106 Beacon was designed by architect Gridley J. F. Bryant and built ca. 1856. It was originally numbered 103 Beacon, but re-numbered as 106 Beacon ca. 1862 when homes were built on the south side of the street.
104 Beacon is one of seven contiguous houses (104-106-108-110-112-114-116) built ca. 1856 in the same design, all in brownstone with French Academic details, ridge roofs, and a common cornice line (the copper-clad oriels at 106, 108, and 110 Beacon were added in the mid-1880s). 104-106 Beacon, 108-110 Beacon, and 112-114 Beacon are each symmetrical pairs.
Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay does not attribute 104-116 Beacon to a specific architect. However, the October 1859 edition of the Architect’s and Mechanic’s Journal, commenting on the houses built on the first block of Beacon in the Back Bay, indicates that they were “from the designs of Mr. G. J. F. Bryant, architect.”
106 Beacon was built as the home of George Middleton Barnard, a shipping merchant, and his wife, Susan Livingston (Tilden) Barnard. They previously had lived in Lynn.
George Barnard purchased the land for 106 Beacon on June 28, 1855, from the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation. On March 5, 1866, he transferred the property into his wife’s name.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 106 Beacon, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Beacon, including the Storrow Memorial Embankment on the Esplanade.
Susan Barnard’s mother, Hannah Rowe (Inman) Tilden, the widow of William Tilden, lived with them until her death in April of 1866. Susan Barnard’s brother-in-law and sister, John Templeman Coolidge and Louisa Riché (Tilden) Coolidge, lived next door, at 108 Beacon.
The Barnards’ five children also lived with them at 106 Beacon: George Middleton Barnard, Jr., Sarah Livingston Barnard, Joseph Tilden Barnard, Joseph Lovering Barnard, and Charles Inman Barnard.
In March of 1858, soon after the Barnards had moved to 106 Beacon, Sarah Livingston Barnard died from burns suffered when her clothes caught fire while she was standing in front of an open fireplace. The reports of the accident in the Boston Herald indicated was “awaiting the company of a young gentleman to escort her to the Charity Fair, at the Music Hall,” where she was meeting her mother and friends.
George M. Barnard, Jr., served in Civil War, mustered out in September of 1864 and brevetted a Colonel for his service at the battles of Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. He subsequently joined his father’s shipping firm and lived at 106 Beacon until his marriage in December of 1865 to Ellen Hooper Russell. After their marriage, they lived at 83 Marlborough.
Joseph Tilden Barnard also was associated with his father’s firm. In the early 1860s he traveled to China and, while there, was a witness to a mass execution of Chinese political prisoners. He ransomed a small boy, Ah Cum, and brought him back to Boston, where he lived with the Barnards. He was baptized at the Charles Street Baptist Church and took the name Joseph Ah-Cum. He died in December of 1871 while still living at 106 Beacon, and the story of his life received widespread attention in the press. Joseph T. Barnard married in April of 1870 to Mary Winchester Cunningham. After their marriage, they moved to Pepin, Wisconsin, where he was a farmer. Mary Cunningham died in February of 1871, and he and their infant daughter, Mary Winchester Barnard, returned to Boston to live with his parents at 106 Beacon. He was a note broker. In about 1883, he invested in the Glass Veneer Company and in early 1884 moved to New York City to manage its offices there. He died in May of 1884.
Joseph Lovering Barnard died in December of 1867. He was unmarried.
Charles Inman Barnard graduated from Harvard Law School in 1874. In 1875, he was appointed military secretary to the chief of staff of the Khedive of Egypt, He married in July of 1879, in Cairo, to Anna Maria Louise Santruchek. He subsequently served in various positions in Egypt, and then became a foreign correspondent, first for the New York Herald and then for the New York Tribune. He and his wife lived in France; she died in November of 1906 in Paris and he died in May of 1942 in Nice.
George Middleton Barnard, Sr., died in March of 1891. Susan Barnard continued to live at 106 Beacon during the 1891-1892 winter season, but then moved to an apartment at 199 Marlborough with her granddaughter, Mary Winchester Barnard. They continued to live there during the 1896-1897 season, after which they moved to 389 Beacon.
106 Beacon was not listed in the 1893 Blue Book.
On June 25, 1892, 106 Beacon was purchased from Susan Barnard by Hannah Adams (Gardner) Pfaff, the wife of brewer Jacob Pfaff. They previously had lived at 405 Boylston.
On July 23, 1915, 106 Beacon was purchased from Jacob and Hannah Pfaff’s son, Charles Pfaff, by artist and antiquarian John Templeman Coolidge, III. He and his wife, Mary Abigail (Parsons) Coolidge, made it their home. They previously had lived at 114 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Newcastle (Portsmouth), New Hampshire. On May 10, 1916, he transferred 106 Beacon into both his and his wife’s names.
Susan (Tilden) Barnard, who had lived at 106 Beacon until about 1892, was J. Templeman Coolidge’s great-aunt (he was the grandson of John Templeman Coolidge and Louise Riché (Tilden) Coolidge who had lived at 108 Beacon).
In July of 1928, J. Templeman Coolidge applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remove the two dormers in the front of the house, replace them with three small dormers, and reconstruct the interior of the top floor to make three rooms out of two.
J, Templeman Coolidge died in November of 1945. Mary Abigail Coolidge continued to live at 106 Beacon in 1947, but moved soon thereafter.
On August 6, 1948, 106 Beacon was acquired from Mary Abigail Coolidge by Edward Richardson Mitton, president of Jordan Marsh department stores. He and his wife, Marie Frances (Taff) Mitton, lived in Brookline.
It appears that 106 Beacon was operated as a lodging house in conjunction with 104 Beacon. 106 Beacon is vacant in the 1949-1959 City Directories. The Lists of Residents for the period do not include 106 Beacon but do indicate a large number of residents at 104 Beacon.
On June 6, 1962, 106 Beacon was acquired from Edward Mitton by Fisher College. On the same day, it also acquired 102 and 104 Beacon. Fisher College also owned 108-118 Beacon.
In October of 1963, Fisher College applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 106 Beacon into a dormitory.