86 Marlborough was designed by Sturgis and Brigham, architects, and built in 1872 by Weston & Shepard, masons, and Bourn & Leavitt, carpenters and builders, for dry goods commission merchant Charles Henry Joy and his wife, Marie Louise (Mudge) Joy.
Charles Joy had purchased the land for 86 Marlborough on October 21, 1871, from Henry Lee, Jr., of Brookline. The lot was 70 feet 3 inches, and Charles Joy had 86 Marlborough built on the western 32 feet. He retained the lot to the east until January of 1876, when he sold it to his sister-in-law, Caroline Estelle (Mudge) Lawrence, the wife of James Lawrence. The Lawrences built their Boston home there at 82 Marlborough.
The land on which 82-86 Marlborough were built was part of a 220 foot parcel Henry Lee, Jr., and Jonathan Amory Davis purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on November 14, 1863. J. Amory Davis died in May of 1865 and his interest was inherited by his daughter, Ann Wainwright Davis. On October 6, 1865, she transferred her interest in the eastern 160 feet to Henry Lee, and he transferred his interest in the western 60 feet to her. On October 14, 1865, Henry Lee, Jr., entered into an agreement with architect and builder Charles K. Kirby to sell him the 160 foot lot, subject to Charles Kirby’s agreement to build nine houses on the land. Ultimately, Charles Kirby built five houses at 72-80 Marlborough on the eastern 89 feet 9 inches of the land, and Henry Lee sold the remaining lot to Charles Joy.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 86 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Marlborough and Alley 423, from Berkeley to Clarendon.
In January of 1872, Weston & Shepard filed a Notice of Intention to Build on behalf of Charles Joy with the office of the Inspector of Buildings (reported in the Boston Herald on January 23, 1872). Construction probably started soon thereafter.
On July 19, 1872, a Boston Traveller article on “present building operations” in the Back Bay noted that the house was “far advanced toward completion.”
By late 1872, Charles and Marie (Mudge) Joy had made 86 Marlborough their home. They previously had lived at 230 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Lynn and later in Groton.
The library of 86 Marlborough was illustrated in the January 15, 1876, issue of the American Architect and Building News, described in some detail: “The dimensions of the room are 17.4 x 19.10 by 11.2 high. The bay is 5.4 x 14.7, and has a ten-light window to the south, and one of four lights to the east, with a seat at east end. The whole room, walls, and ceiling are of black walnut. The pictures in the frieze are by J. Moyr Smith, architect, of London, the well-known artist of many of Marcus Ward & Co’s publications. The bookcases were altered from this sketch by returning them at the ends of the room. The tiles in the fireplace and hearth were brought from Spain, where they were used as a ceiling between the beams of a refectory in an old convent.”
The hall at 86 Marlborough was illustrated in the April 1, 1876, issue of the News, with the accompanying description noting that “the finish of this hall, including staircase and ceiling, is of brown ash; the carved panels in the mantelpiece are of oak; the floor is of hard wood; the fireplace is of freestone with tile hearth.”
During the 1888-1889 winter season, Charles and Marie Joy were living elsewhere and 86 Marlborough was the home of Dr. Henry Parker Quincy and his wife, Mary Gardner (Adams) Quincy. He was a physician and professor of histology at Harvard Medical School. By 1890, the Quincys had moved to a new home they had built at 452 Beacon, and the Joys were living at 86 Marlborough once again.
Charles Joy died in June of 1892. Marie Joy continued to live at 86 Marlborough during the 1892-1893 winter season, but was tarveling abroad for the next two seasons.
During the 1893-1894 winter season, it was the home of Horatio Appleton Lamb and his wife, Annie Lawrence (Rotch) Lamb. He was a wholesale dry goods merchant and later would served as treasurer of Simmons College. They had lived at 107 Commonwealth during the previous season, and by the next season had moved to 260 Beacon.
