515 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 515 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 March 31, 1888, 515 Beacon was purchased from N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar Stillings by wholesale liquor merchant Isaac H. Meserve. He and his wife, Clara Adella (Morse) Meserve, made it their home. Their daughter, Alice Louise Meserve, lived with them. They previously had lived at 27 Marcella.
Alice Meserve married in May of 1901 to Walter Poland Rankin, a leather manufacturer. After their marriage, they lived at 296 Ashmont in Dorchester.
Isaac and Clara Meserve continued to live at 515 Beacon until their deaths: Clara Meserve in April of 1919 and Isaac Meserve in August of 1920.
On March 24, 1922, 515 Beacon was purchased from Isaac Meserve’s estate by Annie Jane (Trimble) Varney, the widow of John R. Varney. Earlier that month, she had acquired 513 Beacon. She converted both buildings into lodging houses. She lived at 482 Beacon, where she also operated a lodging house.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, 515 Beacon was the home of Earl Vincent Small, a salesman for a music company, and his wife, Marion M. (Jordan) Small, who operated it as a lodging house. They continued to live there during the 1924-1925 winter season, but moved thereafter. By 1929, they were living in Burlingame, California, and he was sales manager of the Kohler & Chase piano company.
On January 9, 1926, Joseph Y. Schooner, who held a mortgage given by Annie Varney on 513 and 515 Beacon, foreclosed and sold both houses to Helen Christina (Lamos) Toner, the widow of Charles Henry Toner. She was a real estate agent and lived in Dorchester.
On September 29, 1927, the Brookline Savings Bank foreclosed the mortgages given by Helen Toner when she purchased 513 and 515 Beacon and sold both houses to Joseph Y Schooner. He was a note broker and dealer in mirrors. He and his wife, Carrie (Raphael) Schooner, lived in Brookline. He died in June of 1931 and the property continued to be owned by his estate.
During the 1927-1928 winter season, Annie Varney, who previously had owned 515 Beacon, was living there and operating it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 221 Newbury. She moved soon thereafter to 390 Marlborough (also owned by James Schooner).
By 1929, 515 Beacon was the home of Miss Katherine M. Brown, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 82 Bay State Road.
On December 21, 1937, the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank foreclosed on its mortgages to Joseph Schooner and took possession of 513 and 515 Beacon.
On February 23, 1961, 515 Beacon was purchased from Katherine Brown by the Massachusetts Delta Alumni Corporation of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The MIT chapter (Delta Chapter) of Sigma Phi Epsilon was located at 518 Beacon, and it acquired 515 Beacon as a second residence hall.
In September of 2016, 515 Beacon was leased from Sigma Phi Epsilon by the MIT chapter of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority.
515 Beacon remained the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority in 2018.