252 Marlborough was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1885-1886 by R. Sylvester Dewing, mason, as the home of Miss Ellen M. Barr on land she had purchased on September 1, 1885, from real estate dealer Henry Whitwell (who had purchased it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 9, 1885).
Click here for an index to the deeds for 252 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 426, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Miss Barr retained her brother-in-law, building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames, to construct the house (he was married to her sister, Mary Hartwell Barr). He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated October 5, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 15, 1886.
Ellen Barr was a teacher and operated a private girls school in her home. She previously had been a lodger at 182 Marlborough.
She continued to live and operate a school at 252 Marlborough in 1893. She retired that year and traveled around the world, returning in June of 1894. She died in February of 1895.
On March 6, 1893, 252 Marlborough was purchased from Ellen Barr by Miss Bessie A. Clagett, who also operated a “home and day school for girls” in the house. She previously had lived and operated a school at 17 Blagden.
In June of 1895, she married to Robert Higginson Fuller. He was a journalist and author from Albany, New York, where they lived after their marriage; he later became secretary to New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes. She continued to own 252 Marlborough and lease it to others.
By the 1895-1896 winter season, 252 Marlborough was the home of Miss Caroline N. Bynner, who was a teacher of languages and maintained a private school in her home. During the 1898-1899 winter season, she was joined by Miss A. E. Wadsworth. Miss Wadsworth was no longer listed with Miss Bynner in the 1900 Blue Book.
The house was not listed in the 1902 Blue Book.
By the 1902-1903 winter season, 252 Marlborough was the home of Miss Susan C. Lougee and Miss Emily Weeks, who operated a “select school for young ladies” with (according to their advertisements in the Boston Evening Transcript) “a limited number of carefully chosen day and boarding pupils.” They previously had lived and operated the school 231 Marlborough They leased 252 Marlborough from Bessie (Clagett) Fuller with an option to purchase the house.
In June of 1904, Susan Lougee married Edward Winfield Egan, a physician. After their marriage, they lived at 252 Marlborough, and Mrs. Egan and Miss Weeks continued to operate their school there until about 1905, after which Emily Weeks joined the staff of Simmons College.
On June 26, 1905, Susan Egan purchased 252 Marlborough from Bessie (Clagett) Fuller.
The Egans continued to live at 252 Marlborough during the 1906-1907 winter season, but moved thereafter an apartment in The Commonwealth at 362-366 Commonwealth.
On March 4, 1907, 252 Marlborough was purchased from Susan Egan (pursuant to a release from Walter Hartstone) by wholesale wool merchant Lemuel Cushing Kimball.
On July 15, 1907, 252 Marlborough was purchased from L. Cushing Kimball by Dr. James Rockwell Torbert. He was a physician and obstetrician, and made 252 Marlborough his home and medical offices.
In a March 26, 1945, letter, Dr. Torbert described his purchase of the house: “When I took possession, the previous occupants had conducted a school for girls. Black-boards were still on the walls and there were many desks in the house … My understanding was that the school was originally conducted by Miss Barr and subsequent to her occupancy it was the Lougee-Egan School. The old school building just suited my needs for medical offices and a place of residence.”
Dr. Henry A. Christian, a physician, also lived at 252 Marlborough and maintained his medical office there. By 1915, he was physician-in-chief at Peter Bent Brigham hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
From about 1910, James Torbert’s mother, Margaret Kellogg (Rockwell) Torbert, the widow of George Landing Torbert, lived with him.
Dr. Torbert married in October of 1913 to Elizabeth Parker Townsend and they made 252 Marlborough their home. Margaret Torbert moved to Milton.
Dr. Christian continued to live and maintain his medical offices at 252 Marlborough until about 1920. By 1921, he had ceased private practice (devoting himself entirely to his role as physician-in-chief at Brigham hospital) and had moved to the Hotel Somerset.
The Torberts continued to live at 252 Marlborough (and he continued to maintain his medical office there) until about 1944. By 1945, they had moved to Brookline and he had moved his office to 330 Dartmouth.
On October 24, 1944, 252 Marlborough was acquired from Dr. Torbert by Chandler School for Women, located at 245 Marlborough. In December of 1944, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a school.
On May 13, 1949, 252 Marlborough was purchased from Chandler School by the Newman Preparatory School. At the same time, it also acquired 245 Marlborough.
On October 20, 1977, 252 Marlborough was purchased from Newman School by Ronald S. Luccio and Arthur E. Simons, trustees of the 252 Marlborough Realty Trust. In November of 1977, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into five apartments.
On August 10, 1978, they converted the property into five condominium units, 252 Marlborough Street Condominium.