83 Marlborough was built ca. 1864 for shipping merchant and real estate investor John Lowell Gardner, one of nine contiguous houses (71-73-75-77-79-81-83-85-87 Marlborough) he had built as rental property. He and his wife, Catharine Elizabeth (Peabody) Gardner, lived at 7 Beacon and then at 182 Beacon.
71-85 Marlborough are designed as a symmetrical composition (following a pattern of c-c-b-a-a-b-c-c). In the center are 77 and 79 Marlborough, with bow fronts and entrances that mark the center of the composition. 75 Marlborough and 81 Marlborough flank the central two houses and are designed to match each other and to have a continuous cornice line with 77-79 Marlborough. 71–73 Marlborough and 83–85 Marlborough flank 75 and 81 Marlborough and are designed to match each other, forming ends to the composition. 87 Marlborough – which gives the impression of possibly having been built as an afterthought – has the same roof and cornice design as 83-85 Marlborough, extending the composition one house further to the west, but includes an oriel window which sets it apart from the other eight houses.
71-87 Marlborough were originally numbered 65-81 Marlborough, and renumbered in about 1868 when houses were built further east.
John L. Gardner contracted to purchase the land for 71-87 Marlborough from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the early 1860s. On December 31, 1862, he entered into a party wall agreement with Richard M. Hodges, the owner of the lot to the east where 67 Marlborough would be built, and on February 26, 1863, he entered into a party wall agreement with James T. Eldredge, owner of the lot to the west where 89 Marlborough would be built. On March 3, 1863, the Commonwealth conveyed to John L. Gardner the 200 foot wide lot where 71-87 Marlborough would be built.
John Gardner died in June of 1884 and on January 3, 1885, his executors (his sons George Augustus Gardner and John Lowell Gardner, Jr., and his grandson George Peabody Gardner, son of George A. Gardner) transferred the property to themselves as trustees under his will. They continued to own the property and lease it to others.
On December 21, 1899, the trustees transferred 71-73 Marlborough to John Lowell Gardner’s grandson, Francis Skinner, Jr., the son of Francis Skinner and Eliza Blanchard (Gardner) Skinner (who had died in September of 1898). On the same day, they transferred 85-87 Marlborough to John Lowell Gardner’s grandsons, Joseph Peabody Gardner, Jr., William Amory Gardner, and Augustus P. Gardner, the sons of Joseph Peabody Gardner (who had died in June of 1875) and Harriet Sears (Amory) Gardner. The trustees retained the remaining five houses (75-77-79-81-83 Marlborough). All nine houses remained rental properties until 1906-1907, when they were sold to individual purchasers.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 83 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 420, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
While they were rental houses, 71-87 Marlborough tended to change occupants more frequently than many other Back Bay homes.
By 1865, 83 Marlborough was home of John Lowell Gardner’s brother-in-law, Francis Cabot Lowell, Jr. Francis Lowell’s wife, Mary Cabot (Gardner) Lowell, had died in 1854. In 1864, he had lived at 12 Chauncy.
By 1866, he was living at 56 Beacon.
By 1867, 83 Marlborough was the home of George Middleton Barnard, Jr., and his wife, Ellen Hooper (Russell) Barnard. They had married in December of 1865 and 83 Marlborough may have been their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 106 Beacon with his parents, George Middleton Barnard and Susan Livingston (Tilden) Barnard. He was a coal dealer and commission merchant in his father’s firm, By 1869, they had moved to a new home they had built at 286 Beacon.
By 1870, 83 Marlborough was the home of dry goods merchant Gilbert Russell Payson and his wife, Althea (Train) Payson. They also maintained a residence in Belmont. They continued to live at 83 Marlborough in 1872, but had moved to 8 Marlborough by 1873.
By 1874, 83 Marlborough was the home of John Chipman Gray and his wife, Anna Sophia Lyman (Mason) Gray. They had married in 1873 and 83 Marlborough probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 143 Beacon with his parents, Horace Gray and Sarah Russell (Gardner) Gray (Sarah Gray was the sister of John Lowell Gardner).
John Chipman Gray was an attorney and professor at Harvard Law School.
They continued to live at 83 Marlborough during the 1880-1881 winter season, after which they moved to 176 Beacon.
By the 1881-1882 winter season, 83 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Mary Louisa (Dexter) Amory, the widow of Charles Amory, Jr., and their daughters, Annie Linzee Amory and Susan Cushing Amory. They previously had lived at the Hotel Hamilton at 260 Clarendon.
Mrs. Amory and her daughters continued to live at 83 Marlborough during the 1894-1895 season, but had moved to 233 Marlborough by the 1895-1896 season.
83 Marlborough was not listed in the 1896 Blue Book.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, 83 Marlborough was the home of banker and paper manufacturer Charles Fairchild and his wife, Elizabeth (Nelson) Fairchild. They previously had lived in an apartment at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth. They continued to live at 83 Marlborough in 1898, but had moved to New York City by 1899.
By the 1898-1899 winter season, 83 Marlborough was the home of Gustave Wagnière and his wife, Laura Curtis (Huntington) Wagnière, and their daughter, Marguerite.
In April of 1900, Marguerite Wagnière married Kenneth Horton, a real estate dealer. Before their marriage, he had lived at 333 Beacon with his step-father and mother, Philip Van Rensselaer Ely and Marian Glyde (Bigelow) Horton Ely. After their marriage, Kenneth and Marguerite Horton lived with her parents at 83 Marlborough and also may have maintained a home in Quincy. Marguerite Wagnière-Horton subsequently became a concert pianist and composer (her debut was on April 28, 1915, at the Lyceum Club in Geneva).
