304 Berkeley was built ca. 1869 and is distinguished by an unusual corner oriel window that extends through the mansard roof. It was built for Marianne (Mason) Crafts, widow of textile manufacturer and merchant, Royal Altamont Crafts. She previously had lived at 16 Marlborough.
It appears that 304 Berkeley was built for Marianne Crafts by house carpenters Robert Tower Bourn (Bourne) and William Leavitt. On February 24, 1869, the Boston Daily Adveriser reported that “Bourn & Leavitt” had filed with the Board of Aldermen a notice of intention to build “on Berkeley street, between Marlborough and Beacon.” All other houses on Berkeley between Beacon and Marlborough had been built by 1867.
Marianne Crafts bought the land for 304 Berkeley on March 18, 1868, from building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., who had recently completed 300-302 Berkeley. He had purchased the land on December 14, 1867, from Horace Gray, Jr., an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and later Chief Justice of the Massachusetts court and then an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. It was part of a larger lot which included the land where 53 Marlborough and 300-302-304 Berkeley would be built. Horace Gray, Jr., had acquired the lot on August 8, 1863, from shipping merchant and real estate investor John Lowell Gardner, whose sister, Sarah Russell (Gardner) Gray, was Horace Gray, Jr.’s step-mother. John L. Gardner had purchased the land from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 2, 1860.
The original deeds for 300-302-304 Berkeley provided a five foot wide easement at the western edge of the lots, running from the northwest corner of 300 Berkeley through the rear yards of 302 and 304 Berkeley to provide for access to the alley.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 304 Berkeley, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
In November of 1871, Marianne (Mason) Crafts married again, to retired US Navy Commodore Francis Bleecker Ellison. Commodore Ellison had joined the Navy in 1819. He was promoted to Captain in 1850 and to Commodore in 1864, and retired in 1870. He had been married twice previously.
Francis and Marianne Ellison lived at 304 Berkeley.
On October 12, 1897, 304 Berkeley was acquired from Marianne Ellison’s estate by Jane Norton (Wigglesworth) Grew, the wife of Henry Sturgis Grew. They lived at 89 Beacon and in Hyde Park.
304 Berkeley became the home of the Grews’ son-in-law and daughter, note broker and banker Stephen Van Rensselaer Crosby and Henrietta Marian (Grew) Crosby. They previously had lived at 24 Chestnut. On August 7, 1900, Jane Grew transferred 304 Berkeley to her daughter.
In 1903, the Crosbys purchased a home, Apple Trees, in Manchester, Massachusetts.
They continued to live at 304 Berkeley until 1912, when they moved to 95 Beacon.
The Crosby’s two children were born at 304 Berkeley: Henry (Harry) Grew Crosby in June of 1898 and Katherine Schuyler Crosby in February of 1901.
Katherine Crosby married in October of 1921 to Robert Burnett Choate, publisher of the Boston Herald and Traveller.
Harry Crosby married in September of 1922 to Mary (Polly) Phelps (Jacob) Peabody, the former wife of Richard Rogers Peabody. Prior to her first marriage, Mary Jacob had invented the first brassiere, for which she held a patent. After their marriage, Harry and Polly (known as Caresse) Crosby moved to Paris, where they founded the Black Sun Press, an English language press that published the works of many of the modernist authors of the day, including James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and others. The Crosbys were at the heart of the expatriate Bohemian society of 1920s Paris. Harry Crosby died in December of 1929 in a highly-publicized murder-suicide or double suicide with his lover, Josephine Noyes (Rotch) Bigelow, the wife of Albert Smith Bigelow, Jr.
On July 6, 1912, 304 Berkeley was purchased from Henrietta Crosby by Miss Blanche Shimmin. She previously had lived at The Ludlow (southwest corner of Clarendon and St. James). She lived at 304 Berkeley until her death in December of 1912.
By the 1913-1914 winter season, 304 Berkeley was the home of John Gardner Coolidge and his wife, Helen Granger (Stevens) Coolidge. He was retired from the US Diplomatic Corps, having served in France, China, Mexico, and Nicaragua. In November of 1914 he was appointed a special agent at the American Embassy in Paris. Thereafter, the Coolidges lived primarily in Paris and maintained a Boston residence at 130 Beacon with his parents, Joseph Randolph Coolidge and Julia (Gardner) Coolidge.
During the 1915-1916 winter season, 304 Berkeley was the home of Edward Motley Pickman and his wife, Hester Marion (Chanler) Pickman. They had married in June of 1915 and 304 Berkeley probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had worked in the American Embassy in Paris and, before that, was a lawyer in Boston. They moved from 304 Berkeley by the 1916-1917 season and he was called to active duty in the US Navy in April of 1917. By the 1918-1919 winter season, they lived at 181 Beacon (probably primarily the home of his wife and children until he was discharged in October of 1919). After the war, he became an author and historian.
On July 31, 1916, 304 Berkeley was purchased from the trustees under Blanche Shimmin’s will and her niece, Marian (Jeffries) Means, by Charles Henry Taylor, Jr. Marian Means was the wife of James Howard Means and the daughter of Benjamin J. Jeffries and Marian (Shimmin) Jeffries.
Charles Taylor, Jr., and his wife, Marguerite C. (Falck) Taylor, made 304 Berkeley their home. They previously had lived at 93 Beacon. and from 1892 to 1900 had lived at 1 Fairfield. They also maintained a home in Buzzard’s Bay.
Charles Taylor’s father was publisher of the Boston Globe. Charles, Jr., joined the Globe staff and, after working in various positions, became manager and treasurer. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1937.
The Taylors’ two adult children, Doris Taylor and Charles Henry Taylor, III, lived with them.
Doris Taylor married in November of 1917 to Percy Gamble Black, a captain in the US Army and a career military officer, the son of General William Murray Black. After their marriage, they lived at 304 Berkeley with her parents (their son, Percy, Jr., was born there in September of 1918). By 1920, they were living in Washington DC.
Charles H. Taylor, III, married in April of 1924 to Rosamond M. Stewardson of Philadelphia. After their marriage, they lived in Cambridge. He was an executive with the Boston Globe.
Percy and Doris Black divorced in the 1920s, and by the 1928-1929 winter season she was living at 304 Berkeley with their two children, Percy (whose name had been changed to Peter) and Marguerite Black.
Charles Taylor died in August of 1941. Marguerite Taylor continued to live at 304 Berkeley until about 1946 (she died in August of 1949 in Westwood). Doris (Taylor) Black and Marguerite and Peter Black lived with her in 1942, but had moved to 112 Revere by 1943.
304 Berkeley was shown as vacant in the 1947-1950 City Directories.
On October 17, 1949, 304 Berkeley was purchased from Charles Taylor’s estate by Harold Realty, Inc. (Louis Theran, president). He converted the house into ten apartments.
The property changed hands and on June 30, 1969, was acquired by Richard R. Brady, who lived in one of the apartments. He previously had lived at 98 Pinckney. He continued to own 304 Berkeley until his death in August of 1991.
304 Berkeley changed hands. It remained an apartment house in 2015.