261 Marlborough was designed by architect Charles Brigham and built in 1887-1888 by L. D. Willcutt, builder, as the home of Henry Austin Whitney. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated February 21, 1887. He also maintained a home in Milton.
Henry Whitney was a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer, banker, and president of the Boston & Providence Railroad. He previously had lived at 54 Boylston, where his wife, Mary Frances (Fanny) (Lawrence) Whitney, had died in January of 1883.
On January 24, 1887, Henry Whitney purchased from Martha Anna White the six inch strip of land to the east, including the western half of the party wall with 259 Marlborough, where Martha Anna White and her husband, Dr. James Clarke White, had built their home in 1884-1885. He purchased the remainder of the land for 261 Marlborough from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 19, 1887.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 261 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 417, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Henry Whitney died in February of 1889 and 261 Marlborough was inherited by his five surviving children: Joseph Cutler Whitney; Ellerton Pratt Whitney; Elizabeth (Whitney) Minot, the wife of Dr. James Jackson Minot; Constance Whitney; and Hugh Whitney.
On May 14, 1890, 261 Marlborough was purchased from the Whitney family by Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr. He and his wife, Mabel (Bayard) Warren, made it their home. They previously had lived at 151 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home, Karlstein, in Dedham, which included a polo field.
Samuel Warren had been an attorney in partnership with future Chief Justice Louis D. Brandeis. In 1888, after his father’s death, he had withdrawn from active participation in the firm and assumed management of his father’s paper manufacturing company, S. D. Warren & Co.
The Warrens raised their six children at 261 Marlborough: Mabel Bayard Warren, Samuel Dennis Warren, III, Katherine Lee Bayard Warren, Bayard Warren, Sylvia Warren, and Henry Warren.
Mabel Warren married in November of 1905 to Joseph Gardner Bradley, who had graduated from Harvard Law School the previous year. After their marriage, they moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he was manager of a coal and timber company in West Virginia. By the 1909-1910 winter season, they had established a winter home at 18 Fairfield.
Samuel Dennis Warren, III, married in June of 1909 to Helen Thomas of 20 Gloucester. After their marriage, they lived in Germany, where he worked in a paper mill.
Samuel Warren, Jr., died in February of 1910. Mabel Warren and their four younger children continued to live at 261 Marlborough.
Shortly before Samuel Warren’s death, they were joined at 261 Marlborough by Samuel and Helen Warren. They had returned from Germany in January of 1910 and had joined his family’s paper manufacturing company. By the 1911-1912 winter season, they had moved to 282 Marlborough.
In March of 1911, Mabel Warren sold Karlstein in Dedham and subsequently made her summer home in Mattapoisett.
Katherine Warren married in April of 1911 to John Eliot Thayer, Jr. After their marriage, they lived for a year in Phoenix, Arizona, and then in Lancaster, where they operated a farm. In 1915, he became a trustee of the Thayer family estate.
Mabel Warren continued to live at 261 Marlborough with her unmarried children, Sylvia and Henry.
During the 1913-1914 winter season, they were traveling in Europe and 261 Marlborough was the home of Dr. Elisha Flagg, a physician, and his wife, Eleanor Amelia Marguerite Cecilia (Shattuck) Whitney Flagg. They previously had lived at 199 Commonwealth. Eleanor Flagg’s first husband had been Henry Austin Whitney’s son, Hugh Whitney, who had died in October of 1907, a suicide. The Flaggs moved back to 199 Commonwealth by the next season.
Mabel Warren and Sylvia and Henry Warren resumed living at 261 Marlborough and continued to live there through the 1916-1917 season. In December of 1917, they moved to the recently-completed apartment house at 68 Beacon.
261 Marlborough was leased from Mabel Warren by Dr. George Hayward Binney, Jr., a physician, and his wife, Susan Jeannette (Appleton) Binney. They previously had lived at 447 Beacon. He maintained his medical office at 45 Bay State Road. They continued to live at 261 Marlborough during the 1920-1921 season, but moved thereafter to 6 Commonwealth.
