The year was 1852, and Boston was beginning the transformation that would make her the most European of American cities. Aristocratic old families were choosing to build new homes of elegance and sophistication where once tidal flats had dominated. Back Bay and the "Flat of the Hill," created by removing the peaks of Beacon Hill, were daring new ventures that would soon become enclaves of wealth and power. From Colonial brick row houses to Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian townhouses, the homes of Beacon Hill have been carefully preserved by each succeeding generation.
Among the elite who now claimed a Beacon Street address was Emily Taylor Parker, the first of many socially prominent Bostonians who would call 89 Beacon home. She was the daughter of influential shipping magnate Daniel Parker, a noted philanthropist and trustee of institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Athenaeum.
Her new residence, designed by Fox Standish architects, reflected the transitional nature of the times. Hints of Greek Revival restraint remained in the entrance frame and lightly pedimented windows, but the heavier ornamentation and elaborate dormers foreshadowed the Italianate and French influenced styles of future popularity. Brownstone had replaced granite as the foundation, but the upper levels remained brick. Perhaps most noticeable, Miss Parker's home featured the curved bowfront that has become synonymous with the quintessential Boston townhouse. Designed to let in more natural light and make rooms appear larger, the curved expanse of windows also offered better views.
In fact, the fortunate Miss Parker watched the Boston Public Garden take shape from those bow windows. She witnessed the creation of the lake in 1859 and the establishment of plantings that would become an iconic urban landscape. Years later, when Mrs. George Putnam moved into 89 Beacon in 1926, she could look across the street to Daniel Chester French's beautiful "Angel of the Waters" fountain honoring philanthropist George Robert White. Just two years old at the time, it was already becoming one of the Public Garden's most cherished monuments.
From the beginning, 89 Beacon has been an address of distinction. Its incomparable view of the Boston Public Garden, unmatched location, and gracious rooms have created a residence and supported a lifestyle that have over the years continued to represent what it means to experience Boston living at its finest.