118 Marlborough was built in 1868 by Ivory Harmon, mason and builder, for Charles William Freeland, one of eleven contiguous houses (110-130 Marlborough) built for speculative sale on a parcel with a 198 foot frontage. Charles Freeland was a merchant, cotton manufacturer, and real estate developer. He and his wife, Sarah Ward (Harrington) Freeland, lived at 117 Beacon.
The eleven houses are arranged in a symmetrical composition, with two houses at each end of the group (110-112 Marlborough and 128-130 Marlborough) on 19 foot wide lots with bays which carry into the mansard roof, two pairs of intermediate houses (114-116 Marlborough and 124-126 Marlborough) on 17 foot 8 inch lots with oriel windows, and a central grouping of three houses (118-120-122 Marlborough), with 118 Marlborough and 122 Marlborough on 17 foot 8 inch lots and 120 Marlborough on a 16 foot lot.
Click here for a composite image of 110-130 Marlborough illustrating the symmetrical composition, assembled from several photographs taken in March of 2013.
The land for 110-130 Marlborough was sold by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at its public auction on April 9, 1863, as six 25 foot lots and two 24 foot lots. Dwight Foster, an attorney, was the successful bidder for five of the 25 foot lots, and Dr. John Cauldwell Foster, a physician, was the successful bidder for the sixth 25 foot lot and the two 24 foot lots. Charles Freeland subsequently acquired their rights to purchase the land and, on March 28, 1868, the Boston Daily Advertiser reported that he had begun construction of the eleven houses. He purchased and took title to the land from the Commonwealth on October 26, 1868, as they were approaching completion.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 118 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 424, from Clarendon to Dartmouth.
In August of 1868, while the houses were under construction, Charles Freeland offered them for sale as a group. An August 10, 1868, advertisement in the Boston Traveller by real estate dealer John Jeffries, Jr., described them as “a block of 11 houses now being erected on Marlborough street. These houses are to be built in the most thorough manner, under the supervision of Mr. Ivory Harmon. They vary in size and price, and are intended to meet the present demand for medium-priced houses in a good locality. The horse cars are to pass within one hundred feet.”
The advertisement continued to run in October of 1868 (and possibly later), but the houses ultimately were sold to individual buyers.
On August 2, 1869, 118 Marlborough was purchased from Charles Freeland by dry goods merchant Edward Crosby Johnson. He and his wife, Alice Trevett (Robbins) Johnson, made it their home. They previously had lived at 24 Pemberton Square. Alice Johnson’s parents, Rev. Chandler Robbins and Mary Eliza Robbins, lived at 114 Marlborough.
On November 17, 1869, Edward Johnson transferred 118 Marlborough to a trust established for his benefit under the will of his father, Samuel Johnson. His older brothers, Samuel and George Johnson, were the trustees.
The Johnsons continued to live there in 1878, but had moved to 123 Marlborough by 1879.
On September 6, 1878, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Edward Johnson’s trust by iron merchant Nelson Slater Bartlett. He and his wife, Isabel Hazard (Bullock) Bartlett, made it their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth.
On November 19, 1879, Nelson Bartlett transferred the property into his wife’s name.
They continued to live at 118 Marlboroughuntil about 1884, when they moved to a newly-built home at 272 Marlborough (they are listed at both 118 and 272 Marlborough in the 1884 Blue Book).
On May 21, 1884, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Isabel Bartlett by Caroline Elizabeth (Curtis) Frothingham, the wife of Rev. Octavius Brooks Frothingham. He was a Unitarian minister, author and biographer, and transcendentalist philosopher.
118 Marlborough was inherited by the Frothinghams’ only child, Elizabeth Bowditch (Frothingham) Brown Parker, the former wife of Henry T. Brown and the wife of William Lincoln Parker. They lived at 339 Marlborough.
By the 1900-1901 winter season, 118 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Adeline Ellen (Reynolds) Parker, widow of Harleston Parker (not closely related to William Lincoln Parker). Their son, architect John Harleston Parker, lived with her. They previously had lived at the Hotel Berkeley (southeast corner of Berkeley and Boylston).
J. Harleston Parker married in September of 1904 to Edith Value Stackpole. After their marriage, they lived at 18 Fairfield.
During the 1905-1906 winter season, Adeline Parker was joined at 118 Marlborough by her unmarried sister, Margaret Wendell Reynolds, who previously had lived in an apartment at 224 Marlborough. She died in February of 1906 and Adeline Parker moved soon thereafter to 5 Exeter.
