Back Bay Land: North Side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue

The block on the north side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue (formerly West Chester Park) is 640 feet in length and 112 feet from Marlborough to Alley 414.

The land 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 the Commonwealth’s lands by a line about 95 feet east of what is now Fairfield Street. 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.

Parker Street as shown on the 1874 Hopkins map

Originally, the north side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue was divided by Parker Street, a 60 foot wide street located on top of the Cross Dam. The east side of Parker Street intersected with the north side of Marlborough at a point about 355 feet west of Hereford. It ran from Beacon southwest at approximately a 45 degree angle, intersecting Marlborough, Commonwealth, Newbury, and Boylston, and then continuing to Centre Street. Various manufacturing and industrial businesses had been located on the street to utilize the tidal power provided by the dam before its operation was terminated.

On June 12, 1868, all of the land on the block from the east side of Parker Street to Hereford was purchased from the Boston Water Power Company by Daniel Davies.

Daniel Davies was a housewright and master carpenter. He and his wife, Amity Bacon (Hastings) Davies, lived at 68 Charles and then at 91 Charles, and later at 445 Beacon.

On March 1, 1872, all of the land on the block from the west side of Parker Street to Massachusetts Avenue was purchased by a real estate investment trust formed by Grenville T. W. Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank W. Andrews, known as the Beacon Street Lands Trust. The trust also purchased a number of other parcels from the Boston Water Power Company at the same time.

Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman was a real estate investor and served as treasurer of the Boston Water Power Company until mid-1869. His wife, Susie A. (Davies) Braman, was the daughter Daniel and Amity Davies. The Bramans lived at 9 Brimmer and later at 447 Beacon.

Henry Dwight Hyde was an attorney. He and his wife, Luvan Augusta (Charles) Hyde, lived at 153 West Newton and later would live at 380 Commonwealth. Frank William Andrews was a real estate investor and former importer of iron and crockery. He and his wife, Maria Frances (Adams) Andrews, lived at 6 Marlborough.

On October 1, 1872, Daniel Davies sold the western portion of his land, abutting Parker Street, to Grenville T. W. Braman, a triangular lot with a frontage of 74.01 feet on Marlborough and 5.33 feet on the alley. This left Daniel Davies with a rectangular lot with a 280 foot frontage on Marlborough and the alley.

Between March and December of 1872, Daniel Davies sold Silas W. Merrill five lots comprising a parcel at the corner of Marlborough and Hereford, with a frontage of 80 feet on Marlborough. In 1872-1873, Silas Merrill built 363 Marlborough and 13-15-17 Hereford on the eastern 60 feet of the parcel. In May of 1874, he sold the western 20 feet to Spencer and Mary (Cumston) Richardson, who had purchased 363 Marlborough as their home. They left the lot vacant.

On May 10, 1872, Daniel Davies sold his remaining land with a 200 foot frontage to building contractor George Wheatland, Jr. That same month, George Wheatland, Jr., entered into a trust agreement with William Dudley Pickman and William Pickering Fay under which he agreed to hold two undivided one-third interests in the property in their names and they agreed to assume the obligation for one third (each) of the mortgages on the property. On April 18, 1876, George Wheatland, Jr., transferred the remaining one-third interest in the property to his father, George Wheatland, Sr., of Salem. The land remained vacant for the next seven years.

1879 Plan of Parker Street between Beacon and Marlborough, with triangular lots to “square off” the parcels; Suffolk County Deed Registry, Book 1449, p. 5

The portion of Parker Street between Beacon and Commonwealth was discontinued as a public thoroughfare in December of 1879. In anticipation of the street’s abandonment, on April 30, 1878, Daniel Davies and Grenville T. W. Braman joined with the Beacon Street Lands Trust to acquire the land under the roadway from the Boston Water Power Company.

Daniel Davies died in June of 1878, and on February 1, 1879, his heirs and the Beacon Street Lands Trust entered into a series of transactions (using Chester M. Dawes as conveyancer) to “square off” their holdings by exchanging triangular shaped lots. Grenville T. W. Braman purchased the lots to the east, adding them to the triangular lot he had purchased in 1872 from Daniel Davies and creating a rectangular lot with a frontage of 80.58 feet on both Marlborough and the alley. The lots to the west were purchased by the Beacon Street Lands Trust. The dividing line between the parcels was 360.58 feet west of Hereford.

As of February of 1879, the land to the east, with a frontage of 360.58 feet, included the houses at 363 Marlborough and 13-15-17 Hereford, with a frontage on Marlborough of 60 feet, a 20 foot vacant lot owned by Spencer and Mary Richardson, a 200 foot vacant lot owned by George Wheatland, Sr. (one-third) and William D. Pickman and William P. Fay (two-thirds), and a 80.58 vacant foot lot owned by Grenville T. W. Braman.

Ownership of vacant land on the north side of Marlborough as of February 1879

On October 9, 1879, Grenville T. W. Braman sold his 80.58 foot lot to George Wheatland, Jr., who transferred it to his father on December 29, 1879,

George Wheatland, Jr., subsequently built twelve houses at 369-371-373-375-377-379-381-383-385-387-389-391 Marlborough on the combined 280.58 foot parcel, for speculative sale. As the houses were completed, William D. Pickman and the estate of William P. Fay (who had died in March of 1879) transferred their two-thirds interest to George Wheatland, Sr. He subsequently sold the houses to individual purchasers. 369 Marlborough was built four feet west of the eastern boundary of the land, and in October of 1880, George Wheatland, Sr., sold the four foot strip to Spencer and Mary Richardson, who added it to their 20 foot vacant lot; in 1887, they built 365 Marlborough on the combined lot

As of February of 1879, the land to the west of a line 360.58 feet west of Hereford, with a frontage of 279.42 feet, was owned by the Grenville T.W. Braman and his partners in the Beacon Street Lands Trust.

