18 Exeter was designed by Snell and Gregerson, architects, and built in 1886 by Webster, Dixon & Co., builders, as the home of attorney William Sohier Dexter, a widower. He previously had lived at 57 Marlborough.
William Dexter is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated January 16, 1886, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 16, 1886.
18 Exeter was built on part of a larger lot running from Marlborough to the alley that William Dexter purchased on October 20, 1885, from Henry Lee Higginson and Alexander Agassiz, who had purchased it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on February 25, 1873.
The original lot had a frontage of 54 feet on Marlborough and 112 feet on Exeter. 194 Marlborough, to the east, had been built in 1881 by N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar Stillings, and on February 10, 1886, they sold William Dexter a six inch strip of land with the western half of the party wall on it so that the wall could be used for the house to be built at 16 Exeter (196 Marlborough). William Dexter combined the strip with his lot and sold the northern portion, with a frontage of 66 feet on Exeter and 54 feet 6 inches on Marlborough, to Edwin Bradbury, who built his home at 16 Exeter (196 Marlborough). William Dexter built his home at 18 Exeter on the southern portion, with a frontage of 46 feet on Exeter.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 18 Exeter, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 425, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
William Dexter’s four children lived with him: Elsie Dexter; George Ticknor Dexter, a real estate and mortgage broker; Philip Dexter, a lawyer; and Rose Linzee Dexter.
Elsie Dexter died in September of 1905.
William Dexter died in September of 1908. After his death, George Dexter moved to 66 Beacon. Rose Linzee Dexter continued to live at 18 Exeter during the 1908-1909 winter season, but moved soon thereafter to 250 Beacon.
On February 24, 1909, 18 Exeter was purchased from George, Philip, and Rose Dexter by a trust established under the will of John Chester Inches, a cotton broker, who had died in September of 1901. It became the home of his widow, Henrietta Clementine (Bright) Inches, and their daughter, Natica Inches. They previously had lived at 441 Beacon.
Henrietta Inches traveled abroad, returning in June of 1914, after which she lived in an apartment at The Abbotsford at 186 Commonwealth.
During the 1913-1914 winter season, 18 Exeter was the home of Joseph Hall Cotton and his wife, Jane Vashti (Eaton) Cotton. They previously had lived in Brookline. Joseph Cotton was treasurer of the American Tube Company, manufacturers of brass tubing. By the 1914-1915 season, they had moved to 21 Commonwealth.
During the 1915-1916 winter season, 18 Exeter was the home of Laura Kate (Colman) Liggett Hill, widow of Hiram Shaw Liggett of the St. Louis tobacco manufacturing firm of Liggett and Myers, and of former Maine Governor John Fremont Hill. Her daughter, Katherine Langdon Hill, lived with her. They had lived at 166 Marlborough during the previous season, and by the 1916-1917 season were living at 284 Beacon.
By the 1916-1917 winter season, 18 Exeter was the home of attorney Charles Francis Choate, Jr., and his wife, Louise (Burnett) Choate. They previously had lived at 30 West Cedar. They also maintained a home in Southborough. They continued to live at 18 Exeter during the 1917-1918 season, but moved thereafter, probably to their home in Southborough, where they were living in January of 1920 at the time of the US Census.
During the 1918-1919 winter season, 18 Exeter was once again the home of Henrietta Inches, who moved there just for the season, and then moved back to her apartment at 186 Commonwealth.
On July 28, 1919, 18 Exeter was purchased from the Henrietta Inches’s trust by Mary Mitchell (Ryerson) Frost, the wife of Donald McKay Frost. They previously had lived at 111 Beacon. They Frosts also maintained a home in Dover, Massachusetts.
Donald McKay Frost was an attorney. He was a noted antiquarian and book collector specializing in the history and settlement of western America.
The Frosts continued to live at 18 Exeter until about 1937, after which they made their home in Dover.
By 1941, 18 Exeter was the home of Francis Douglas Cochrane and his wife Ramelle (Frost) Cochrane, Donald McKay Frost’s sister. They had lived at 257 Commonwealth in 1940.
F. Douglas Cochrane was a banker and was a founder of the New England Oil Refining Company.
On October 16, 1947, 18 Exeter was purchased from the estate of Mary Ryerson Frost (who had died in April of 1941) by real estate dealer Thomas J. Diab.
On December 4, 1947, 18 Exeter was acquired from Thomas Diab by Michael (Max) Lilly, a partner in the Lilly Construction Company with his father, Harry Lilly, and brother, David Lilly. Michael Lilly and his wife, Goldie Gertrude (Karess) Lilly, lived at 215 Newbury.
That same month, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into ten apartments.
On August 31, 1949, Michael Lilly transferred 18 Exeter to the Exeter Realty Company, of which he was the treasurer, and on September 26, 1958, Exeter Realty transferred the property to Michael Lilly’s brother, David Lilly.
On November 3, 1958, 18 Exeter was acquired by real estate dealer Edward Swartz’s Copley Realty Corp.. He lived in Belmont and maintained his office at 177 Newbury. In the early 1960s, he moved to one of the apartments at 18 Exeter.
On June 28, 1965, Copley Realty transferred 18 Exeter into Edward Swartz’s name. He continued to live there until his death in May of 1972. The property continued to be owned by a trust established under his will.
On April 11, 2007, 18 Exeter was purchased from Edward Swartz’s estate by the 18 Exeter LLC (Alessandro Rollo and his wife, Marta Bergamaschi).
In November of 2009, Marta Bergamaschi filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from ten apartments into a single-family dwelling.