Monday, April 14, 2014

172 Beacon Street, Boston

My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Adsit) (Pyle) Rust, lived in an apartment on Beacon Street in Boston for several decades before she died in 1983. (See her death notice here.)

I wasn't sure exactly when Libby and Pop (my step-grandfather, Edgar Rust) moved from their house in Chestnut Hill to Boston, so I explored the City Directories at The 1954 and 1955 Boston City Directories don't have alphabetical listings that get to Rust (their images may be of volume 1 and not volume 2), but they do have the street listing that includes Beacon Street, which is more fun because in one place, a researcher can see who else is living in the same building.

The 1954 Directory shows that the apartment at the 8th floor was not occupied:

1954 Boston City Directory
p. 1506: 172 Beacon Street

In 1955, Edgar Rust is now residing in the apartment on the 8th floor:

1955 Boston City Directory
p. 1406: 172 Beacon Street
So it looks like they moved in 1954. They had previously lived at 22 Reservoir Road in Chestnut Hill, where they were enumerated with many errors in the 1940 U.S. Census.)

172 Beacon (2013),
courtesy of
I was prompted to write this post after reading a recent post at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's blog, Vita Brevis, called A Genealogical Jigsaw Puzzle, which mentions a website called Back Bay Houses. This is a great and well-organized website that has information about the "genealogical history" of homes in Boston's Back Bay. I could click on Beacon Street at the top of the page, and scroll down to the numbers between Berkeley and Clarendon to find number 172. Visit Back Bay Houses/172 Beacon for more information about the history of this lot and the building that was on the site before this one was built in 1928.

Libby lived on the 8th floor of 172 Beacon Street (the floor with the railings outside some of the windows) and we visited her apartment a few times a year, usually at Thanksgiving, Easter, and one day during our December school vacation. (She came to our house in Dedham on Christmas Day.)

Just looking at this picture of the front of 172 Beacon Street reminds me of going to visit Libby and going up the old fashioned elevator (with a doorman to work the sliding metal cage-style door) which opened directly into her front hall.

According to Back Bay Houses, the building was converted into condominiums in 1977, so she went from renting the 8th floor to owning it.


  1. Hi Elizabeth. I love city directories and Google Earth for these types of purposes... and how wonderful to have found that photo that brings back so many memories for you!

    1. I can find all kinds of fun information in these more recent Boston City Directories and this website all about Back Bay houses is a lot of fun if you're familiar with the city or have ancestors who lived there.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    2. Yes, I was born in Dorchester, so my family is very familiar with Boston (me, not as much, since we moved from New England when I was only 3).