255 Marlborough was built in 1883-1884 by Daniel Connery & Co. and Morton & Chesley, builders, as the home of fertilizer manufacturer Robert Stow Bradley and his wife, Leslie (Newell) Bradley. They previously had lived at 216 Commonwealth. Robert Bradley is shown as the owner of 255 Marlborough on the original building permit application, dated December 11, 1883, and is shown as the owner on the 1888 and 1898 Bromley maps.
No architect is named on the permit application and Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay does not attribute the house to a specific architect. However, Charles S. Damrell’s A Half Century of Boston’s Building. published in 1895 and based largely on Building Department records and other contemporary documents, indicates that it was designed by Carl Fehmer.
The Bradleys continued to live at 255 Marlborough during the 1900-1901 winter season, but moved thereafter to 411 Commonwealth.
255 Marlborough was not listed in the 1902 Blue Book.
By the 1902-1903 winter season, it was the home of stockbroker William Smith Townsend and his wife, Marion (Russell) Townsend. They previously had lived at 178 Beacon. Marion R. Townsend is shown as the owner of 255 Marlborough on the 1908, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps. They also maintained a summer home in Plymouth.
Marion Townsend died in 1933. William Townsend and their twin daughters, Elizabeth and Rose, continued to live at 255 Marlborough.
William Townsend died in November of 1935, and Elizabeth and Rose Townsend moved soon thereafter.
In mid-1936, 255 Marlborough was acquired from the estate of Marion Townsend by Elizabeth Parker (Townsend) Torbert, the wife of Dr. James Rockwell Torbert, a physician. The Torberts lived at 252 Marlborough. Elizabeth (Townsend) Torbert was the first cousin, once removed, of William Smith Townsend.
In July of 1936, Elizabeth Torbert applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into four apartments. It appears that, before initiating the remodeling, Mrs. Torbert sold the property to Bessie Everett (Griffin) Norris, the wife of real estate and insurance broker Forris Wood Norris.
In June of 1937, Earl S. Guild filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into seven apartments (two in the basement, two on the first floor, and one each on second, third, and fourth floors). From subsequent documents, it appears Mr. Guild was agent for Forris and Bessie Norris.
Bessie E. Norris is shown as the owner of 255 Marlborough on the 1938 Bromley map.
The property subsequently changed hands and in September of 2007 was purchased by Joseph Holland and John P. Holland, trustees of the 255 Marlborough Street Realty Trust. In December of 2007, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property and convert it from seven units into three units. And in May of 2009, they converted the property into three condominiums.