234 Marlborough was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1880 by Edward Chapin, mason, for building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated September 21, 1880.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 234 Marlborough.
234 Marlborough was one of nine contiguous houses (230-232-234-236-238-240-242-244-246 Marlborough) built in the same design and with similar architectural details, the only significant difference being the use of bows (rather than octagonal bays) at 244-246 Marlborough, the last two houses built. The original permit applications for all but 244 Marlborough are included in the Building Department’s files. Three of the applications – for 230, 232, and 246 Marlborough – indicate the architect as being Samuel D. Kelley. The other five applications do not indicate the name of the architect, but the houses are attributed to Samuel D. Kelley by Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, which, given the close similarity in design, appears to be correct.
Bunting also indicates that all nine houses were built for building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames. This does not appear to be entirely correct. Based on the permit applications and final building inspection reports (to the extent that they are available), six of the nine houses were built for real estate dealers (and brothers) Frederick Augustus Whitwell (shown as owner of 230 Marlborough), Henry Whitwell (shown as owner of 238-240-242 Marlborough), and Samuel Horatio Whitwell (shown as the owner of 244-246 Marlborough), and three (232-234-236 Marlborough) were built for Samuel T. Ames.
The land for all nine houses was sold by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through privately-negotiated agreements (rather than at public auctions) in November of 1879 and in early1880. Based on subsequent deeds and permits, it appears likely that the contracts for the four lots at 230-236 Marlborough, entered into on November 3, 1879, and for the four lots at 238-244 Marlborough, entered into on November 5, 1880, were with the Whitwells. The 25.3 foot lot at 246 Marlborough was composed of a 24.3 foot lot purchased from the Commonwealth on February 16, 1880, by George E. Niles, who sold it to Samuel H. Whitwell on March 23, 1883, and a one foot lot to the west that Samuel H. Whitwell purchased from the Commonwealth on January 15, 1884. The Whitwells probably retained Samuel D. Kelley to prepare a common design for the houses and retained Samuel T. Ames to oversee their construction, transferring to him their right to purchase the lots at 232-234-236 Marlborough as compensation. He then acted as the builder for those three lots and oversaw the construction of the other six. Alternatively, Samuel Ames may have held the original contracts for the three lots and used the same plans prepared by Samuel D. Kelley for his three houses.
In most cases, when the houses were nearing completion, they were sold to individual buyers who purchased the land directly from the Commonwealth and paid the Whitwells or Samuel T. Ames for the cost of the dwelling house. Frederick Whitwell kept 230 Marlborough, the first house built, as his home. Samuel H. Whitwell kept 244-246 Marlborough, buying the land and then reselling the land and houses to individual buyers.
By the 1881-1882 winter season, 234 Marlborough was the home of Abraham Franklin Hervey, a dealer in cotton duck, and his wife, Elizabeth K. (Boynton) Hervey. Elizabeth Hervey purchased the land from the Commonwealth on March 30, 1881. They previously had lived at 476 Columbus.
By the 1893-1894 winter season, they were joined at 234 Marlborough by Herbert Hervey Fletcher and his wife, Alice Sophia (Kellogg) Fletcher. They previously had lived at the Hotel Adelphi at 2161 Washington. Herbert Fletcher was New England Manager for the Associated Press, and in 1897 would become associate managing director of the Boston Transcript. He probably was Abraham Hervey’s nephew (Herbert Fletcher’s mother was Almira (Elmira) Hervey).
On June 27, 1895, 234 Marlborough was purchased from Elizabeth Hervey by Dr. Robert Williamson Lovett, a physician and orthopedic surgeon, and on the same day, he transferred the property to his father, John Dyson Lovett.
Robert Lovett married in October of 1895, to Elizabeth Moorfield Storey, and on October 9, 1895, his father transferred 234 Marlborough into her name. Robert and Elizabeth Lovett made it their home. He also maintained his medical office there.
The Lovetts continued to live at 234 Marlborough during the 1900-1901 winter season, but moved thereafter to 7 Fairfield. Elizabeth Lovett continued to own 234 Marlborough and he continued to maintain his medical office there.
When they moved, 234 Marlborough became the home and medical office (along with Dr. Lovett) of Dr. James Savage Stone, a physician and surgeon and later also an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He previously had lodged and maintained his offices at 125 Marlborough. He married in October of 1902 to Selma Bowditch, and after their marriage, they lived at 234 Marlborough until about 1908, when they moved to Framingham. Thereafter, 234 Marlborough was occupied exclusively by medical offices, including the offices of Dr. Lovett and Dr. Stone.
Dr. Stone continued to maintain his office at 234 Marlborough (and to live in Framingham) in 1920. By 1921, he had moved his office to 286 Marlborough and the next year it also became the Stones’ Boston home.
Among the physicians who maintained their offices at 234 Marlborough from the 1920s was Dr. Frank Roberts Ober. He and his wife, Ina Mabel (Spurling) Ober, lived in Brookline. In April of 1935, he acquired 232 Marlborough and in August of 1935, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 232 Marlborough from a single-family dwelling into doctors’ offices, cutting doors through the party wall between 232 and 234 Marlborough on the first, second, and third floors. Thereafter, 232 Marlborough was not listed separately in the City Directories.
Elizabeth Lovett continued to own 234 Marlborough at the time of her death in March of 1951. On June 11, 1951, Frank Ober bought the property from her estate. On June 20, 1951, he transferred it to the Obrebar Corporation, to which he previously had transferred 232 Marlborough.
Frank Ober continued to maintain his medical office at 234 Marlborough until his death in December of 1960.
In March of 1961, 232 Marlborough was purchased from the Obrebar Corporation by the Penwood Realty Trust. That same month, Albert H. Brewster, treasurer of the Obrebar Corporation, which still owned 234 Marlborough, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to “brick up openings in the party wall” between 232 and 234 Marlborough, and to install fire balconies between the two buildings. 234 Marlborough remained doctors’ offices.
On December 16, 1974, 234 Marlborough was purchased from the Obrebar Corporation by Betty Bishop and Rosalie M. Buck.
In December of 1974, Betty Bishop filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from doctors’ offices into seven apartments.
On April 9, 1975, she converted the property into five condominium units, the 234 Marlborough Street Condominium.