394 Marlborough was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1885 by building contractor John W. Shapleigh, for speculative sale, one of three contiguous houses (390-392-394 Marlborough). John Shapleigh is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated April 6, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated October 29, 1886..
In October of 1886, boot and shoe dealer Guy Lamkin and his wife, Harriet P. (Learned) Lamkin, purchased 394 Marlborough from John Shapleigh. They previously had lived in West Newton. Harriet Lamkin is shown as the owner of 394 Marlborough on the 1888, 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1911.
They continued to live at 394 Marlborough in 1899, but had moved to Newton by 1900. They continued to own 394 Marlborough.
Guy Lamkin died in June of 1905, and Harriet Lamkin died in February of 1911. Their daughter, Lottie M. Lamkin, was the assessed owner of 394 Marlborough from 1912 through 1923, and is shown as the owner on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps.
By the 1899-1900 winter season, 394 Marlborough was the home of stockbroker Rogers Lewis Barstow, a widower, his sister, Eliza Barstow, and his unmarried children, Alice and Ezra Barstow. They previously had lived at The Charlesgate at 535 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Mattapoisett.
394 Marlborough was not listed in the 1904 Blue Book.
By 1905, 394 Marlborough had become medical offices and a lodging house.
It was the home of Mrs. Margaret Preston (Campbell) Dunlop, the widow of John Dunlop, who probably was the lodging house operator. She previously had lived at 374 Newbury. She continued to live at 394 Marlborough in 1909, but moved thereafter.
Among the lodgers at 394 Marlborough from 1905 through 1909 was Dr. Robert Patrick Fair. By 1910, he had moved to an apartment at 481 Beacon.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, 394 Marlborough was the home of Ernest Albert Long, a railroad freight yard foreman, and his wife, Sarah (Eadie) Long. They operated it as a lodging house, with 13 lodgers listed in the 1910 US Census. They previously had lived in Charlestown. They moved soon thereafter to Bethlehem, New Hampshire, where he later became a judge.
By the 1910-1911 winter season, 394 Marlborough was the home of Miss Mary J. McDonough and her unmarried brother, Timothy McDonough. Mary McDonough continued to operate the property as a combination of medical offices and a lodging house.
The house remained the property of the Lamkin family until the early 1920s. In October of 1922, Lottie M. Lamkin was cited by the Building Department because 394 Marlborough lacked the egress required for a lodging house.
By 1924, 394 Marlborough had been acquired by Mary McDonough and her sister, Honor McDonough. Mary J. McDonough et al were the assessed owners from 1924 through 1937 and are shown as the owners on the 1928 Bromley map.
In August of 1925, Mary McDonough applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior, including providing connecting balconies for egress. The work was not completed, however, and the permit was abandoned.
Timothy McDonough died in March of 1931 and Mary McDonough died in January of 1932. 394 Marlborough became the home of Honor McDonough, who previously had lived at 76 Bay State Road, where she had operated a lodging house. 394 Marlborough continued to be medical offices and a lodging house. Honor McDonough continued to live there until her death in June of 1936.
By 1938, 394 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Florence (Clarke) Lambert, the widow of Edward Thomas Lambert, who operated it as medical offices and a lodging house. She previously had lived at 21 St. Botolph. Elizabeth F. Lambert, trustee, was the assessed owner of 394 Marlborough from 1938 through 1943 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map. By 1939, she had moved to 1307 Commonwealth in Allston, where she operated Allston Realty.
By 1943, 394 Marlborough was owned by Lawson Roulston Ott, who lived at 344 Commonwealth with his mother, Mary (Roulstone) Ott, the widow of Dr. George J. Ott. Lawson Ott was the assessed owner of 394 Marlborough from 1944 through 1947.
In March of 1944, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as medical offices on the first floor and a lodging house on the upper floors. In conjunction with his application, he provided affidavits from Dr. Henry Hawkins, indicating that he had maintained his offices there for thirty years, and Dr. Ralph H. Ruggles, indicating that he had maintained his offices there for nineteen years.
Lawson Ott and his mother moved to 394 Marlborough in about 1944. She died in October of 1944; he continued to live there until about 1947.
By 1948, 394 Marlborough was the home of retired auto mechanic Henry Berg, a widower, who operated it as a lodging house. He previously had lived at 56 Temple. He was the assessed owner of 394 Marlborough from 1948 through 1955, and possibly later. He continued to live there until about 1955.
By 1959, 394 Marlborough was owned by the Copley Realty Trust. In October of 1959, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into ten apartments.
The property changed hands and in October of 1981 was purchased by Russell L. Peterson, trustee of the 394 Marlborough Street Realty Trust.
In January of 1982, he converted the property into ten condominium units, the 394 Marlborough Street Condominium.