206 Commonwealth was designed by Allen and Kenway, architects, and built in 1885-1886 by Silas Merrill, carpenter, and David L. Rand, mason,, one of two contiguous houses (206-208 Commonwealth) designed by Allen and Kenway but built by different builders.
206 Commonwealth was built for Nancy (Flagg) Flagg, the widow of wine merchant Dennis Francis Flagg (her first cousin), who had died in October of 1884. She purchased the land from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on December 2, 1884, and is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated March 16, 1885, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 16, 1886.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 206 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 433, from Exeter to Fairfield.
On May 19, 1885, the Boston Evening Transcript reported that “workmen are laying the foundations for a house for Mrs. Dennis F. Flagg at 206. The architects, Messrs. Allen & Kenway, have designed a unique elevation, the peculiar treatment of the angles of the bay being noticeable. On the first story, the angles are formed by bricks moulded for this especial purpose, while on the second story columns are used with good effect.”
On November 29, 1885, the “Table Gossip” column in the Boston Globe commented that “Mrs. Flagg’s house … which is in the process of building, will be one of the most attractive when finished on the avenue. It is of Philadelphia brick, with trimmings of red Springfield freestone.”
By the 1885-1886 winter season, Nancy Flagg had made 206 Commonwealth her home. She was joined by two of her children: Henry Daggett Flagg, a real estate dealer, and Elizabeth (Flagg) Simmons, the widow of Enoch F. Simmons. They all previously had lived at 46 Union Park.
Nancy Flagg died in February of 1887. In her will, she left all of her property to Henry D. Flagg, as trustee for the benefit of her brothers, Lucius Flagg and Murray Flagg, and her daughter, Elizabeth Simmons, with the property to be distributed to Elizabeth Simmons after her brothers’ deaths. In providing for her daughter, Elizabeth, Nancy Flagg noted that her five other surviving children – Frederick D. Flagg, Charles P. Flagg, Henry D. Flagg, Emily Flagg, and Florence Adelaide Flagg — “have all shared in the division of my husband’s estate and are in need of no assistance from me.”
Henry Flagg and Elizabeth Simmons continued to live at 206 Commonwealth. Elizabeth Simmons’s daughters, Marion Elizabeth Simmons and Alice Mabel Simmons, lived with them.
Alice Mabel Simmons married in November of 1895 to Albert Layton Register, a civil engineer, and they moved to Philadelphia.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, Henry Flagg, Elizabeth SImmons, and Marion Simmons were living elsewhere and 206 Commonwealth was the home of C. L. Lovering and Miss Lovering, probably Charles Loughead Lovering, treasurer of the Massachusetts Cotton Mills, and his daughter, Susan, whose principal residence was in Taunton (his wife, Sarah Rebecca (Maltby) Lovering, had died in April of 1897). They had moved by the 1900-1901 winter season, and Henry Flagg and Elizabeth and Marion Simmons were living there once again.
Nancy Flagg’s brother Lucius Flagg died in January of 1897 and her brother Murray Flagg died in February of 1902. As provided under the trust established in her will, on March 11, 1902, Henry Flagg transferred 206 Commonwealth into Elizabeth Simmons’s name.
During the 1907-1908 winter season, Henry Flagg, Elizabeth Simmons, and Marion Simmons were living at the Lenox Hotel at 61 Exeter. In January of 1908, while they were living there, Marion Simmons died.
While they were staying at the Lenox Hotel, 206 Commonwealth was the home of architect Harry Hill Thorndike and his wife, Lucy Barney (Gurnee) Thorndike. They had lived at 194 Marlborough during the previous season. By the 1908-1909 season, they had moved to New York City and Elizabeth Simmons and Henry Flagg were living at 206 Commonwealth once again.
By 1910, Elizabeth Simmons and Henry Flagg had been joined at 206 Commonwealth by their sister, Emily F. (Flagg) Willcomb, the former wife of George Willcomb (shown as Mrs. Emily Welcome in the Blue Books).
