Back Bay Land: North Side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester

The block on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester is 500 feet in length and 112 feet from Beacon to Alley 416.

There is a six inch discrepancy between the 500 foot length of the block as reflected in the original land deeds and the combined east-west frontages set forth in the subsequent deeds for the block, which total 500 feet six inches. This discrepancy occurs in the deeds for 301-303 Marlborough, discussed below.

The land on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester was part of the Boston Water Power Company’s land in the residential portion of the Back Bay, which included all of the land from the south side of Beacon to the north side of Commonwealth west of a line about 95 feet east of Fairfield. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts owned the land to the east. The company also owned the land on the south side of Commonwealth west of a point about 135 feet west of Hereford. The land to the east was owned by the Sears family.

The company sold all its land in large parcels, almost exclusively to real estate investment trusts which then subdivided the land and resold it. It sold land in 1863, 1866, 1868, and 1872, by which point it had sold all of its land between the Commonwealth’s lands and a line 125 feet west of Massachusetts Avenue (West Chester Park). It sold the remainder of its land in the residential portion of the neighborhood in 1880.

Click here for more information on the Boston Water Power Company land in the Back Bay.

Plan by J. F. Fuller, 11Apr1863 (Suffolk Co. Deed Registry, Book 826, p. 203)

On April 15, 1863, the Boston Water Power Company entered into an agreement to sell all of its land between Fairfield and Gloucester on the south side of Beacon, north and south sides of Marlborough, and north side of Commonwealth to a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. The company subdivided the parcels into eighty lots (twenty per block), as shown on an April 11, 1863, plan prepared by J. F. Fuller, and issued individual deed bonds to the trustees, securing their right to purchase each lot. On January 29, 1866, the trustees paid for and took title to all of the land.

J. Templeman Coolidge was president of the Columbian National Bank; he and his wife Louisa Riché (Tilden) Coolidge, lived at 108 Beacon. Franklin Evans was a merchant and real estate investor; he and his wife, Carrie E. (Ellis) Evans, lived at the Tremont House hotel. Charles Henry Parker was treasurer of the Suffolk Savings Bank; he and his wife, Laura Wolcott (Jackson) Trotter Parker, lived at 33 Chestnut.

J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners offered all of their land for sale at two public auctions conducted by N. A. Thompson & Co.

On Friday, February 2, 1886, they offered all of the lots on the south side of Beacon. The January 27, 1866, announcement of the sale in the Boston Advertiser indicated that both these lots and all of the lots on the north side of Marlborough would be sold. However, the Marlborough lots either were withdrawn or did not sell, inasmuch as reports of the sale results included only the lots on Beacon.

On March 15, 1866, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners offered all of their remaining land, including all of the land on the north and south sides of Marlborough and the north side of Commonwealth.

The block on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester was composed of twenty lots: a 30 foot corner lot at Fairfield (Lot 1), eight 25 foot lots to the west of it (Lots 2-9), ten 24 foot lots to the west of them (Lots 10-19), and a 30 foot corner lot at Gloucester (Lot 20).

On March 16, 1866, the Boston Evening Transcript reported that, at the auction the day before, Sidney Homer had been the successful bidder for Lots 2-7 on the north side of Marlborough, and Charles Uriah Cotting had been the successful bidder for Lot 16. The article was silent on the bids for the other lots and it appears that they were not sold. The lots subsequently were sold by J, Templeman Coolidge and his partners through privately negotiated sales (rather than at public auction), most of the land being conveyed by deeds dated April 20, 1866, or November 20, 1870.

Eastern and Central Parcels. On April 12, 1866, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners in the real estate investment trust sold the corner lot at Fairfield, with a frontage on Marlborough of 30 feet, to Sidney Homer. The lot was not among those reported as sold at the March 15, 1866, auction, but Sidney Homer was successful bidder for the six lots immediately west of it (Lots 2-7).

On April 20, 1866, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners sold Lots 8-14 – two 25 foot lots (Lots 8-9) and five 24 foot lots (Lots 10-14) – to J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr.

On June 1, 1869, Sidney Homer purchased Lots 8-10 from J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. He continued to own Lot 1 at the corner of Fairfield and to hold the right to purchase Lots 2-7. His total holdings comprised a parcel with a frontage of 254 feet on Marlborough.

On June 1, 1869, Franklin Evans, one of the three partners in the trust, purchased Lots 11-14. He retained Lot 11, but sold Lots 12-14 on June 10, 1869, to attorney Harvey Jewell.

Sidney Homer died in December of 1869. After his death, his estate sold the land on Marlborough he owned or had a right to purchase, with the eastern 234 feet being purchased for development of houses for speculative sale.

On October 7, 1870, Sidney Homer’s estate sold the corner lot to investment banker Henry Chapman Wainwright. The estate also assigned to him the right to purchase Lot 2 and eleven feet of Lot 3, and on November 19, 1866, he purchased the 36 foot parcel from J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners. Henry Wainwright combined it with the corner lot and built 1-3-5 Fairfield for speculative sale.

