148 Commonwealth was designed and built in 1876 by architect and builder George W. Pope, one of two contiguous houses (146-148 Commonwealth). It was built as the home of wholesale shoe and boot merchant Franklin Lewis Fay and his wife, Hannah Sophia (Blackwood) Fay, on a lot he had purchased from the Commonwealth in January of 1876.
The house probably was completed in 1877, and the Fays were living there by 1878. They previously lived at 102 West Chester Park. He is shown as the owner of 148 Commonwealth on the 1883 Bromley map.
Living with the Fays were their unmarried daughters, Alice Dexter Fay and Blanche Hobart Fay, and their son-in-law and daughter, leather dealer Albert Winslow Hobart and Sophia Hopkins (Fay) Hobart.
Alice Fay married in February of 1884 to Dr. Walter Joseph Otis, a physician and surgeon. After their marriage, they lived at 6 Beacon.
Franklin Fay died in September of 1885.
Hannah Fay continued to own 148 Commonwealth but lived elsewhere for about ten years after Franklin Fay’s death. In May of 1886, she applied for a passport for herself and her daughter, Blanche Hobart Fay, and they probably were traveling for an extended period. At about the same time, the Hobarts moved to the Tremont House hotel. Hannah and Blanche Fay had returned to Boston by the 1887-1888 winter season and were living at the Hotel Vendome. Blanche Fay married in October of 1889 to Frank E. Warner, after which they lived in an apartment at 499 Beacon and Hannah Fay lived at The Abbotsford at 186-188 Commonwealth. By the 1893-1894 winter season, Mrs. Fay and the Warners were living at The Charlesgate at 535 Beacon.
The Fays’ son, Franklin Blackwood Fay, et at, trustees, are shown as the owners of 148 Commonwealth on the 1888, 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps.
During the 1886-1887 winter season, 148 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Mary (Vinton) Clark, the widow of Randolph Marshall Clark, who had been treasurer of the Boston Elastic Fabric Company. She previously had lived at 261 Clarendon and also maintained a home in Pomfret, Connecticut. She had moved from 148 Commonwealth by the next season; during the 1889-1890 season, she was living at 283 Commonwealth.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, 148 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. H. A. Bridge, probably Helen A. (Holland) Bridge, the widow of Hudson Erastus Bridge, a stove manufacturer and railroad president in St. Louis. During the 1885-1886 season, she had lived at 302 Beacon. She may have been living in Boston because of the impending marriage of her son, Harrison Parker Bridge, to Caroline Gardner Tobey; they married in October of 1889, after which they lived at 346 Beacon. Mrs. Bridge continued to live at 148 Marlborough during the 1890-1891 season, but moved soon thereafter.
Living at 148 Commonwealth during the same period was Mrs. J. W. Bellows, probably Helen Elizabeth (Stiles) Bellows, the widow of John Bellows. Prior to his death in December of 1888, they had lived at The Warren. She remarried in December of 1889 to Charles Wesley Fisk; after their marriage, they lived in Logansport, Indiana.
By the 1893-1894 winter season, it was the home of cotton and dry goods merchant Francis Wright Fabyan and his wife, Edith (Westcott) Fabyan, the daughter of Stephen E. Westcott, who lived at 146 Commonwealth. They continued to live at 148 Commonwealth until about 1896, but had moved to 169 Commonwealth by 1897.
By 1897, Hannah Fay had resumed living at 148 Commonwealth, joined by her son-in-law and daughter, Frank and Blanche Warner. They also maintained a home Beverly. Frank Warner was an accountant with the American Bell Telephone Company.
In 1898 and 1899, Hannah Fay and the Warners were joined at 148 Commonwealth by Hannah Fay’s daughter, Evelyn Daggett, widow of Henry Lefrelet Daggett, Jr. (who had died in Paris in December of 1894).
Hannah Fay died in January of 1905. At the time of her death, Frank and Blanche Warner continued to live with her. By 1906, they had moved to 329 Beacon.
