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). 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.
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, 402 Marlborough was the home of boot and shoe manufacturer George Martin Coburn and his wife, Louise (Gage) Coburn. They previously had lived at 337 Marlborough. Louise Coburn is shown as the owner of 402 Marlborough on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps. They also maintained a home in Duxbury.
They continued to live at 402 Marlborough in 1899, but were living elsewhere during the 1899-1900 winter season and 402 Marlborough was the home of the Misses Spaulding.
By 1901 the Coburns living there once again, and continued to live there until about 1902, when they made Duxbury their primary residence. Louise Coburn died in October of 1905 in Duxbury; however, she continued to be shown as the owner of 402 Marlborough on the 1908, 1912, and 1917 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner until 1927 (George Coburn died in October of 1927).
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 been married in October of 1904, and 402 Marlborough probably 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.
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 in 1910, but had moved to 341 Marlborough by 1911.
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 been married in March of 1910; before their marriage, he had lived at 140 Beacon. Christine Snelling was the widow of John Linzee Snelling, who died in January of 1907. They 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 maiden 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 dring the 1919-1920 season, but moved thereafter to 377 Marlborough.
By the 1920-1921 winter season, 402 Marlborough had been converted 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 1925, 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 continued to live at 402 Marlborough in 1926, but had moved to an apartment at 421 Marlborough by 1927.
By 1927, 402 Marlborough was owned by Robert Priestley Smith, a knit goods manufacturer, and his wife. Rachel M. (McLean) Smith. They lived in Harvard, Massachusetts. Rachel M. Smith was the assessed owner of 402 Marlborough from 1928 through 1934 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.
By 1928, 402 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Bertha Elizabeth (Roberts) Coats, the widow of Herbert Philip Coats, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 390 Marlborough. She continued to live at 402 Marlborough in 1929, 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 had moved from 402 Marlborough by 1931.
In the spring of 1931, 402 Marlborough was purchased from the Smiths by Dr. Frederick A. Marsden, a physician, who briefly made it his home. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on March 18, 1931. He was the assessed owner (shown as Lewis A. Marsden) in 1931. He had lived in an apartment at 405 Marlborough in 1931. By 1932, he was living there again and Rachel Smith was once again the assessed owner of 402 Marlborough.
By 1933, 402 Marlborough was the home of Rachel Smith’s brother-in-law and sister, Herbert Griggs Brooks and Annie C. (McLean) Brooks. They previously had lived in Arlington. Rachel Smith continued to be the assessed owner of 402 Marlborough through 1934, and the Franklin Savings Bank was the assessed owner in 1935. From 1936, Ann C. Brooks was the assessed owner and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map; she continued to be the assessed owner through 1950.
Herbert Brooks was an optometrist and also maintained his office at 402 Marlborough. They also continued to accept lodgers.
He died in November of 1944. Ann Brooks continued to live at 402 Marlborough until about 1950.
By 1951, 402 Marlborough was the home of Nicola Nazzaro, a chef, and his wife, Marie Nazzaro, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 11 Dartmouth Place. Nicola Nazzaro et al were the assessed owners of 402 Marlborough in 1951. They continued to live there in 1952, but had moved to 3 Buswell by 1953.
By 1952, 402 Marlborough was owned by Nadine Yvonne (Robinson) Harris, the wife of Thomas Burton Harris, who was the assessed owner in 1952 and 1953. It continued to be a lodging house. Thomas and Nadine Harris lived in Cambridge; he was a real estate dealer.
In 1953, 402 Marlborough became a women’s dormitory owned by Northeastern University. In June of 1953, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior. The application indicated that the current and proposed use was as a lodging house.
The property subsequently changed ownership but remained a Northeastern University dormitory until about 1972. During the mid-1960s, it was licensed as the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house.
In about 1962, Mario Nicosia and William Sutar acquired 402 Marlborough. 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, it was the Project Place Runaway House.
In January of 1981, the 402 Marlborough Corporation purchased 402 Marlborough from Mario Nicosia.
It remained the Project Place Runaway House in 1981, and probably later.
The property changed hands, remaining a dormitory, and in January of 1992 was purchased by Patricia M. Bailey, trustee of the 402 Marlborough Renewal Trust.
In November of 1997, Meridian Investment Management Inc. filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into five apartments.
In January of 1998, the Marlborough Street Corp. purchased 402 Marlborough from Patricia M. Bailey.
In May of 1998, Meridian Investment filed for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a penthouse addition. The penthouse also been included in Meridian Investment’s application in November of 1997.
In April of 1999, the Marlborough Street Corp. converted 402 Marlborough into five condominium units, The Coburn House Condominium.