On November 19, 1870, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners sold architect and builder Frederick Pope a 100 foot lot comprising the western 14 feet of Lot 3, all of Lots 4-6, and the eastern 11 feet of Lot 7. Sidney Homer’s estate had sold or transferred him the right to purchase the land. Also on November 19, 1869, Sidney Homer’s estate purchased and took title to the remaining 14 feet of Lot 7 from J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners.

Frederick Pope built 285-287-289 Marlborough on the eastern 66 feet. On December 7, 1870, he entered into an agreement with Sidney Homer’s estate to purchase a 24 foot lot to the west, comprising the remaining 14 feet of Lot 7 and 10 feet of Lot 8.

On the same date, Frederick Pope and paper manufacturer John Dixwell Thompson entered into an agreement with Sidney Homer’s estate to purchase a 66 foot parcel including the remainder of Lot 8 and all of Lots 9-10, and entered into an agreement with Franklin Evans to purchase the 24 foot lot to the west (Lot 11). On June 9, 1871, Frederick Pope and J. Dixwell Thompson agreed to divide their holdings, with Frederick Pope receiving the eastern 44 feet and J. Dixwell Thompson receiving the western 44 feet. On October 19, 1871, Sidney Homer’s estate conveyed Frederick Pope the 24 foot lot he had purchased separately and the eastern 44 feet of the land he had purchased jointly with J. Dixwell Thompson, and on the same day the estate conveyed the eastern 20 feet of its land and Franklin Evans conveyed the 24 foot lot (Lot 11) to J. Dixwell Thompson.

Frederick Pope built 291-293-295-297-299 Marlborough on the combined 102 foot lot he had assembled. The eastern 34 feet was the remainder of a 100 foot lot he had purchased on November 19, 1870, and on which he had built 285-287-289 Marlborough to the east. The center 24 feet was the lot he purchased from the Sidney Homer estate separately from J. Dixwell Thompson. And the western 44 feet was eastern half of the land he and J. Dixwell Thompson had purchased together and then divided.

J. Dixwell Thompson disappeared while on a trip to New York City in June of 1875 and later was presumed dead. His 20 foot and 24 foot lots were taken in foreclosure the next year; the 24 foot lot was acquired by his brother-in-law, Samuel Phillips Blagden, and the 20 foot lot was acquired by Sidney Homer’s estate on November 15, 1876.

In November of 1877, the two lots were purchased by Harvard law professor James Barr Ames, who had 301-303 Marlborough built for speculative sale. When he sold the houses, the deed for 301 Marlborough indicated that it was built on a lot 23.5 feet wide, and the deed for 303 Marlborough indicated that it was built on a lot 21 feet wide, exceeding by 6 inches the width of the lots James B. Ames had acquired in November of 1870. This discrepancy has been repeated in all subsequent deeds.

Central and Western Parcels. As noted above, on June 10, 1869, Franklin Evans sold Lots 12-14, with a total frontage of 72 feet, to Harvey Jewell. He sold the land on October 4, 1874, to builder Daniel Weeks Beckler. Daniel Beckler gave a mortgage to Harvey Jewell and, on April 12, 1875, Harvey Jewell took back ownership of the land. Daniel Beckler subsequently built 309-311-313-315 Marlborough for Harvey Jewell, for speculative sale (there are no houses numbered 305-307 Marlborough).

On April 20, 1866, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners sold Lots 15-18, all 24 foot lots, to real estate investor Charles Uriah Cotting. He had been reported as the successful bidder for Lot 16 at the March 15, 1866, auction, and presumably subsequently negotiated the purchase of the other three lots. Charles U. Cotting and his wife, Susan Cordelia (Delano) Cotting, lived in Brookline and later at 249 Commonwealth.

Also on April 20, 1866, J. Templeman Coolidge and his partners sold Lots 19-20 – a 24 foot lot and the 30 foot lot at the corner of Gloucester – to textile mill treasurer and dry goods merchant Joshua Stetson. He and his wife, Ellen (Lamb) Treadwell Stetson, lived at 29 Commonwealth. He died in July of 1869.

On March 11, 1872, Charles U. Cotting sold Lots 15 and 16, with a combined frontage of 48 feet, to Frederick Pope, and on January 1, 1874, Frederick Pope sold them to Daniel Beckler, who built 317-319 Marlborough for speculative sale (as discussed above, Daniel Beckler also built 309-315 Marlborough).

Three years earlier, on June 5, 1869, Charles U. Cotting had sold Lots 17 and 18, with a combined frontage of 48 feet, to William Gaston, an attorney in partnership with Harvey Jewell (who had purchased Lots 12-14 from Franklin Evans that same month). William Gaston had served as mayor of Roxbury in 1861 and 1862, and would serve as mayor of Boston in 1870 and 1871, and as Governor in 1875 and 1876. He and his wife, lived at 23 Linden Park and later at 177 Marlborough.

