35 Commonwealth was designed by architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee and built ca. 1873, one of three contiguous houses built ca. 1872-1873 (35-37-39 Commonwealth) and one of ten contiguous houses (29-31-33-35-37-39-41-43-45-47 Commonwealth) built in the same design between 1863 and 1873.
35-37 Commonwealth were built for ship owner, importer, and sugar refiner Elisha Atkins. He and his wife, Mary Ellen (Freeman) Atkins, lived at 37 Commonwealth.
Elisha Atkins purchased the land for 35 Commonwealth from Edward C. Wilson on October 24, 1872. Edward Wilson had purchased the land from Eugene Sturtevant on February 16, 1863, who had purchased it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 29, 1863. When he sold Elisha Atkins the land, Edward Wilson included a restriction limiting the depth of any house built at 35 Commonwealth to no more than the house already built at 33 Commonwealth.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 35 Commonwealth.
On October 1, 1878, 35 Commonwealth was purchased from Elisha Atkins by Julia Maria (Barrett) Marsh, the wife of Charles Marsh. They previously had lived at 58 Boylston. They also maintained a home on Jerusalem Road in Cohasset.
Charles Marsh was a partner in the wholesale and retail dry goods firm of Jordan, Marsh & Co.
In about 1890, her daughter, Edith Barrett (Marsh) Binney, also lived with her. The previous year, Edith Binney’s husband, George Hayward Binney, fled Boston having defrauded several banks. They had lived at 275 Marlborough. By 1892, Edith Binney had moved to an apartment at 138 Marlborough.
Charles R. Marsh died in March of 1908 and Julia (Barrett) Marsh died in November of 1908.
The house was not listed in the 1909 and 1910 Blue Books.
On January 6, 1911, 36 Commonwealth was purchased from J. Sumner Draper by architect Arthur Little. He and his wife, Jessie (Whitman) Means Little, made it their home. They previously had lived at 148 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Wenham.
Arthur Little remodeled 35 Commonwealth to lower the front entrance to street level (his firm, Little and Browne, was noted for remodeling several Back Bay houses in this manner).
Living with the Littles were Claire Whitman Means and Jessie Keith Means, the daughters of Jessie (Whitman) Little and her deceased first husband, Robert Lawrence Means. Claire Means married in June of 1912 to Andre Nicholas Reggio, an architect and real estate dealer, and they moved to 41 Pilgrim Road.
The Littles continued to live at 35 Commonwealth, joined during the 1912-1913 winter season by Jessie Little’s former sister-in-law, Anne Middleton Means. Her usual residence was 248 Commonwealth, where her brother and sister-in-law, James and Agnes (Bankson) Means, were living temporarily. She subsequently traveled abroad, and then lived with the Littles again during the 1915-1916 season, after which she moved back to 248 Commonwealth.
During the 1913-1914 and 1914-1915 winter seasons, the Littles were living in Wenham and 35 Commonwealth was the home of Robert Gould Shaw, II, and his wife Mary (Hannington) Converse Shaw. He was a gentleman farmer at Boulder Farm in Dedham and leading American polo player.
By the 1915-1916 season, 35 Commonwealth once again was Arthur and Jessie Little’s home. They continued to live there until the Fall of 1917, when they purchased and moved to 151 Commonwealth. They continued to own 35 Commonwealth and lease it to others.
During the 1917-1918 winter season, 35 Commonwealth was the home of George Bridge Leighton and his wife, Charlotte (Kayser) Leighton. They previously had lived at 127 Beacon. They also maintained a home in Monadnock, New Hampshire.
George Leighton was president of the Allegheny By-Products Coal Company, and previously had been president of the Los Angeles Terminal Railway and then of the Leighton & Howard Steel Company.
The Leightons moved from 35 Commonwealth by the 1918-1919 season.
Also living at 35 Commonwealth during the 1917-1918 winter season were John Gardner Coolidge and his wife, Helen (Stevens) Coolidge. He was retired from the US Diplomatic Corps, having served in France, China, Mexico, and Nicaragua.They previously had lived at 130 Beacon with his parents, Joseph and Julia (Gardner) Coolidge.
By the 1918-1919 season, the Coolidges were living in Chestnut Hill, and by 1920 at 55 Commonwealth.
By the 1918-1919 winter season, 35 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. George Jackson Hill, a physician, and his wife, Lucy Freeman (Winslow) Hill. They previously had lived in Beverly. They continued to live at 35 Commonwealth during the 1920-1921 season, but moved thereafter to 103 Beacon.
