5 Exeter was built ca. 1870 for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., for speculative sale, one of four contiguous houses (1-3-5 Exeter and 299 Beacon) which form a single unit between Beacon Street and Public Alley 417.
George Wheatland, Jr., purchased the land for 1-3-5 Exeter and 299 Beacon on February 2, 1870, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The original parcel had an 80 foot frontage on Beacon. He built the four houses on the eastern 61 feet of the parcel, with 299 Beacon about 40 feet wide and 1-3-5 Exeter about 40 feet deep, leaving an open yard area of about 21 feet to the west. When he sold the houses, he included a permanent easement across the rear of 1-3-5 Exeter to provide for passage and drainage to the alley.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 5 Exeter, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Beacon and Alley 417, from Exeter to Fairfield.
On April 18, 1870, 5 Exeter was purchased from George Wheatland, Jr., by George Silsbee Hale. He and his wife Ellen (Sever) Tebbets Hale, made it their home They previously had lived at 94 Chestnut. They also maintained a home at Schooner Head on Mount Desert Island (Bar Harbor).
George Hale was an attorney and, for several years, was editor of the Boston Law Reporter and the United States Digest. He also served as president of the Boston Common Council.
Living with the Hales was John Sever Tebbets, Ellen Hale’s son by her first marriage to Rev. Theodore Tebbets. After graduating from Harvard in 1880, he was a clerk with the Boston and Albany Railroad. He continued to live with them until about 1885, when he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he was a freight agent for the Union Pacific Railroad.
George Hale died in July of 1897. Ellen Hale continued to live at 5 Exeter with their adult sons, Robert Sever Hale, an electrical engineer, and Richard Walden Hale, a lawyer.
On June 12, 1899, Ellen Hale transferred 5 Exeter to her son, Richard, as trustee for his own benefit and the benefit of his brother, Robert. At about the same time, they all moved to 203 Bay State Road.
In November of 1899, 5 Exeter was offered for sale or lease, the advertisements in the Boston Evening Transcript noting that the house was “especially suited a physician” and “would be altered and enlarged to suit a desirable tenant.”
5 Exeter was not listed in the 1900 Blue Book.
By the 1900-1901 winter season, it was the home of Miss Ellen V. Smith. She continued to live there in 1903, but had moved to The Abbotsford at 184 Commonwealth by the 1903-1904 season.
By the 1903-1904 winter season, 5 Exeter was the home of banker Pierre Jay and his wife Louisa Channing (Carlow) Jay. They previously had lived in New York City. Pierre Jay was a banker and served as the first Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks. They continued to live at 5 Exeter during the 1905-1906 season, but moved thereafter to Hyde Park/Milton
Ellen (Sever) Hale died in May of 1904, and on February 7, 1907, Richard Hale transferred 5 Exeter from the trust she had established to himself and his brother, Robert. They continued to lease the house to others.
By the 1906-1907 winter season, 5 Exeter was the home of Adeline Ellen (Reynolds) Parker, widow of Harleston Parker. She previously had lived at 118 Marlborough. She continued to live at 5 Exeter until her death in September of 1910.
By the 1910-1911 winter season, 5 Exeter was the home of Charles Stewart and his wife, Elizabeth Poultney (Pleasants) Stewart. They previously had lived in Dedham. He was manager of the Boston office of Cunard White Star steamship lines. They continued to live at 5 Exeter during the 1916-1917 season, but moved thereafter to 4 Louisburg Square.
5 Exeter was not listed in the 1918 and 1919 Blue Books.
During the 1919-1920 winter season, 5 Exeter was the home of textile manufacturer Robert Shurtleff Wallace and his wife, Florence (Lyman) Wallace. They previously had lived at 299 Marlborough. By the 1920-1921 season, they had moved to 101 Chestnut.
5 Exeter was not listed in the 1921 Blue Book.
By the 1921-1922 winter season, it was the home of Henry Swift and his wife, Josephine (Raulet) Swift. They previously had lived at 5 West Hill Place. He was a building demolition contractor. They continued to live at 5 Exeter during the 1922-1923 season, but moved thereafter.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, 5 Exeter was the home of Mrs. Catherine (Gardner) Boyer and her daughter, Esther Gardner Boyer. Mrs. Boyer (and probably her daughter) previously had lived at 7 Exeter.
