478 Beacon was designed by William Y. Peters, architect, and built in 1892-1893 by W. A. & H. A. Root, builders, as the home of investment banker and stock broker Philip Van Rensselaer Ely and his wife, Marian Glyde (Bigelow) Ely. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated October 28, 1892. In 1893, the Elys had lived at 341 Beacon.
They continued to live at 478 Beacon in 1894, but had moved by 1895 and were living at 333 Beacon by 1897.
By the 1894-1895 winter season, 478 Beacon was the home of textile mill owner William Amory, a widower, and his daughter, Anna Sears Amory. They previously had lived in New York City, where his wife, Jeanne Philomene (Guichard) Amory, had died in April of 1894. He is shown as the owner of 478 Beacon on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps.
In July of 1896, he married again, to Louise Annette Gaudelet. After their marriage, they lived at 478 Beacon, and Anna Sears Amory moved to 7 Fairfield.
William and Louise Amory lived at 478 Beacon until about 1902, when they moved to 407 Commonwealth.
In early 1903, 478 Beacon was purchased from the Amorys by attorney William Orison Underwood and his wife, Bessie Knight (Shoemaker) Underwood. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on January 11, 1903. They previously had lived at the Hotel Somerset. They continued to live at 478 Beacon during the 1906-1907 winter season, but moved thereafter to 53 Beacon.
By the 1907-1908 winter season, 478 Beacon was the home of James Ripley Hooper, a dry good merchant and banker, and his wife, Gertrude Fellowes (Williams) Hooper. They previously had lived at 303 Beacon. James Hooper is shown as the owner of 478 Beacon on the 1908, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps.
The Hoopers also maintained a summer home in Hull until about 1932.
In July of 1929, W. E. Cooper (probably James Hooper’s agent) applied for (and subsequently received) permission to build a new penthouse.
James Hooper died in October of 1934. James R. Hooper et al, trustees, are shown as the owners of the house on the 1938 Bromley map.
Gertrude Hooper continued to live at 478 Beacon with their unmarried daughters, Adeline Denny Hooper and Gertrude Hooper, until about 1949.
By 1949, 478 Beacon was owned by Thomas J. Diab. In May of 1949, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into nine apartments.
By 1953, 478 Beacon was owned by Norris B. Flanagan and Helen G. Flanagan. In December of 1953, the Flanagans applied for (and subsequently received) permission to change the legal occupancy from nine apartments into eleven apartments and one doctor’s office, legalizing what they indicated as being the current conditions (the doctor’s office was in the front on the first floor, and his residence in the rear on the first floor).
The property changed hands, including going through foreclosure, and in June of 1977 was purchased by Alvin L. Lipsky. In October of 1977, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from eleven apartments and one doctor’s office to twelve apartments.
The property changed hands and in January of 1979 was purchased by Neal Gold and Irvin H. Kooris, trustees of the 478 Beacon Street Trust.
In July of 1979, they converted the property into twelve condominium units, the 478 Beacon Street Condominium, with eleven units in the main building and one in the carriage house at the rear.
In March of 1980, a condominium owner applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine apartments five and seven, connecting them with a staircase, and reducing the number of units from twelve to eleven.
In April of 1980, a condominium owner applied for (and subsequently received) permission to extend the fifth floor penthouse in the front and add a greenhouse in the rear.