439 Marlborough was built in 1885 for Chadwick & Stillings, for speculative sale, one of eight contiguous houses (431-445 Marlborough). Chadwick & Stillings (N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar L. Stillings) was a hat block and flange company that became a significant house building firm in the 1880s and 1890s. They are shown as the owners, architects, and builders on the original building permit applications for 431-445 Marlborough, dated June 16, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated November 13, 1886.
The houses were built under an agreement with Henry Whitney, who owned the land. He sold them the lots at 437-445 Marlborough and retained the lots at 431-435 Marlborough. Chadwick & Stillings built all eight houses and then they sold the houses at 437-445 Marlborough and Henry Whitney sold the houses at 431-435 Marlborough.
The land was part of a parcel Henry Whitney had acquired in two transactions, on November 24, 1882, and on March 20, 1885, all part of a tract of land originally purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on June 1, 1880, by a real estate investment trust formed by Francis W. Palfrey, Francis A. Osborn, and Grenville T. W. Braman.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 439 Marlborough, and click here for further information on the land west of Massachusetts Avenue between the south side of Beacon and the north side of Commonwealth.
In July of 1885, when the eight houses were under construction, real estate dealer Alexander H. Porter offered them for sale. His advertisement in the Boston Evening Transcript noted that “they have parlor, dining-room and kitchen on the first floor and are to be finished in hard wood. The prices will vary from $20,000 to $25,000. If purchased now they will be finished to suit, and minor changes in the plans can be made without extra cost.”
The location of the kitchen in an ell, on the same floor as the dining room, was a departure from the traditional plan for Back Bay houses, in which the kitchen was located on the basement level and the dining room was located on the floor above, with food transported by a dumb waiter from the kitchen to a pantry adjoining the dining room. In 1890, Chadwick & Stillings deviated even further from the norm when it built eight houses at 13-27 Bay State Road, also designed by Samuel Kelley, with the kitchen and laundry located on the top floor. According to an April 25, 1891, Boston Journal article, this design earned them the reputation of making “more radical departures from established customs in house building than any firm in Boston.”
On June 3, 1886, 439 Marlborough was purchased from N. Henry Chadwick and Oscar L. Stillings by Benjamin Howard Coffin, a wool broker. He and his wife, Henrietta (Hodgkins) Coffin, made it their home. They previously had lived at 162 West Chester Park.
They continued to live at 439 Marlborough during the 1889-1890 winter season, but moved thereafter to the Hotel Oxford (southeast corner of Exeter and Huntington).
439 Marlborough was not listed in the 1891 Blue Book.
On April 30, 1891, Benjamin Coffin offered 439 Marlborough for sale at auction. The advertisement in the Boston Globe described the “charming residence” as a “4-story swell-front brick dwelling house of 14 rooms; all the latest improvements; on first floor, parlor, centre hall, dining-room, each with open fireplaces and wood mantels, and kitchen; above is sitting-room and 8 chambers. The house in fine order, lower stories finished in hard wood.”
On May 21, 1891, 439 Marlborough was purchased from Benjamin Coffin by John W. Wheelwright and George Lewis, Jr., trustees under the will of George Lewis, Sr., as the home of George Lewis, Sr.’s son-and-law and daughter, John Heard, Jr., and Adeline Wheelwright (Lewis) Heard. They previously had lived in Medford. John Heard was a mining engineer.
By the 1892-1893 winter season, the Heards were living in Europe and 439 Marlborough was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alden Sampson, probably Alden Sampson and Mary Agnes (Yarnell) Sampson. A former merchant in New York City, he was an author, big game hunter, and environmental conservationist. He traveled frequently. They had lived in Oxford, England, in the spring of 1891, when their son, Edward, was born. They continued to live at 439 Marlborough through the 1894-1895 season, but moved thereafter.
John Heard died in May of 1895 in Florence, Italy.
Adeline Heard and their two young sons, Albert Farley Heard and John Heard, Jr., resumed living at 439 Marlborough.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, she had been joined by her father-in-law, Augustine Heard, a widower (although Adeline Heard’s husband was called John Heard, Jr., his father was not named John). He was a retired East India shipping merchant.
Adeline Heard’s younger son, John Heard, Jr., died in March of 1898. Sometime between 1900 and 1905, her elder son, Albert, changed his name to John Heard, Jr.
Adeline Heard, her son, and her father-in-law continued to live at 439 Marlborough during the 1901-1902 winter season, but were living elsewhere and traveling abroad during the next three seasons.
During the 1902-1903 winter season, 439 Marlborough was the home of Anne Halstead (Lindsley) Frazar, the widow of China shipping merchant Everett Frazar, and their daughter, Abby Little Frazer. Their usual home was in Orange, New Jersey.
