488 Beacon was designed by Ernest N. Boyden, architect, and built in 1892-1893 for Eugene Hamilton Fay, for speculative sale, one of five contiguous houses (482-484-486-488-490 Beacon). He is shown as the owner on the original building permit applications for 484-490 Beacon, all dated June 11, 1892 (the application for 482 Beacon has not been located).
Eugene Fay purchased the land for 482-490 Beacon on May 3, 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 also included restrictions limiting to one story any building in the rear north of a line 90 feet from Beacon. 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.”
Click here for an index to the deeds for 488 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
Eugene H. Fay and his wife, Emma Frances (Hutchins) Lewis Fay, lived in Chelsea. He was associated with Henry W. Savage, a real estate dealer, listing himself in the Boston City Directories as a clerk at the same address as Henry Savage.
In an April 2, 1893, advertisement in the Boston Globe, real estate dealer Rollin Heber Allen advertised 488 Beacon for sale, described as: “488 Beacon St. Water Side. For Sale, new house, finished in oak, white and gold, mahogany and natural wood, marble entrance, circular plate glass windows, 3 bath rooms, open plumbing and porcelain tubs. Every possible convenience. Decorated and papered by Allen & Hall. Price $45,000.”
Rollin H. Allen and Henry W. Savage were associated in a number of real estate ventures. Among their investments was the Castle Square Theatre on Tremont, and they jointly owned the Castle Square Opera Company (Rollin H. Allen acquired Henry W. Savage’s interest in 1895). Rollin Allen and his wife lived at 179 Newbury and later at 240 Commonwealth.
On April 15, 1893, 488 Beacon was purchased from Eugene Fay by Harriet (Lowell) Putnam, the wife of attorney George Putnam. They previously had lived in Cambridge. They also maintained a home in Manchester, Massachusetts.
The Putnams’ four unmarried children lived with them: Charles Russell Lowell Putnam, James Lowell Putnam, Elizabeth Putnam, and Josephine Putnam. Their eldest child, William Lowell Putnam, was an attorney in his father’s firm and had married in June of 1888 to Elizabeth Lowell. They lived at 67 Marlborough.
Charles R. L. Putnam graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1895, after which he served as house physician and surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also resided. By 1898, he had moved to New York City.
In about 1898, George Putnam formed a new law firm, Putnam & Putnam, in partnership with his sons William and James.
James Putnam married in April of 1900 to Eleanor Jay Robinson of New York. After their marriage, they lived briefly at 488 Beacon and then moved to 188 Marlborough for the 1900-1901 winter season.
George and Harriet Putnam and their daughter, Elizabeth, continued to live at 488 Beacon during the 1903-1904 winter season, but moved thereafter to an apartment at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth. Harriet Putnam continued to own 488 Beacon and lease it to others.
By the 1906-1907 winter season, it was the site of The von Mach School, operated by Mary Ware (Peirce) von Mach, the wife of Edmund Robert Otto von Mach. They lived in Cambridge. She previously had been a teacher at 319 Marlborough. Edmund von Mach was an art historian and former instructor in fine art at Harvard. He was a native of Germany and had served in the German army in 1889-1891. At the commencement of World War I in Europe, he was an outspoken advocate of the German cause, and continued to advocate the German viewpoint until the United States entered the war.
The von Mach School remained at 488 Beacon until 1916.
In 1916, 488 Beacon became the home of Charles Wellington Stone and his wife, Alice (Stone) Stone, and also the location of his private school for boys, The Stone School. The school previously had been located at 59 Chestnut and the Stones had lived in Roslindale.
Harriet Putnam died in January of 1920, and on September 23, 1920, 488 Beacon was purchased from her estate by architect Edward Thomas Patrick Graham. He lived in Cambridge and maintained his office at 171 Newbury.
Charles and Alice Stone continued to live and operate their school at 488 Beacon until his death in January of 1927.
By the 1927-1928 winter season, 488 Beacon was the home of Charles Henry Bingham and his wife, Elizabeth (Mead) Bingham, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 380 Commonwealth.
In September of 1928, Edward Graham acquired 486 Beacon. The Binghams subsequently operated both 486 Beacon and 488 Beacon as lodging houses.
486 Beacon and 488 Beacon remained under the same ownership from this point.
Charles Bingham died in December of 1942, and Elizabeth Bingham moved to 312 Beacon by 1944.
In October of 1944, Edward Graham filed to legalize the occupancy of both properties as lodging houses, noting that they had been used as such “for more than fifteen years.” He subsequently abandoned the application.
In September of 1946, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the properties from lodging houses into fraternities for use by the MIT chapter of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity. Doors were cut on the fifth floor between 486 and 488 Beacon, and also on the second floor between 486 and 484 Beacon (location of the MIT chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity). Tau Epsilon Phi remained at 486-488 Beacon until 1958, when it purchased and moved to 253 Commonwealth.
On September 26, 1959, 486-488 Beacon was acquired from Edward T. P. Graham by George Irwin Rohrbough, president of the Chandler School for Women, located at 448 Beacon. He and his wife, Martha Fraser (Waugh) Rohrbough, lived in Cambridge.
On December 28, 1961, George Rohrbaugh transferred a 60 percent interest in 486-488 Beacon to the Wesley Foundation in Cambridge. On December 28, 1962, he transferred the remaining 40 percent to the institution.
The Wesley Foundation was formed to provide spiritual and social services to Methodist students at Harvard, Radcliffe, MIT, Wellesley, and Lesley College.
In July of 1967, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the properties from a fraternity back into a lodging house.
On March 14, 1973, 486-488 Beacon was acquired from The Wesley Foundation in Cambridge by Kenneth L. Shaw. On the same day, he transferred the property to Anthony P. Baker.
On August 31, 1976, Karnig S. Dinjian and Nubar J. Dinjian foreclosed on a mortgage they held on 486-488 Beacon and transferred the property to themselves as trustees of the Two-D Realty Trust.
On December 29, 1977, they transferred the properties to Malcolm McPhail and Dominick Scarfo as trustees of the Dinjian & Dinjian Realty Trust.
On June 15, 1979, the Dinjian & Dinjian Realty Trust converted 486-488 Beacon into 18 condominium units, nine in each building, the 486-488 Beacon Street Condominium.
In September of 1985, a condominium owner at 488 Beacon, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine two units and reduce the occupancy from nine to eight units.
In April of 1998, the 488 Beacon Street Condominium Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine two units and reduce the occupancy from eight to seven units.