Henry Flagg died in January of 1914.
Elizabeth Simmons continued to live at 206 Commonwealth. Emily Willcomb continued to live with her during the 1916-1917 winter season, but moved thereafter to the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth. She died in 1918.
By the 1918-1919 winter season, Elizabeth Simmons had been joined by her daughter, Alice Register. Albert Register was living in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Albert and Alice Register’s daughters, Katherine Elizabeth Register and Barbara Register, also lived at 206 Commonwealth during the winter seasons.
In December of 1918, Katherine Elizabeth Register married at 206 Commonwealth to Geraldyn Livingston Redmond of New York.
Elizabeth Simmons died in October of 1924.
On May 27, 1925, 206 Commonwealth was acquired from Elizabeth Simmons’s estate by Mary I. (Allen) McDonnell, the wife of real estate dealer John M. McDonnell. They lived in Brookline.
Alice Register continued to live at 206 Commonwealth and, in October of 1925, Barbara Register married to James Bogart Taller, Jr. After their marriage, they lived in New York City. Alice Register moved soon thereafter, probably to her home in Marion.
On December 15, 1925, 206 Commonwealth was acquired from Mary McDonnell by Edgar Nathan Carver and his wife, Florrie (Reynolds) Carver. They previously had lived at 36 Fairfield. Their daughter, Alice Carver, lived with them.
Edgar Carver had been a newspaper editor and publisher in Maine, where he also had served as auditor of state printing. He later operated the New England Linotype School in Boston. By 1920, he was a foreman at a newspaper.
Edgar and Florrie Carver operated 206 Commonwealth as a lodging house but appear never to have established that as the property’s legal use.
Florrie Carver died in 1933 and Edgar Carver died in January of 1937.
Alice Carver, who was a teacher, continued to live at 206 Commonwealth. In November of 1937, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
On December 6, 1937, the Suffolk Savings Bank for Seamen and Others foreclosed on the mortgage given by Mary McDonnell and assumed by the Carvers, and took possession of 206 Commonwealth. On April 15, 1938, Alice Carver acquired the property from the bank.
Alice Carver continued to live and operate a lodging house at 206 Commonwealth until about 1959.
On January 13, 1960, real estate dealers Stuart H. Hastings and Joseph A. Gautreau purchased 206 Commonwealth from Alice Carver, and on April 22, 1960,, it was acquired from them by Peter J. Fiumara and Richard H. Rubin, trustees of the Petri Realty Trust.
In April of 1960, the Petri Realty Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into ten apartments.
On August 16, 1961, 206 Commonwealth was acquired from the Petri Realty Trust by the Anderson Realty Corporation (Joel A. Moffie, treasurer). On February 20, 1963, it was acquired from Anderson Realty by Joseph M. Battaglia.
In January of 1964, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to expand the existing partial fourth story by extending the roof approximately five feet over the front terrace for the full width of the building.
On June 3, 1968, 206 Commonwealth was acquired from Joseph Battaglia by Back Bay Dormitories, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newbury College, which converted it into a dormitory.
By 1968, Back Bay Dormitories also owned 198, 200, 202, and 204 Commonwealth, and 138 Marlborough. On December 29, 1986, Back Bay Dormitories transferred all of these properties to Newbury College and liquidated its operations effective the end of the year. Newbury College continued to operate the properties as dormitories.
In the 1990s, Newbury College moved its operations from the Back Bay to Fisher Avenue in Brookline.
On December 3, 1993, 206 Commonwealth was purchased from Newbury College by George F. Morrissey, trustee of the Two Hundred Six Commonwealth Avenue Trust.
On December 3, 2009, he transferred the property to 206 Commonwealth Avenue, LLC (Margaret Morrissey and Paul J. Derba, managers of record).
206 Commonwealth remained an apartment house in 2020.