127 Commonwealth

127 Commonwealth (2014)

Lot 26' x 124.5' (3,237 sf)

Lot 26′ x 124.5′ (3,237 sf)

127 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Clarendon and Dartmouth, with 125 Commonwealth to the east and 129 Commonwealth to the west.

127 Commonwealth was built ca. 1871, one of a symmetrical pair of houses (127-129 Commonwealth).

The land for 127 Commonwealth was purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on April 20,1868, by Miss Harriet Gray, and the land for 129 Commonwealth was purchased on the same day by her sister, Miss Elizabeth Chipman Gray. They lived at 143 Beacon with their father and step-mother, Horace Gray and Sarah Russell (Gardner) Gray. On July 2, 1868, wholesale dry goods merchant George Howe purchased both lots, and on October 7, 1870, he sold the lot at 127 Commonwealth to shipping, railroad, and real estate magnate William Fletcher Weld and the lot at 129 Commonwealth to attorney Charles Mayo Ellis.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 127 Commonwealth.

127 Commonwealth was built for William F. Weld’s son-in-law and daughter, George Pratt and Sarah Weld. They had married in November of 1869. In 1870 had lived at 3 Joy Street with his mother Abigail (Lodge) Pratt, the widow of George Langdon Pratt, and his aunt, Mary Walley Lodge. They also maintained a home in Brookline.

George Pratt was treasurer of several railroads (probably those in which William F. Weld was a major investor).

George Pratt died in December of 1872, soon after moving to 127 Commonwealth. Sarah Pratt continued to live there with their daughter, Mary Bryant Pratt.

121-129 Commonwealth (ca. 1875), detail from photograph taken from the Brattle Street (First Baptist) Church tower; courtesy of the Print Department, Boston Public Library

121-129 Commonwealth (ca. 1875), detail from photograph taken from the Brattle Street (First Baptist) Church tower; courtesy of the Print Department, Boston Public Library

On September 20, 1879, William Weld transferred the property to Sarah Pratt.

Sarah Pratt’s sister, Anna (Mrs. George Hamilton) Perkins, lived at 123 Commonwealth from about 1888, and their step-mother, Isabella (Walker) Weld, lived at 115 Commonwealth from about 1884.

Mary Pratt married in November of 1891 to Charles Franklin Sprague, a lawyer, state legislator, and future US Congressman.  They lived at 127 Commonwealth with her mother during the 1891-1892 winter season, and then moved to 163 Marlborough.  They also maintained a home, Faulkner Farm, in the Allandale area of Brookline.

Sarah Pratt continued to live at 127 Commonwealth, joined in 1901 and 1902 by Miss Lucy Sprague Sampson. Lucy Sprague Sampson was the daughter of William Henry Sampson and Sarah (Sprague) Sampson; Sarah (Sprague) Sampson was the aunt of Seth Edward Sprague, father of Charles Franklin Sprague, who married Mary Pratt.

Sarah Pratt died in June of 1902. After her death, Lucy Sprague Sampson moved to the Hotel Berkeley (southeast corner of Berkeley and Boylston) and by 1905 was living at 229 Commonwealth with her cousin, Dr. Francis Peleg Sprague, brother of Seth Edward Sprague.

127 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

127 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

127 Commonwealth was inherited by Mary (Pratt) Sprague, by then a widow (Charles Franklin Sprague died in January of 1902). In November of 1904, she married again, to Edward Deshon Brandegee. They lived at Faulkner Farm in Brookline after their marriage.

127 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1903 Blue Book.

By the 1903-1904 winter season, 127 Commonwealth was the home of Isaac Tucker Burr, Jr., a banker and broker, and his wife, Alice McClure (Peters) Burr. They previously had lived at 164 Marlborough. They continued to live at 127 Commonwealth during the 1904-1905 season, but moved thereafter to 90 Marlborough.

127 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1906 Blue Book.

On May 17, 1906, 127 Commonwealth was purchased from Mary (Pratt) Sprague Brandegee by Charles (“Chilly”) Fanning Ayer. He and his wife, Sara Theodora (Ilsley) Ayer, made it their home. They previously had lived at 161 Bay State Road.

Charles Ayer was an attorney and the son of Frederick Ayer, a patent medicine manufacturer and major textile mill investor who, with his son-in-law, William Madison Wood, had founded the American Woolen Company, which eventually grew into the largest woolen manufacturing company in America.

In March of 1911, Charles Ayer purchased 125 Commonwealth. He subsequently leased the property to William Barry, a merchant tailor, and his wife, Leonie (Dueth) Barry, a former actress, who operated it as a lodging house.

The Ayers continued to live at 127 Commonwealth until about 1922, when they moved to 315 Dartmouth. They continued to own 125 and 127 Commonwealth, and after they moved, they leased 127 Commonwealth to the Barrys, who operated both properties as lodging houses. Many of the new residents at 127 Commonwealth moved there from 365 Marlborough, which the Barrys owned and converted from a lodging house into a dormitory.

127-129 Commonwealth (2013)

127-129 Commonwealth (2013)

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.

125-131 Commonwealth (2013)

125-131 Commonwealth (2013)

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.

Commonwealth Avenue, looing northwest from Clarendon (ca. 1875), photograph taken from the Brattle Street (First Baptist) Church tower; courtesy of the Print Department, Boston Public Library

Commonwealth Avenue, looking northwest from Clarendon (ca. 1875), photograph taken from the Brattle Street (First Baptist) Church tower; courtesy of the Print Department, Boston Public Library