35 Fairfield was built in 1877-1878 for banker and real estate investor Asa Perkins Potter, one of eight houses, four on each side of the block: 31-33-35-37 Fairfield on the west and 32-34-36-38 Fairfield on the east. He and his wife, Delle (Sheldon) Potter, lived at 29 Fairfield, built at about the same time.
Each block of four houses was designed as a symmetrical group, centered on the paired entrances to the middle houses (33-35 Fairfield and 34-36 Fairfield). It appears likely that the eight houses originally matched in design, all with bays topped with conical roofs. 31-33-35-37 Fairfield remained unchanged as of 2015, but 32-34-36-38 Fairfield were significantly altered.
The permit application for 31-33 Fairfield (one application for two houses) does not indicate the architect, but the application for 35-37 Fairfield (also one application for two houses) names the architects as Ober and Rand. The original permit applications for 32-34-36-38 Fairfield have not been located. Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay attributes all eight houses to Ober and Rand, which appears likely given the similarity of design.
On May 31, 1876, Asa Potter purchased the land for 31-33-35-37 Fairfield from wholesale dry goods merchant George H. Braman. The purchase also included the land where 246 Commonwealth would be built. On the same day, Delle S. Potter purchased the land for 29 Fairfield from George Braman. On October 21, 1878, Asa Potter entered into an agreement with National Bank of Commerce of Boston to purchase the land for 32-34-36-38 Fairfield. He completed the purchase on June 21, 1879, after the houses had been built. All of the land was part of a parcel previously owned by Nathan Matthews, part of an even larger tract which was purchased by Nathan Matthews on January 2, 1871, from David Sears, Jr., Frederick R. Sears, and Knyvet Sears.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 35 Fairfield.
Having purchased the land (or secured the right to purchase it), Asa Potter worked with builder Silas Whiton Merrill and his son, Luther Moore Merrill, to construct the houses. Silas W. Merrill is shown as builder on the permit applications for 31-33-35-37 Fairfield, with mason John F. Richardson for 31-33 Fairfield and alone for 35-37 Fairfield. As noted above, the permit applications for 32-34-36-38 Fairfield have not been located. However, on October 27, 1878, the Boston Globe reported that Luther M. Merrill had been granted permits for two of the houses (32-34 Fairfield), and on June 5, 1879, it reported that Silas W. Merrill had been granted permits for the remaining two (36-38 Fairfield).
An April 12, 1879, Boston Journal on “Building Operations in the Back Bay” summarized the development of the eight houses as of the spring of 1879: “On Fairfield street, between Commonwealth avenue and Newbury street, Luther M. Merrill has erected a block of four small houses, 26 [sic] by 44 feet, two stories, Mansard roof. These houses contain eleven rooms, and have been sold for $10,000 and $11,000 each. On the opposite side of the street the same builder has erected for Asa P. Potter two houses of the same style and dimensions, and has a permit for two more.”
In all but two cases (31-33 Fairfield), after the houses were built, Asa Potter held the property until a buyer was found, and then sold the land with the house on it to Silas Merrill, who resold it on the same day or soon thereafter – presumably at a profit – to the buyer.
The pattern was different for 31-33 Fairfield, the first two houses sold (both in August of 1878). In the case of 31 Fairfield, Asa Potter sold the house to Jarvis Dwight Braman, president of the Boston Water Power Company, who resold it on the same day (Jarvis Braman was the brother of George H. Braman, from whom Asa Potter had acquired the land). In the case of 33 Fairfield, Asa Potter sold house to Silas Merrill, who then mortgaged it and transferred it back the next day to Asa Potter, who sold it soon thereafter. Silas Merrill had filed for bankruptcy in May of 1878, and the approach to these two sales may have reflected his financial position. The other six sales all were in 1879, presumably after his bankruptcy was resolved.
On March 6, 1879, Asa Potter sold 33 Fairfield to Silas Merrill. The deed included an easement reserving a three foot wide strip across the western boundary to provide drainage access to the alley for 37 Fairfield. A similar easement was included in the deeds for 31 and 33 Fairfield to provide passage and drainage access to the alley for 31-33-35 Fairfield.
On March 6, 1879, 35 Fairfield was purchased from Silas Merrill by tea dealer Herbert Nash. In June of 1879, he married Mary Chafee Baldwin; they made 35 Fairfield their home. He previously had lived at 33 Union Park with his parents, Israel Nash and Deborah Clapp (Briggs) Nash. She previously lived at 10 Union Park Street with her parents, William Henry Baldwin and Mary Frances Augusta (Chaffee) Baldwin.
