249 Marlborough was designed by Bradlee and Winslow, architects, and built in 1880 by Benjamin D. Whitcomb, carpenter and builder, and Thomas J. Whidden, mason, as the home of lawyer Otis Norcross, Jr. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application dated February 26, 1880.
Otis Norcross purchased the land for 249 Marlborough on January 26, 1880, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The western wall of the house was built entirely the land, rather than straddling the boundary with the adjoining lot as was customary. On December 8, 1885, he sold Francis H. Appleton the western six inches, with the western half of the party wall on it, so that he could use it for the home he was building at 251 Marlborough.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 249 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 417, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Otis Norcross had 249 Marlborough built in anticipation of his marriage to Susannah Ruggles Plympton. They married in January of 1881 and 249 Marlborough was their home for the rest of their lives. Prior to his marriage, he had lived at 9 Commonwealth with his parents, Otis and Lucy (Lane) Norcross.
In May of 1916, Otis Norcross applied for (and subsequently received) permission to “tear out front mansard roof and build with brick wall to top of third story with parapet wall above.” The remodeling was designed by Bigelow and Wadsworth. Plans for the remodeling — including a front elevation and third floor plan — are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston City Archives (reference BIN C-35).
Otis Norcross died in June of 1923. In his will, he left 249 Norcross to his wife. She and her sister continued to live at 249 Marlborough.
Susannah Norcross died in March of 1925. In her will, she left 249 Marlborough in trust for the benefit of her sister during her lifetime and then to Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard College.
On February 23, 1926, the trustees under Susannah Norcross’s will transferred 249 Marlborough to Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard College.
On the same day, Harvard College sold its one-half interest to Eleanor Lee (Higginson) Lyman, the wife of stockbroker George Hinckley Lyman, III, and on April 30, 1926, Massachusetts General Hospital sold its one-half interest to Mrs. Lyman. The Lymans previously had lived at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth.
They continued to live at 249 Marlborough until about 1937. By 1939, they were living in Brookline.
On April 28, 1937, 249 Marlborough was purchased from Eleanor Lyman by attorney Franklin Dexter, Jr. He lived at 247 Marlborough with his widowed mother, Jane Appleton (Dwight) Dexter. On June 22, 1937, he and his mother entered into a party wall agreement governing the wall between the two houses. They moved from 247 Marlborough to 249 Marlborough soon thereafter. They also maintained a home in Prides Crossing.
On July 7, 1939, Franklin Dexter transferred 249 Marlborough to his mother. In August of 1939, he married to Mary Ann (Mianne) (Palfrey) Hill, the former wife of Arthur Dehon Hill, Jr. On September 3, 1939, as they were returning from their honeymoon in Europe, the ship they were traveling on, the SS Athenia, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. They were rescued and made their home in Brookline and Beverly.
On November 17, 1951, 249 Marlborough was purchased from Franklin Dexter, as conservator of his mother, by Miss Marion S. Hodgdon, a real estate dealer who lived at 375 Marlborough.
On April 16, 1952, 249 Marlborough was acquired from Marion Hodgdon by Aldo G. Fioravanti, a jeweler. He and his wife, Anna May (Accomando) Fioravanti, lived in Arlington.
In August of 1952, Aldo Fioravanti applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install fire balconies connecting with 247 Marlborough. At that time, he indicated that 249 Marlborough was being used as a lodging house.
In September of 1953, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into nine apartments. The current use was shown as being a single-family dwelling.
Aldo Fioravanti also owned 225 Commonwealth and on May 31, 1958, he transferred both 249 Marlborough and 225 Commonwealth to his maternal aunt, Margherita (Ercolani) Grilli, trustee of the Grilli Realty Trust (Aldo Fioravanti was the son of Louis (Luigi) Fioravanti and Rosina (Ercolani) Fioravanti). Margherita Grilli and her husband, Silvestro (Silvio) Grilli, lived at 282 Commonwealth. He was a manager and later vice president and manager of Pieroni, Inc. restaurant operators.
Margherita Grilli died in December of 1960 in Rome.
On June 15, 1962, Aldo Fioravanti and his brother Luca J. P. Fioravanti, successor trustees of the Grilli Realty Trust, transferred 249 Marlborough and 225 Commonwealth to themselves as trustees of the Grilli Investment Trust. On June 20, 1981, they transferred both properties to Frederick J. Conway, trustee of The Grilli III Trust.
On November 20, 1985, 249 Marlborough was purchased from Anna May Fioravanti by H & P Associates Limited Partnership II and First American Development Corporation IV, doing business as Commonwealth Marlborough Associates. The consortium purchased 225 Commonwealth at the same time.
In April of 1986, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel 249 Marlborough, including constructing an additional story, and convert it from nine units into eight units. In August of 1986, it amended the permit to reduce the number of units to six.
On November 8, 1986, Commonwealth Marlborough Associates converted 249 Marlborough into five condominium units, the 249 Marlborough Condominium.