Across the quiet street from us is an empty lot. It has been empty a very long time and rumor in the neighborhood had it as wet and therefore unbuildable as well. Not so, in the event. First, there was a surveyor (or surveyors -- I think the earlier guy may have been engaging a little story telling when he said he was surveying for an abutter). Then there was a tree guy who removed the trees. Then there was the rock removal -- a big task here in New England. And now, there's a hole in the ground.
When the trees were first removed, there was much excitement and some people were deeply concerned. Wasn't it wet? Did something shady happen? What was going to be built? Since one home was replaced with two in our case, and a set of townhomes went up down the busy road a block-ish, there was some chatter. I was not the only one to call the Town and ask, very politely, what was going to be built: a single family home.
But I did not (alas) ask the other questions. Who was the property owner before? R. and I were able to identify the street address and he found the parcel number, but masslandrecords revealed nothing for the former and isn't searchable by the latter. The Town GIS records only went up to about 1974 (which is around the time masslandrecords go back to), but did include a transfer -- but not the owner. It did, however, include an address: P.O. Box A, Marlboro. We suspected that would be Marlboro, NH, rather than Marlboro, MA (due to gossip that said the property owner was a school in New Hampshire). In the event, it turned out to be the Marlboro College in Vermont, discovered, IIRC, by googling for PO Box A. The NH and MA Marlboros have numbered mailboxes, but R. found the college in VT.
Mystery solved. No phone calls to Town necessary.