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.

Parker Street as shown on the 1874 Hopkins map

Originally, the block 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, 1866, all of the land on the north side of Marlborough between Hereford and the east side of Parker Street was purchased from the Boston Water Power Company by Daniel Davies. On March 1, 1872, all of the land on the north side of Marlborough between Massachusetts Avenue and the west side of Parker Street was purchased by a real estate investment trust formed by Grenville T. W. Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank W. Andrews. The land under Parker Street remained the property of the Boston Water Power Company.

In October of 1872, Daniel Davies sold the western portion of his land, abutting Parker Street, to Grenville T. W. Braman (who was his son-in-law), 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.

In May of 1872, Daniel Davies sold his remaining land with a 200 foot frontage to 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 joined with Grenville Braman and his partners 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 Grenville Braman and his partners 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 Grenville T. W. Braman and his partners in the real estate trust. The dividing line between the parcels was 360.58 feet west of Hereford.

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

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 (two-thirds), and a 80.58 vacant foot lot owned by Grenville T. W. Braman.

In October of 1879, Grenville T. W. Braman sold his 80.58 foot lot to George Wheatland, Jr., who transferred it to his father in December of 1879,

George Wheatland, Jr., subsequently built twelve houses at 369-391 Marlborough on the combined 280.58 foot parcel. 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. 469 Beacon 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 Grenville T. W. Braman and his partners in the real estate investment 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 western parcel with a 134 foot frontage to William Amory, Jr., and the eastern parcel with a 65.42 foot frontage to Francis E. Parker. Both parcels subsequently changed hands. The 134 foot parcel to the west became the site of 399-401-403-405 Marlborough. The 65.42 foot parcel to the east was acquired in November of 1887 by John W. Shapleigh (who also purchased the extra 0.58 feet to the east from George Wheatland, Jr.) and he built 393-395-397 Marlborough on the land.

In May of 1890, Walter Cabot sold his land at the corner of Marlborough and Massachusetts Avenue to Edwin Horn, who built 409-411 Marlborough on it.

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