480 Beacon was designed by Cabot, Everett, and Mead, architects, and built in 1892-1893 by W. A. & H. A. Root Co. (William A. Root, Jr., and Henry A. Root), masons, and George Morrison, carpenter, as the home of Miss Lucy Ellis. She is shown as the owner on the final building inspection report, dated August 21, 1893.
Lucy Ellis purchased the land for 480 Beacon on March 10, 1892, 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 480 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 1893-1894 winter season, Lucy Ellis had made 480 Beacon her home. She was an artist. She lived at the Hotel Oxford (southeast corner of Exeter and Huntington) during the previous season, and before that at 330 Boylston (formerly number 114 Boylston) with her brother, Dr. Calvin Ellis, a physician and Dean of Harvard Medical School. He had died in December of 1883.
Lucy Ellis continued to live at 480 Beacon until her death in June of 1899. She left 480 Beacon to Harvard University.
On July 15, 1901, 480 Beacon was purchased from Harvard by Mary Alison (Bixby) Hill, the wife of Edward Burlingame Hill. They previously had lived at 321 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Francestown, New Hampshire.
During the 1902-1903 winter season, the Hills were joined at 480 Beacon by Alison Hill’s aunt, Emma Adaline (Bixby) Vermyne, the widow of Dr. John J. B. Vermyne She had lived at the Hotel Cambridge at 483 Beacon earlier in 1902. She no longer was listed at 480 Beacon in the 1904 Blue Book and by 1905 was living at 391 Beacon.
The Hills continued to live at 480 Beacon during the 1905-1906 winter season, but moved thereafter to 4 Marlborough. Alison Hill continued to own 480 Beacon and lease it to others.
By the 1906-1907 winter season, 480 Beacon was the home of Hannah King (Davenport) Brown, the widow of wholesale druggist Atherton Thayer Brown. She previously had lived at 401 Commonwealth.
She continued to live at 480 Beacon during the 1916-1917 season, but moved thereafter to 344 Marlborough.
During the 1922-1923 winter season, they were traveling abroad and 480 Beacon was the home of Felix Vorenberg and his wife, Rose (Frankenstein) Vorenberg. They previously had lived at the Copley Plaza Hotel. He was a dealer in chinaware and jewelry. By the 1923=1924 season, the Vorenbergs were living at the Copley Plaza Hotel again, and the Rosenthals had resumed living at 480 Beacon.
During the 1924-1925 season the Rosenthals were living at the Copley Plaza Hotel and 480 Beacon was the home of Abraham C. (“Cap”) Ratshesky and his wife, Edith (Shuman) Ratshesky. They previously had lived at the Hotel Touraine.
Abraham Ratshesky and his brother, Israel, had been wholesale clothiers in the firm founded by their father, Asher Ratshesky. In 1895, they became bankers, founding the United States Trust Company, which specialized in the needs of the immigrant population, providing services not otherwise available to them in Boston.
The Ratsheskys had moved from 480 Beacon by the 1925-1926 season, and by the 1926-1927 season were living in an apartment at 65 Commonwealth.
The Rosenthals resumed living at 480 Beacon and continued to live there until about 1932, after which they made their home in Beverly.
The house was not listed in the 1933 Blue Book and was shown as vacant in the 1933 City Directory.
By 1934, Edward and Alison Hill once again were living at 480 Beacon, joined by their sons, Henry B. Hill and George E. B. Hill. They had been living in Cambridge, which had been their home since about 1919, when they moved from 4 Marlborough. They continued to live at 480 Beacon until about 1937.
On February 20, 1937, 480 Beacon was acquired from Alison Hill by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson. On April 13, 1938, Isaac Endler, a real estate dealer and mortgage broker, foreclosed on the mortgage he held on 480 Beacon and transferred the property to his secretary, Elizabeth A. Keegan.
By 1939, 480 Beacon was the home of Ann Allen and the location of her Allen School of Costume Designing. She previously had lived at 127 Newbury and the school had been located at 29 Newbury. She continued to live and operate her school at 480 Beacon until about 1941.
On July 16, 1941, 480 Beacon was acquired from Elizabeth Keegan by Miss Alma Andrea Vorland.
By 1942, 480 Beacon was the location of the Kingsley School, a school for children of normal intelligence with reading difficulties or other learning problems. The school had been founded in 1938 by Edith (Halliday) Kingsley and Helen Loud. Edith Kingsley was an educator and expert in remedial reading; her husband, Howard L. Kingsley was a professor of psychology at Boston University.
Kingsley School continued to be located at 480 Beacon in 1944, but had moved to 397 Marlborough by 1945.
By the mid-1940s, the property had been converted into apartments.
On May 15, 1946, 480 Beacon was acquired from Alma Vorland by real estate dealer Thomas J. Diab.
The property changed hands and on May 29, 1953, was acquired by Hans Ulrich Steinhart and his wife, Margarethe (Koschel) Steinhart. They lived in one of the apartments. He was a librarian and she was a Christian Science practitioner. They previously had lived at 222 Huntington.
In April of 1954, Hans Steinhart filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as six apartments, which he indicated was the existing condition when he purchased the property.
The Steinharts continued to live at 480 Beacon in 1955, but moved thereafter to Glassboro, New Jersey, where he became an assistant professor of library science at the State Teachers College.
On August 31, 1955, 480 Beacon was acquired from the Steinharts by James C. Wilson, Jr., an engineer. He and his father, James C. Wilson, Sr., lived in one of the apartments.
On July 1, 1960, 480 Beacon was purchased from James C. Wilson, Jr., by the Massachusetts Iota-Tau Association. It already was the owner of 484 Beacon, where the MIT chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity had been located since 1921.
In June of 1961, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from six apartments into a second fraternity house for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
In October of 1999, the Boston Licensing Board revoked the fraternity’s dormitory licenses because of illegal consumption of alcohol by minors and repeated complaints by neighbors.
On February 5, 2001, the Iota-Tau Association transferred the property to The 484 Phi Alpha Foundation.
On March 26, 2001, 480 Beacon was purchased from The 484 Phi Alpha Foundation by Mark E. Harrington and his wife, Patricia Harrington.
On April 16, 2003, the Harringtons converted the property into two condominium units, the Beacon Riverview Condominium.