396 Marlborough was designed by Cummings and Sears, architects, and built in 1887 by Whidden, Hill & Co., builders, as the home of Mrs. Sarah (Shaw) Davis, the widow of lawyer Samuel Crafts Davis, Jr. She is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated June 21, 1887, on the final building inspection report, dated August 13, 1888, and on the 1888, 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1909.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, 396 Marlborough was the home and office of Dr. William Carter Quinby and Dr. Theodore Jewett Eastman, physicians. They both previously had lived and maintained their offices at The Graffam at 330 Dartmouth. Dr. Quinby was the assessed owner of 396 Marlborough from 1910 through 1915, and is shown as the owner on the 1912 Bromley map.
William Quinby married in January of 1910 to Marguerite Elizabeth Thayer. After their marriage they lived at 396 Marlborough until about 1912, when they moved to an apartment at 407 Marlborough and he moved his offices to Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley (29 Commonwealth).
Theodore Eastman also continued to live and maintain his offices at 396 Marlborough until about 1912. By 1913, he had moved to 71 Marlborough.
By the 1912-1913 winter season, 396 Marlborough was the home of Dr. Chandler Robbins, Jr., and his wife, Laura Wolcott (Foster) Robbins. He also maintained his medical offices there. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his medical offices) at 386 Commonwealth.
Chandler Robbins was a physician specializing in the nose and throat. He was a Harvard classmate of William Quinby.
Chandler and Laura Robbins continued to live (and he to maintain his medical office) at 396 Marlborough in 1915. By 1916, they had moved to Weston and he had moved his office to 355 Marlborough.
Henry S. Shaw — probably Henry Southworth Shaw, the brother of Sarah (Shaw) Davis — was the assessed owner of 395 Marlborough in 1916.
In mid-1916, 396 Marlborough was acquired by Susan Sherry. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 20, 1916. She was the assessed owner in 1917 and is shown as the owner on the 1917 Bromley map. She appears to be Susan (Fitzpatrick) Sherry, former wife of Thomas Sherry (Sharey), who was associated with a brokerage firm and was frequently named as a purchaser or conveyancer of property in articles on real estate transactions in the Boston Globe between 1911 and the early 1920s.
In mid-1917, 396 Marlborough was acquired from Susan Sherry by Dr. Gardner Wells Hall and his wife, Elizabeth Hancock (Page) Hall. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on June 23, 1917. They previously had lived at 475 Beacon. Elizabeth H. Hall was the assessed owner of 395 Marlborough from 1918 through 1938 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps. They also maintained a residence in Cataumet.
Gardner Wells was a physician and maintained his medical office at 396 Marlborough.
He died in April of 1935. Elizabeth Hall continued to live at 396 Marlborough until about 1938.
The house was shown as vacant in the 1939 and 1940 City Directories.
The Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company was the assessed owner of 396 Marlborough in 1939 and 1940.
In November of 1939, the Building Department advised Massachusetts Hospital Life that an application had been filed with the Licensing Board to use 396 Marlborough as a lodging house. The letter summarized the egress, change of use, and fire safety requirements to permit the property to be used for that purpose. The Building Department files do not include a permit application implementing these requirements.
In the spring of 1940, William H. Flaherty purchased 396 Marlborough from the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on May 5, 1940. He was the assessed owner from 1941 through 1953. An electrical engineer, he and his wife, George (Clark) Flaherty, lived in Brookline.
By 1941, 396 Marlborough was the home of Charles Bouin and his wife, May Regina (Flaherty) McEvoy Bouin. They previously had lived in Newton. May Bouin was William Flaherty’s sister.
Charles Bouin was a retired physician employed in research with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Charles Bouin died in January of 1951 and William Flaherty died in September of 1951. May Bouin and her unmarried daughter, Regina Bouin, a teacher, continued to live at 396 Marlborough. May Bouin was the assessed owner from 1954. By the 1950s, and possibly before, she operated the property as a lodging house.
By 1958, 396 Marlborough was owned by C. Charles Todis. In January of 1958, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into nine apartments.
The property changed hands, including going through foreclosure, and in February of 1978 was purchased by Peter P. Papesch, trustee of the 396 Marlborough Street Realty Trust.
In March of 1981, he converted the property into seven condominium units, the 396 Marlborough Street Condominium.
In April of 1981, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from nine apartments into seven apartments, conforming the legal occupancy with condominium master deed. On June 19, 1981, he amended his plans to add a penthouse (the number of apartments remained seven).