213 Commonwealth was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1881-1882 by Vinal & Dodge, masons, and McNeil Brothers, carpenters, as the home of wholesale iron merchant Charles Tallman White and his wife, Sarah Brackett (Richardson) White. They previously had lived at 79 Boylston. Charles White is shown as the owner of 213 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated September 16, 1881.
The land for 213 Commonwealth originally had been sold by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at its May 20, 1879, auction to E. A. Robinson. He sold or transferred his rights to the land, and by the early 1880s they were held by Sarah (Richardson) White. On October 13, 1882, after the house at 213 Commonwealth had been completed, she purchased and took title to the land from the Commonwealth.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 213 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 426, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Alice Brackett White married in November of 1901 to Francis Lowell Coolidge, a cotton buyer. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 81 Marlborough with his parents, Dr. Algernon Sidney Coolidge and Mary (Lowell) Coolidge. After their marriage, they moved to an apartment at 362 Commonwealth.
Sarah White died in June of 1916. Gertrude White continued to live at 213 Commonwealth and on June 13, 1917, acquired her sister’s half interest in the property.
Gertrude White continued to live there during the 1931-1932 winter season, after which she moved to the Hotel Hamilton at 260 Clarendon.
The house was not listed in the 1933-1937 Blue Books, and is shown as vacant in the 1932-1937 City Directories.
On February 1, 1937, 213 Commonwealth was purchased from Gertrude White by Sadie (Sarah) Elizabeth (Klayman) Green, the wife of Morris Green, and George J. Phillips, both of Dorchester. Sadie Green was treasurer of the Reliable Dress Shop in South Boston. George Phillips was a salesman, probably with the Reliable Dress Shop.
In February of 1937, George Phillips applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into ten apartments. On June 20, 1937, the Boston Globe reported that Sadie Green was among the building owners following the “new home trend of electrification” by installing electrical appliances in the ten apartments being created at 213 Commonwealth.
On November 16, 1937, George Phillips transferred his half interest in the property to Sadie Green.
On August 31, 1938, 213 Commonwealth was acquired from Sadie Green by her father, Myer Klayman (Clayman).
On June 28, 1939, 213 Commonwealth was acquired from Myer Klayman by the Park View Realty Corporation. Sadie Green’s step-son, William Green, was president and treasurer of Park View Realty (and also president of the Reliable Dress Shop). He was the son of Morris Green and his first wife, Minnie (Hirshhorn) Green.
On April 29, 1957, 213 Commonwealth was acquired from the Park View Realty Corp. by John Lawrence Hallett.
On May 21, 1960, 213 Commonwealth was acquired from John L. Hallett by Lester J. Robinson. He and his wife, Edith M. (Cronshaw) Robinson, lived in Lowell. On September 21, 1960, the property was acquired from him by his daughter, Louise Robinson, doing business as Copley Management Company.
The property changed hands and on July 2, 1969, was acquired by Walter H. Fehrmann and his wife, Virginia (Riselli) Fehrmann. On September 14, 1995, they transferred the property to Virginia Fehrmann as trustee of the 213 Commonwealth Avenue Real Estate Trust.
213 Commonwealth remained an apartment building in 2016.