7-9 Massachusetts Avenue / 504 Beacon is located on the NW corner of Beacon and Massachusetts Avenue, with 490-492 Beacon to the east, across Massachusetts Avenue, 506 Beacon to the west, and 491 Beacon to the south, across Beacon.
7-9 Massachusetts Avenue (502 Beacon) and 504 Beacon were built separately but functioned as a single building from the time they were constructed.
Both buildings were designed by architect Obed F. Smith and built by Charles A. Dodge, mason, for Gamaliel Bradford. 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue was built in 1888-1889, and 504 Beacon was built five years later, in 1894, as an annex to the original building. Gamaliel Bradford is shown as the owner of 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue on the original building permit application, dated June 1, 1888, and the final building inspection report, dated July 27, 1889. and on the original building permit application for 504 Beacon, dated August 9, 1894 (the building inspection report for 504 Beacon has not been located).
Gamaliel Bradford purchased the land for 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue on March 30, 1888, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation. He purchased the land for 504 Beacon on March 1, 1889, from Edmund D. Barbour, who had purchased it on June 2, 1887, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 7-9 Massachusetts/504 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
7-9 Massachusetts Avenue was built as a thirteen unit apartment house (two units per floor plus one in the basement for servants and janitors). The Massachusetts Avenue façade is arranged symmetrically, with two entrances in the middle, presumably one for the apartments on the north side (7 Massachusetts Avenue) and the other for the apartments on the south side (9 Massachusetts Avenue).
Gamaliel Bradford named the building The Austerfield (or Hotel Austerfield) in honor of the birthplace of his ancestor, William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth Colony.
The Austerfield was the first building built on the north side of Beacon between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East. Consistent with the restrictions contained in the deed of land from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation, the southern façade was set back twenty feet from Beacon. The building extended north the full length of the block to Back Street. Although the entrances were on Massachusetts Avenue, the address in the City Directories was 502 Beacon.
On May 26, 1889, the Boston Globe reported on the nearly-completed building. “It has three conspicuous fronts, on the Chester park side a line of 155 feet and upon Beacon street 35 feet. It is built of brick with heavy trimmings of Longmeadow stone, with two swell fronts the entire length of the building, and a series of 20 heavily ornamented bay windows on the West Chester park side, of copper. Each floor has two apartments of eight rooms to a suite, with bathrooms attached, the servants’ and janitors quarters being in the basement. It will be fireproof throughout, heated by steam, lighted by incandescent light, provided with two elevators run by hydraulic pressure, and will be completed July 1.”
On February 24, 1890, after 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue was completed, Gamaliel Bradford entered into an agreement with the other owners of land on the block limiting (until January 1, 1905) the depth of any new buildings to 90 feet from the north line of Beacon (with bays and other projections limited to extending another 5 feet), and limiting the height of stables and other ancillary buildings further north to no more than 12 feet in height.
Gamaliel Bradford lived at The Austerfield from the time it was completed and also maintained a home in Wellesley Hills. He was a widower, his wife, Clara Crowninshield (Kinsman) Bradford, having died in June of 1866, and his unmarried sister, Sarah Hickling Bradford, lived with him.
A former banker, he had retired in 1868 to devote himself to civic and political affairs. Prior to the Civil War, he had been an ardent abolitionist, and after the war he took up the cause of municipal reform. He also was a founder of the Boston Anti-Imperialist League, formed to oppose United States annexation of the Philippines.
504 Beacon was built in 1894 as an addition to the original building, with an entrance on Beacon. An August 19, 1894, article in the Boston Evening Transcript announcing the expansion of the original building, reported that the “large addition … will be six stories, built of brick and brownstone, and will cost about $25,000. The annex will front on Beacon street and will be twenty-four feet wide, with a clear depth of seventy-five feet. Each floor will have suites of three rooms, which can, if necessary, be added to the front suites of the main hotel building”
After 1894, the address of The Austerfield usually was shown as 502 Beacon in the Blue Books and as 9 Massachusetts Avenue in the City Directories.
