449 Marlborough

449 Marlborough (2022)

Irregular Lot: 24' on Marlborough (2,155 sf)

Irregular Lot: 24′ on Marlborough (2,155 sf)

449 Marlborough is located on the north side of Marlborough, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 447 Marlborough to the east and 451 Marlborough to the west.

449 Marlborough was designed by architect Obed F. Smith and built in 1887 by Charles A. Dodge, mason, for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., for speculative sale, one of five contiguous houses (449-457 Marlborough) built in the same style. George Wheatland, Jr., is shown as the owner on the original building permit for 449 Marlborough, dated February 26, 1887 and on the final building inspection report, dated October 21, 1887.

George Wheatland, Jr., purchased the land for 449-457 Marlborough on January 8, 1887, from a real estate investment trust formed by Francis W. Palfrey, Francis A. Osborn, and Grenville T. W. Braman. It was part of a parcel the trust had purchased on June 1, 1880, from the Boston Water Power Company.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 449 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.

On April 12, 1889, 449 Marlborough was purchased from George Wheatland, Jr., by Ruth Stetson (Welch) Thompson, the widow of Francis Thompson. Her son-in-law and daughter, Harrison Gray Otis Colby and Mary Catherine (Thompson) Colby, lived with her. They all previously had lived at 71 Beacon.

Second floor plan of 449 Marlborough, bound with the final building inspection report, 21Oct1887 (v. 21, p. 13); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Second floor plan of 449 Marlborough, bound with the final building inspection report, 21Oct1887 (v. 21, p. 13); courtesy of the Boston City Archives

Harrison G. O. Colby was a career Naval officer. He served in the Civil War and the Spanish American War, retiring in 1908 with the rank of Rear Admiral. During World War I, he resumed active duty and served at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Ruth Thompson died in March of 1900. In her will, she left 449 Marlborough to her two daughters, Mary (Thompson) Colby and Ruth Stetson (Thompson) Cotting, the wife of Charles Edward Cotting. She specified, however, that Mary Colby had the right to purchase the house from her estate at a specified price.

Mary Colby declined to purchase the house and on April 23, 1900, her sister transferred her interest to her.

Harrison and Mary Colby continued to live at 449 Marlborough for the rest of their lives. She died in May of 1921 and he died in November of 1926.

449 Marlborough was inherited by the Colbys’ only son, Francis Thompson Colby. He was a career army officer and noted big game hunter. His Massachusetts home was in Hamilton and he appears to have left 449 Marlborough largely unoccupied. He maintained the house (in November of 1931 he filed for, and subsequently received, permission to install a gas heating system) and may have used it on occasion. However, it is shown as vacant in the 1930-1953 Boston City Directories and is not listed in the annual Boston Lists of Residents.

Francis Colby was unmarried and at the time of his death in July of 1953, he left the bulk of his estate to the Boston Museum of Science for the purpose of establishing a replica of his gun and trophy room.

449 Marlborough (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

On August 18, 1953, Emma Eleanor (Paddock) Manning, the widow of Ralph Gardner Manning, recorded a deed, dated July 28, 1951, by which Francis Colby transferred 449 Marlborough to her. She lived in Beverly. She was a registered nurse and may have cared for Francis Colby prior to his death.

On September 16, 1953, 449 Marlborough was acquired from Emma Eleanor Manning by Henry H. Davis, an attorney, and his wife, Virginia Mildred (Nason) Lyons Davis. They also owned 455 Marlborough and in May of 1954 acquired 451 Marlborough. The Davises lived in an apartment at 275 Beacon.

In October of 1953, Henry Davis filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 449 Marlborough from a single-family dwelling into three apartments, and in May of 1954, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments to five.

In March of 1955, 449,  451, and 455 Marlborough were acquired from the Davises by Barnett Nathan Samuels and his wife, Bertha (Bessie) (Elkind) Samuels. They lived in Winthrop.

In March of 1964,Garland Junior College acquired 449 and 451 Marlborough from Barnett and Bessie Samuels, and 455 Marlborough from Barnett N. Samuels, Inc.  In April of 1964, it acquired 447, 453, and 457 Marlborough.

In 1967, Garland Junior College proposed demolishing 449-457 Marlborough and replacing them with a one story building for an auditorium and classrooms.  As approved, the project did not include 449 Marlborough and in August of 1967, the college applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 449 Marlborough into school offices. One year later, in August of 1968, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the building from offices into an infirmary for the school.

Garland Junior College owned a portfolio of 22 properties in the western portion of the Back Bay: 315, 319, 321, 329, 337, 339, 341, 343, 349, 377, 407, 409, 411, 413415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth), and 447, 449, and 451 Marlborough (composed of 451-457 Marlborough).

Western façade of 449 Marlborough, exposed during construction of 451 Marlborough (2014)

Western façade of 449 Marlborough, exposed during construction of 451 Marlborough (2014)

In April of 1976, Garland Junior College announced that, because of financial difficulties, it was merging with Simmons College. It subsequently sold twelve of its properties and transferred the remainder — those located furthest west (407-415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East, and 451 Marlborough) — to Simmons College.

Glen G. Grant, trustee of the Commonwealth College Trust, purchased eleven of the twelve properties from Garland Junior College. On October 27, 1976, he purchased 315 and 341 Commonwealth, and 447 and 449 Marlborough; on January 4, 1977, he purchased 319, 321, 329, 337, 339, 343, and 377 Commonwealth. The twelfth property property, 349 Commonwealth, had been purchased in September of 1976, by Andrew Saggese, Jr., trustee of the Drew Realty Trust.

In June of 1979, the Commonwealth College Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 449 Marlborough as four apartments (notwithstanding the changes in occupancy to school offices and then to an infirmary approved in 1967 and 1968, the Building Department indicated that there was no record of the previous occupancy).

In July of 1979, 449 Marlborough was purchased from Glen Grant by Edward Dalton, and that same month it was acquired from him by Sandra L. Bartolini, She was a product manager with Gillette and lived in an apartment at 255 Beacon.

Sandra Bartolini married in September of 1979 to Peter Gordon Lawrence, director of the Design Management Institute. They lived in an apartment at 449 Marlborough.

In November of 1988, 449 Marlborough was purchased from Sandra (Bartolini) Lawrence by George B. Meszoly and his wife, Sharon A. Ruatto-Meszoly. They divorced in the mid-1990s, and on August 5, 1996, Sharon Ruatto-Meszoly transferred her interest in the property to George Meszoly.

449 Marlborough continued to be assessed as a four-to-six family dwelling in 2021.

447-449 Marlborough (2014)

447-449 Marlborough (2014)