During the 1905-1906 winter season, it was the home of banker Samuel Parkman Shaw, Jr., and his wife, Gertrude (Bramwell) Shaw. By mid-1906, they had moved to 184 Marlborough.
During the 1906-1907 winter season, 83 Marlborough was the home of attorney Roger Wolcott, Jr., and his wife, Claire (Prince) Wolcott. By November of 1907, when their daughter Clarissa Endicott Wolcott was born, they were living in Milton.
On December 27, 1906, 83 Marlborough was purchased from the trustees under John L. Lowell’s will by Alberta (Sturtevant) Binney, the wife of banker Henry Prentice Binney, Jr. They lived in Canton and later at 30 Chestnut; by the 1909-1910 winter season, they had moved to 303 Marlborough. Like the Gardner family, the Binneys continued to lease 83 Marlborough to others.
By the 1907-1908 winter season, it was the home of attorney Roland Gray and his wife, Mary (Tudor) Gray. They had married in September of 1907 and 83 Marlborough probably was their first home together. He was the son of John Chipman Gray and Anna Sophia Lyman (Mason) Gray, who had lived at 83 Marlborough in the mid-1870s, soon after their marriage.
The house was not listed in the 1913 Blue Book.
On May 8, 1913, 83 Marlborough was purchased from Alberta Binney by Miss Katharine Stanton, who made it her home.
Katharine Stanton’s father, Col. William Sanford Stanton, lived with her until his death in June of 1918. He was retired from the US Army’s Corps of Engineers, where he had (among other things) supervised the construction of lighthouses and fortifications on the Atlantic Coast, including Graves Light in Boston’s outer harbor. Col. Stanton, Katherine, and her brother, Charles, had lived in Brookline in 1910.
By the 1918-1919 winter season, Miss Stanton had been joined at 83 Marlborough by her aunt, Ellen (Stanton) Waller, the widow of David M. W. Waller, and Mrs. Waller’s daughter and grandson, Elizabeth (Waller) Cumming and Lawrence Gordon Cumming.
Ellen Waller died in December of 1925.
On November 8, 1926, 83 Marlborough was purchased from Katharine Stanton by Mary (Crane) Johnson the wife of Rev. Herbert Spencer Johnson, a Baptist minister Katharine Stanton moved to the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Elizabeth Cumming and Lawrence Cumming moved to The Abbotsford at 186 Commonwealth.
Herbert and Mary Johnson had lived at 164 Bay State Road in 1925 and also had purchased 369 Beacon by late 1926. They lived at 83 Marlborough during the 1926-1927 winter season, while their home on Beacon Street was being remodeled, and moved to their new home by the next season.
On December 30, 1927, 83 Marlborough was acquired from Mary Johnson by the Howlett Company, painters and decorators, and on May 8, 1928, it sold the property to real estate dealer John D. McLaughlin, Jr.
On March 29, 1929, 83 Marlborough was acquired from John D. McLaughlin, Jr., by Dr. Frederick Stanford Burns and his wife, Josephine (Boynton) Burns. They previously had lived at 237 Marlborough. Dr. Burns was a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School; he also maintained his medical office at 83 Marlborough.
In October of 1939, Frederick Burns applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 83 Marlborough from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house. He and his wife moved to Westwood, but he continued to maintain his office at 83 Marlborough.
By 1941, it was the home of Mrs. Doris Stowe (Wilder) Spear, the former wife of Bennett Palmer Spear. She previously had been a lodger at 2 Arlington. She operated 83 Marlborough as a lodging house and also operated another lodging house at 87 Myrtle.
By 1943, she had moved to 18 Commonwealth, where she operated a lodging house while continuing to also operate the lodging house at 83 Marlborough (but, it appears, no longer operated the lodging house at 87 Myrtle). In April of 1943, she married Saul Bernhardt Levitan, a wholesale jeweler whose family owned 18 Commonwealth. After their marriage, they lived in Newton and then at 18 Commonwealth. She continued to operate the lodging houses at 83 Marlborough and 18 Commonwealth under the name Doris S. Spear.
On December 30, 1944. Doris Spear Levitan acquired 83 Marlborough from Frederick and Josephine Burns.
On December 3, 1948, Doris Spear Levitan transferred 83 Marlborough to her son and daughter-in-law, Bennett Palmer Spear, Jr. and Phyllis E. (Rundlett) Spear. At about the same, Saul and Doris Levitan divorced and she moved to 183 Beacon. She operated a lodging house at 183 Beacon and continued to operate the lodging house at 83 Marlborough until about 1951.
On May 23, 1951, 83 Marlborough was acquired from Bennett and Phyllis Spear by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson as trustee for Arthur Crew Inman. In July of 1951, Arthur Inman applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into twelve apartments.
Arthur Inman and his wife, Evelyn (Yates) Inman, lived at 8 Garrison. He was an author. Arthur Inman died in December of 1963, a suicide, leaving a 155 volume diary which was published posthumously as The Inman Diary.
On August 17, 1953, 83 Marlborough was acquired by Francis Leahy and Frederic D. Sargent.
The property subsequently changed hands and on May 2, 1977, was acquired by real estate broker and investor Patrick J. Glynn and his wife, Anne T. Glynn. On January 22, 1991, the Glynns transferred the property to themselves as trustees of the 83 Marlborough Realty Trust, and on May 15, 1997, they transferred it to the 83 Marlborough Street Limited Partnership.
83 Marlborough remained an apartment house in 2015.