87 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 87 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, 87 Marlborough was the home of hide and leather dealer Josiah Fiske Guild and his wife, Lucy Walker (Bradshaw) Guild. They had lived at 21 Somerset in 1864. They continued to live at 87 Marlborough until about 1870, but were living at 5 Tremont Place by 1871.
By 1871, 87 Marlborough was the home of insurance broker Isaac Frank Dobson and his wife, Ellen (Atkins) Dobson. They continued to live there in 1875, but had moved to 75 Marlborough by 1876.
By the 1877-1878 winter season, 87 Marlborough was the home of wholesale dry goods merchant Thomas Motley and his wife Eleanor (Warren) Motley. They previously had lived with his parents, Edward and Ellen (Rodman) Motley, at 22 Commonwealth. They continued to live at 87 Marlborough in 1894, but by 1895 had moved back to 22 Commonwealth to live with his mother, who had been widowed in January of 1894.
87 Marlborough was not listed in the 1895 and 1896 Blue Books.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, it was the home of architect Joseph Randolph Coolidge, Jr., and his wife, Mary Hamilton (Hill) Coolidge. Joseph Coolidge was the grandson of John Lowell Gardner, the son of Joseph and Julia (Gardner) Coolidge who lived at 147 Beacon (303 Berkeley).
Joseph and Mary Coolidge continued to live at 87 Marlborough in 1904, when they moved to the Longwood district of Brookline.
By the 1904-1905 winter season, 87 Marlborough was the home of architect Walter Thacher Winslow, a widower. He previously had lived in an apartment at 330 Dartmouth. He continued to live at 87 Marlborough in 1907, but had moved to 146 Marlborough by 1908.
On February 26, 1907, 87 Marlborough was purchased from Joseph Peabody Gardner, Jr., William Amory Gardner, and Augustus P. Gardner by Dr. Hugh Cabot. He and his wife, Mary Anderson (Boit) Cabot, made it their home. They previously had lived 5 Marlborough.
In 1911, Dr. Cabot was named Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s newly-established Genito-Urinary Outpatient Service. In 1916, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served from 1917 to 1919 as commanding officer of the No. 22 General Hospital of the British Expeditionary Forces. Mary Cabot and their children continued to live at 87 Marlborough.
87 Marlborough was not listed in the 1920 and 1921 Blue Books.
On September 12, 1921, 87 Marlborough was purchased from Hugh Cabot by Margaret (Higginson) Barney, the wife of Dr. James Dellinger Barney. They previously had lived at 112 Marlborough.
J. Dellinger Barney was a urologist and had been a member of the Genito-Urinary Outpatient Service headed by Hugh Cabot since it was formed in 1911. He served as Acting Chief of the Service while Dr. Cabot was in France during World War I. In 1920, after Dr. Cabot moved to Ann Arbor, Dr. Barney replaced him as permanent Chief of the Service.
The Barneys also maintained a home in Ipswich (until about 1934) and then in Dublin, New Hampshire.
Margaret Barney died in 1938; James Barney continued to live and maintain his medical office at 87 Marlborough until about 1940. By 1941, he had moved his office to 374 Marlborough and was living in Cambridge.
On February 1, 1941, the Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston foreclosed on its mortgage to Margaret Barney and took possession of 87 Marlborough.
In 1941, the house was shown as vacant in the City Directory.
On June 6, 1941, 87 Marlborough was acquired from the Provident Institution for Savings by Dr. Roger John Abizaid, an osteopathic physician, and his wife, Nella (Wallen) Abizaid. They lived in Roslindale.
In February of 1942, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house. By the mid-1940s, he also maintained his office at 87 Marlborough.
Roger Abizaid died in February of 1973.
On May 15, 1973, 87 Marlborough was acquired from Nella Abizaid by real estate broker and investor Patrick J. Glynn. On January 22, 1991, he transferred the property to himself and his wife, Anne T. Glynn, as trustees of the 87 Marlborough Street Realty Trust, and on On December 31, 1996, they transferred the property to the Glynn Realty Associates IV, LLC.
87 Marlborough remained a lodging house in 2015.