199 Marlborough Dartmouth is located on the NE corner of Marlborough and Exeter, with 197 Marlborough to the east, 11 Exeter to the west, across Exeter. 295-297 Beacon to the north, across Alley 418, and 16 Exeter (196 Marlborough) to the south, across Marlborough.
199 Marlborough (10-12 Exeter), a six-unit apartment building, was designed by architect Ernest N. Boyden and built in 1890 by David L. Rand, mason, for real estate dealer Seth Russell Baker.
Seth Baker purchased the land for 199 Marlborough on April 24, 1890, from paper manufacturer and former attorney Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr., part of a larger parcel Samuel Warren purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on June 25, 1888. Samuel Warren and his wife, Mabel (Bayard) Warren, lived at 174 Marlborough.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 199 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 418, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
Seth Baker is shown as the owner of 199 Marlborough on the original building permit application, dated June 11, 1890. He sold the property on October 20, 1890, to real estate dealer Nathan C. Bedell of Providence. It probably was still under construction and Seth Baker continued to be shown as the owner on the final building inspection report, dated December 20, 1890 (bound with the building inspection report, located in the Boston City Archives, is a water-damaged floor plan for the second floor).
In September of 1890, while the building was under construction, real estate dealer Henry Wilson Savage advertised the apartments for lease in the Boston Globe, noting that each apartment included “11 rooms, besides bath and storage room …4 open fireplaces, 5 bay windows; sun all day long; delightful views, passenger elevator, hydraulic lift, electric lights, open plumbing, tiled bathrooms, large reception hall, hot water supplied from hotel boiler; every room is outside.” The advertisement indicated that the tenants could “select wall paper and decorations by applying at once; rent $1400 [per year] and upward…”.
By the 1890-1891 winter season, several residents had made 199 Marlborough their home. Among them were Henry Wilson Savage and his wife, Alice Louise (Batcheller) Savage, and her parents, Edwin Hill Batcheller and Elizabeth Hannah (Moore) Batcheller. Henry and Alice Savage had married in October of 1889 and their first child, John B. Savage, was born in April of 1891 at 199 Marlborough. Soon thereafter, the Savages and Batchellers moved to Marshfield. In 1894, Henry Savage and Rollin H. Allen built the Castle Square Theatre and adjoining Castle Square Hotel (later called the Arlington Hotel) at the junction of Tremont and Chandler Streets. Thereafter, he became a theatrical and opera manager, producing a number of operas performed in English (including the first production of Wagner’s Parsifal in English).
On January 1, 1892, 199 Marlborough was purchased from Nathan Bedell by Arthur Malbon Little, treasurer of the E. Howard Watch and Clock Company and later an investment broker. He lived in an apartment at 330 Dartmouth.
In its February 9, 1892, report on the sale, the Boston Evening Transcript commented that ”the first floor contains three physicians’ offices and the six floors above each contains a suite of ten rooms with bath, servants’ and trunk rooms.”
Arthur Little married in November of 1892 to Mary Hayward Neale, and on March 15, 1897, he transferred 199 Marlborough to her. She died in September of 1898. He remarried in October of 1908 to Margaret Martha Watson.
On January 3, 1924, 199 Marlborough was acquired from Arthur M. Little by Abbott Lawrence Lowell. At the time, it was composed of seven apartments.
A. Lawrence Lowell was an attorney and President of Harvard. He and his wife, Anna Parker (Lowell) Lowell, lived in Cambridge. She died in March of 1930 and he retired in 1933. He then moved to 171 Marlborough, where he and his wife had lived prior to his becoming president of Harvard.
A. Lawrence Lowell died January of 1943, and on December 14, 1945, 199 Marlborough was acquired from his heirs by real estate dealer Frederick E. Ordway.
The property changed hands and on October 14, 1949, was acquired by John (Giacomo) Mescia and his wife, Adeline (Moccia) Mescia. They lived in Newton. On February 9, 1951, they transferred the property to Adeline Mescia as trustee of the Mescia Realty Trust. In June of 1954, John Mescia applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 199 Marlborough as eight apartments and a doctor’s office.
The property again changed hands and, on July 26, 1957, was acquired by the Amelung Realty Company, Inc. (Elisabeth A. Amelung, president). In July of 1958, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a dormitory and one apartment, apparently for use by students of Boston University’s Sargent College.
