398 Marlborough was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1887-1888 by Woodbury & Leighton, builders, for Benjamin Williams Crowninshield and Walter Channing Cabot, one of three contiguous houses (398-400-402 Marlborough). They are shown as the owners on the final building inspection report, dated December 26, 1888.
On the 1888 Bromley map, W. C. Cabot and B. W. Crowninshield are shown as the owners of all of the undeveloped land west of 396 Marlborough. They continued to be shown as the owners of 398 and 402 Marlborough on the 1890 map.
By the 1890-1891 winter season, 398 Marlborough was the home of Walter Channing Cabot’s son-in-law and daughter, attorney Robert Treat Paine, II, and Ruth (Cabot) Paine. They had been married in May of 1890, and 398 Marlborough probably was their first home together. They continued to live there in 1894, but moved soon thereafter to Brookline.
By the 1894-1895 winter season, 398 Marlborough was the home of Dr. Joel Ernest Goldthwait and his wife, Jessie Sophie (Rand) Goldthwait. He was an orthopedic surgeon and also maintained his office at 396 Marlborough. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his office) at 719 Boylston.
Joel Goldthwait is shown as the owner of 398 Marlborough on the 1895 Bromley map. Jessie Goldthwait is shown as the owner on the 1898 map and was the assessed owner through 1905.
In 1898, the Goldthwaits purchased 372 Marlborough and he converted into medical offices for himself and several other physicians.
They continued to live at 398 Marlborough in 1904, but had moved to Hyde Park by 1905.
By the 1905-1906 winter season, 398 Marlborough was the home of Dr. William Fessenden Wesselhoeft and his wife, Emily (Bradley) Wesselhoeft. They previously had lived with his father, Dr. William Palmer Wesselhoeft, at 176 Commonwealth. Emily Wesselhoeft was the assessed owner of 398 Marlborough from 1906 through 1924, and is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.
William Wesselhoeft was a homeopathic physician. He maintained his offices at 398 Marlborough.
William Wesselhoeft’s father died in August of 1909, and William and Emily Wesselhoeft moved temporarily to his home at 176 Commonwealth. They remained there until the house was sold in December of 1911, after which they moved back to 398 Marlborough.
In 1911, while the Wesselhoefts were living at 176 Commonwealth, 398 Marlborough was the home of Charles Benjamin Barnes, Jr., a lawyer, and his wife, Josephine Lea (Low) Barnes. Their primary residence was in Hingham, but in 1909 they also had maintained a Boston home at 211 Beacon. When the Wesselhoefts moved back to 398 Marlborough, the Barneses moved to 176 Commonwealth for the 1911-1912 winter season. By 1913, they were living at 111 Marlborough, Charles Barnes’s parents’ former home (his father died in June of 1912).
The Wesselhoefts continued to live at 398 Marlborough until about 1918, and he continued to maintain his medical offices there. In 1918-1919, he was a Lt. Colonel in the US Army, serving as director of Base Hospital 44 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and in France. By 1920, they had moved to The Austerfield at 7-9 Massachusetts Avenue, and he had moved his offices to the Hotel Cambridge at 483-485 Beacon.
398 Marlborough was not listed in the 1919 Blue Book.
By the 1919-1920 winter season, 398 Marlborough was the fraternity house of the MIT (Lambda Zeta) Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha. It continued to be located there in 1922.
By 1923, it was the MIT chapter of the Phi Mu Delta fraternity. It continued to be located there in 1924, but had moved to 354 Commonwealth by 1925.
In the spring of 1924, 398 Marlborough was acquired from Emily Wesselhoeft by Thomas E. Dempsey. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on April 16, 1924.
It subsequently was acquired by David Jacobs, who was the assessed owner in 1925, and then by Edward F. Cassell.
398 Marlborough was not listed in the 1925 and 1926 Blue Books.
In mid-1925, 398 Marlborough was acquired from Edward Cassell by Shirley Clifford Speed. S. Clifford Speed was a real estate dealer who converted many Back Bay houses into lodging houses and apartments.
About one month later, 398 Marlborough was purchased from S. Clifford Speed by Donald McDonald. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 19, 1925. He was the assessed owner in 1926.
In 1925, it was the home of Lena E. (Marsh) Bryer, the widow of John H. Bryer, Jr., where she operated the Candle Light Tea Room and also maintained a lodging house. She previously had lived in Westfield. Shad had moved from 398 Marlborough by 1926.
In mid-1926, 398 Marlborough was purchased from Donald McDonald by Miss Marie Louise Vernier, who operated the property as a lodging house. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 30, 1926. She previously had lived at 32 Appleton. She was the assessed owner from 1927 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps. She continued to live there until her death in July of 1968.
By 1971, 398 Marlborough was owned by the Spiritual Science Foundation.
The property changed hands and in June of 1982 was purchased by Babak Bagheral, trustee of the 398 Marlborough Trust.
In June of 1987, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into seven apartments. There was no prior record of the legal occupancy, but in filings associated with the application, it was stated that the property had been a lodging house since the mid-1960s.
The property changed hands and in August of 1998 was purchased by Marlborough Kostigen LLC.
In October of 1998, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to add a penthouse. That same month, it converted the property into seven condominium units, the 398 Marlborough Condominium.
In May of 1999, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units from seven to six.