Mrs. Boyer was the former wife of Francis Buckner Boyer, an automobile dealer. They were divorced in June of 1922 and in 1923 she and her daughter changed their surnames to Gardner. In 1920, before the divorce, the Boyers had lived at 22 Evans Way in the Fenway.
On May 31, 1923, Catherine Gardner Boyer purchased 5 Exeter from Robert Hale and Richard Hale.
Catherine and Esther Gardner continued to live at 5 Exeter in 1928. Esther Gardner married in the winter of 1928 to Arnold Jones, a stockbroker, and was living in Providence by 1930. Catherine Gardner had moved to Ojai, California by 1930, and remarried in 1932 to William Mayer Mayes.
On December 15, 1928, 5 Exeter was purchased from Catherine Gardner Boyer by Mrs. Vesta (Stewart) Brigham and Mrs. Grace R. Stevens. They previously had lived in Barnstable.
Vesta Brigham was the estranged wife of Robert Otis Brigham, a milk contractor, with whom she was living at 101 Chestnut during the 1927-1928 season. Grace Stevens was the former wife of Tyler Abbott Stevens, a real estate dealer in Lowell.
In December of 1928, Grace Stevens filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior. The house remained a single-family dwelling.
On May 28, 1930, 5 Exeter was acquired from Vesta Brigham and Grace Stevens by Benjamin Davis Crowninshield, a salesman. He and his wife, Elizabeth (Taylor) Crowninshield, made it their home. They previously had lived in an apartment at 250 Beacon.
Benjamin Davis Crowninshield was the son of Dr. Lincoln Davis and his wife, Katharine Bradlee (Crowninshield) Davis, having been born Benjamin Crowninshield Davis. In about 1927 (about a year after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor), he changed his name to use his mother’s maiden name as his surname.
Benjamin and Elizabeth Crowninshield divorced in about 1940, and on May 28, 1940, B. Davis Crowninshield transferred 5 Exeter to his former wife.
Elizabeth (Taylor) Crowninshield continued to live at 5 Exeter. In 1944, she was joined by her widowed father, William Osgood Taylor. He had lived at 187 Beacon until the death of his wife, Mary (Moseley) Taylor, in May of 1944. He also maintained a home in Marion.
William O. Taylor was publisher of the Boston Globe. He had succeeded his father, Charles Henry Taylor, who had published it from 1873 (one year after its founding) until his death in 1921. William Taylor remained the publisher until his death in 1955, after which he was succeeded by his son, William Davis Taylor.
Elizabeth Crowninshield married again, in May of 1951, to Sewall Henry Fessenden, Jr. After their marriage, they lived in Sherborn. William Taylor made Marion his primary residence.
On March 6, 1953, 5 Exeter was purchased from Elizabeth (Taylor) Crowninshield Fessenden by Mrs. Mary Gilbert (Cool) Castle, the former wife of Clifford Dewitt Castle, Jr. She previously had lived in Concord. In April of 1953, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the house from a single-family dwelling into a two-family dwelling. She continued to live there until about 1956.
On July 5, 1956, 5 Exeter was purchased from Mary Castle by John J. Carlson and his wife, Marie A. Carlson. They previously had lived in Newton.
On September 16, 1957, 5 Exeter was acquired by the National Realty Company, Inc., and on the same day it was acquired from it by James Findley Newcomb, an organist, and his wife, Louise A. (Schmidt) Newcomb. They previously had lived in an apartment at 265 Commonwealth and, before that, in Connecticut. They continued to live at 5 Exeter until about 1959. They may subsequently have moved to 233 Marlborough; by 1962 were living at 285 Clarendon.
On December 30, 1959, 5 Exeter was purchased from the Newcombs by Dr. Kenneth M. Graham, a physician, and Raymond R. D’Aquanno, owner of a travel service. Raymond D’Aquanno died in April of 1978, while living at 5 Exeter.
On January 30, 1984, 5 Exeter was acquired from Kenneth Graham by Walter M. Pile, Jr., and his wife, Elizabeth M. Pile.
On June 19, 1991, the property was purchased from the Piles by Bruce R. Coburn, trustee of the Zork Realty Trust.
On August 26, 1996, it was purchased from Bruce Coburn by John M. Nelson and his wife, Alexandra Burling Harvey.
The property continued to be assessed as a two-family dwelling in 2021.