172 Commonwealth was designed by architect John H. Besarick and built in 1885 by L. R. Soule and Whitney Brothers, builders.
172 Commonwealth was built as the home and medical office of Dr. Charles Samuel Bartlett, a dentist, and his wife, Annie M. (Brazer) Bartlett. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated July 2, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 16, 1886. Annie M. Bartlett is shown as the owner on the 1888 and 1898 Bromley maps.
In 1885, the Bartletts had lived (and he had maintained his medical offices) at 142 Boylston. It previously had been the office and Boston home of his father, Samuel P. Bartlett, also a dentist, who died in April of 1884.
By 1889, Charles and Annie Bartlett had been joined at 172 Commonwealth by Dr. Henry Cutler Baldwin, a neurologist, who both lived and maintained his medical office there. He continued to live there until 1892, when he purchased and moved to 126 Commonwealth.
From about 1894, Dr. Samuel Breck, a physician, also maintained his office at 172 Commonwealth with Dr. Bartlett and Dr. Werner. He and his wife, Louisa Maria (Eddy) Breck, lived in West Roxbury. In 1893, they had lived (and he had maintained his offices) at 122 Marlborough. He continued to maintain his offices at 172 Commonwealth in 1898, but had moved to 362 Commonwealth by 1900.
Charles and Annie Bartlett continued to live at 172 Commonwealth until about 1902, when they moved to an apartment at 366 Commonwealth.
By the 1902-1903 winter season, 172 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. Henry Ehrlich, a physician, and his wife, Sally (Hecht) Ehrlich. They had been married in May of 1901, and 172 Commonwealth probably was their first home together. Sally H. Ehrlich is shown as the owner on the 1908, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps.
Dr. Ehrlich maintained his medical offices in the house.
Dr. Bartlett and Dr. Werner also continued to maintain their dental offices there, Dr. Bartlett until about 1912 and Dr. Werner until about 1916.
Henry Ehrlich died in February of 1926. Sally Ehrlich continued to live at 172 Commonwealth until about 1931. She also maintained a summer residence in Clifton, Massachusetts.
On August 23, 1931, the Boston Globe reported that Sally Ehrlich had sold 171 Commonwealth to Joseph F. Brennan of Brookline. The sale apparently was not finalized or the property reverted to Mrs. Ehrlich, inasmuch as she continued to be shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map and was reported by the Globe on January 22, 1939, as having sold the house to a “new owner” who “expects to occupy the premises.”
The house was not listed in the 1932-1937 Blue Books and was shown as vacant in the 1932-1935 City Directories.
By 1936, 172 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. Eugene Todhunter Vincent and his wife, Mabel Amanda (Short) Vincent. He was a physician and dentist, and also maintained his office there. They previously had lived in Cambridge and he had maintained his office at 93 Massachusetts Avenue. They continued to live (and he to maintain his office) at 172 Commonwealth in 1937, but separated at about that time and he moved to 231 Commonwealth.
172 Commonwealth was once again shown as vacant in the 1938 City Directory.
In October of 1938, Shirley Clifford Speed applied for (and subsequently received) permission to make repairs to 172 Commonwealth.
S. Clifford Speed was a real estate dealer who converted many Back Bay houses into lodging houses and apartments. He probably was leasing the property from Mrs. Ehrlich.
By 1939, it was the home of Mrs. Florence Harriet (Muir) Van Ness, widow of Ward Milton Van Ness, who had been a dentist in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She operated 172 Commonwealth as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 122 Bowdoin. She continued to live at 172 Commonwealth in 1940, but moved soon thereafter to Norwalk, Connecticut, where she remarried in November of 1942 to John Skinner, a retired cotton goods manufacturer.
172 Commonwealth subsequently changed hands, remaining a lodging house, and in March of 1946 was acquired by Delillus (Crockett) Kipp, the wife of attorney Roy Frank Kipp. The Kipps owned and lived at 178 Commonwealth and also owned 174 Commonwealth. In November of 1957, they acquired 176 Commonwealth. They also owned 163 Commonwealth, across the street.
In February of 1950, Delillus Kipp filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into nine apartments.
The property changed hands. It remained an apartment house in 2014.