In January of 1880 the trust sold the eastern 199.42 feet to George P. Bangs and Charles P. Horton, and the western 80 feet (at the corner of Marlborough and Massachusetts Avenue) to Walter C. Cabot.

George Bangs and Charles Horton subdivided their land into two parcels and sold them in February of 1881, the eastern parcel with a 65.42 foot frontage to attorney Francis E. Parker, and the western parcel with a 134 foot frontage to William Amory, Jr.

Francis Parker died in January of 1886, and on October 20, 1886, his estate sold his lot to George B. Upton, who sold it on November 23, 1887, to builder John W. Shapleigh (who also purchased 0.58 feet to the east from George Wheatland, Sr.). He built 393-395-397 Marlborough, for speculative sale.

On February 10, 1881, William Amory, Jr., transferred the eastern 54 feet of his 134 foot lot to his mother, Anna Powell Mason (Sears) Amory, the wife of William Amory, and the western 54 feet to himself as guardian for his minor daughters, Caroline Brewer Amory and Anna Sears Amory. He retained the middle 26 feet in his own name.

On June 30, 1884, Anna (Sears) Amory sold a 20 foot lot to Miriam Walley (Phillips) Rollins, the wife of Dr. William Herbert Rollins, and they built their home at 399 Marlborough.

On June 10, 1885, Anna Amory sold the remaining 34 feet to William Simes. On the same day, he also acquired a two foot strip to the west from William Amory, Jr.. He built his home at 401 Marlborough.

On October 23, 1885, William Amory, Jr., sold William Simes an additional 24 foot lot to the west, which he resold on February 13, 1886, to Charles Henry Tilton, who built his home at 403 Marlborough.

The western 54 foot lot (which William Amory had transferred in 1881 to himself as guardian for his daughters) subsequently was divided into two lots, both of which changed hands and then were purchased on January 16, 1889, by Edwin B. Horn, who built two apartment buildings at 405-407 Marlborough.

On May 1, 1890, Walter Cabot sold his land at the corner of Marlborough and Massachusetts Avenue to Edwin Horn, who built two more apartment houses at 409-411 Marlborough.

The houses built at 385-387-389-391-393-395-397 Marlborough were partially built on land that previously had been Parker Street, with the Cross Dam below.

North side of Marlborough showing lots for 379-401 Marlborough, with area where Parker Street formerly was located

Building Restrictions in Original Land Deeds

The June 12, 1866, original land deed from the Boston Water Power Company conveying land on the north side of Marlborough west of Hereford to Daniel Davies included a requirement that buildings built on the land be set back twenty-two feet from Marlborough, and provided that “steps, windows, porticos, and other usual projections appurtenant to said front wall be allowed within this reserved area of twenty-two feet.” The deed did not include language specifying depth or dimensional limitations with respect to such projections into the reserved area.

In 1872, when Daniel Davies sold portions of his land on Marlborough to Silas Merrill and to George Wheatland, Jr., he included additional language specifying depth and dimensional limitations similar to those required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts deeds conveying its lands (as expanded upon by the regulations of the Commissioners on Public Lands). These deeds from Daniel Davies also included language requiring that the buildings be made of brick, stone, or iron, that they be no less than two stories in height, including basement and attic, and that they not be used for livery stables or for mechanical or manufacturing purposes.  These deeds also included language governing the erection of and payment for party walls on the land.

The March 1, 1872, original land deed from the Boston Water Power Company to the Beacon Street Lands Trust, which included several tracts of land, included requirements that buildings be built of brick, stone, or iron; that buildings be not less than three stories in height including the basement; and that buildings not be used for a livery stable or for any mechanical or manufacturing purpose. The deed not include any requirement that houses be set back a specified distance from Marlborough.

In January of 1880, when the Beacon Street Lands Trust sold their land on the north side of Marlborough to George P. Bangs and Charles P. Horton, and to Walter C. Cabot, the deeds repeated these restrictions and added a requirement that buildings be set back twenty-two feet from Marlborough, provided that doors, porticos, windows, and roof cornices were allowed to project into the reserved space with depth and dimensional limitations.

Like Daniel Davies’s deeds, the deeds from the Beacon Street Lands Trust also included language governing the erection of and payment for party walls on the land.

Original Land Deeds

The Boston Water Power Company sold its land on the north side of Marlborough between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue by the following deeds:

Address Description Date Grantee Book Page
363-391 Marlborough Hereford to Parker Street 12Jun1868 Daniel Davies 929 58
391-411 Marlborough Parker Street to Massachusetts Avenue 01Mar1872 Grenville T. W. Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank W. Andrews, trustees 1095 1
385-397 Marlborough Parker Street roadway 30Apr1878 Grenville T. W. Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank W. Andrews, trustees; Grenville T. W. Braman; and Daniel Davies 1449 3