312 Marlborough was designed by Cabot and Chandler, architects, and built in 1879 by Woodbury & Leighton, masons, and Samuel H. L. Pierce, carpenter, as the home of Thomas Sergeant Perry and his wife, Lilla (Cabot) Perry (the first cousin, once removed, of Edward Clarke Cabot of Cabot and Chandler). Thomas Perry is shown as the owner of 312 Marlborough on the original building permit application, dated February 26, 1879, and on the final building inspection report, dated October 4, 1880.
Thomas Perry purchased the land for 312 Marlborough on February 8, 1879, from Eben Bacon. He had purchased the lot on April 20, 1866, from a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. It was part of one of several parcels purchased by the trust on January 29, 1866, from the Boston Water Power Company. The trust subdivided the parcels 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 312 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 427, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
Thomas Perry was a professor of English at Harvard, author and translator, and literary critic. Oliver Wendell Holmes called him “the best read man I have ever known.” Lilla (Cabot) Perry was a noted impressionist artist whose work was exhibited internationally. A close friend of Claude Monet, she helped to popularize impressionism in the United States. She also published four volumes of poetry.
On April 19, 1879, the American Architect and Building News published a drawing of 312 Marlborough, noting that “it is now building on Marlborough Street” and describing it in some detail. “It is twenty-four feet wide and fifty feet deep. The front is of face-bricks with a few decorative bands of Philadelphia moulded bricks. It is on the south side of the street, and the parlor is at the rear, to have the benefit of the sun. In the second story the library occupies the whole front of the house, the book cases running under the high windows over the front door. In the third story are four chambers and bath-room, and a fourth story is carried up in the rear giving two chambers for servants, with trunk-room and closets. All the small glass in the front windows is to be amber colored cathedral glass. The plans are peculiar in having only one staircase, it being a necessity to unite with economy of construction an economy of service, and also that the parlor should occupy the whole width of the rear.”
A July 30, 1879, Boston Herald article reported that Cabot and Chandler had “nearly completed for Mr. T. S. Perry, a literary gentleman, a model residence on the south side of Marlborough street.” The article noted that the “inside arrangements of this building are made to suit Mr. Perry’s taste,” describing many of the same features mentioned in the American Architect and Building News and also noting that “the building will be warmed by furnace heat, but, in addition, every considerable room contains a fire-place. A great deal of attention has been paid to lighting and ventilation, and altogether, the architects think, Mr. Perry has a model house at the very economical cost of not over $10,000.”
By the 1879-1880 winter season, Thomas and Lilla (Cabot) Perry had made 312 Marlborough their home. They previously had lived at 9 Gray.
During the 1887-1888 and 1888-1889 winter seasons, the Perrys were traveling abroad.
During the 1887-1888 season, 312 Marlborough was the home of shipping merchant Robert Bennet Forbes. He was a widower and also maintained a home in Milton. He had lived at the Hotel Vendome during the previous season, and at 333 Beacon before that. By the 1888-1889 winter season, he had moved to 216 Beacon.
During the 1888-1889 season, 312 Marlborough was the home of Dr. Otis Kimball Newell, a physician, and his wife, Mary Rowena (Coon) Newell. They had married in October of 1888 and 312 Marlborough probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 311 Marlborough with his widowed father, Edward Angell Newell.
By September of 1889, the Newells had moved to 68 St. James, and the Perrys were once again living at 312 Marlborough. They continued to live there during the 1893-1894 winter season, after which they traveled abroad and lived elsewhere for the next three seasons.
312 Marlborough was not listed in the 1895 Blue Book.
By the 1895-1896 winter season, it was the home of Daniel Appleton Dwight and his wife Mary S. (Peele) Dwight. In 1894, they had lived at 173 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Dublin, New Hampshire. Daniel Dwight was a cotton broker and in the early 1870s had served as president of the White Water Valley Railroad in Ohio. The Dwights continued to live at 312 Marlborough during the 1896-1897 season, but moved thereafter to 381 Marlborough.
The Perrys resumed living at 312 Marlborough during the 1897-1898 winter season. In 1898, Thomas Perry accepted a position as professor of English at the University of Keio Gijuku in Japan, and the family moved there for three years.
During the 1898-1899 winter season, 312 Marlborough was the home of Alfred Bowditch and his wife, Mary Louisa (Rice) Bowditch. He was a trustee and manager of trust properties. They also maintained a home in Jamaica Plain. By the next season, they had moved to 265 Commonwealth.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, 312 Marlborough was the home of Frederic Blake Holder and his wife, Agnes Lloyd (Woodruff) Holder. They previously had lived at The Abbotsford at 184 Commonwealth. He was a retired metals dealer and importer. They also maintained a home in Weston. By the next season, they had moved back to The Abbotsford.