In June of 1909, Frank Blackwood Fay, “sole surviving trustee under the will of Franklin L. Fay,” sold 148 Commonwealth to architect Arthur Little.
After acquiring 148 Commonwealth, Arthur Little undertook a major remodeling and, at about the same time, his firm (Little and Browne) also remodeled 146 Commonwealth. It probably was at this time that the front entrances of both houses were lowered to street level.
Arthur Little and his wife, Jessie Maria (Whitman) Means Little, lived at 148 Commonwealth in 1910. Living with them were Jessie Whitman’s three unmarried children by her first marriage, to Robert Lawrence Means: Robert Whitman Means, Claire W. Means, and Jessie K. Means. They also maintained a residence in Swampscott.
In 1911, Arthur Little leased 148 Commonwealth to George Hastings Swift and his wife, Lucile Darst (Casey) Swift. They had lived at 369 Beacon the previous year. Arthur and Jessie Little moved to 35 Commonwealth.
George Swift was the New England representative of his father’s meat packing firm, Swift & Company.
Arthur Little died in 1925 and, in September of 1927, the trustees of his estate sold 148 Commonwealth to leather and wool merchant Eugene Rosenthal and his wife, Sadie (Rosenbaum) Rosenthal. The deed specified that it was subject to a lease with George H. Swift, which would expire August 31, 1928.
By 1929, the Swifts had moved to the Ritz Carlton Hotel and 148 Commonwealth was Eugene and Sadie Rosenthal’s home. They previously had lived at 167 Marlborough. They also maintained a summer home in Beverly.
In April of 1949, Eugene Rosenthal sold 148 Commonwealth to Howard S. Cosgrove. Eugene and Sadie Rosenthal moved to Beverly.
Five days later, Howard Cosgrove sold the house to Mrs. Amy Elizabeth (Cain) Wharton Untz, the widow of Christopher Slater Wharton and Joseph Untz. Her son-in-law and daughter, John Reginald Gundry and Winifred Amy (Wharton) Gundry, lived with her. They all had previously lived at 403 Marlborough. They operated 148 Commonwealth as a lodging house.
In May of 1951, Amy Untz transferred 148 Commonwealth to Winifred Gundry. Mrs. Untz continued to live at 148 Commonwealth in 1953, but moved thereafter.
John Gundry died in 1957 and in July of 1959, Winifred Gundry sold 148 Commonwealth to Constantine and Olga Tingus, and Andrew G. Tingus, Constantine Tingus’s first cousin.
In May of 1961, Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College purchased 148 Commonwealth from James Albert. Chamberlayne was located at 130 Commonwealth and purchased the house to use as a dormitory.
In the mid-1970s, Chamberlayne went bankrupt and in December of 1976, Back Bay Restorations Company bought 148 Commonwealth from the bankruptcy trustee. At the same time, Back Bay Restorations also purchased a number of Chamberlayne’s other properties (including 199 Marlborough, 238 Marlborough, 278–280–282 Commonwealth, and 298 Commonwealth).
In October of 1976, prior to finalizing its purchase of 148 Commonwealth, Back Bay Restorations filed for (and subsequently received) to convert the property from a dormitory into seven apartments.
In conjunction with the purchase, Back Bay Restorations entered into an agreement with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to operate 148 Commonwealth and the other buildings acquired from Chamberlayne as rental properties. In September of 1984, however, the company subdivided 148 Commonwealth into seven condominiums.
Back Bay Restorations also sought to convert the other properties it owned to condominiums and, in 1985, the BRA brought legal action for violation of the 1976 agreement. In the course of the litigation, 148 Commonwealth was purchased by Managed Properties Inc of Chicago. Managed Properties also acquired some if not all of the other buildings that were the subject of the BRA’s suit, and, it appears, continued to operate them as apartments until the litigation was resolved.
In June of 1992, Managed Properties sold all of the condominiums at 148 Commonwealth (and all of the condominiums at 199 Marlborough, 238 Marlborough, and 298 Commonwealth) to PBH Realty Trust (Patricia M. Bailey, Trustee), which then sold the units to individual buyers.