38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) is located on the NE corner of Fairfield and Newbury, with 36 Fairfield to the north, 240 Newbury to the south, across Newbury, 231 Newbury to the east, and 37 Fairfield (239 Newbury) to the west, across Fairfield.
38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) was built in 1878-1879 for banker and real estate investor Asa Perkins Potter, one of eight houses, four on each side of the block: 32-34-36-38 Fairfield on the east and 31-33-35-37 Fairfield on the west. 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 (34-36 Fairfield and 33-35 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. Additional floors were added very early to 36 and 38 Fairfield, inasmuch as they appear as three story houses on the 1887 Sanborn map, whereas 32 and 34 Fairfield (and 31-33-35-37 Fairfield) are described as 2 story houses with French roofs. They are similarly described on the 1897 Sanborn map. Based on similar information 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, with a remnant of the original roof retained.
The original permit applications for 32-34-36-38 Fairfield have not been located. 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. 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 38 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 October 9, 1879, Asa Potter sold 38 Fairfield to Silas Merrill, and on the same day, he sold the property to Maria (Addison) Maynz, the wife of wholesale shoe and boot dealer Edward Maynz. They previously had lived at 12 Claremont Park.
They continued to live at 38 Fairfield during the 1894-1895 winter season, but moved thereafter to Brookline.
On May 1, 1895, 38 Fairfield was purchased from Maria Maynz by paper manufacturer Ellis Hollingsworth. In October of 1895, he married Elsie M. Littlefield and they made 38 Fairfield their home. They also maintained the Hollingsworth family home in Braintree and a home in Marblehead.
The Hollingsworths continued to live at 38 Fairfield until his death in March of 1917.
On February 4, 1920, 38 Fairfield was acquired from William J. Stober by the Robert T. Pollock Company, an engineering firm, which maintained its offices in the house. Robert T. Pollock invented the “John Hancock” pen, the first pen to use ink cartridges. The pen was introduced into the market in the early 1920s with the slogan, “it loads like a gun.”
On June 16, 1924, 38 Fairfield was purchased from the Robert T. Pollock Company by real estate dealer Paul Mascarene Hamlen.
In December of 1925, he acquired 36 Fairfield as trustee under the will of William Powell Perkins, his mother’s uncle (Paul M. Hamlen’s parents were Nathaniel Perez Hamlen and Gertrude (Loring) Hamlen; Gertrude Loring’s parents were Francis Caleb Loring and Miriam Mason (Perkins) Loring, William Powell Perkins’s sister). On August 13, 1926, he transferred 38 Fairfield to himself as trustee under the will, and in October of 1927, he purchased 32–34 Fairfield, also as trustee under the will.
Paul M. Hamlen purchased the property as an investment for the benefit of himself and his siblings. He and his wife, Agnes Dorothy (Devens) Hamlen, lived at 32 Gloucester and also maintained a home in Wayland.
Under the terms of William Powell Perkins’s will, the income from the trust was to be paid to the four living children of Miriam (Perkins) Loring – Francis Caleb Loring, Jr., Anna Loring, Miriam P. Loring, and Helen Loring – and to the four children of Gertrude (Loring) Hamlen, who predeceased William Powell Perkins. The trust was to remain in effect until the death of the last surviving child of Miriam (Perkins) Loring, and then to be terminated. The principal was then to be distributed to the children of Gertrude (Loring) Hamlen, her siblings having been childless.
On April 12, 1929, Paul Hamlen transferred 32-34-36-38 Fairfield to himself and his three sisters: Miriam Perkins (Hamlen) Warren, the wife of Edward R. Warren, Elizabeth Perkins Hamlen, and Gertrude Loring (Hamlen) Catlin, the wife of Daniel K. Catlin. On the same day, they transferred the property back to him as trustee under another trust that they had established in 1904 to manage income to them under the trust established by William Powell Perkins. On June 29, 1929, Paul Hamlen transferred the property to himself as trustee under the will of his grandfather, Nathaniel Hamlen, also established for the benefit of Paul Hamlen and his sisters, thereby consolidating their assets in one trust.
Paul Hamlen converted 32-34-36-38 Fairfield into lodging houses, which he rented to others to operate.