Herbert and Mary Nash continued to live at 35 Fairfield during the 1884-1885 winter season, but moved soon thereafter to 245 Newbury.
On December 15, 1884, 35 Fairfield was purchased from Herbert Nash by clothing merchant Ferdinand Strauss. He and his wife, Ida (Cohen) Strauss, made it their home. They previously had lived at the Commonwealth Hotel at 1697 Washington.
They continued to live at 35 Fairfield during the 1891-1892 winter season, but moved thereafter to Brookline.
On June 16, 1892, 35 Fairfield was acquired from Ferdinand Strauss by Asa Haden Caton, a mason and building contractor.
The house was not listed in the 1893 Blue Book.
On March 31, 1893, 35 Fairfield was acquired from Asa Caton by Mary Elizabeth (Whitcher) Lamson, the wife of Dr. John Augustus Lamson, a physician and surgeon. They had lived at 58 Temple in 1892. On December 13, 1905, she transferred the property into her husband’s name.
They continued to live at 35 Fairfield until his death in January of 1912.
On June 4, 1912, 35 Fairfield was acquired from John Lamson’s estate by Mrs. Annie Leigh (Ambrose) Congdon, former wife of James Congdon. She previously had lived at 51 Gloucester.
Annie Congdon continued to live at 35 Fairfield until her death in June of 1935.
In July of 1936, Wesley E. Lindsey filed for permission to convert 35 Fairfield from a single-family dwelling into an insurance office on the first floor and a dwelling above. He was president of the Associated Merchants Mutual Insurance Company and probably made the filing in anticipation of acquiring the property. The application was abandoned.
The house was not listed in the 1936 and 1937 Blue Books.
On November 27, 1912, 35 Fairfield was acquired from Annie Congdon’s heirs by Gould Morgan Crosby, Inc., interior decorators. Gould Morgan Crosby and his wife, Dorothy (Damon) Crosby, lived at 35 Fairfield and in Marshfield Hills.
By 1940, the Crosbys had been joined at 35 Fairfield by his mother, Cora (Morgan) Crosby, the widow of Daniel Crosby.
Gould Morgan Crosby Inc. continued to be located at 35 Fairfield in 1942.
On October 12, 1942, Gould Morgan Crosby, Inc., transferred the property to Gould M. Crosby and Dorothy Crosby,
In 1943, neither Gould Morgan Crosby Inc. nor the Crosbys were listed in the City Directory, and 35 Fairfield was the home of Hilding N. Carlson and his wife, Ethel M. Carlson. They previously had lived in Braintree. He was president of the New England Aircraft School.
By 1944, Gould and Dorothy Crosby had resumed living at 35 Fairfield. He served in the US Coast Guard during World War II.
On April 15, 1946, the Crosbys transferred 35 Fairfield into Dorothy Crosby’s name.
In August of 1946, Dorothy Crosby filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a two-family dwelling, indicating that the top floor was for “mother’s apartment,” probably intended for Cora Crosby.
It appears that this second apartment became the home of George Crossan Seybolt and his wife, Hortense Edwina (Kelley) Seybolt. They were married in September of 1947 and, according to the September 3, 1947, Boston Globe article on their marriage, planned to make 35 Fairfield their home after their marriage. They later moved to Dedham. He became President and Chairman of the Board of the William Underwood Company, food canners. He also served as president of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Gould and Dorothy Crosby continued to live at 35 Fairfield. By 1950, he had resumed his business as a furniture dealer and interior decorator, with offices located at 420 Boylston.
Gould Morgan Crosby died in July of 1966. Dorothy Crosby continued to live at 35 Fairfield until her death in July of 1974.
In September of 1975, George and Hortense Seybolt purchased 35 Fairfield from Dorothy Crosby’s estate.
On August 21, 1978, 35 Fairfield was purchased from the Seybolts by Carroll F. Wales and his sister, Susie M. (Wales) McIntyre, the widow of Harold McIntye. Carroll Wales was an artist and art restorer, specializing in Byzantine art. From 1968 to 1986, he owned Oliver Brothers Art Restoration in Boston.
On June 18, 1985, Susie McIntyre transferred her interest in the property to her brother.
Carroll Wales lived at 35 Fairfied until his death in April of 2007. In his will, he left 35 Fairfield to Peter A. Boyacoplu of Toronto.
In October of 2008, Peter Boyacoplu applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a two-family dwelling into a three-family dwelling.
On September 1, 2009, Carroll Wales’s estate transferred 35 Fairfield to Peter Boyacoplu.
The property changed hands. It remained a three-family dwelling in 2016.