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, immediately to the west, 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.
Chadwick & Stillings are shown as the owners of 511 Beacon on the 1888 Bromley map.
511 Beacon was purchased from Chadwick & Stillings in October of 1888 by Mary Gertrude (Dana) Mason, the widow of Herbert Cowpland Mason. She is shown as the owner on the 1895. 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps.
She continued to live there during the 1908-1909 winter season, but moved thereafter to Brookline.
In August of 1909, 511 Beacon was purchased from Mary Mason by Bernard J. Woods and his wife, Mary S. (Morrison) Woods. They previously had lived at 1077 Boylston. Mary Woods is shown as the owner on the 1912, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps. 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.
By mid-1962, 511 Beacon was owned (or managed) by Ansko Realty. In June of 1962, Solomon Kolodny, president of Ansko Realty, filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 511 Beacon from a lodging house into ten apartments. In September of 1962, the permit was amended to increase the number of units to 13 by adding three units in the basement.
The property subsequently changed hands, and in December of 1983 was acquired by New England Realty Associates from the bankruptcy trustees of the Colonial Realty Investment Company.
In September of 1985, Catherine Pinkham, trustee of the 511 Beacon Street Trust, purchased 511 Beacon from New England Realty Associates. In October of 1985, she converted the building into 13 condominium units, the 711 Beacon Street Condominium.