251 Marlborough was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1886 by Andrew Anderson, carpenter, and William L. Clark & Co., masons, as the home of Francis Henry Appleton and his wife Fanny Rollins (Tappan) Appleton. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated January 22, 1886, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 16, 1886. They previously had lived at 265 Commonwealth.
Francis Appleton purchased the land for 251 Marlborough on December 1, 1885, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The house to the east, at 249 Marlborough, had been built entirely on its own lot, rather than straddling the boundary with the land at 251 Marlborough as was customary. On December 8, 1885, Francis Appleton purchased the western six inches of the land at 249 Marlborough, with the western half of the party wall on it, so that he could use it for his new house.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 251 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 417, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Plans for the house are included in the Peabody and Stearns Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference PS/MA.016).
Click here to view the original plans for 251 Marlborough.
Francis Henry Appleton served in the First Corps of Cadets from 1870, rising to the rank of Captain in 1879. In 1897, he was named Commissioner General of Massachusetts, retiring in 1900 with the rank of Major General.
The Appletons also maintained a home and farm on Suntaug Lake in Lynnfield/Peabody where he bred Ayrshire cattle. On March 25, 1897, the house was destroyed by a fire set by an arsonist. He rebuilt and, on February 27, 1899, it was again destroyed by fire, probably by the same arsonist. In March of 1901 he sold the property and in about 1903 built a new house, Columbine Hill, in the Proctors Crossing area of Peabody.
Fanny Appleton died in March of 1906 and Francis Henry Appleton married again in November of 1907 to his deceased wife’s cousin, Mary Spencer Tappan. After their marriage, they lived at 251 Marlborough.
Mary Appleton died in February of 1918. Following her death, General Appleton was joined at 251 Marlborough by his son and daughter-in-law, Francis Henry Appleton, Jr., and Nathalie (Gourlie) Appleton. Their usual home was 451 Marlborough, where they had lived the previous season and resumed living by the 1919-1920 season.
Francis Henry Appleton continued to live at 251 Marlborough until his death in April of 1939.
On January 24, 1940, 251 Marlborough was purchased from Francis Appleton’s estate by Israel Gunnar Sjodin, a gardening contractor. He and his wife, Ruth Elisabeth (Hellstrom) Sjodin, made it their home. They previously had lived at 42 Worcester Square.
In February of 1940, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
On April 13, 1946, he transferred the property into his and his wife’s names.
The Sjodins continued to live and operate a lodging house at 251 Marlborough until about 1947.
On April 1, 1947, 251 Marlborough was acquired from the Sjodins by Boston University. In May of 1947, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior. The property remained a lodging house, but was used as a dormitory by the University.
On August 1, 1966, 251 Marlborough was purchased from Boston University by Newman Preparatory School. It had acquired 253 Marlborough the month before, and in October of 1966, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine the properties and convert them into a school, which it operated as an annex to its school located at 245–247 Marlborough.
On June 15, 1988, 251-253 Marlborough were purchased from Newman School by Kurt W. Saraceno, trustee of the 251-253 Marlborough Street Realty Trust. In August of 1988, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the combined properties into eight units, including adding a penthouse and a parking garage in the basement.
On June 14, 1989, Kurt Saraceno converted the combined property into eight condominium units, the 251-253 Marlborough Street Condominium.