Beacon was acquired from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese by Tomas O. Kohn and his wife, Elaine S. Kohn,
In April of 1994, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into four apartments.
468 Beacon remained an apartment house, assessed as a four- to six-family dwelling, in 2017.