294 Marlborough was designed by L. Newcomb and Son (Edgar A. P. Newcomb), architects, and built in 1877-1878 by Goldthwait and Chapin, one of two contiguous houses (294-296 Marlborough).
The houses were built for Harvard law professor James Barr Ames for speculative sale. His father, Samuel Tarbell Ames, was a building contractor credited with having built over thirty residences in the Back Bay between 1879 and 1885. At about the same time as he designed 294-296 Marlborough, Edgar A. P. Newcomb also designed two houses for James B. Ames across the street, at 301–303 Marlborough, with similar distinctive peaked roofs on the bays.
James B. Ames is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for 294-296 Marlborough, dated December 5, 1877, and on the final inspection report, dated October 8, 1878.
He purchased the land for 294-296 Marlborough on December 1, 1877, from investment banker Henry Chapman Wainwright. The land originally was part of one of several parcels purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on January 29, 1866, by a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. The trust had subdivided the property into lots, which it sold to investors and builders, who then frequently resold the lots to others.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 294 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 427, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On August 24, 1878, 294 Marlborough was purchased from James B. Ames by Elliot Libby Butler, a wool broker.
294 Marlborough became the home of Elliot Butler’s parents, attorney John Henry Butler and Charlotte Paine (Libby) Butler. They previously had lived at 7 Bulfinch Place, and before that at 12 Worcester Square. Elliot Butler lived with them at 294 Marlborough and had lived with them in Worcester Square.
John Butler died in January of 1892, and Charlotte Butler moved soon thereafter.
On June 18, 1892, 294 Marlborough was purchased from Elliot Butler by Ezra Henry Baker. In November of 1892, he married Martha Gertrude Keyes and they made 294 Marlborough their home. Before their marriage, he had lived at 117 Commonwealth with his mother, Mary Ann (Martyn) Baker, the widow of Ezra Howes Baker, Jr.
Ezra Henry Baker was an investment banker. He was the first chairman of the Boston Licensing Board, serving from 1906 to 1912, and later was treasurer of Radcliffe College.
Martha Baker died in June of 1896, and Ezra Baker moved with their infant daughter, Gertrude, to 88 Commonwealth to live with his mother-in-law, Emma Frances (Pierce) Keyes, the widow of Henry Keyes.
On July 27, 1897, 294 Marlborough was purchased from Ezra Baker by Edith (Judd) Nichols, the wife of Dr. Edward Hall Nichols. They previously had lived in an apartment at 220 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Falmouth.
Edward Nichols was a physician and surgeon. In 1915, he headed the first surgical unit sent by Harvard to assist the allies in World War I.
Dr. Arthur Howard Wentworth, a pediatrician, lived with them as a lodger until his marriage in October of 1900 to Elizabeth Kinnicutt Francis. After their marriage, they lived at The Marlborough at 416 Marlborough.
Edward and Edith Nichols continued to live at 294 Marlborough until his death in June of 1922.
During the 1922-1923 winter season, 294 Marlborough was the home of cotton broker Thomas Spriggs Blumer and his wife, Nancy Warburton (Scott) Blumer. They previously had lived in an apartment at 290 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Manchester, which they made their year-round home in 1924. In 1925, they were living at 341 Beacon.
On June 25, 1923, Ezra Baker purchased 294 Marlborough back from Edith Nichols. He and his daughter, Gertrude, made it their home once again. They previously had lived at 6 Gloucester.
Ezra Baker died in September of 1932. Gertrude Baker continued to live at 294 Marlborough in 1935.
The house was not listed in the 1936 and 1937 Blue Books, and is shown as vacant in the 1936-1938 City Directories.
In September of 1938, Gertrude Baker filed for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior of the house and do “general repairs.” It appears likely that she was preparing the house for sale.
When Ezra Baker acquired 294 Marlborough from Edith Nichols, he assumed a mortgage she had given to Charles E. Cotting. That mortgage subsequently was assigned to the New England Trust Company as trustee under the will of Charles Marsh (co-founder of Jordan, Marsh & Co) for the benefit of his daughter, Edith Barrett Marsh, the wife of George Hayward Binney. Edith (Marsh) Binney’s only surviving child, George Hayward Binney, Jr., died in December of 1926, and she died in September of 1931. After her death, the New England Trust Company transferred the mortgage to the guardians of her six grandchildren, the children of George Binney, Jr., and Susan Jeannette (Appleton) Binney (who had died in May of 1929): Georgette Appleton Binney, Susan Jeannette Binney, Esther Hayward Binney, William Appleton Binney, Robert Hayward Binney, and Marshall Warren Binney. They lived at 74 Beacon. As they came of age, they took possession of their share of the mortgage. The youngest child, Marshall Binney, had died at age 14 in a duck shooting accident on Nahant in October of 1932, and his share passed to his siblings.
On November 20, 1938, the five surviving children of George Binney, Jr., foreclosed the mortgage on 294 Marlborough and took possession of the property.
294 Marlborough became the home of Robert H. Binney, a banker, and his wife, Martha (Billings) Binney. They had married in 1936 and then lived at the family home at 74 Beacon.
Robert and Martha Binney continued to live there until about 1959.
On June 16, 1959, 294 Marlborough was acquired from the Binneys by Beatrice M. Coulter, and on August 24, 1959, it was acquired from her by attorney Daniel J. Finn and his wife, Mary (Ross) Finn. They previously had lived at 7 Mt. Vernon Place.
In May of 1961, the Finns purchased 296 Marlborough, which they converted into apartments. They continued to live at 294 Marlborough and in March of 1962, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert it from a single-family dwelling into a two-family dwelling.
Mary Finn died in April of 1980. Daniel Finn continued to live at 294 Marlborough in the early 1980s.
On August 18, 1983, 294 Marlborough was purchased from Daniel Finn by David I. Kurtz and his wife, Mary Jane Kurtz
On May 19, 1993, 294 Marlborough was purchased from the Kurtzes by attorney and author Donna L. Tesiero. In March of 2000. she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a two-family dwelling back into a single-family dwelling.
The property subsequently changed hands. It remained a single-family dwelling in 2017.