488 Beacon was designed by Ernest N. Boyden, architect, and built in 1892-1893 by Eugene H. Fay, builder, probably for speculative sale. It was 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).
By the 1893-1894 winter season, 488 Beacon was the home of attorney George Putnam and his wife, Harriet (Lowell) Putnam. They previously had lived in Cambridge. Harriet L. Putnam is shown as the owner of 488 Beacon on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps. They also maintained a home in Manchester.
In June of 1900, at the time of the US Census enumeration, they were living elsewhere and 488 Beacon was the home of their son and daughter-in-law, James Lowell Putnam and Elizabeth (Robinson) Putnam. They had been married in April of that year. By 1901, they had moved to 188 Marlborough.
George and Harriet Putnam continued to live at 488 Beacon until about 1904, when they moved to an apartment at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth.
488 Beacon was not listed in the 1905 and 1906 Blue Books. Harriet L. Putnam continued to be shown as the owner on the 1908, 1912, and 1917 Bromley maps and was the assessed owner through 1920..
By 1907, 488 Beacon was the site of The Von Mach School, operated by Mary W. (Peirce) von Mach, the wife of Edmund von Mach, of Cambridge. It remained there until about 1916.
By 1917, 488 Beacon was 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.
From about 1921, 488 Beacon had been owned by architect Edward Thomas Patrick Graham, who was the assessed owner from that year and leased the property to the Stones. He lived in Cambridge and maintained his office at 171 Newbury.
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.
By 1929, Edward Graham had also acquired 486 Beacon. He continued to be the owner of both 486 and 488 Beacon until the late 1950s, and possibly later.
488 Beacon was combined with 486 Beacon and the Binghams operated a lodging house at both addresses.
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.
By 1967, 486 and 488 Beacon were owned by the Wesley Foundation of Cambridge.
In July of 1967, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the properties from a fraternity back into a lodging house.
486 and 488 Beacon changed hands, and in August of 1976 were acquired through foreclosure by Nubar J. Dinjian and Karnig S. Dinjian as trustees of the Two-D Realty Trust.
In December of 1977, they transferred the properties to Malcolm McPhail and Dominick Scarfo as trustees of the Dinjian & Dinjian Realty Trust.
In June of 1979, the Dinjian & Dinjian Realty Trust converted 486 and 488 Beacon into 18 condominium units, nine in each building, the 486-488 Beacon Street Condominium.
In September of 1979, the Dinjian & Dinjian Realty Trust filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 486 Beacon from a lodging house into nine apartments (consistent with the condominiums created three months earlier). They presumably filed a similar application for 488 Beacon at the same time (a copy of the application is not included in the Building Department files).
In September of 1985, George Dunsay, a condominium owner, 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.