240 Marlborough was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1881 by Keening & Fellows, masons, for real estate dealer Henry Whitwell. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for 238-240 Marlborough, dated April 4, 1881.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 240 Marlborough.
240 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 at public auctions in November of 1879. It appears likely that the Whitwells were the successful bidders and held bonds from the Commonwealth assuring them the right to purchase the land. They probably retained Samuel D. Kelley to prepare a common design for the houses and retained Samuel T. Ames to oversee their construction, transferring the bonds for the lots at 232-234-236 Marlborough to him as compensation. He then acted as the builder for those three lots and oversaw the construction of the other six. Alternatively, he may have been the successful bidder 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, 240 Marlborough was the home of Marianne Cabot (Devereux) Silsbee, the widow of Nathaniel Silsbee, Jr., who had died in July of 1881. Their unmarried son, William Edward Silsbee, lived with her. Prior to Nathaniel Silsbee’s death, they had lived at 237 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Milton.
Nathaniel Silsbee had been a shipmaster and merchant in Salem, and had served as a US Senator and Member of Congress. In 1862, he was named treasurer of Harvard and they moved to Boston.
Nathaniel and Marianne Silsbee’s daughter, Mary, was the wife of Frederick Augustus Whitwell who, with his brothers, had developed the houses at 230-246 Beacon. Frederick and Mary Whitwell lived at 230 Marlborough.
The land for 240 Marlborough was purchased from the Commonwealth on September 29, 1881, by a trust established under Nathaniel Silsbee’s will, the trustees of which were Frederick Whitwell and his two brothers-in-law, Nathaniel Devereaux Silsbee and William Edward Silsbee.
Marianne Silsbee died in August of 1889 and William Silsbee moved soon thereafter to 82 Huntington.
On September 17, 1889, 240 Marlborough was purchased from the Silsbee trust by Julia Hannah (Hurd) Hutchins, the widow of Horace Green Hutchins, an attorney who also had served as mayor of Charlestown. Their unmarried children – Harriet H. Hutchins, Emma Hutchins, John Hurd Hutchins, and Mary H. Hutchins – lived with her. They previously had lived at 14 Cedar in Roxbury.
John Hurd Hutchins married in November of 1890 to Olivia Lee Endicott, and they moved to 315 Marlborough. He was a wool dealer.
Harriet Hutchins died in January of 1932 and Emma Hutchins died in November of 1940. Mary Hutchins continued to live at 240 Marlborough until her death in July of 1949.
On November 17, 1949, 240 Marlborough was purchased from Mary Hutchins’s estate by Ellen Gertrude (Costello) Hogan, the wife of Edward Francis Hogan. They lived in Watertown.
By 1950, 240 Marlborough was the home of Ellen Hogan’s brother, James G. Costello, and his wife, Margaret (McDonald) Costello, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 274 Marlborough, which Ellen Hogan had purchased from James Costello in October of 1949. They continued to live at 240 Marlborough in 1951.
In December of 1951, Ellen Hogan purchased 284 Marlborough and the Costellos moved there to operate it as a lodging house. October of 1953, Ellen Hogan purchased 246 Marlborough, and the Costellos moved there and once again operated it as a lodging house.
In November of 1954, Ellen Hogan applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct fire balconies connecting with 238 Marlborough. The application indicates that 240 Marlborough was occupied as a “rooming house.”
On June 29, 1956, 240 Marlborough was purchased from Ellen Hogan by real estate dealer Stuart H. Hastings. In August of 1956, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into ten apartments. He indicated that the current use was as a single-family dwelling, implying that it had not been legally approved as a rooming house.
On October 11, 1956, Stuart Hastings transferred a one-half undivided interest in 240 Marlborough to his partner, Joseph A. Gautreau.
The property changed hands and on October 15, 1968, was acquired by Dr. Daniel Marven Weiss, a psychiatrist who lived in Newton.
On June 20, 1980, 240 Marlborough was acquired from Daniel M. Weiss by Richard B. Cohen and Charles S. Rosenblum, trustees of 240 Marlborough Street Trust.
On December 5, 1980, they converted the property into ten condominium units, the 240 Marlborough Condominium.