511 Beacon is one of ten contiguous houses (511-529 Beacon) designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1887 for Chadwick & Stillings (N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar L. Stillings), a hat block and flange company that became a significant house building firm in the 1880s and 1890s. They are shown as the owners and builders on the original permit applications, all dated March 14, 1887. The next year, Chadwick & Stillings built one more house, also designed by Samuel Kelley, at 531 Beacon.
The ten houses at 511-529 Beacon are of a similar pattern, all with entrances on the east side and cylindrical bays on the west. The houses furthest east and west in the group (511 and 529 Beacon) have brick bays which extend to the third story, with two windows above the bay on the fourth story. The next two houses from either end (513 and 527 Beacon) have rusticated stone bays which are cylindrical for the first two stories and angled on the third story, with single arched window above surrounded by decorative stonework with a triangular top. The next two houses from either end (515 and 525 Beacon) have brick cylindrical bays to the third story, with three windows above surrounded by decorative stonework with a fan shape at the top. The four houses in the center of the grouping (517-519-521-523 Beacon) are variations on the same themes.
N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar Stillings purchased the land for 511-531 Beacon on June 1, 1887, from a real estate investment trust formed by Francis W. Palfrey, Francis A. Osborn, and Grenville T. W. Braman. It was part of a parcel of land the trust had purchased on June 1, 1880, from the Boston Water Power Company.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 511 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land west of Massachusetts Avenue between the south side of Beacon and the north side of Commonwealth.
On October 8, 1880, 511 Beacon was purchased from N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar Stillings by Mary Gertrude (Dana) Mason, the widow of Herbert Cowpland Mason. Their three children – Mabel Gertrude Mason, Philip Dana Mason, and Julia Appleton Mason – lived with her.
Philip Mason, a publisher, married in January of 1905 to Mary Emma Winthrop. After their marriage, they lived at Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley and then in Chestnut Hill.
In January of 1905, Mary Mason and her two daughters traveled to California and 511 Beacon became the home of wholesale wool merchant Matthew Luce, Jr., and his wife, Mary Cobb (Hovey) Luce, for the remainder of the winter season. During the previous season they had lived at 61 Marlborough with his mother, Elizabeth (Tucker) Luce, the widow of Matthew Luce. Their primary residence was in Cohasset.
In October of 1909, Mabel Mason married to Peyton Jaudon Van Rensselaer, After their marriage, they lived in Stockbridge.
Mary Mason and Julia A. Mason continued to live at 511 Beacon during the 1908-1909 winter season, but moved thereafter to Brookline.
On August 17, 1909, 511 Beacon was purchased from Mary Mason by Beatrice S. (Morrison) Woods, the wife of Bernard J. Woods. They previously had lived at 1077 Boylston. By the 1920s, they also maintained a home in Beverly Farms.
When they married, Bernard and Beatrice Woods were instructors in physical education and gymnastics. Their marriage was announced in an October 12, 1906, Boston Globe article which featured both of their photographs and described them as “occupying positions of high favor among Back Bay people of this city and of the north shore summer colony for their success in training young people in gymnastics and athletics.” The article also commented on the gifts received by the couple, noting “Of all the presents, three were particularly well received, for three of Mr. Woods’ pupils, who are young students of sloyd work, patiently labored and made for him two tables of mission type and a wooden casket for cigars and cigarettes, on the top of which is carved a rabbit, suggestive of Mr. Woods’ pet name, ‘Bunnie,’ by which he is best known to his ‘chicks.’”
Bernard Woods continued to be a physical culture instructor until about 1917, when he entered the real estate business.
In about 1925, the Woods began operating 511 Beacon as a lodging house, with their lodgers primarily being nurses.
Beatrice Woods died in March of 1962. Bernard Woods moved soon thereafter to Brookline, where he died in 1964.
In June of 1962, Solomon Kolodny, president of Ansko Realty (presumably representing the estate of Beatrice Woods), filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 511 Beacon from a lodging house into ten apartments.
On July 20, 1962, 511 Beacon was purchased from Beatrice Woods’s estate by Louis Silverman. In September of 1962, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to amend the permit to increase the number of units to 13 by adding three units in the basement.
On April 25, 1963, 511 Beacon was purchased from Louis Silverman by Paul N. Petritis and his wife, Phyllis Lee (Fawcett) Petritis, as trustees of the Paul-Pet Realty Trust. They lived in Norwood.
On September 1, 1964, 511 Beacon was acquired from Paul and Phyllis Petritis by Murray Goldshine and Carl A. Gordon, trustees of the Esmond Realty Trust.
On December 31, 1965, 511 Beacon was acquired from Murray Goldshine and Carl Gordon by Robert Waldman and David E. Dick, trustees of the Vayismeer Realty Trust. On January 29, 1968, they transferred the property to themselves as general partners of Colonial Realty Investment Co. Colonial Realty Investment went into bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.
On December 2, 1983, 511 Beacon was acquired from the trustees in bankruptcy for the Colonial Realty Investment Co. by New England Realty Associates LP (New Real Inc., Inc., general partner; Ronald Brown, president, and Harold Brown, treasurer).
On September 3, 1985, 511 Beacon was purchased from New England Realty Associates by Catherine Pinkham, trustee of the 511 Beacon Street Trust.
On October 3, 1985, she converted the property into 13 condominium units, the 511 Beacon Street Condominium.