125 Commonwealth was designed by architect William G. Preston and built ca. 1872, one of two contiguous houses (123-125 Commonwealth) designed in the same style.
125 Commonwealth was built as the home of attorney George William Tuxbury and his wife, Harriet Matilda (Beals) Tuxbury, daughter of William Beals, co-founder of the Boston Post. The Tuxburys previously had lived at 147 Boylston. 123 Commonwealth was built for Harriet Tuxbury’s sister, Elizabeth Bishop (Beals) Kendall, the widow of Isaac Kendall.
George Tuxbury purchased the land for 125 Commonwealth on February 7, 1871, from Charles J. Fox. The land had changed hands several times, and originally had been purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on April 9, 1863, by Addison Childs.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 125 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 424, from Clarendon to Dartmouth.
On April 22, 1872, the Boston Herald reported that Theophilus P. Briggs had received a permit to build on George Tuxbury’s land on Commonwealth. He was a carpenter and builder, and probably also built 123 Commonwealth.
The Tuxburys continued to live at 125 Commonwealth during the 1877-1878 winter season, but moved thereafter to the Hotel Vendôme.
On June 1, 1878, 125 Commonwealth was purchased from George Tuxbury by Maria Louisa (Dewey) Gray, the wife of Joseph Henry Gray, a wholesale cotton and wool merchant. They previously had lived at 4 Union Park.
The Grays’ children – Joseph Converse Gray, Fanny Dewey Gray, and Bessie Curtis Gray – lived with them.
J. Converse Gray, a lawyer, married in October of 1885 to Helen Brewster. After their marriage, they lived briefly with the Grays at 125 Commonwealth and then at 222 Newbury. Fanny D. Gray married in June of 1904 to Charles Harry Shoemaker of Topsfield. After their marriage, they lived in Topsfield.
Joseph Gray died in September of 1904.
Maria (Dewey) Gray and Bessie C. Gray continued to live at 125 Commonwealth. Maria Gray died in August of 1907, and Bessie C. Gray moved thereafter to the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth. She married in September of 1908 to William Mulford Martin, a real estate dealer from New York City, where they lived after their marriage.
On March 15, 1911, 125 Commonwealth was purchased from Maria Gray’s heirs by real estate dealer William J. Stober. He purchased the property on behalf of Charles Fanning Ayer, who lived next door at 127 Commonwealth. William Stober conveyed the property to Charles Ayer on the same day he acquired it, but did not record the deed until July 1, 1926 (as a result, William Stober was the assessed owner through 1926).
By the 1911-1912 winter season, 125 Commonwealth was the home of William Barry, a merchant tailor, and his wife, Leonie (Dueth) Barry, a former actress. They previously had lived at 214 Newbury.
Leonie Barry’s unmarried sister, Rosalie (Rose) N. Dueth, lived with the Barrys at 214 Newbury, and probably moved with them to 125 Commonwealth, where she was living at the time of the 1920 US Census.
Among the lodgers living with the Barrys were retired architect George Frederick Meacham and his wife, Ellen Louisa (Frost) Meacham. They had lived at the Hotel Brunswick (southeast corner of Boylston and Clarendon) in 1911. George Meacham designed the Boston Public Garden in 1860 and several significant Back Bay buildings, including the Hollis Street Church (1883) at the corner of Newbury and Exeter, and the Boston Bicycle Club (1884) at 152 Newbury. He died in December of 1917, and by the 1918-1919 winter season, Ellen Meacham had moved to 174 Commonwealth.
By 1921, the Barrys had acquired 365 Marlborough, which they operated as a lodging house.
In about 1922, the Ayers moved from 127 Commonwealth. After they moved, it was consolidated with 125 Commonwealth and the Barrys ran both as a lodging house. Many of the new residents at 127 Commonwealth moved from 365 Marlborough, which the Barrys converted into a dormitory.
William Barry died in March of 1924. Leonie Barry continued to live at 125 Commonwealth and operate 125-127 Commonwealth as a lodging house.
On July 1, 1937, Leonie Barry acquired 125-127 Commonwealth from Charles Ayer. On August 8, 1938, he foreclosed on the mortgages she had entered into with him when she purchased the houses. Charles Ayer transferred the properties to her brother, Alexander Joseph Dueth, and she then reacquired them from him on October 29, 1938.
On January 13, 1943, Leonie Barry transferred 125 Commonwealth to her daughter, Marie Dueth (Barry) Cook Eames, the wife of Seth Whittemore Rowell Eames, and transferred 127 Commonwealth to her daughter, Pauline Dueth (Barry) Perkins, the wife of Wilks Dinweddie Perkins. On February 7, 1944, Pauline Perkins transferred 127 Commonwealth back to her mother, and on February 18, 1944, Marie Eames transferred 125 Commonwealth back to her mother.
Leonie Barry continued to live at 125 Commonwealth until about 1946.
On August 15, 1946, 125-127 Commonwealth were acquired from Leonie Barry by her daughter, Marie Dueth (Barry) Cook Eames Stone (her husband, Seth Eames, had died in November of 1945 and she married again in 1946 to Samuel M. Stone, Jr., of Attleboro).
On August 30, 1946, 125-127 Commonwealth were purchased from Marie Stone by Mary K. Creamer.
On January 9, 1947, 125-127 Commonwealth were purchased from Mary Creamer by Miss Mary Frances Page, who lived at 125 Commonwealth and continued to operate them both as lodging houses. Her mother, Margaret E. (Fay/Fahey) Page, the widow of Michael J. Page, lived with her. They previously had lived at 333 Columbia.
Margaret Page died in June of 1950.
In 1954, Mary Page sought a zoning variance to permit her to charge for parking at the rear of 125-127 Commonwealth. The variance was denied by the Board of Appeal.
In about 1957, she was joined by her sister, Mildred Catherine (Page) Murphy, the widow of Francis J. Murphy, a retired fireman, who had died in November of 1956. The Murphys had lived in Roslindale.
On May 9, 1960, Mary Page transferred a one-half interest in 125-127 Commonwealth to Mildred Murphy. At about the same time, they began to operate the properties primarily as student housing, called the Page House Dormitory.
On July 2, 1962, 125-127 Commonwealth were purchased from Mary Page and Mildred Murphy by Harry Freedman, trustee of the Rainbow Realty Trust.
In November of 1964, Rainbow Realty applied for (and subsequently received) permission to establish the legal occupancy of 125-127 Commonwealth as dormitories for Bay State School of Business (later Bay State College), located at 122 Commonwealth.
On November 18, 1968, 125-127 Commonwealth were acquired from Harry Freedman by Louis F. Musco, George J. Brennan, and Louis F. Musco, Jr., trustees of the Commonwealth Realty Trust-Special. Louis Musco and George Brennan were co-founders of Bay State College.
Both properties remained Bay State College dormitories in 2016.