12 Marlborough is located on the south side of Marlborough, between Arlington and Berkeley, with 10 Marlborough to the east and 14 Marlborough to the west.
12 Marlborough was built ca. 1863 as the home of Samuel Torrey Morse and his wife, Harriet Jackson (Lee) Morse. They previously had lived at 30 Chauncy.
Samuel Morse was a shipping merchant in the firm of Gray and Morse.
12 Marlborough was owned by a trust established for the benefit of Harriet Morse at the time of their marriage in December of 1848. The land for 12 Marlborough was purchased from William Thomas on December 29, 1862, by George Higginson and Henry Lee, Jr., the trustees for Harriet Morse. It was part of a larger parcel of land, with an 84 foot frontage, that William Thomas had purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 2, 1860.
William Thomas retained a lot with a 33.5 foot frontage to the east, where he built his home at 10 Marlborough, and sold a lot with a 25.5 foot frontage to Harriet Morse’s trustees, where they had 12 Marlborough built. Because both parties were “desirous of securing the rear of their respective lots from obstructions to light and air,” they entered into an agreement that, for a period of twenty years, neither would build any structure more than eight feet high in the rear of the lots at any point further than 75 feet south from Marlborough (thereby creating a rear yard setback of 37 feet from the alley). The restriction also applied to the remainder of William Thomas’s original parcel, a 25 foot lot to the west. When he sold it to on March 31, 1863, to Charles U. Cotting (an 18 foot lot) and Samuel F. Dalton (a 7 foot lot), all four owners of the property entered into a new agreement, retaining the 75 foot limit on the depth of the structures at 10 and 12 Marlborough, but allowing a depth of 82 feet on the lots further west. The new agreement also expired after twenty years.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 12 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 422, from Arlington to Berkeley.
In 1866, the Morses were joined at 12 Marlborough by Henry Kenney Horton, a wholesale dry goods merchant, and his wife, Helen Maria (Barnes) Horton. They previously had lived at 2 Pemberton Square, and by 1867 had moved to 13 Arlington.
During the 1879-1880 winter season, they were living elsewhere and 12 Marlborough was the home of W. R. Dupee, probably wool dealer William Richardson Dupee and his wife, Jeannie Ursula (Dupee) Dupee. Their primary residence was in Chestnut Hill. By mid-June of 1880, when the 1880 US Census was taken, the Morses were once again living at 12 Marlborough.
Samuel Morse died in November of 1890. Upon his death, all of the property held by the trust established at the time of their marriage became transferable to Harriet Morse. She opted, however, to have the trust retain the property.
Harriet Morse continued to live at 12 Marlborough and also maintained a home in Beverly Farms. On July 11, 1910, the barn in Beverly burned and the house was damaged. Mrs. Morse, who was an invalid by that time, was carried out of the house by the firemen.
By 1910, and probably before, Mrs. Morse had been joined at 12 Marlborough by her unmarried daughter, Frances Rollins Morse, and by Miss Margaret E. Allen.
Harriet Morse died in June of 1911.
On February 17, 1912, Harriet Morse’s trustees transferred 12 Marlborough to Frances Morse as trustee for herself and her two siblings, Dr. Henry Lee Morse, who lived at 112 Marlborough, and Mary Lee (Morse) Elliot, wife of John Wheelock Elliot, who lived at 124 Beacon. Two days later, Henry Lee Morse and Mary Elliot transferred the property to Frances Morse.
Miss Morse and Miss Allen continued to live at 12 Marlborough.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, they were joined by Frances Morse’s second cousin, Miss Marian Cabot Jackson, and Miss Jackson’s niece, Miss Amy Folsom. They both previously lived at 88 Marlborough. Amy Folsom died in 1925, and by the 1925-1926 winter season, Marian Jackson had moved to 462 Beacon to live with her brother and sister-in-law, Charles and Frances (Appleton) Jackson.
Frances Morse died in September of 1928. Margaret Allen continued to live at 12 Marlborough in 1929, but moved to Brookline thereafter.
The house was not listed in the 1930 Blue Book.
On January 6, 1930, the estate of Frances Morse transferred 12 Marlborough to her nephew, John Morse Elliot. On the same day, he sold the property to real estate dealer Henry C. Brookings.
On June 10, 1930, 12 Marlborough was acquired from Henry C. Brookings by dry goods merchant and textile manufacturer William Whitman, Jr. He and his wife, Ruth H. (Loring) Whitman, made it their home. They previously had lived at 17 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Simsbury, Connecticut.
In July of 1930, the Whitmans applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the house, including replacing the rear bay window with a new, two-story bay extending across the rear, supported by an extension of the party wall with 14 Marlborough. The remodeling was designed by architect Charles Greely Loring, Ruth (Loring) Whitman’s brother.
On November 18, 1930, William Whitman transferred the property into Ruth Whitman’s name.
In about 1935, Charles Loring and his wife, Katharine Alice (Page) Loring, joined the Whitmans at 12 Marlborough. The Lorings had lived at 8 Otis Place in 1934. They continued to live at 12 Marlborough with the Whitmans until about 1939, but had moved to Concord by 1940.
William and Ruth Whitman continued to live at 12 Marlborough until his death In 1958.
On June 26, 1958, 12 Marlborough was purchased from Ruth Whitman by the Joseph Vincent Realty Corp. In February of 1959, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 12 Marlborough from a single-family dwelling into eight apartments.
On September 2, 1959, 12 Marlborough was acquired from the Joseph Vincent Realty Corp. by Alfred B. Wason, Jr., of Medfield.
On June 5, 1962, 12 Marlborough was acquired from Alfred Wason, Jr., by Winifred Lawton, Marion (Bowditch) Steeves, and Mildred M. Baird. On the same day, they transferred the property to Winifred Lawton and Mildred M. Baird as trustees of the Lawlee Realty Trust.
Winifred Lawton also owned 14 Marlborough, where she operated a lodging house. Mildred Baird and Marion Steeves also owned 2 Marlborough, and Mildred Baird and Louise Day Hicks owned 4 Marlborough; Mildred Baird operated lodging houses at both 2 and 4 Marlborough.
On March 14, 1979, 12 Marlborough was purchased from Winifred Lawton and Mildred M. Baird by Gabor Garai, trustee of the 12 Marlborough Street Trust. That same month, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from eight apartments into three apartments.
On May 29, 1979, he converted the apartments into three condominium units, the 12 Marlborough Street Condominium.