During the 1903-1904 winter season, 439 Marlborough was the home of investment banker Frederic Bayard Winthrop and his wife, Dorothy (Amory) Winthrop. Their son, Robert, was born in January of 1904 at 439 Marlborough. Their usual residence was their home, Groton House, in Hamilton.
During the 1904-1905 winter season, 439 Marlborough was the home of Charles Stetson, a lawyer, and his mother, Annie S. (Sawyer) Stetson, the widow of Charles Pierce Stetson. Mrs. Stetson, and probably Charles Stetson, had lived at 501 Beacon during the previous season. By the 1905-1906 season, they had moved to 360 Marlborough.
Adeline Heard and her son, John (né Albert), returned from Europe to Boston in September of 1905 and resumed living at 439 Marlborough. Her father-in-law, Augustine Head, returned in December and died en route on board the SS König Albert.
During the 1907-1908 winter season, Adeline Heard and John Heard, Jr., were living elsewhere and 439 Marlborough was the home of Walter H. Seavey and his wife, Mabel M. (Foster) Seavey. They previously had lived at the Hotel Vendome. He was secretary, and later would become president, of E. H. Rollins & Sons, investment bankers. Their primary residence was in Hamilton.
By the 1908-1909 winter season, Adeline Heard and John Heard, Jr., had resumed living at 439 Marlborough. He was a lawyer and real estate trustee.
In 1912, they were living elsewhere and 439 Marlborough was the home of attorney George Glover Crocker, Jr., and his wife, Julia Hurd (Hutchins) Crocker. They previously had lived in Cohasset, where they continued to maintain a home. By the 1912-1913 winter season, they had moved to 119 Marlborough.
By the 1912-1913 winter season, Adeline Heard and John Heard, Jr., were living at 439 Marlborough again. He married in September of 1917 to Elizabeth Silsbee, and he and his wife lived at 439 Marlborough with his mother. They had divorced by 1920.
In June of 1939, John Heard married again, to Margaret Rosamond (Gregor) Marshall, the former wife of Edward Nixon Marshall. After their marriage, they lived at her home in Cambridge.
Adeline Heard died in August of 1939.
In May of 1940, 439 Marlborough was purchased from the trust established under George Lewis’s will by Stewart Toomey, a time study engineer for an automobile company, and his wife, Caterina (Catherine/Catheryn) (Longo) Toomey. They previously had lived in Medford.
The Toomeys continued to live and operate a lodging house at 439 Marlborough until about 1952, when they moved to 462 Beacon.
On April 1, 1952, 439 Marlborough was acquired from the Toomeys by Martha M. (Roy) Gotreau, the widow of David B. Gotreau. She lived at 441 Marlborough, which she owned with her son, Joffre Gotreau, who lived at 261 Marlborough. They also owned 437 Marlborough and operated lodging houses at both 437 and 441 Marlborough.
On the same day she acquired 439 Marlborough, Martha Gotreau transferred it to her daughter, Cecile Elizabeth Germaine (Gotreau) Alves, the former wife of Anthony Alves. Cecile Alves had lived with her mother at 441 Marlborough, and moved to 439 Marlborough.
In May of 1954, Martha Gotreau applied for (and subsequently received) permission to construct a platform of steel and concrete at the rear of 437-139 Marlborough to serve as a patio for the two houses.
Joffre Gotreau (still living at 261 Marlborough) was listed in the City Directories as the operator of the lodging houses at 437-439-441 Marlborough until the early 1960s.
Martha Gotreau lived at 441 Marlborough until about 1960, after which she moved to 437 Marlborough, where she continued to live until about 1966.
Cecile Alves continued to live at 439 Marlborough until about 1966. On April 12, 1967, she transferred 439 Marlborough back to her mother, and on April 17, 1969, Martha Gotreau transferred it to herself and her son, Joffre.
On June 29, 1967, 437-439-441 Marlborough were purchased from Martha Gotreau and Joffre Gotreau by Milton B. Popkin and Louis Grolnic. They continued to operate them as lodging houses.
On April 3, 1974, 437-439-441 Marlborough were purchased from Milton Popkin and Louis Grolnic by Jerald R. Feldman and Harvey P. Wilk, trustees of the 437, 439, 441 Marlboro Street Realty Trust. They continued to operate them as lodging houses.
On March 2, 1982, 437-439 Marlborough were purchased from Jerald Feldman and Harvey Wilk by Alan D. Humbert, trustee of the Ferrari Realty Trust.
On June 20, 1983, 437-439 Marlborough were purchased from Alan Humbert by Dorothy F. Wirth, trustee of the 437-439 Marlborough Street Trust. In May of 1983, prior to acquiring the property, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 437 and 439 Marlborough into seven apartments each.
On August 29, 1983, Dorothy Wirth converted the houses into fourteen condominium units, seven units in each house, the 437-439 Marlborough Condominium.