401 Commonwealth was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects. and built ca. 1901-1902 for wholesale druggist Atherton Thayer Brown and his wife, Hannah King (Davenport) Brown. They previously had lived in Roxbury. On July 23, 1901, he entered into party wall agreements with Samuel Carr, who owned 403 Commonwealth, and with Alexander Agassiz, who owned the lot at 397 Commonwealth, and construction of the house presumably started soon thereafter.
The rear of the lot on which 401 Commonwealth was built extends north to Marlborough Street and has a secondary street address of 450 Marlborough.
Plans for the house — including a rear (Marlborough Street) elevation, longitudinal section, floor plans, framing plans, and detail drawings — are included in the Peabody and Stearns Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference PS/MA.035).
Click here to view selected drawings from the original plans for 401 Commonwealth.
Atherton Brown died in March 1905. Hannah Brown continued to live at 401 Commonwealth during the 1905-1906 winter season, but thereafter moved to 480 Beacon.
In the spring of 1907, 401 Commonwealth was acquired from the Atherton Brown estate by piano manufacturer and merchant Alexander Steinert and his wife, Bessie (Shuman) Steinert. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on March 22, 1907. They previously had lived at 585 Beacon. He is shown as the owner of 401 Commonwealth on the 1908, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps.
Bessie Steinert died in August of 1924. Alexander Steinert continued to live at 401 Commonwealth and remarried in August of 1926 to Lena (Friedman) Leviseur, widow of leather merchant Louis Leviseur. After their marriage, they lived at 401 Commonwealth and also maintained a home in Beverly.
Alexander Steinert died in November of 1933. Lena Steinert continued to live at 401 Commonwealth, joined by her son, Frederick J. Leviseur.
The Alexander Corporation is shown as the owner of 401 Commonwealth on the 1938 Bromley map.
Lena Steinert continued to live at 401 Commonwealth until her death in May of 1968.
Upon Lena Steinert’s death, 401 Commonwealth was inherited by the Massachusetts Bay United Fund.
In January of 1970, Robert J. Barstow, trustee of the Barstow Realty Trust, purchased 401 Commonwealth from the United Fund. In November of 1969, as a condition to finalizing the sale, the United Fund applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling “to an office building for architects, including blueprinting, and for engineers.”
Robert Barstow, president of Barstow Engineering, maintained a residence and offices at 401 Commonwealth, and leased space to residential and commercial tenants.
In October of 2004, Stalin Colinet purchased 401 Commonwealth from Robert Barstow.
The same month, Stalin Colinet transferred 401 Commonwealth to Asa G. Barsoumian, trustee of the ARSTAR Realty Trust.
In January of 2005, Ara Barsoumian filed for (and subsequently received) a Certificate for Use of Premises confirming the occupancy of 401 Commonwealth as a single-family dwelling and offices, there having been a lack of clarity because the legal occupancy approved in 1969 had been only for offices, but the property also had been used as a residence.
In April of 2006, the Marl-Arden LLC purchased 401 Commonwealth from Ara Barsoumian.
401 Commonwealth remained a single-family dwelling and offices in 2014.