During the 1900-1901 winter season, 312 Marlborough was the home of George Wheaton Harrington and his wife, Marian Augusta (Andrews) Harrington. He was a real estate dealer and would become an author and poet. They moved by the next season and by mid-1902 were living at 3 West Cedar.
By the 1901-1902 winter season, the Perrys had returned to Boston and resumed living at 312 Marlborough. They continued to live there during the 1904-1905 season, after which they lived in Europe for several years. Thomas Perry’s passport renewal application filed in November of 1907 in Paris for himself and Lilla Perry, indicates their primary residence as Hancock, New Hampshire.
Alice Perry married in October of 1905 to Joseph Clark Grew of 185 Marlborough. After their marriage, they lived in Cairo, where he was serving in the US diplomatic corps. A career diplomat, he later would serve as Under Secretary of State from 1924 to 1927, ambassador to Turkey from 1927 to1932, ambassador to Japan from 1932 until the outbreak of World War II in 1941, and again as Under Secretary of State in 1944 and 1945.
During the 1905-1906 winter season, 312 Marlborough was the home of attorney Francis Richard Jones and his wife, Helen (Steel) Jones. They had married in June of 1905 and 312 Marlborough probably was their first home together. By the next season, they had moved to 301 Marlborough.
312 Marlborough was not listed in the 1907 Blue Book.
During the 1907-1908 and 1908-1909 winter seasons, 312 Marlborough was the home of Lawrence Murray Keeler and his wife, Elizabeth Klock (Whitin) Keeler. They previously had lived in an apartment at 409 Marlborough. He was a cotton machinery manufacturer. By 1910, they had moved to 395 Beacon.
312 Marlborough was not listed in the 1910 Blue Book.
The Perrys had resumed living at 312 Marlborough by the 1910-1911 winter season. They also continued to maintain their home in Hancock, New Hampshire.
Edith Perry married in April of 1916 to Edward Ballantine. After their marriage, they lived in an apartment at 497 Beacon. He was a noted composer and professor of music at Harvard. They divorced in August of 1929.
Thomas Perry died in May of 1928.
Lilla Perry continued to live at 312 Marlborough with their unmarried daughter, Margaret.
On June 29, 1929, the estate of Thomas Perry transferred 312 Marlborough into Margaret Perry’s name.
Lilla Perry died in February of 1933. Margaret Perry continued to live at 312 Marlborough and to maintain a home in Hancock, New Hampshire.
From about 1935, Margaret Perry was joined at 312 Marlborough by Miss Corinne B. Harmon, a musician.
In December of 1938, Margaret Perry filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a three-family dwelling.
At some time prior to 1942, the house was remodeled and an additional story was added and the roof modified into a steep mansard with a large window. It appears likely that this occurred during Lilla Perry’s lifetime (i.e., prior to 1933), and that the window was designed to provide northern light for her studio. However, it is possible that it was part of the remodeling by her daughter in 1933, or in 1938 when the house was converted from a single-family dwelling into a three-family dwelling. However, neither the 1933 nor the 1938 permit application mentioned any such work.
Margaret Perry and Corinne Harmon continued to live at 312 Marlborough until about 1943.
From about 1943, Margaret Perry lived elsewhere and 312 Marlborough was the home of Corinne Harmon. The house remained Miss Perry’s property and apparently was operated by Miss Harmon as a lodging house. She continued to live there until about 1950.
In August of 1950, Margaret Perry filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 312 Marlborough from a lodging house into six apartments. She lived in one of the apartments until about 1959.
On December 31, 1956, and January 2, 1957, Margaret Perry transferred 312 Marlborough to Miss Patricia Couse Holsaert, who also lived in one of the apartments. She continued to live there until about 1966 and also maintained a winter home in Tucson.
On September 1, 1966, 312 Marlborough was acquired from Patricia Holsaert by advertising executive John Garry Kasten and his wife, Mary (Boreyko) Kasten. They lived at 259 Marlborough.
On August 29, 1967, 312 Marlborough was purchased from the Kastens by the National Realty Company (Charles Talanian, president). In October of 1967, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of units from six to seven. On December 6, 1979, Natioanal Realty transferred the property to Chatal Associates LP (Charles Talanian, general partner).
On August 24, 1984, 312 Marlborough was purchased from Chatal Associates LP by the Roosevelt Realty Company (Elliot Lifland, J. William Pinkos, and Irwin Sparr, general partners).
The property changed hands, remaining an apartment building in 2021.