In 1873, building contractor Samuel Tarbell Ames (the father of James Barr Ames, who later built 301-303 Marlborough for speculative sale) built 3-5-7 Gloucester on the corner parcel (Lots 19-20) owned by the estate of Joshua Stetson. On February 1, 1873, after they were completed, Samuel T. Ames and Frederic H. Moore, who designed the houses, purchased the land from the Stetson estate. They sold 3 Gloucester and 5 Gloucester, and Samuel T. Ames made 7 Gloucester his home.

Two weeks later, on February 13, 1873, Samuel T. Ames purchased the 48 foot parcel (Lots 17-18) to the east from William Gaston. On June 19, 1873, he sold the eastern portion of the lot, where 321 Marlborough would be built, with a 22 foot 3 inch frontage, to Herbert E. Barney, a builder, and retained the western portion of the lot, where 323 Marlborough would be built with a frontage of 22 feet 9 inches. Herbert Barney probably was the builder for both 321 and 323 Marlborough under an agreement with Samuel Ames. On August 1, 1873, Samuel Ames sold the remaining 3 feet to the west to the owners of the three houses at 3-5-7 Gloucester, thereby increasing the depth of their lots from 54 feet to 57 feet.

Original Construction. All of the buildings on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester had been built by 1877.

The plan below illustrates when houses were first constructed on the block (based on building permit applications, news reports, and dates provided in Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay).

Original construction on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester

Building Restrictions in Original Land Deeds

Both the Boston Water Power Company’s 1863 deed bond securing the right to purchase the land and its 1866 deed conveying the land included language specifying that any building on the land “at least three stories high for the main part thereof and shall not in any event be used for a stable (except a private stable), or for any mechanical or manufacturing purposes;” that the front walls were to be set back twenty-two feet from Marlborough, with “steps, windows, porticos, and other usual projections appurtenant thereto” allowed in the reserved space subject to dimensional limitations enumerated in the deed; and that “no cellar or lower floor of any building shall be placed more than four feet below the level of the mill-dam, as fixed by the top surface of the hammered stone at the south-easterly corner of the emptying sluices.” The deed also provided that the owners of the land would have the right to “cultivate trees on the side walks” in front of their land provided that they left a distance of ten feet between the front boundary of their lots and the trees.

These restrictions were virtually identical to those contained in the deeds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts conveying its Back Bay land.

Click here for more information on the restrictions contained in deeds of Back Bay land.

Original Land Deeds

The Boston Water Power Company sold its land on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester by the following deeds, which also included the parcels of land between Fairfield and Gloucester on the south side of Beacon, the south side of Marlborough and the north side of Commonwealth.

Address Date E-W N-S Grantee Book Page
1-3-5 Fairfield
285-323 Marlborough
3-5-7 Gloucester
29Jan1866 500′ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker, trustees under a deed of trust dated 8Apr1863 (Book 827, p. 32) 871 183
1-3-5 Fairfield
285-323 Marlborough
3-5-7 Gloucester (deed bond securing the right to purchase)
15Apr1863 500′ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker, trustees under a deed of trust dated 8Apr1863 (Book 827, p. 32) 526 202

J. Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker, trustees, conveyed the land on the north side of Marlborough between Fairfield and Gloucester by the following deeds:

Address Date E-W N-S Grantee Book Page
1-3-5 Fairfield
(recorded 25Nov1870)
12Apr1866 30’ 112’ Sidney Homer 1024 281
1-3-5 Fairfield 19Nov1870 36’ 112’ Henry C. Wainwright 1024 284
285-293 Marlborough 19Nov1870 100’ 112’ Frederick Pope 1026 155
293-295 Marlborough 19Nov1870 14’ 112’ Thomas J. Homer, Warren Emerson, J. Homer Pierce, and William Homer, trustees under the will of Sidney Homer 1027 15
295-297 Marlborough 20Apr1866 25’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 116
297-299 Marlborough 20Apr1866 25’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 117
299-301 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 118
301-303 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 120
303-311 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 121
311-313 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 123
313-315 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ J. Templeman Coolidge, Jr. 877 124
317-319 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ Charles U. Cotting 878 6
317-319 Marlborough 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ Charles U. Cotting 878 8
321-323 Marlborough

3-5-7 Gloucester

20Apr1866 24’ 112’ Charles U. Cotting 878 9
321-323 Marlborough
3-5-7 Gloucester
20Apr1866 24’ 112’ Charles U. Cotting 878 11
3-5-7 Gloucester 20Apr1866 24’ 112’ Joshua Stetson 1078 13
3-5-7 Gloucester 20Apr1866 30’ 112’ Joshua Stetson 1077 263