I suppose this one will be tough, or actually impossible, to crack by looking at Russian in isolation — there is no way to know what writers at what point had which meaning in mind, short of going back in time and asking them all.
However, it should be feasible to take a detour via other languages. Obviously, someone, somewhere, in some language, was the first one to translate (or back then, rather mistranslate) Красная Площадь as Red and not Beautiful. Others then followed suit, or even copied him directly, gradually establishing it in everybody's minds.
Consequently, my question is: who was that someone somewhere? Who did it first? When did it stop raising objections as a mistranslation and became established and unexceptionable?