321 Marlborough was designed by architect Frederic H. Moore and built ca. 1873, one of two contiguous houses (321-323 Marlborough) of the same design with brownstone façades.
321-323 Marlborough were built for building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames, two of five houses at the northeast corner of Marlborough and Gloucester that he built at about the same time for speculative sale. The other three, at 3-5-7 Gloucester, also were designed by Frederic H. Moore but with brick façades.
The houses at 3-5-7 Gloucester were built first, on land owned by the estate of Joshua Stetson, with a depth of 54 feet on Marlborough. On February 1, 1873, after the houses were completed, Samuel T. Ames and Frederic H. Moore purchased the land from the Stetson estate. They sold 3 Gloucester and 5 Gloucester to individual buyers; 7 Gloucester became the home of Samuel Ames and his wife, Mary Hartwell (Barr) Ames.
On February 13, 1873, Samuel T. Ames purchased the lot to the east, with a 48 foot frontage, from William Gaston. On June 19, 1873, he sold the eastern portion of the lot, at 321 Marlborough, with a 22 foot 3 inch frontage, to Herbert E. Barney, a builder who probably was constructing both 321 and 323 Marlborough under an agreement with Samuel Ames. Samuel Ames retained the western portion of the lot, where 323 Marlborough was built with a frontage of 22 feet 9 inches. On August 1, 1873, he sold the remaining 3 feet to the west to the owners of the three houses at 3-5-7 Gloucester, who thereby increased the depth of their lots from 54 feet to 57 feet.
Frederic Moore is shown as the architect for 3-5-7 Gloucester on a plot plan recorded with the deed by which he and Samuel T. Ames purchased the land from the Stetson estate. 321-323 Marlborough are attributed to Frederic Moore by Bainbridge Bunting in his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay.
All of the land on which 321-323 Marlborough and 3-5-7 Gloucester were built was part of one of several parcels originally 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 321 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 416, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On February 20, 1874, 321 Marlborough was purchased from Herbert Barney by Kate (Benjamin) Marcus, the wife of African diamond merchant Alfred Abraham Marcus. They lived at 170 West Canton.
On September 16, 1874, 321 Marlborough was purchased from Kate Marcus by Lucy Jones (Austin) Whiting, the wife of George Augustus Whiting. They previously had lived at 42 Monument Square in Charlestown.
George Whiting was a dealer in ruffling and trimming, and later would become a lumber merchant.
In 1877, they were living temporarily at 7 Bulfinch Place and 321 Marlborough was the home of real estate developer William Henry Harrison Newman and his wife, Sarah E. (Cole) Newman. They had lived at 431 Beacon in 1876. By 1878, they had moved to the newly-completed Hotel Cluny at 543 Boylston, near the northwest corner of Clarendon and Boylston, which he had built and owned.
The Whitings resumed living at 321 Marlborough in 1878, joined by Dr. George Henry Gay, a physician, and his wife, Elizabeth Greenough (Lewis) Gay. They previously had lived at 111 Boylston.
Dr. Gay died in August of 1878. The Whitings and Mrs. Gay continued to live at 321 Marlborough during the 1878-1879 winter season. By 1880, the Whitings were living in Marblehead and Elizabeth Gay was living at 385 Beacon.
By the 1879-1880 winter season, 321 Marlborough was the home of Jesse Elliott Jacobs and his wife, Margaret Dwight (Bell) Jacobs. They previously had lived in Chicago. Margaret Jacobs’s sister, Florence (Bell) Wood, the widow of Joseph Pilmore Wood, and their children, lived with them. Jesse Jacobs was a life insurance agent.
The Jacobses and Florence Wood continued to live at 321 Marlborough during the 1880-1881 season, but moved thereafter and by 1883 were living in Baltimore.
On August 26, 1881, 321 Marlborough was purchased from Lucy Whiting by George L. Phillips. He and his wife, Mary Adele (Bronson) Phillips, made it their home during the 1881-1882 winter season. They previously had lived in the Longwood district of Brookline. He was an executive of the American Bell Telephone Company, having joined the company about 1880. He previously had been president of the Dayton Telephone Exchange. They returned to Dayton in 1882.
321 Marlborough was not listed in the1883 Blue Book.
On February 17, 1883, 321 Marlborough was purchased from George Phillips by attorney William Minot, III (called William Minot, Jr.) and his wife, Elizabeth Vredenburgh (Van Pelt) Minot. They had married in June of 1882.
On October 12, 1891, 321 Marlborough was purchased from William Minot, Jr., by William Raymond Driver. He and his wife, Ellen Salisbury (Brown) Driver, made it their home. They had lived at 341 Marlborough during the previous season. They also maintained a home in Beverly.
William Driver died in July of 1920. Ellen Driver continued to live at 321 Marlborough, and in Beverly, until her death in September of 1925.
On May 5, 1925, 321 Marlborough was purchased from the Drivers’ children (William Raymond Driver, Jr., and Eleanor Salisbury (Driver) Rantoul, wife William Gibbons Rantoul) by bond broker Eben Shearman Doolittle and his wife, Alice Watson (Lowery) Doolittle. They had lived at 9 Gloucester during the previous season. They also maintained a home in York Harbor, Maine.
On October 27, 1950, 321 Marlborough was acquired from Alice Doolittle by the Mimaur Realty Company, operated by Michael (Max) Lilly. He also was a partner in the Lilly Construction Company with his father, Harry Lilly, and brother, David Lilly.
On April 6, 1951, 321 Marlborough was acquired from Mimaur Realty by Ella Frances (Brennan) Wasserman, the wife of Samuel Wasserman, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 204 Beacon. By 1953, they had moved to 167 Marlborough.
The Wassermans continued to own 321 Marlborough and, on May 15, 1956, Ella Wasserman transferred the property into both of their names. In October of 1958, Samuel Wasserman applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as eight apartments, stating that it was an existing condition when he purchased the property.
On February 13, 1959, 321 Marlborough was purchased from the Wassermans by the Cochrane Realty Corp. (Herbert Tonry, president).
The property changed hands and on November 8, 1965, was acquired by David C. Walker, trustee of the Three Twenty Three Trust. In July of 1965, he had acquired 323 Marlborough.
The property changed hands, with 321 and 323 Marlborough continuing to be owned by a single owner, and on June 20, 1969, they were acquired by Margaret E. (Gardner) Fleischhacker, wife of real estate dealer Rudy Joseph Fleischhacker, as trustee of the Margaret Realty Trust.
On July 14, 1975, the Workingmens Cooperative Bank foreclosed its mortgage to Margaret Fleischhacker and took possession of 321 and 323 Marlborough, and on August 25, 1975, the properties were acquired from the bank by Allan M. Haven and Miriam S. Haven.
On February 29, 1984, 321 and 323 Marlborough were acquired from Allan and Miriam Haven by Anna Keliher, trustee of the 321-323 Marlborough Street Trust. In 1986, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of units at 321 Marlborough from eight to nine.
321 and 323 Marlborough remained apartment buildings in 2020.
On June 29, 2020, 321 Marlborough and 323 Marlborough were purchased from James E. Keliher, successor trustee of the 321-323 Marlborough Street Trust, by Marlborough Home, LLC. The purchase followed a June 10, 2020, decision by the Back Bay Architectural Commission approving architectural plans associated with combining the two buildings into a single family dwelling.