387 Marlborough was designed by architect Obed F. Smith and built in 1880-1881 by Vinal & Dodge, masons, and G. & E. Stewart, carpenters, for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., for speculative sale. It was one of six contiguous houses (381-383-385-387-389-391 Marlborough) built at the same time and one of twelve contiguous houses (369-371-373-375-377-379-381-383-385-387-389-391 Marlborough) built for George Wheatland, Jr., in 1879-1881. He is shown as the owner of 381-391 Marlborough on the original building permit application for the six houses, dated November 11, 1880 (one application for six houses).
The twelve houses were built in three groups: three at 369-371-373 Marlborough in 1879-1880, three at 375-377-379 Marlborough in 1880, and six at 381-383-385-387-389-391 Marlborough in 1880-1881. The six at 369-379 Marlborough are of the same design, and the six at 381-391 Marlborough also are of the same design as each other and quite similar to the six at 369-379 Marlborough.
George Wheatland, Jr., purchased the land for the twelve houses at 369-391 Marlborough through two transactions. He purchased the eastern 200 feet on May 10, 1872, from Daniel Davies, part of a larger parcel Daniel Davies had purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on June 12, 1868. George Wheatland, Jr., subsequently transferred two-thirds interest to William Dudley Pickman and William Pickering Fay under a trust agreement and the remaining one-third to his father, George Wheatland, Sr., of Salem. The land remained vacant for the next seven years.
On October 9, 1879, George Wheatland, Jr., purchased the land to the west, with a 80.58 foot frontage, from Grenville T. W. Braman, and subsequently transferred the lot to his father. The 80.58 foot parcel originally had been intersected by Parker Street, a 60 foot wide street located on top of the Cross Dam, which ran southwest from Beacon at approximately a 45 degree angle, intersecting the north side of Marlborough at a point about 355 feet west of Hereford. Grenville Braman had purchased the eastern portion of the lot from Daniel Davies on October 1, 1872, a triangular lot bounded on the west by Parker Street. In the late 1870s, Parker Street was abandoned and, through a series of transactions, Grenville Braman purchased the land under the roadway, another triangular parcel which he combined with the first to create the rectangular lot he then sold to George Wheatland, Jr.
George Wheatland, Jr., subsequently built the twelve houses at 369-391 Marlborough on 276 feet of the combined 280.58 foot parcel (the 4 feet to the east and the 0.58 feet to the west were sold by his father to others). The houses at 385-387-389-391 Marlborough were partially built on land that previously had been Parker Street, with the Cross Dam below.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 387 Marlborough, and click here for further information on the land on the north side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue.
As the houses were completed, William D. Pickman and the estate of William P. Fay (who had died in March of 1879) transferred their two-thirds interest to George Wheatland, Sr. He subsequently sold the houses to individual purchasers.
On April 21, 1882, 387 Marlborough was purchased from George Wheatland, Sr., by Henry Martyn Dexter. He and his wife, Emeline (Palmer) Dexter lived in New Bedford, and he purchased the property to be the home of their son and daughter-in-law, Henry Morton (called Morton) Dexter and Emily Loud (Sanford) Dexter, who had married in June of 1881.
By the 1882-1883 winter season, Morton and Emily Dexter had made 387 Marlborough their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Brunswick (southeast corner of Clarendon and Boylston). An ordained Congregational minister, he was editor of The Congregationalist and an historian.
On February 15, 1886, Henry Martyn Dexter transferred 387 Marlborough to his son.
During the 1895-1896 winter season, the Dexters were living elsewhere and 387 Marlborough was the home of Emily (Sanford) Dexter’s parents, John Eliot Sanford and Emily Jane (White) Sanford. They previously had lived at 292 Marlborough. Their primary residence was in Taunton.
John Sanford was an attorney and former member of the State Senate and State House of Representative, having served as Speaker of the House in the early 1870s. From 1882 to 1892, he was Chairman of the State Harbor and Land Commission, and from 1892 to 1899 he was Chairman of the State Railroad Commission.
Morton and Emily Dexter resumed living at 387 Marlborough during the 1896-1897 winter season, and continued to live there through the 1902-1903 season.
During the 1903-1904 winter season they leased a home in Chestnut Hill. They spent the next season in Europe, and then lived at The Somerset and then the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth during the subsequent two seasons.
While the Dexters were living elsewhere, 387 Marlborough was the home of Dr. George Strong Derby and his wife, Mary Brewster (Brown) Derby. He was an ophthalmologist (and later Ophthalmic Chief at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary), and also maintained his medical office at 387 Marlborough. They had married in August of 1901, after which they had lived in New York City. They continued to live (and he to maintain his office) at 387 Marlborough until about 1907, when they moved to 7 Hereford.
Morton Dexter died in October of 1910. Emily Dexter continued to live at 387 Marlborough.
Emily Dexter spent the 1924-1925 winter season at the Copley Plaza Hotel and 387 Marlborough was the home of her unmarried sister, Katherine (Kate) Irving Sanford. She previously had lived at 130 Marlborough. She also maintained a home in Taunton. By 1925, she had moved to 353 Beacon.
Emily Dexter continued to live at 387 Marlborough during the 1929-1930 winter season, after which she moved to the Copley Plaza Hotel. She died in May of 1933.
387 Marlborough was not listed in the 1931-1934 Blue Books.
On August 13, 1934, 387 Marlborough was purchased from Emily Dexter’s estate by Edward F. Cassell, a real estate broker. He and his wife, Agnes Gertrude (Lynch) Cassell, made it their home. They previously had lived at 857 Beacon.
In March of 1951, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to make interior alterations. The house continued to be a single-family dwelling.
Agnes Cassell died in May of 1959. Edward Cassell continued to live at 387 Marlborough in 1960, but moved thereafter.
On May 15, 1960, 387 Marlborough was acquired from Edward Cassell by real estate dealers Stuart H. Hastings and Joseph A. Gautreau. In July of 1960, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into ten apartments. In their application, they stated that the previous use had been as a lodging house (based on the Lists of Residents, this appears not to have been correct).
The property changed hands and on November 23, 1982, was purchased by Elisabeth S. Evans, trustee of the Cove Realty Trust. On February 23, 1983, she transferred the property to E. I. Inc., of which she was the president and treasurer.
On December 6, 1983, E. I. Inc. converted the property into ten condominium units, the 387 Marlborough Street Condominium.