474 Beacon was designed by Fehmer and Page, architects, and built in 1891-1892 by James Smith, mason, as the home of dry goods merchant Nathaniel Willard Pierce and his wife, Catherine Hatch (Collamore) Pierce. He is shown as the owner on the final building inspection report, dated December 3, 1892.
Nathaniel Pierce purchased the land for 474 Beacon on February 13, 1891, 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 474 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.
By the 1892-1893 winter season, Nathaniel and Catherine (Collamore) Pierce had made 474 Beacon their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Vendôme. Their daughter, Katharine C. Pierce, lived with them.
During the next three seasons she was living elsewhere and 474 Beacon was the home of Nathaniel Hugh Cotton and his wife, Harriet Emma (Clapp) Cotton. They had traveled abroad during the previous season and had lived at 221 Beacon during the 1904-1905 season. N. Hugh Cotton was a West Indies shipping merchant. They Cottons’ two daughters, Lillian and Eleanor, lived with them.
They continued to live at 474 Beacon during the 1908-1909 season, but moved thereafter.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, Katharine Pierce was living at 474 Beacon once again. She continued to live there in 1911 but had moved to an apartment at 373 Commonwealth by 1912. She continued to own 474 Beacon and lease it to others.
During the 1911-1912 winter season, 474 Beacon was the home of Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and his wife, Mabel Chase (Hill) Foster. He was president of Chickering & Sons, piano manufacturers, and of the Mutual National Bank. Their usual residence was at The Ludlow (southwest corner of Clarendon and St. James) and in Charles River Village in Needham. Their daughter, Edith Hill Foster, was a debutante during the 1911-1912 season and, as noted in the Boston Globe‘s “Table Gossip for October 15, 1911, they took the house for the season “to entertain in her honor.”
During the 1912-1913 winter season, 474 Beacon was the home of James T. Barron and his wife, Elizabeth (Nixon) Barron. They had lived at the Hotel Vendôme during the previous season. James Barron was owner of the Thlinket Packing Company in Portland, Oregon, operators of fish canneries. They lived in Portland and frequently summered in Alaska, where he had business interests. From about 1912, they spent the winter seasons in Boston where their son, Robert J. Barron, was in school, and their daughter, Anna Marie Barron, was introduced into society.
The Barrons also spent the 1913-1914 season at 474 Beacon but probably spent the next season in Portland, where Anna Marie Barron married in October of 1914 to Thomas Martin Fitzpatrick, a dry goods merchant from Boston. By the 1915-1916 winter season, the Barrons and the Fitzpatricks were living at 315 Commonwealth (in August of 1917, the Barrons’ son, Robert, was killed while serving as a cadet in the Army Aviation Training Corps, drowned while attempting to save two other cadets who had crashed in the Delaware River).
Katharine Pierce died in March of 1913 in Algiers. Her will was contested by paternal aunt, Martha Willard (Pierce) Boardman, the widow of William Bartlett Boardman (called “Margaret W. Boardman” in the April 7, 1915, Boston Globe article on the litigation). Katharine Pierce left all of her household effects to her maternal aunt, Miss Helen Collamore, and did not mention Mrs. Boardman. In addition to substantial charitable bequests, she also left a large bequest to her second cousin, Frank Stanley White (the son Charles Goddard White and Katharine Stanley Pierce, daughter of Nathaniel Pierce’s brother, Thomas Cary Willard Pierce). He was a lawyer and also was Katharine Pierce’s executor. Martha Boardman alleged that Katharine Pierce had been misled as to her rights by Mr. White, and challenged the will. She subsequently withdrew her suit. She died in January of 1915, and in early April of 1915, the court ordered that all of the papers associated with the proceeding be removed from the files. Helen Collamore died later in April of 1915.
On January 14, 1916, 474 Beacon was acquired from Katharine Pierce’s estate by real estate dealers James Sumner Draper and Mark Temple Dowling. The purchased was made by Mark Temple Dowling’s sister, Lillior (Lillie) Taylor (Dowling) Nutting, the widow of William B. Nutting, who then conveyed the property to J. Sumner Draper on the same day.
On January 27, 1916, 474 Beacon was purchased from J. Sumner Draper by architect Arthur Little. He and his wife, Jessie (Whitman) Means Little, lived at 35 Commonwealth and in Wenham. It appears likely that he acquired 474 Beacon in order to remodel it for resale.
On June 15, 1916, 474 Beacon was acquired from Arthur Little by real estate dealer William J. Stober.
The transaction was reported by the Boston Globe on June 16, 1916, which indicated the property had been purchased by Francis Russell Hart. It also noted that “Francis R. Hart’s estate on Central av, Milton, has been transferred to Mr. Little.” The Milton estate “comprises two acres of land with beautiful lawns and gardens, and large mansion house of 21 rooms, four baths, with stable and garage.”
William Stober conveyed 474 Beacon to Francis Hart on December 16. 1916, and he and his wife, Helen Bronson (Hobbey) Hart, made it their home. Helen Hart’s sister, Louise W. Hobbey, lived with them. They all had previously lived at 4 Marlborough. The Harts also maintained a summer home at Nonquitt, Massachusetts.
Francis Hart was a banker with the Old Colony Trust Company. He also served as president of the Cartagena-Magdalena Railway in Colombia from 1893 to 1906, and as president of the Lowell Light Corporation.
The Harts and Louise Hobbey continued to live at 474 Beacon until Francis Hart’s death in January of 1938. After his death, Helen Hart and Miss Hobbey moved to the Hotel Somerset.
On August 4, 1938, 474 Beacon was acquired from Francis Hart’s estate by Bernice (Sisitzky) Strock, the wife of Dr. Moses Solomon Strock, an oral surgeon. He also maintained his office there. They previously had lived in Brookline.
Moses Strock’s brother, Alvin E. Strock, a dentist, also maintained his offices at 474 Beacon. He lived in Newton.
By 1942, Moses and Bernice Strock had moved to Newton and had converted 474 Beacon into a combination of medical offices and apartments.
Moses Strock died in March of 1970.
In July of 1970, Serena F. Weinstein acquired 474 Beacon from Bernice Strock. In March of 1971, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as nine apartments. In December of 2011, she transferred the property to herself as trustee of the River Street Realty Trust II.
On October 15, 2015, 474 Beacon was acquired from Joanna W. Chodes, trustee of the River Street Realty Trust (successor to the River Street Realty Trust II) by the Front Bay LLC (Peter E. Georgantas, manager of record).
In 2016, Front Bay LLC applied for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units from nine to three.