By 1933, 38 Fairfield was the home of Michael M. Ouspensky, a statistician for an insurance company, and his wife, Nina (Aurora) (Lindblad) Komarova Ouspensky, and the location of their restaurant, Jar Ptiza. They also operated a lodging house at 38 Fairfield. They previously had lived in Brookline. They continued to live and operate their restaurant at 38 Fairfield until about 1939, when they moved to 74 Symphony Road.
By 1941, 38 Fairfield was the home of John Alfred Harrison, a court reporter, and his wife, Emma Dora (Cunningham) Harrison. They operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 39 Huntington. They continued to live at 38 Fairfield until about 1945, when they moved to 463 Beacon.
Paul Hamlen died in July of 1939, and on August 19, 1944, his son, Nathaniel Hamlen, as the successor trustee under Nathaniel Hamlen’s will, transferred 32-34-36-38 Fairfield to the Warren Institution for Savings, which held the mortgage on the property. On August 30, 1944, the property was acquired by real estate dealer George T. Sullivan.
On May 10, 1946, 32-34-36-38 Fairfield were acquired from George Sullivan by Joseph Francis Dinneen. He was a reporter with the Boston Globe, noted for his crime coverage and for his column on Boston’s night club scene. He also was a prolific author, Among his works was The Purple Shamrock, a biography of Mayor James Michael Curley published in 1949. He and his wife, Helen Agnes (Wagner) Dinneen, lived in Needham.
In 1946, 38 Fairfield was the home of Adah DeWitt (Sanford) McMurrough, the widow of John Lawrence McMurrough, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived in Norton, Massachusetts. By 1947, she had moved to 405 Beacon.
38 Fairfield remained a lodging house, with various operators, probably also with at least one commercial tenant.
On August 20, 1956, 32-34-36-38 Fairfield were acquired from Joseph Dinneen by the National Realty Company (Charles Talanian, president; Thomas J. Diab, treasurer).
On April 12, 1957, 32-34-36-38 Fairfield were acquired from National Realty by real estate dealers Stuart H. Hastings and Joseph A. Gautreau. They converted each building into eight apartments and then sold them separately: 32 Fairfield and 34 Fairfield to two different buyers, and 36 Fairfield and 38 Fairfield to a third buyer.
On March 3, 1958, 38 Fairfield was purchased from Stuart Hastings and Joseph Gautreau by Helen (Helene) (Hios) Coste, the widow of Nicholas Coste. She had purchased 36 Fairfield from them in December of 1957. She lived in Jamaica Plan with her son-in-law and daughter, Harry (Aristides) M. Angelus and Despina Tessie (Coste) Angelus. They later all lived in Westwood.
On June 22, 1962, Helen Coste transferred a half interest in 36-38 Fairfield to her daughter.
Under their ownership, the buildings were converted into a combination of residential and commercial uses. An entrance to 38 Fairfield was added by the mid 1960s, and possibly before, with the address of 235 Newbury. By 1973, the legal occupancy of 36-38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) was as five retail stores, four offices, and eight apartments.
In 1973, Harry Angelus applied for (and subsequently received) permission to build a two story addition, filling the area between the rear of 36-38 Fairfield and 231 Newbury. The addition subsequently became retail space with the address of 233 Newbury.
In July of 1974, Harry Angelus filed for (and subsequently received) permission to add a beauty salon and restaurant.
Helen Coste died in May of 1991.
On October 16, 2002, Despina T. Angelus, individually and as trustee of the Helen Coste Family Trust, transferred 36-38 Fairfield to New Field Realty, LLC, of which she and her husband were the managers of record.
On July 18, 2014, 36-38 Fairfield were purchased from New Field Realty, LLC, by the 207 NSR LLC (Serge Safar, manager of record).
In July of 2017, 207 NSR LLC received approval to remodel 38 Fairfield (235 Newbury), extending the restaurant space on the ground level to include space previously occupied by the beauty salon (which relocated in the first floor of the building), installing new patio stairs and a new handicapped-accessible entrance bay, and squaring off the existing entrance bay.
36-38 Fairfield (235 Newbury) remained a combination of a restaurant, beauty salon, retail stores, offices, and apartments in 2019.