402 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) built for speculative sale. They are shown as the owners on the original building permit application, dated November 15, 1887, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 26, 1888.
The land for 398-400-402 Marlborough was part of a parcel with a 498 foot frontage on Marlborough, extending to Massachusetts Avenue, purchased by Benjamin Crowninshield and Walter Cabot on January 20, 1880, from John Brooks Fenno and William Storer Eaton. Benjamin Crowninshield and Walter Cabot sold the remainder of the parcel as undeveloped lots.
J. Brooks Fenno and William Eaton had purchased the 498 foot parcel on January 20, 1880 (the same day they sold it to Benjamin Crowninshield and Walter Cabot) from Grenville T. W. Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Henry M. Whitney, trustees of a real estate investment trust that had purchased several parcels of land on March 1, 1872, from the Boston Water Power Company.
The land owned by the trust originally had been divided 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 south side of Marlborough at a point about 394 feet west of Hereford. After the street was discontinued as a public thoroughfare in 1877, Grenville Braman and his partners acquired the roadway and the land beneath it, and combined it with their other property. The houses at 396-398-400-402-404-406 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 402 Marlborough, and click here for further information on the land on the south side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue.
On March 31, 1890, 402 Marlborough was purchased from Benjamin W. Crowninshield and Walter C. Cabot by boot and shoe manufacturer George Martin Coburn. He and his wife, Louise (Gage) Coburn, made it their home. They previously had lived at 337 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Duxbury.
On April 1, 1891, he transferred the property into his wife’s name.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, the Coburns were living elsewhere and 402 Marlborough was the home of the Misses Spaulding. They had moved by the next season and the Coburns were living there once again.
They continued to live at 402 Marlborough during the 1901-1902 season, after which they made Duxbury their primary residence. Louise Coburn continued to own 402 Marlborough and lease it to others.
By the 1902-1903 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of cotton mill executive Jacob Herbert Sawyer and his wife. Lucy Mansfield (Newhall) Sawyer. They previously had lived in Newton. They continued to live at 402 Marlborough during the 1903-1904 season, but moved thereafter.
During the 1904-1905 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of coal dealer George Peabody Hamlin and his wife, Mary Farnsworth (Tappan) Hamlin. They had married in October of 1904, and 402 Marlborough was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 185 Bay State Road with his unmarried sisters, Harriet Gertrude Hamlin and Jane Griswold Coit Hamlin, and by the 1905-1906 season, he and wife were living with them again at 185 Bay State Road.
Louise Coburn died in October of 1905 in Duxbury. In her will, she left all of her property in trust, with George Coburn as trustee, for the benefit of their three children: Louise Coburn, Ralph G. Coburn, and Dorothy Coburn. The trust continued to lease 402 Marlborough to others.
By the 1905-1906 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Sarah Ellery Sargent (Austin) Greene, the widow of William Batchelder Greene, Jr. He had died in September of 1904; before his death, they had lived at 524 Warren Street. Living with her at 402 Marlborough were their five children: Elizabeth Shaw Greene, Gladis Greene, Elbridge Gerry Greene, Quincy Shaw Greene, and Valerie Constance Greene.
Sarah Greene died in March of 1907. Her children continued to live at 402 Marlborough in 1908. By 1910, they had moved to 341 Marlborough.
By the 1908-1909 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Frances Duer (Jones) Key, the former wife of John James Key, and their two daughters, Jean Frances Duer Key and Katherine Voorhis Key. They previously had lived at 6 Gloucester.
They continued to live at 402 Marlborough during the 1909-1910 winter season, but moved thereafter to 341 Marlborough.
By the 1910-1911 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Russell Green Fessenden and his wife, Christine Louise (Lulu) Whitredge (Williams) Snelling Fessenden. They had married in March of 1910 and 402 Marlborough was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 140 Beacon. She was the widow of John Linzee Snelling, who died in January of 1907, and had lived in Newton. Their son, Henry Bigelow Williams Snelling, lived with the Fessendens at 402 Marlborough.
Russell Fessenden was a banker, president of the American Trust Company.
The Fessendens continued to live at 402 Marlborough during the 1916-1917 winter season, but moved thereafter. In January of 1920, at the time of the US Census, the Fessendens and Henry B. W. Snelling were living in Brookline with Christine Fessenden’s unmarried aunt, Emma Williams.
By the 1917-1918 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Merrihew (Plummer) Grinnell, the former wife of Dr. Francis Browne Grinnell, a physician, and their three minor children: Frederick, Francis, Jr., and Robert. They continued to live there during the 1919-1920 season, but moved thereafter to 377 Marlborough.
By the 1920-1921 winter season, 402 Marlborough had been converted into a combination of medical offices and lodgings, with several doctors living and maintaining their offices there. Among the residents were Dr. Joseph Charles Aub, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who later would become noted for his cancer research, and Dr. Paul Dudley White, an instructor at Harvard Medical School who later was a noted cardiologist and advocate of preventative cardiology.
By the 1925-1926 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Bertha Hosford (Sawin) Coombs, the wife of Frank Edwin Coombs, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived in Natick. Frank Coombs was a chemist and in the early 1920s was US Department of Commerce trade commissioner in the West Indies. He lived in San Francisco. She had moved to an apartment at 421 Marlborough by 1927.