On September 22, 1958, the Building Department received a complaint from the parent of one of the students occupying the dormitory, expressing his concern about over-crowding and the lack of adequate egress. On September 29, 1958, the Building Department held a conference with Elisabeth Amelung, at which time it became clear that the dormitory did not meet code requirements.
On June 20, 1960, 199 Marlborough was acquired from Amelung Realty by Boston University, which continued to operate it as a women’s dormitory, having made all the necessary fire safety and egress improvements required by the Building Department.
On August 15, 1966, 199 Marlborough was acquired from Boston University by Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College. It continued to operate the property as a dormitory.
In the mid-1970s, Chamberlayne went bankrupt and on June 25, 1975, it transferred 199 Marlborough to Bernard P. Rome of Newton, trustee in bankruptcy.
On December 15, 1976, 199 Marlborough was purchased from Bernard Rome by the Back Bay Restorations Company, Limited Partnership (Zena Nemetz, president, treasurer, and general partner). At the same time, it also purchased Chamberlayne’s properties at 238 Marlborough, 148 Commonwealth, 278–280–282 Commonwealth, and 298 Commonwealth). In November of 1976, it had acquired 274 Commonwealth and 276 Commonwealth, which also previously had been owned by Chamberlayne.
In conjunction with the purchase, Back Bay Restorations entered into an agreement with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to operate the buildings as rental properties in exchange for being allowed to make yearly payments to the city in lieu of paying property tax on the properties.
In October of 1979, Back Bay Restorations applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 199 Marlborough from a dormitory and one apartment into eighteen apartments.
On February 3, 1984, Back Bay Restorations converted 274-276-278-280-282 Commonwealth into condominiums, and on September 24, 1984, it converted 148 Commonwealth, 298 Commonwealth, 199 Marlborough, and 238 Marlborough into condominiums.
199 Marlborough was converted into eighteen condominium units, the 199 Marlborough Condominium.
In March of 1985, the BRA brought legal action for violation of the 1976 agreement, and in July of 1985, Back Bay Restorations signed a consent decree agreeing to keep most of the units as rental apartments for three years and to provide relocation costs to tenants previously forced to move out.
On February 24, 1992, the St. Paul Federal Bank for Savings foreclosed on its mortgage to Back Bay Restorations and sold all of the condominium units at 199 Marlborough, 238 Marlborough, 148 Commonwealth, and 298 Commonwealth to Managed Properties, Inc., of Chicago.
On June 29, 1992, Patricia M. Bailey, trustee of the PBH Realty Trust, purchased the condominium units at 199 Marlborough and the other three properties from Managed Properties, Inc. She subsequently sold the units to individual buyers.
The Marlborough Street horse car line had small cars painted pale blue and pea green, affectionately known by residents as the “blue jays” or the “little blue cars.” The horse cars began at Massachusetts Avenue, with one line running east to Dartmouth and then south on Dartmouth to Boylston, and the other running east to Arlington, then north to Beacon and east on Beacon to Charles Street.
In 1889, the Board of Aldermen granted the West End Railway the right to use electric street cars (“electrics”) wherever they had horse car lines in Boston, including the Marlborough Street line. In 1891, they began to wire Marlborough Street and the residents objected. After a hearing by the Board of Aldermen, the company agreed not to install the electric system without giving notice of their intention. In 1894, the residents expressed concern that wiring work being done on Clarendon and Dartmouth indicated that the company planned to convert the line to electricity, and petitioned the Board to prevent such a change. After hearings, in November of 1894, the Board adopted an order prohibiting the company from converting their lines to electricity on Marlborough and on Clarendon and Dartmouth north of Boylston.
After several more years of controversy, on December 20, 1900, the Railroad Commission authorized discontinuation of the Marlborough Street line and removal of the tracks. According to a December 21, 1900, Boston Globe article, they were the last horse cars in Boston, all others having been replaced by electric street cars by the mid-1890s. William Bancroft, president of the Boston Elevated Railway (successor to the West End Railway) advised the Boston Herald on December 28, 1900, that the horse cars “were taken off Marlboro street the forenoon of the 24th, at 10:45 o’clock.”
On May 11, 1901, the Boston Globe reported that work had begun to remove the horse car tracks from Marlborough, “thus blotting out the last reminder of the jog-a-long trips of the white horses and blue cars of the last of Boston’s horse railroad lines.”