During the 1921-1922 winter season, 35 Commonwealth was the home of mining executive Edward Andrew Clark and his wife, Elizabeth (French) Clark. Their primary residence was Fairholme at 3 Rockwood in Jamaica Plain.
Edward Clark died in March of 1922.
During the 1922-1923 winter season, it was the home of Bayard Warren and his wife, Elizabeth (Sears) Warren. They also maintained a home in Prides Crossing. He was a trustee of estates. During thr 1920-1921 season, they had lived at 90 Marlborough.
On September 15, 1923, 35 Commonwealth was purchased from Arthur little by Rodman Paul Snelling and his wife, Eva Burnham (de Tréville) Snelling. They previously had lived at 151 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Beverly Farms.
Rodman Snelling was treasurer of the Saco-Lowell Shops, makers of textile (cotton worsted and spun silk) machinery.
Rodman Snelling died in August of 1935; Eva Snelling continued to live at 35 Commonwealth until her death in 1936.
The house was not listed in the 1937 Blue Book and is shown as vacant in the 1938 City Directory.
On November 29, 1937, 35 Commonwealth was purchased from Eva Snelling’s estate by Rebecca Silberman.
35 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1937 and 1938 Boston Lists of Residents and probably was vacant.
By mid-1938, 35 Commonwealth was the home of James Albert and his wife, Mildred (Levine) Albert. They previously had lived at 1 Raleigh.
James Albert was a former silk merchant in his father’s firm and in the late 1930s was president of the Chaffin Optical Company. He also was an attorney and worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to defend pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War II. He later practiced with his brother, Alfred, with whom he defended authors, publishers, and distributors of allegedly obscene works.
Mildred Albert was a teacher and fashion expert. In 1936, she founded the Academie Moderne, a finishing school, and in 1944 she co-founded the Hart Model Agency, credited as being the first modeling agency in New England. She also wrote for local fashion publications and produced numerous high-profile fashion shows. In April of 1990, Mayor Raymond Flynn declared her Boston’s “Official Grande Dame.”
Mildred Albert had operated the Academie Moderne in their home at 1 Raleigh and relocated it to 35 Commonwealth when they moved there.
On June 24, 1940, Mildred Albert purchased 35 Commonwealth from Rebecca Silberman, and on October 1, 1942, she transferred the property to Academie Moderne, Inc..
In October of 1942, the Academie filed for permission to convert the house from a single-family dwelling into a single-family, school, dormitory, and lodging house. The permit was abandoned, but the school continued to occupy the house and it also became the location of the Hart Model Agency when it was formed in the mid-1940s. In April of 1954, the Academie applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as a “dwelling and school for modeling.”
The Alberts continued to live at 35 Commonwealth until about 1967, when they moved to 112 Charles. Mildred Albert continued to operate the Academie Moderne and the Hart Model Agency at 35 Commonwealth.
On September 29, 1977, 35 Commonwealth was purchased from Academie Moderne, Inc., by George J. Brennan, Jr., Rocco Losano, Louis Francis Musco, Jr., and Frank Carroll, co-partners in Commonwealth Management Associates. On October 22, 1979, Commonwealth Management Associates transferred 35 Commonwealth to George J. Brennan, Jr., and Louis Musco, Jr. George Brennan and Louis Musco’s father, Louis, Sr., were co-founders of Bay State College, located at 122 Commonwealth.
The Academie Moderne and Hart Modeling Agency remained there until the 1980s.
Louis Musco, Jr., died in May of 1987.
On January 19, 1988, 35 Commonwealth was acquired from George Brennan, Jr., and Madeline (Lynne) (Bergonzi) Musco, Louis Musco’s widow, by Thomas E. Langford and Frederick G. Pfannenstiehl, trustees. Thomas Langford was president of Bay State College and Frederick Pfannenstiehl was chairman of the board.
35 Commonwealth subsequently was leased from the trust by Bay State College for use as classrooms.
35 Commonwealth remained a Bay State College school building in 2016.
On April 26, 2017, 35 Commonwealth was acquired from Frederick G. Pfannenstiehl and Craig F. Pfannenstiehl, current trustees of the trust established in 1988, by the 35 Comm Ave Associates LLC (Barkan Properties LLC, John R. Barkan, manager, and Sea-Dar Real Estate Inc., Jean N. Abouhamad, president and treasurer).