212 Commonwealth

212 Commonwealth (2013)

212 Commonwealth (2013)

Lot 25.5' x 124.5' (3,175 sf)

Lot 25.5′ x 124.5′ (3,175 sf)

212 Commonwealth is located on the south side of Commonwealth, between Exeter and Fairfield, with 208 Commonwealth to the east and 214 Commonwealth to the west.

212 Commonwealth was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1879-1880 by Vinal & Dodge, masons, and Andrew Anderson, carpenter.  It was built as the home of wholesale grocer Benjamin Warren Munroe and his wife, Ellen Hedge (Lunt) Munroe.  They previously had lived in Dorchester.  He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated November 28, 1879, and on the 1883, 1888, and 1898 Bromley maps.

The Munroes continued to live there in 1900, but moved soon thereafter to 31 Newbury, where they were living at the time of his death in March of 1901.

212 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1901 Blue Book.

During the 1901-1902 winter season, it was the home of Herbert Merriam and his wife, Fanny (Hawes) Merriam.  Herbert Merriam owned and operated Cherry Brook Farm in Weston, which was their primary residence.

By the 1902-1903 winter season, 212 Commonwealth was the home of George Alonzo Gibson and his wife, Emily Ruth (Dickinson) Gibson.  They previously had lived in Medford.  He is shown as the owner of 212 Commonwealth on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley map.  They also maintained a summer home in Marblehead.

Formerly a lawyer, since 1881 George Gibson had been a piano manufacturer, a founder and president of the Ivers & Pond Piano Company.

He died in May of 1921.  Emily Gibson continued to live at 212 Commonwealth until her death in 1925.

212 Commonwealth (ca. 1882), courtesy of Historic New England

212 Commonwealth (ca. 1882), Soule Photograph Company, courtesy of Historic New England

The house was not listed in the 1927-1933 Blue Books.

By 1928, 212 Commonwealth had been converted into a lodging house, known as the Fellowship House.  The property continued to be owned by Emily Gibson’s estate: both “Friendship Ho.” and Emily R. Gibson are listed on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps.

In April of 1929, the Building Department issued a notice of violation to the Gibson Estate’s agent, the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company, for failure to provide adequate egress.

In January of 1930, Boston Safe Deposit and Trust advised the Building Department that “our tenant at 212 Commonwealth Avenue whose occupancy necessitated your order for erection of fire escapes, has advised us that he is unable to meet his obligations and will have to vacate the premises on or before January 31st.  Therefore, it is evident that we will have a vacant house on our hands for some time.”  The bank identified their client as Florence (Warner) Gibson, the widow of George and Emily Gibson’s son, Kirkland Hopkins Gibson.

In October of 1930, Boston Safe Deposit and Trust filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house, including installing the necessary fire escapes.

By 1931, 212 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Mary Agnes (called Agnes) (Witter) Lindsey Hobart, widow of John Sumner Lindsey and of Edward Ellis Hobart, and her niece, Miss Alice Manning Wright (daughter of Edward Gilmore Wright and Eliza Lyon Witter).  They had lived at 302 Commonwealth in 1930.  Prior to Edward Hobart’s death in January of 1928, they had lived in Plymouth, where he was Clerk of the County Court and she was principal of the Plymouth High School.

212 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

212 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

Agnes Hobart maintained a lodging house at 212 Commonwealth.

She died in March of 1936.  Alice Wright continued to live there (and maintain a lodging house) until about 1946.

By 1947, 212 Commonwealth was the home of Ray F. Mitchell, a salesman, and his wife, Dorothy Mitchell, who continued to operate it as a lodging house.  They previously had lived at 46 Pinckney.  They continued to live at 212 Commonwealth until about 1952.

By 1952, 212 Commonwealth was owned by Gaetano La Marco of Winchester, owner of the Majestic Liquor Mart at 205 Tremont.  In June of 1952, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into three apartments and two medical offices.

The property changed hands and in February of 1974 was acquired by Stephen E. Mermelstein.  By the mid-1990s, the property had been converted into eight apartments.

In April of 1996, Stephen Mermelstein filed for (and subsequently received) permission to correct several fire safety violations and to change the legal occupancy from three apartments and two medical offices to seven apartments, reducing the existing number of apartments from eight by combining the units on the top floor.

In June of 1999, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to once again divide the apartments on the top floor and increase the number of units from seven to eight.

212 Commonwealth remained an apartment house in 2014.