On November 1, 1923, Mabel Warren transferred the property to her son, Bayard Warren, as trustee on her behalf. Soon thereafter, she traveled to California for the winter. Sylvia Warren moved to an apartment at 20 Lime, and Henry Warren moved to an apartment at 116 Charles.
During the 1923-1924 winter season, 261 Marlborough was the home of Edward Pierson Beebe. He previously had lived in Brookline. He also maintained a home, Highfield Hall, in Falmouth. By the 1924-1925 season, he had moved to 303 Commonwealth.
Mabel Warren died in May of 1924. Sylvia Warren remained unmarried and in 1930, at the time of the US Census, was living in Dover, Massachusetts. Henry Warren married in September of 1926 to Anna Curwell; they were living in Weston at the time of the 1930 US Census.
In October of 1924, 261 Marlborough was acquired from Mabel Warren’s estate and trust by Helen (Thomas) Warren. Samuel and Helen Warren made it their home, moving back there from 282 Marlborough.
Samuel D. Warren, III, died in January of 1927. Helen Warren continued to live at 261 Marlborough with their children: Helen Warren, Anne Warren, and Samuel Dennis Warren, IV.
During the 1934-1935 winter season, Helen Warren and her children were traveling abroad and she leased 261 Marlborough to William Marshall Bullitt and his wife, Nora (Iasigi) Bullitt of Louisville. William Bullitt was a lawyer in Louisville and former US Solicitor General during the Taft Administration. They were in Boston to “present” their daughter, Nora Iasigi Bullitt, as a debutante.
Helen Warren and her children resumed living at 261 Marlborough in 1935 and continued to live there in 1937. By 1938. she had moved to 166 Marlborough.
On December 21, 1937, 261 Marlborough was acquired from Helen Thomas by the Marlborough School. It also owned 245 Marlborough and 227 Commonwealth, and in December of 1939 would acquired 247 Marlborough.
In July of 1938, the school applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct fire escapes and balconies in order to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a school dormitory.
On December 30, 1939, 261 Marlborough was acquired from the Marlborough Schools, Inc., by the Chandler School for Women. It acquired 245 Marlborough, 247 Marlborough, and 227 Commonwealth on the same day.
On June 19, 1945, 261 Marlborough was acquired from Chandler School by real estate dealer Howard S. Cosgrove, and on July 17, 1945, it was acquired from him by Joffre Gotreau, who operated it as a lodging house. He previously had lived at 441 Marlborough with his mother, Martha M. (Roy) Gotreau, widow of David B. Gotreau.
In January of 1947, he applied for permission to convert 261 Marlborough from a lodging house into a lodging house with two apartments. He subsequently abandoned the permit. He continued to live at 261 Marlborough and to operate it as a lodging house. He also was listed in the City Directories as operating lodging houses at 437 Marlborough and 441 Marlborough, and later also 439 Marlborough.
In March of 1956, Joffre Gotreau applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 261 Marlborough from a lodging house into thirteen apartments. He continued to live in one of the apartments until the early 1960s.
On March 31, 1960, 261 Marlborough was purchased from Joffre Gotreau by Max J. Allen and Paul M. Thorner, trustees of the University Realty Trust.
In July of 1969, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to cut an opening on the fourth floor between 261 and 259 Marlborough to provide access to the elevator at 259 Marlborough.
On May 29, 1985, 261 Marlborough was purchased from Pierre de Bourgknecht by John R. Giles, trustee of the 261 Capitol Realty Trust. On the same day, he also purchased 259 Marlborough as trustee of the C. D. C. Pension Realty Trust. In July of 1985, Pierre de Bourgknecht sold 257 Marlborough to another purchaser.
On September 30, 1985, John Giles converted 261 Marlborough into thirteen condominium units, the 261 Marlborough St. Condominium.