508 Beacon was designed by Shaw and Hunnewell, architects, and built by Hezekiah McLaughlin, mason, in 1890-1891 for Thomas Nelson. He is shown as the owner on the final building inspection report, dated October 1, 1891.
Thomas and Annie (Bigelow) Nelson had lived at 128 Marlborough during the 1890-1891 winter season, and she had died there in March of 1891 giving birth to their daughter, Anne Victoire Adelaide Nelson. Thomas Nelson and his infant daughter had moved to 508 Beacon by the 1891-1892 winter season. He is shown as the owner of 508 Beacon on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps.
A former real estate dealer, Thomas Nelson was treasurer of the Boston and Montana, Tamarack, and other mining companies.
Thomas Nelson died in November of 1897. After his death, 508 Beacon became the home of his niece, Margaret H. Nelson, the daughter of his brother, Rev. Henry W. Nelson. She cared for Anne Nelson.
They continued to live at 508 Beacon during the 1899-1900 winter season, but traveled abroad thereafter. By 1904. they were living in an apartment at 330 Dartmouth, and by the 1909-1910 winter season were living at 272 Marlborough.
By the 1899-1900 winter season, 508 Beacon was the home of Charles Chapin Wheelwright and his wife, Laura Snow (Tower) Wheelwright. He is shown as the owner of 508 Beacon on the 1908 and 1912 Bromley maps, and Laura Wheelwright is shown as the owner on the 1917 and 1928 maps. They also maintained a home in Cohasset, which previously had been their year-round residence.
Charles Wheelwright was treasurer of the The Proprietors of Rowe’s Wharf Corporation.
The Wheelwrights’ son, Josiah Wheelwright, lived with them. He was owner and manager of the Atlantic Electric Company, manufacturers of electric motors. He married in October of 1926 to Lois Nelson; after their marriage, they moved to an apartment at 512 Beacon.
By 1909, Charles Wheelwright had acquired the vacant lot at 510 Beacon (Solomon Lincoln was the assessed owner in 1908 Bromley map, and Charles Wheelwright was the assessed owner from 1909). In late 1924, he sold the lot to Maryland Apartments, Inc., which also purchased the house at 512 Beacon, the home of Sarah Frances (Gray) Silsbee, the widow of George Saltonstall Silsbee, and the double vacant lot at 514-516 Beacon, owned by Mrs. Silsbee. The transactions were reported by the Boston Globe on December 31, 1924. 512 Beacon subsequently was razed and the Maryland Apartments at 512 Beacon were built on the combined lots.
Laura Wheelwright died in May of 1936. Charles Wheelwright continued to live at 508 Beacon and in Cohasset until his death in 1954. He is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
By 1955, 508 Beacon was owned by real estate dealer Thomas J. Diab. In May of 1955, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property from a single-family home into eight apartments. In July of 1955, he amended the permit to remove the front apartment on the basement level and replace it with an office. Plans for the remodeling, designed by architect Leon L. Furr, are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference BIN R-169).
Although not mentioned on the permit application, it appears that the penthouse floor was added at this time, referred to on the plans as the “upper third floor.”
The property subsequently changed hands and in January of 1995 was acquired by Anna N. P. Shine, trustee of the 508 Beacon Street Trust. In October of 1994. prior to acquiring the property, she filed for permission to convert the property from eight apartments into a dormitory for 32 students, with one apartment for the caretaker. The application was denied and her appeal was dismissed by the Board of Appeal on May 9, 1995.
In January of 1999, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into three apartments, noting that this was the existing condition and no work was required.
In July of 1999, Anna N. P. Shine transferred the property into her own name.
In December of 2004, she filled for permission to increase the number of apartments from three to nine. She subsequently modified the application to reduce the proposed number of units to six. The application was denied and her appeal was dismissed by the Board of Appeal on August 8, 2006.
508 Beacon remained assessed as a three-family dwelling in 2014.