36 Fairfield was designed by Ober and Rand, architects, and built ca. 1878 for banker and real estate investor Asa Perkins Potter, one of four contiguous houses (32-34-36-38 Fairfield). The houses are designed in a symmetrical block, centered on the paired entrances to 34-36 Fairfield, with 32 and 38 Fairfield flanking them.
At about the same time, Asa Potter also had four contiguous houses built across the street (31-33-35-37 Fairfield). He lived at 29 Fairfield, built ca. 1879.
32-38 Fairfield may have originally matched in design to 31-37 Fairfield, all with bays topped with conical roofs. If so, then additional stories were added very early at 36 and 38 Fairfield, inasmuch as they appear as three story houses on the 1887 Sanborn map, whereas 32 and 34 Fairfield (and 31-37 Fairfield) are described as two story houses with French roofs. They are similarly described on the 1897 Sanborn maps, with 32-34 Fairfield and 31-37 Fairfield shown as three stories, and 36-38 Fairfield shown as four stories (the term “French roof” was no longer used and an additional story was indicated instead). Based on similar notations on the Bromley maps, the additional story at 32 Fairfield was added between about 1908 and 1912. The additional story at 34 Fairfield was added sometime after the early 1940s.
By 1880, 36 Fairfield was the home of Edward Franklin Miller, Jr., a wool merchant, and his wife, Frances Chapin (Starkweather) Miller. They previously had lived at 526 Columbus. Frances Miller is shown as the owner of 46 Fairfield on the 1883, 1888, and 1898 Bromley maps.
During the 1885-1886 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Mrs. Anstiss Derby (Rogers) Wetmore, the widow of William Shepard Wetmore of New York City and Newport, who had been a merchant in the China trade. She previously had lived at 277 Clarendon. By the 1886-1887 season, she was living at the Tremont House hotel at 37 Tremont.
During the 1886-1887 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Arthur Donner. During the 1884-1885 season he had lived at 363 Beacon. He was a banker, consul for Austria-Hungary, and vice consul for Argentina. He later would become treasurer of the American Sugar Refining Company and a key figure in the sugar trust, which controlled over 90 percent of the manufacture and sale of sugar in the United States. By the 1887-1888 season, he was living at 74 Chestnut.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Lucretia Watson (Lunt) Revere, the widow of Paul Joseph Revere, a Brigadier General in the Civil War, killed at Gettysburg. She continued to live there during the 1888-1889 season, but moved thereafter to 350 Marlborough.
By the 1889-1890 winter season, the Millers were living at 36 Fairfield again. During the mid-1890s, however, they were again living elsewhere.
During the 1893-1894 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Herbert Foster Otis and his wife, Ethel (Whiting) Otis. They had been married in September of 1893 and 36 Fairfield probably was their first home together. They also maintained a home in Nahant. In the fall of 1894, they traveled abroad
During the 1894-1895, 36 Fairfield was the Boston home of retired cotton buyer and dry goods merchant George Wellman Wright and his wife, Georgianna (Buckham) Wright. Their primary residence was at Pine Hill in Duxbury.
During the 1895-1896 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Guild. By the 1896-1897 season, they were living at 226 Newbury.
36 Fairfield was not listed in the 1897 Blue Book.
The Millers resumed living at 36 Fairfield during the 1897-1898 winter season and continued to live there during the 1898-1899 season.
During the 1899-1900 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Allen Arnold, a stock and note broker. His usual residence was in Swampscott.
During the 1900-1901 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of former bank president Warren Sawyer and his daughter, Mary C. Sawyer. Their primary residence was in Wellesley Hills. Warren Sawyer’s wife, Ellen (White) Sawyer, had died in September of 1900. They had lived briefly at 34 Fairfield in the mid-1890s.
During the 1901-1902 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of Louis Joseph Sands and his wife, Ella Louise (Faye) Sands. They previously had lived at the Hotel Kempton at 237 Berkeley. Louis Joseph Sands was a retired Naval officer, who had served in the US Navy during the Civil War.
By the 1902-1903 winter season, the Sands had moved next door, to 34 Fairfield, and 36 Fairfield was again the home of Edward and Frances Miller. They continued to live there until his death in April of 1903.
By the 1903-1904 winter season, 36 Fairfield was the home of grain dealer Charles P. Washburn and his wife, Abbie C. (Parker) Washburn. He is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.
36 Fairfield was not listed in the 1919 and 1920 Blue Books.
By 1920, 36 Fairfield was the home of Henry Walter Smith and his wife, Bertha Mary (Pope) Smith. He was captain of a tow boat. They operated 36 Fairfield as a lodging house. They continued to live there in 1922, but moved thereafter to Brookline. By the late 1920s, they lived in Miami.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, it was the home of Reuben Yates, a jeweler, and his wife, Emily Yates. 36 Fairfield continued to be a lodging house, probably operated by Reuben and Emily Yates. They previously had lived in Somerville. By 1924, they had moved to 225 Newbury, where he had become a cigar dealer.
By 1925, 36 Fairfield was the home of Edgar Nathan Carver and his wife, Florrie (Reynolds) Carver. They previously had lived at 276 Newbury.
Edgar Carver had been a newspaper editor and publisher in Maine, where he also 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.
By early 1926, the Carvers purchased and moved to 206 Commonwealth.
By 1932, 36 Fairfield was the home of Charles Granville Ellis, a vacuum cleaner salesman, and his wife, Gladys Vera (McConnell) Houston Ellis. They operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 8 Yarmouth.
The Ellises continued to live at 36 Fairfield until about 1935, but by 1936 had moved to 32 Fairfield, which they operated as a lodging house. They probably also continued to manage the lodging house at 36 Fairfield. They continued to live at 32 Fairfield until about 1945, probably also continuing to operate the lodging houses at both 32 and 36 Fairfield (they are listed at both addresses in the 1938-1944 City Directories).
36 Fairfield remained a lodging house, with various operators, until the mid-1950s. By 1958, it had been converted into eight apartments.
By 1973, 36 and 38 Fairfield were owned by Harry M. Angelus and his wife, Despina T. Angelus, and they had been combined into a single property. The legal use of 36-38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) was as five retail stores, four offices, and eight apartments.
36-38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) remained a combination of stores, offices, and apartments in 2014.