492 Beacon is located on the NE corner of Beacon and Massachusetts Avenue, with 488 Beacon to the east, 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue to the west, across Mass. Ave., and 483 Beacon to the south, across Beacon.
492 Beacon was designed by Walker and Kimball, architects, and built in 1891 as the Mt. Vernon Congregational Church. It was destroyed by fire on July 20, 1978.
In June of 1979, architect Graham Gund purchased the church building and the former rectory at 490 Beacon from the Mount Vernon Church.
In January of 1981, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine 490-492 Beacon into one property with fifty residential units contained in a combination of the renovated original buildings and new structures.
In March of 1981, Graham Gund transferred 490-492 Beacon to Peter E. Madsen, trustee of the 490-492 Beacon Street Trust. In March of 1982, it filed a new application to consolidate the properties and convert them into forty-three residential units.
In January of 1984, Peter Madsen transferred the property to School-House Condominiums, Inc., and in February of 1984, School-House Condominiums, Inc., converted 490-492 Beacon into forty-three condominium units, the Church Court Condominium.
The property was described in the Condominium Master Deed as being composed of two L-shaped structures around a central garden courtyard. One L-shaped structure consisting of the original church tower, containing a single unit of six floors plus an observatory, and two of the original church walls, each of which contained a single three-bedroom townhouse unit of three floors. The second L-shaped structure, which included 490 Beacon, contained the elevator. 490 Beacon consisted of seven floors and contained six floor-through units on floors one and three through seven. The remaining portion of the structure consisted of seven floors and contained 34 units.
490 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 1894-1895 winter season, 490 Beacon was the home of Walter Raymond and his wife, Hattie (Lewis) Raymond. In 1893, they had lived in Cambridge. He is shown as the owner of 490 Beacon on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps.
Walter Raymond was a travel agent (excursion contractor). In 1886, he built the Raymond Hotel in South Pasadena, California, the first major resort hotel in the San Gabriel Valley. In burned to the ground in 1895, and a new hotel was built in 1901.
The Raymonds were living elsewhere during the 1896-1897 winter season, and 490 Beacon was the home of George Oliver Wales, a widower, and the Misses Wales, presumably his daughters Mary Helen Wales and Louise Frances Wales. George Oliver Wales was an iron merchant whose principal residence was in Braintree. He remarried in December of 1896 to Lucy Cary Morse and they made Braintree their home.
By the 1897-1898 winter season, the Raymonds had resumed living at 490 Beacon. They continued to live there in 1900, but moved soon thereafter, probably to live permanently at the Raymond Hotel in Pasadena.
During the 1900-1901 winter season, 490 Beacon was the Boston home banker David J. Lord and his wife, Martha Ellen (Chase) Lord. They also maintained a home in Lynn. They had moved to 236 Commonwealth by 1902.
By the 1901-1902 winter season, 490 Beacon was the home of Mary W. (Caffrey) Clapp, the widow of metals dealer Eugene H. Clapp. In 1900, she had lived at the Hotel Somerset. Her step-children, Eugene and Sarah Clapp, and her daughter, Mary A. Clapp, lived with her.
They continued to live at 490 Beacon until about 1909, but had moved back to the Hotel Somerset by 1910.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, 490 Beacon was the home of shoe manufacturer Joseph N. Smith and his wife, Sarah (Fuller) Smith. They previously had lived in Lynn. He is shown as the owner of 490 Beacon on the 1912 Bromley map.
Joseph Smith died in December of 1912. Sarah Smith continued to live at 490 Beacon during the 1917-1918 winter season, but moved thereafter. Joseph N. Smith’s Heirs are shown as the owners on the 1917 Bromley map and were the assessed owners through 1922.
In January of 1918, the estate of Joseph N. Smith applied for (and subsequently received) permission to repair damage from a fire in the furnace room which occurred on January 27, 1918.
490 Beacon was not listed in the 1919 Blue Book.
By the 1919-1920 winter season, it was the home of Josiah Robinson Harding, a retired cotton manufacturer, and his wife, Jessie Campbell (Ware) Harding. They continued to live there during the 1920-1921 season, but moved thereafter.
By 1921, 490 Beacon was the site of the Normandy Club. It continued to be located there in 1923.
In June of 1923, 490 Beacon had been acquired by the Mount Vernon Congregational Church, located next door at 492 Beacon. Known as Herrick House, it served as the Parish House for the Mt. Vernon Church and also as lodgings for male students at various local colleges and universities.
490 Beacon remained the church parish house in July of 1978, when the church was largely destroyed by fire. 490 Beacon was vacated and, although it was not damaged in the fire, it was subsequently vandalized. In June of 1979, architect Graham Gund purchased 490 and 492 Beacon from the Mount Vernon Church, and in January of 1981 he combined the two properties.