Gamaliel Bradford died in August of 1911 from injuries suffered when he was hit by an electric trolly car in Wellesley. In his will, he left all of his property to his son, Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., his only child. Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., was a biographer, poet, critic, and dramatist; he and his wife, Helen Hubbard (Ford) Bradford, lived in Wellesley Hills.
Sarah Bradford continued to live at The Austerfield during the 1912-1913 winter season, but moved thereafter.
On October 25, 1911, 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue and 504 Beacon were acquired by John Davis Long. The sale was reported by the Boston Globe on October 28, 1911, which described it as “one of the most modern apartment houses in the Back Bay… a large, six-story and basement swell front brick structure containing 12 apartments with every modern improvement, each having a view of the Charles River.”
John Long was an attorney and served as a state legislator, Lt. Governor, and — from 1880 to 1882 — as Governor of Massachusetts. From 1883 to 1888, he was a Member of Congress, and from 1897 to 1902 he was US Secretary of the Navy. He and his wife, Agnes (Peirce) Long, lived in Hingham.
On May 31, 1914, 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue and 504 Beacon were acquired by real estate investor Gordon Dexter. He and his wife (and first cousin) Annie Linzee (Amory) Dexter, lived at 55 Beacon and in Prides Crossing.
In January of 1932, the Charlestown Five Cents Savings Bank foreclosed on a mortgage it held on 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue and 504 Beacon and took possession of the property.
In March of 1932, the property was acquired from the bank by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson.
In March of 1936, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to consolidate 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue and 504 Beacon as a single property and to convert the combined building into 32 apartments and offices. The remodeling was under the direction of realtor Harold L. Niles, whose firm – Niles Management Company – subsequently managed and later owned the building. Plans for the remodeling, designed by architect Hyman Felderman, are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston City Archives (reference BIN P-134).
From about this time, the property was known as 504 Beacon.
In April of 1936, the property was acquired back by the Charlestown Five Cents Savings Bank.
On August 2, 1936, the Boston Globe described the remodeling of 504 Beacon, to be called the Riverview Apartments, in some detail. “Perhaps the largest undertaking of its kind to date, this property is being completely remodeled into ultra-modern one- two- and three-room apartments. … Working in conjunction with the Edison Company, the builders are installing the latest all-electric equipment in the roomy kitchens which are a feature of all the apartments. The one-room apartments will have a good-sized reception hall, large closets, and in many suites a dinette, dressing room and wood-burning fireplace in addition to the good-sized living rooms and kitchens. The two room apartments will consist of a spacious living room with fireplace, a large bedroom, an all-electric kitchen, a small separate dining room, a luxurious tile bath and shower, a good-sized foyer, ample well-planned closet and shelf space. … A roof garden is planned to top the building which will furnish the residents with a commanding view of the entire River Basin and the attractive new Esplanade development.”
In September of 1940, 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue/504 Beacon was acquired from the Charlestown Penny Savings Bank by Eva Matthews, and in April of 1941, it was acquired from her by Niles Management, Inc.
In June of 1957, the property was acquired by Michael Bencion Moskow individually and as trustee for the benefit of his brother, Jeremy I. Moskow, and their sister, Marina (Moskow) Kaufman, the wife of Robert Kaufman, individually and as trustee for the benefit of their sister, Wendy Moskow, all as partners doing business as Charles Riverside Co.
In May of 1971, Michael Moscow acquired interests of Marina Kaufman and thereafter held the property in his own name.
In June of 2012, Michael Moskow transferred 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue/504 Beacon to the Five Hundred Four Beacon LLC. The LLC was managed by Moskow Holdings Inc, of which Michael Moskow was the manager of record.
7-9 Massachusetts Avenue/504 Beacon remained an apartment building in 2018.