Boston Architecture
Home / Back Bay / Beacon Street / 196

196 Beacon Street

196 Beacon Street

196 Beacon Street

196 Beacon Street was built ca. 1863 for George Bruce Upton, Jr., and his wife, Geraldine Ipolite (Russell) Rivers Upton.

George Upton was associated with his father's business, which included ship building and ownership, real estate, and railroad interests.

They continued to live there in 1865, but had moved by 1868 and by 1869 were living with his parents at 79 Beacon.

By 1868, 196 Beacon was the home of Israel Whitney and his wife, Mary Hopkins (Flagg) Whitney. They had lived at 14 Temple Place in 1865.  They also maintained a home in Beverly.

Israel Whitney began his career as a shipmaster and supercargo in the East India trade. He subsequently became a shipping merchant in Boston in partnership with Thaddeus Nichols.  He later became treasurer of the Lowell Manufacturing Corporation (carpet manufacturers), and was a cotton buyer for the New England factories, residing part-time in New Orleans.

Israel Whitney died in November of 1871, and Mary Whitney died in August of 1872.

By 1874, 196 Beacon was the home of Thomas Eugene Graves and his wife, Sarah M. (Thatcher) Graves.  In 1872, they had lived in West Newton.  Sarah Graves is shown as the owner on the 1874 Hopkins map.

Thomas Graves was a lawyer in partnership with his son, Frank H. Graves, who also lived at 196 Beacon.

They continued to live there in 1875, but by 1876 had moved temporarily to 206 Beacon, and by 1880 were living in Killingly, Connecticut.

196 Beacon was not listed in the 1877 Blue Book, and was shown as vacant in the 1878 Blue Book.

As a side note, the Graves's son, Thomas Thatcher Graves, had served in the Union Army as aide-de-camp to General Weitzel and wrote a much-quoted essay on President Lincoln's entry into the defeated city of Richmond.  He was a physician and, in the 1890s, was accused and convicted of murdering a former patient by giving her a bottle of whisky laced with arsenic while she was on vacation in Denver.  The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial, but he committed suicide in prison before the new trial was held.

By 1879, 196 Beacon was the home of Andrew Varick Stout Anthony and his wife, Mary Aurelia (Walker) Warner Anthony.  They had lived at 100 Mount Vernon Street in 1878.

Andrew V. S. Anthony was a noted illustrator and wood engraver.  From 1866 to 1889, he supervised the fine arts editions published by Ticknor and Fields and its successors, Fields, Osgood and Co., and James R. Osgood and Company.  At the time of the 1880 US Census, publisher James R. Osgood was living at 196 Beacon as a boarder with the Anthonys.

The Anthonys continued to live there in 1882, and probably until about the time of the marriage of their daughter, Helen, to Dr. Henry Phelps Perkins, Jr., in October of 1883.  Henry and Helen Perkins's son, James Osgood Ripley Perkins, became a noted actor on Broadway and in silent movies, and his son, Anthony Perkins, was featured in numerous films, including Alfred Hitchcock's Pyscho (1960).

196 Beacon was not listed in the 1884 Blue Book.

By 1885, 196 Beacon was the home of investment banker George Cabot Lee and his wife, Caroline Watts (Haskell) Lee.  In 1884, they had lived at 168 Beacon.  They also maintained a home in Chestnut Hill.

196 Beacon was not listed in the 1888 Blue Book.

By 1889, it was the home of Mrs. Abigal S. (Gay) Kimball, the widow of carriage maker Theodore T. Kimball.  She continued to live there until soon before her death, in July of 1889.

By 1892, it was the home of retired shoe manufacturer James Means and his wife, Helen Goodell (Farnsworth) Means.  They had lived at 287 Marlborough Street in 1890.  Helen G. Means is shown as the owner of 196 Beacon on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.

Their sons, James Howard Means and Philip Ainsworth Means, lived with them.  James Howard Means was married in January of 1915 to Marian Jeffries, and they moved to her family home at 15 Chestnut.  He was a physician and medical researcher, and later became chief of medical services at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Philip Means became a noted archeologist and historian, specializing in ancient South American civilizations.

James, Helen, and Philip Means continued to live at 196 Beacon in 1920.

By 1922, it was the home of Dr. William Frederick Boos and his wife, Margaret Theresa (Eskridge) Boos.  Margaret Boos is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.

William Boos was a biological chemist and physician specializing in internal medicine, and maintained his medical office at 196 Beacon.  He was a noted toxicologist and provided expert testimony in criminal cases.

In September of 1922, Margaret T. Boos applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a two car garage at the rear of the property.

In 1933, the house suffered minor damage from a fire in a fifth floor closet.

William and Margaret Boos continued to live there until about 1935.

The house was shown as vacant in the 1936 City Directory.

By 1936, 196 Beacon was owned by the Franklin Savings Bank.  In January of 1936, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to significantly remodel the house into six apartments, including removing the front bay and brownstone facade and replacing it with a simple brick facade.  Franklin Savings Bank is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.

The property subsequently changed hands, and in June of 1949 was acquired by  Dorothy F. Armington.  In November of  1952, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remove the rear wall of the existing garage, increasing its capacity from two to four cars.

Dorothy Armington continued to own the property for the rest of her life.  In August of 1989, the Estate of Dorothy Armington applied for permission to increase the number of units from six to nine.  The application subsequently was abandoned.

In October of 1991, 196 Beacon was acquired from the Armington Estate by the Brantum Corporation.

In July of 1998, Brantum Corporation filed for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units to five, reflecting prior remodeling and consolidation of two apartments.

The property subsequently changed in April of 1999 was acquired by Riverside Beacon LLC. 

In August of 1999, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to renovate the building and convert it into four units.  As part of the renovation it restored the front elevation to a more appropriate architectural style, reversing the "modernization" undertaken in 1936 by applying stucco tooled to resemble brownstone, replacing the entrance steps, resigning the windows, and adding a belt course below the top floor windows to (in the words of the Back Bay Architectural Commission) "provide a transitional acknowledgment of the cornice lines of the adjacent properties and to offset the sheerness of the elevation."

In December of 1999, Riverside Beacon LLC converted the property into four condominiums.  In June of 2000, two of the units were consolidated and the number was reduced from four to three.



Privacy Policy | Creative Commons | Contact Us