124 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 124 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 September 30, 1870, 124 Marlborough was purchased from Charles Freeland by ship builder and banker Harrison Otis Briggs. He and his wife, Hannah Elizabeth (Stetson) Briggs, made it their home. They previously lived at the Clarendon House hotel.
The Briggses’ four children lived with them: Ella Stetson Briggs, Lizzie Florence Briggs, Frank Harrison Briggs, and Harrison Otis Briggs, Jr.
Ella Briggs married in February of 1871 to George Andrew Thayer. After their marriage, they lived at 72 Montgomery. He was manager of the Union Wharf Warehouses.
Harrison Briggs, Jr., died in November of 1872.
Lizzie Florence Briggs married in June of 1880 to Andrew Gerrish Webster of 334 Beacon. He was a leather and morocco dealer. After their marriage, they lived briefly with her parents at 124 Marlborough, then at the Hotel Huntington (Huntington and Blagden Streets), and by the 1883-1884 winter season at 306 Beacon.
Hannah Briggs died in November of 1881, and Harrison Briggs died ten days later, in December of 1881. Frank Briggs moved soon thereafter to the Hotel Berkeley (southeast corner of Berkeley and Boylston).
On September 28, 1882, 124 Marlborough was purchased from Harrison Briggs’s heirs by Henry Austin Whitney. He was a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer, banker, and president of the Boston & Providence Railroad. He and his wife, Mary Frances (Fanny) (Lawrence) Whitney, lived at 54 Boylston and in Milton.
Henry Austin Whitney purchased 124 Marlborough for his son, Joseph Cutler Whitney and future daughter-in-law, Georgiana Hayward. They married in November of 1882 and made it their home. He was a wool merchant and later would become a real estate investor and trustee.
Mary Frances Whitney died in January of 1883 and in 1887 Henry Austin Whitney moved to a new home he had built at 261 Marlborough. He died in February of 1889 and 124 Marlborough was inherited by his five living children.
On May 24, 1889, Joseph Whitney acquired his four siblings’ interests in 124 Marlborough.
Joseph and Georgiana Whitney continued to live at 124 Marlborough during the 1891-1892 winter season, but moved thereafter to 232 Marlborough.
On September 12, 1892, 124 Marlborough was purchased from Joseph Whitney by dry goods merchant Edward Crosby Johnson. He lived at 123 Marlborough. He was a widower, his wife, Alice Trevett (Robbins) Johnson, having died in April of 1891.
Edward C. Johnson purchased 124 Marlborough to be the home of his son-in-law and daughter, Curtis Guild, Jr., and Charlotte Howe (Johnson) Guild. They had married in June of 1892. Prior to their marriage, he had lived with his parents, Curtis and Sarah Crocker (Cobb) Guild, at 26 Mt. Vernon, and she had lived with her father at 123 Marlborough.
Curtis Guild, Jr. was a partner in The Commercial Bulletin, founded by his father, and in 1902 became sole owner and editor. In 1903, he was elected Lt. Governor, and in 1905 he was elected Governor, serving until 1909. In 1908, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Vice President.
The Guilds continued to live at 124 Marlborough in 1911. In that year, he was appointed Ambassador to Russia, and during the 1911-1912 winter season, 124 Marlborough was the home of Dana Malone and his wife, Margaret Bradford (Robbins) Malone. They had lived at 245 Beacon during the 1909-1910 season, but their primary residence was in Greenfield. Dana Malone was an attorney. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate, and from 1906 to 1910 was Massachusetts Attorney General. They moved from 124 Marlborough by the 1912-1913 season, and by the 1914-1915 season were living at 103 Beacon.
During the 1912-1913 winter season, 124 Marlborough was the home of stockbroker and banker Joshua Bennett Holden, Jr., and his wife Mabel (Bonsal) Holden. They previously had lived at the Hotel Canterbury at 14 Charlesgate West. They had moved to 337 Commonwealth by the 1913-1914 season.
The Guilds returned from Russia following the election of Woodrow Wilson and had resumed living at 124 Marlborough by the 1913-1914 season.
Curtis Guild died in April of 1915.
Charlotte Guild continued to live at 124 Marlborough. She also maintained a home in Nahant.
In May of 1916, her father, Edward C. Johnson (who continued to live at 123 Marlborough), applied for (and subsequently received) permission to extend the second floor library eight feet over the yard in the rear of the building.
On August 28, 1918, Edward Johnson transferred 124 Marlborough to Charlotte Guild.
She continued to live at 124 Marlborough until the early 1930s. She spent the 1933-1934 winter season at the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth, and moved thereafter to 144 Marlborough.
On April 2, 1934, 124 Marlborough was purchased from Charlotte Guild by Alpheus Haskins. He was an interior decorator with offices at 350 Commonwealth.
On May 14, 1934, 124 Marlborough was acquired from Alpheus Haskins by Charles F. W. Cunningham. He lived at 124 Marlborough and converted it into a multiple dwelling.
In May of 1939, Charles Cunningham was cited by the Building Department for converting the property into a “tenement” without a permit. In July of 1939, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
The lodging house probably was operated by Madge Evans, who moved to 124 Marlborough in about 1938. She previously had lived in Medfield.
On April 23, 1947, 124 Marlborough was acquired from Walter L. Sweeney, conservator of the property of Charles F. W. Cunningham, by Hedy Adley (Hedwig Adler), the former wife of Walter Joseph. She lived in one of the units at 124 Marlborough. She previously had lived at 543 Boylston.
On June 30, 1952, 124 Marlborough was acquired from Hedy Adley by Edward Lyon.
The property subsequently changed hands, remaining a multiple dwelling (either a lodging house or apartments), and on July 11, 1963, 124 Marlborough was acquired by Walter T. Donovan and his wife, Denise Powers Donovan. They lived in one of the units.
On September 3, 1964, they transferred the property into Denise Powers Donovan’s name. The Donovans separated at about this time.
September 28, 1964, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to change the legal occupancy to a lodging house and three apartments. She subsequently operated the property as the One-Twenty-Four Marlborough Apartments.
In January of 1965, she acquired 126 Marlborough, which she probably operated as a lodging house. She sold the property in June of 1967.
On February 27, 1968, 124 Marlborough was acquired from Denise Powers Donovan by Carol Morse. In March of 1968, she applied for permission to make minor repairs, indicating that the property was occupied as a lodging house.
On October 3, 1973, the New England Merchants National Bank foreclosed on Carol Morse’s mortgage to Denise Powers Donovan (which had been assigned to the bank) and sold 124 Marlborough to Michael J. Callahan and his wife, Frances Madeline (Little) Callahan.
In November of 1974, Michael and Frances Callahan filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into nine apartments, noting that “this has been nine apartments and assessed as such for many years. Current owner purchased above described building a month ago, assuming occupancy of nine apartments to be legal.”
On July 10, 1998, 124 Marlborough was purchased from the Callahans by the 124 Marlborough LLC (Jerome R. Dangel, manager of record).
124 Marlborough remained an apartment house in 2021.