On March 15, 1906, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Elizabeth (Frothingham) Brown Parker by her daughter-in-law, Grace Adele (Clark) Frothingham, the wife of architect Brooks Frothingham. He was Elizabeth Parker’s son by her first marriage and was known as Brooks Frothingham throughout his life. Brooks and Grace Frothingham previously had lived at 755 Boylston. They also maintained a home in Cohasset.
During the 1912-1913 winter season, the Frothinghams were joined at 118 Marlborough by George Eddy Warren, a coal and oil distributor and shipper, and his wife, Frances Wightman (Knowles) Warren. They previously had lived at 71 Bay State Road. By the 1913-1914 season, they had moved to 143 Beacon.
The Frothinghams continued to live at 118 Marlborough during the 1913-1914 winter season, but then made Cohasset their year-round home.
During the 1914-1915 winter season, 118 Marlborough was the home of stockbroker Nelson Slater Bartlett, Jr., and his wife, Christiana Sargent (Hunnewell) Bartlett. They previously had lived 311 Marlborough (his parents had lived at 118 Marlborough in 1879-1880).
118 Marlborough was not listed in the 1916 Blue Book.
By the 1917-1918 winter season, 118 Marlborough was the home of wool merchant Robert Hooper Stevenson, Jr., and his wife, Alice-Lee (Thomas) Stevenson. They previously had lived at 13 Gloucester. They also maintained a home in Nahant.
The Stevensons initially leased 118 Marlborough. On June 29,.1920, Alice-Lee Stevenson purchased it from Grace Frothingham.
They continued to live at 118 Marlborough in 1928, but moved soon thereafter to 76 Beacon.
On June 12, 1928, 118 Marlborough was purchased from Alice-Lee Stevenson by Anne Faulkner (Manning) Selfridge, the wife of attorney George Shepley Selfridge. They previously had lived in an apartment at Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley.
The house was shown as vacant in the 1936 City Directory.
In December of 1936, the New England Trust Company, trustee under the will of Anne Selfridge, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
On April 14, 1937, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Anne Selfridge’s estate by Annette (McGrath) Mitchell, the widow of Jacob Mitchell, who operated it as a lodging house. She lived briefly at 118 Marlborough but moved to Cambridge by 1940, leasing the house to others.
By 1939, it was the home of Mabel Anna Lena (Elliot) Huson Ward, the widow of Clarence Earl Huson and the former wife of George Washington Ward. She was an airline hostess and also operated 118 Marlborough as a lodging house. She previously had lived in South Weymouth. She continued to live at 118 Marlborough until late 1940, when she moved to 4 Marlborough.
On May 29, 1945, 118 Marlborough was purchased from Annette Mitchell by Dr. John Stephen Scott, a dentist, and his wife, Helen G. (Davis) Scott. They previously had been lodgers at 274 Clarendon and before that at 351 Marlborough.
J. Stephen Scott died in November of 1945. Helen Scott continued to live at 118 Marlborough and accept lodgers until about 1947.
On July 16, 1947, 118 Marlborough was purchased from Helen Scott by Lucy Letitia (Purdy) Gilnor, the widow of Roy Gilnor, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 291 Beacon. She continued to lived at 118 Marlborough and to operate it as a lodging house in 1954, but moved thereafter to 70 Commonwealth.
On June 13, 1955, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Lucy Gilnor by Robert N. Benoit, who operated it as a lodging house. He previously had lived in Salem.
On December 1, 1967, 118 Marlborough was acquired from Robert Benoit by Anthony P. Baker and his wife, Matilda M. Baker. It continued to be a multiple dwelling, either apartments or a lodging house.
In June of 1977, the Volunteer Cooperative Bank foreclosed on its mortgage to the Bakers and took possession of the house.
On August 31, 1977, 118 Marlborough was purchased from the Volunteer Cooperative Bank by John M. Mela and his wife, Wendy Doreen (Vittori) Mela.
On April 28, 1981, 118 Marlborough was purchased from the Melas by Noel G. Posternak, trustee of the 118 Marlborough Street Realty Trust. As part of the sale, in May of 1981, the Melas filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as three apartments, which they indicated was the existing condition.
On May 2, 1994, Noel Posternak and Michael A. Posternak converted the property into three condominium units, the 118 Marlborough Street Condominium.
On June 12, 1996, the Posternaks rescinded the condominium conversion and on June 19, 1996, it was purchased by Ralph R. Willard.
In August of 1996, professor and author Sherry Turkle, the wife of Ralph Willard, filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property from three apartments into a single-family dwelling. They subsequently divorced and he transferred the property to her on December 30, 1997.
It remained assessed as a single-family dwelling in 2016.