On May 5, 1927, George Coburn, as trustee under Louise Coburn’s will, transferred 402 Marlborough to their three children: Louise Coburn, Ralph G. Coburn, and Dorothy (Coburn) Stone (who had married James Sidney Stone in June of 1912). On the same day, the property was purchased from them by Robert Priestley Smith, a knit goods manufacturer. He and his wife. Rachel M. (McLean) Smith, lived in Harvard, Massachusetts. On September 22, 1927, he transferred the property into his wife’s name.
By the 1927-1928 winter season, 402 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Bertha Elizabeth (Roberts) Coats, the former wife of Herbert Philip Coats, who operated it as a lodging house. Their son, Herbert Philip Coats, Jr., lived with her. They previously had lived at 390 Marlborough. She continued to live at 402 Marlborough during the 1928-1929 season, but moved thereafter.
By 1930, Robert and Rachel Smith had moved to 402 Marlborough, which remained a lodging house. They also continued to maintain a home in Harvard. They moved from 402 Marlborough by 1931.
On March 7, 1931, 402 Marlborough was acquired from Rachel Smith by Dr. Frederick Allen Marsden, a physician, and on March 10, 1931, he transferred the property to his brother, Lewis Arthur Marsden. They both lived at 402 Marlborough in 1931. Frederick Marsden previously had lived in an apartment at 405 Marlborough , and by 1932, he was living there again. Lewis Marsden’s primary residence was in Rochester, New Hampshire.
On March 2, 1932, Rachel Smith acquired 402 Marlborough back from Lewis Marsden.
By 1933, 402 Marlborough was the home of Rachel Smith’s brother-in-law and sister, Herbert Griggs Brooks and Anne C. (McLean) Brooks. They previously had lived in Arlington. Herbert Brooks was an optometrist and also maintained his office at 402 Marlborough. They also continued to accept lodgers.
On October 16, 1934, the Franklin Savings Bank of the City of Boston foreclosed on a mortgage it held on 402 Marlborough and took possession of the property, On February 5, 1935, it was acquired from the bank by Ann Brooks.
Herbert Brooks died in November of 1944. Ann Brooks continued to live at 402 Marlborough until about 1950.
On August 2, 1950, 402 Marlborough was purchased from Ann Brooks by Aaron Shindler, and on September 11, 1950, it was acquired from him by Nicola Nazzaro, a chef, and his wife, Marie Nazzaro, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 11 Dartmouth Place. They continued to live there in 1952, but had moved to 3 Buswell by 1953.
On December 12, 1951, 402 Marlborough was acquired from the Nazarros by Nadine Yvonne (Robinson) Harris, the wife of real estate dealer Thomas Burton Harris. They lived in Cambridge. 402 Marlborough continued to be a lodging house.
On May 8, 1953, 402 Marlborough was purchased from Nadine Harris by James E. Cambourelis, and on June 26, 1953, it was acquired from him by Northeastern University.
In June of 1953, Northeastern University applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior. The application indicated that the current and proposed use was as a lodging house. It subsequently became a women’s dormitory for Northeastern students.
On August 9, 1962, 402 Marlborough was acquired from Northeastern University by the T. E. P. Student Aid Foundation at Northeastern University. 402 Marlborough subsequently became the fraternity house of the Northeastern University chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity.
On May 20, 1971, 402 Marlborough was acquired from the T. E. P. Student Aid Foundation at Northeastern University by Mario Nicosia and William Sutar. On March 23, 1972, they transferred the property to Mario Nicosia as trustee of the 402 Marlborough Street Realty Trust.
In December of 1975, Mario Nicosia filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as a lodging house, which he noted had been its use for many years.
By 1976, 402 Marlborough was a runaway house operated by Project Place. Project Place was formed in 1967 to be (as described on its website in 2018) “a dedicated safe haven for runaway teenagers, especially at risk and drug-addicted youth.” The runaway house remained at 402 Marlborough until the early 1980s.
On January 5, 1981, 402 Marlborough was acquired from Mario Nicosia by the 402 Marlborough Corporation (Steven DiSarro, president and treasurer). On September 1, 1982, Steven DiSarro’s wife, Pamela J. DiSarro, as trustee of the P. J. D. Realty Trust, purchased 402 Marlborough from the 402 Marlborough Corporation.
On December 14, 1983, 402 Marlborough was purchased from Pamela DiSarro by Kevin Haney and Robert S. Merowitz, trustees of the 402 Marlborough Street Trust.
The property remained a dormitory.
On January 24, 1992, 402 Marlborough was acquired from Kevin Haney and Robery Merowitz by Patricia M. Bailey, trustee of the 402 Marlborough Renewal Trust.
On January 28, 1998, 402 Marlborough was purchased from Patricia Bailey by the Marlborough Street Corp. In May of 1998, Meridian Investment Management filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into five apartments and a penthouse. Carl Stegerwald, senior vice president of Meridian Investment Management, was treasurer of the Marlborough Street Corp.
In April of 1999, the Marlborough Street Corp. converted 402 Marlborough into five condominium units, The Coburn House Condominium.