During the 1894-1895 winter season, 86 Marlborough was the home of Richard Dudley Sears and his wife, Eleanor Mary (Cochrane) Sears. They had lived at 83 Beacon during the previous season, and at 116 Beacon during the 1892-1893 season. Richard Dudley Sears was a real estate trustee. In 1881, he had been the first American men’s singles champion in lawn tennis, and was the winner of that title for each of the six following years. They had moved from 86 Marlborough by the 1895-1896 season, and by the 1896-1897 season were living at 4 Gloucester.
By the 1895-1896 winter season, Marie Joy had resumed living at 86 Marlborough. She continued to live there in 1901, but during the 1901-1902 winter season she was living at 403 Beacon, and during the 1902-1903 season she was living elsewhere.
During the 1901-1902 winter season, 86 Marlborough was once again the home of Horatio and Annie Lamb. They had been living at 260 Beacon earlier in 1901. By the 1902-1903 winter season, they had moved to 126 Beacon.
During the 1902-1903 winter season, 86 Marlborough was the home of John Endicott Peabody and his wife, Martha Prince (Whitney) Peabody. They had lived at 183 Marlborough until about 1900.
By 1904, the Peabodys had moved back to their home at 183 Marlborough, and Marie Joy was once again living at 86 Marlborough.
During the 1909-1910 winter season, she was again living elsewhere and 86 Marlborough was the home of attorney Charles Francis Choate, Jr., and his wife, Louise (Burnett) Choate. They previously had lived at 44 Chestnut; they also maintained a home in Southborough.
Marie Joy resumed living at 86 Marlborough in 1911 and continued to live there until her death in May of 1939. By the 1920s (and probably before), she also maintained a home in Nahant. Her unmarried son, Benjamin Joy, an investment banker in New York City, maintained his Boston home with her at 86 Marlborough.
On July 28, 1939, 86 Marlborough was purchased from Marie Joy’s estate by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson. On January 25, 1940, it was acquired from Ray Johnson by real estate dealers Warren-Stevens, Inc. (H. Leon Sharmat, treasurer).
On March 14, 1940, 86 Marlborough was acquired from Warren-Stevens, Inc., by Ethel M. (Crowell) Lowd, the widow of Arley A. Lowd. She previously had lived at 172 Bay State Road. She was a buyer for a department store.
In July of 1940, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to erect a fire escape and convert the property into a lodging house.
Ethel Lowd was joined at 86 Marlborough by Lucy Letita (Purdy) Gilnor, the widow of Roy Gilnor, who operated the lodging house. She also previously had lived at 172 Bay State Road, as had several of the lodgers at 86 Marlborough listed in the 1941 List of Residents.
On January 20, 1942, Lucy Gilnor acquired a one-half interest in 86 Marlborough from Ethel Lowd.
Ethel Lowd and Lucy Gilnor continued to live at 86 Marlborough until about 1945. Ethel Lowd moved to 6 Gloucester and then to 291 Beacon. Lucy Gilnor moved to 284 Newbury and then joined Ethel Lowd at 291 Beacon.
On June 14, 1945, 86 Marlborough was acquired from Ethel Lowd and Lucy Gilnor by Fisher College, which used it as a girls’ dormitory. It remained a Fisher College dormitory, called Sarah Mortimer Hall, in 1968.
By 1970, 86 Marlborough had become a dormitory for Emerson College but was still owned by Fisher College. In December of 1974, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the house and convert it from a lodging house into ten apartments.
On January 17, 1975, 86 Marlborough was purchased from Fisher College by Allan W. McLeod, trustee of Trunkfellows Trust.
On May 3, 1978, 86 Marlborough was acquired from Jules Cavedi, successor trustee of the Trunkfellows Trust, by Malcolm MacPhail and Dominick Scarfo, trustees of the 86 Marlborough Street Realty Trust.
On September 12, 1978, they converted the property into nine condominium units: the 86 Marlborough Street Condominium.