204 Commonwealth was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1888-1889 by building contractor William Seavey Rand, for speculative sale. William Rand is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated January 16, 1888, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 15, 1889.
William Rand appears to have built 204 Commonwealth under an agreement with real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, who purchased the land on January 22, 1886, from Charles W. Parker. Charles Parker had purchased the lot from Andrew G. Greeley on April 30, 1885, who had acquired it two days earlier from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 204 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 433, from Exeter to Fairfield.
Henry Whitwell died in December of 1887, and on April 28, 1888, the lot “with the portions of partition walls standing thereon” was purchased from his estate by Charles Edwin Stratton, Jr. He lived at 202 Commonwealth with his mother, Sarah Hollis (Piper) Stratton, the widow of Charles Edwin Stratton. On September 15, 1888, William Rand purchased the property from him.
William Rand subsequently was declared insolvent and on April 18, 1890, the court transferred all of his property, including 204 Commonwealth, to George D. Wildes, as his assignee in insolvency.
On May 19, 1890, 204 Commonwealth was acquired from George Wildes by Sara Elizabeth (Campbell) Tucker Woodworth, the wife of tea merchant Alfred Skinner Woodworth. They previously had lived at the Hotel Vendôme.
Alfred Woodworth died in September of 1911. Sara Woodworth and their son, Stewart Campbell Woodworth, an attorney, continued to live at 204 Commonwealth until her death in September of 1914. Stewart Woodworth moved to 161 Bay State Road soon thereafter.
204 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1915-1917 Blue Books.
On April 23, 1917, 204 Commonwealth was purchased from Stewart Woodworth by Elinor (Whitney) Blanchard, the wife of stockbroker Archibald Blanchard. They previously had lived at 10 Fairfield. They also maintained a home in Nahant.
During the 1927-1928 winter season, the Blanchards were living at 311 Marlborough and 204 Commonwealth was the home of Francis Douglas Cochrane and his wife Ramelle (Frost) Cochrane. F. Douglas Cochrane was a banker and a founder of the New England Oil Refining Company. By the 1928-1929 season, they had moved to 294 Beacon. 204 Commonwealth and 294 Beacon were temporary residences for the Cochranes; they owned 257 Commonwealth, where they had lived in 1927 and once again lived in 1931.
By the 1928-1929 winter season, the Blanchards had resumed living at 204 Commonwealth, and continued to live there until about 1941, when they moved to an apartment at 276 Marlborough.
On August 1, 1941, 204 Commonwealth was acquired from Elinor Blanchard by John E. Baginski, who conveyed it on the same day to real estate dealers Warren-Stevens, Inc.
On March 13, 1942, 204 Commonwealth was acquired from Warren-Stevens, Inc., by Francis A. Lawless and his wife, Marion (Gilmore) Lawless. They lived at 270 Clarendon. In January of 1943, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 204 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house. Francis Lawless was a clothing cutter and later would become president of the Lincoln Clothing Company (manufacturers of men’s clothing). He and his wife also later became restaurateurs, operating the English Room restaurant at 29 Newbury in the early 1950s.
On June 16, 1944, 204 Commonwealth was purchased from the Lawlesses by Roland Cooper Morton, a welder and later a realtor, and his wife, Grace Marion (Weldon) Madden Morton, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in Cambridge.
Grace Morton died in May of 1945 and in November of 1945 Roland Morton married again, to Jessie Roberta Wilsey, a nurse from Claremont, New Hampshire. After their marriage, they lived at 204 Commonwealth and continued to operate it as a lodging house. On July 17, 1946, Roland Morton transferred the property into his and his wife’s names.
Jessie Morton died in December of 1957. Roland Morton moved thereafter.
On December 3, 1958, 204 Commonwealth was purchased from Roland Morton by Dr. Michael E. Ferrant, a physician, and his wife, Dr. Lillian (Chapman) Ferrant, a psychiatrist. They previously had lived at 50 Chambers. They continued to operate 204 Commonwealth as a lodging house.
Michael Ferrant died in July of 1963. Lillian Ferrant continued to live and operate a lodging house at 204 Commonwealth, and also to operate a lodging house at 36 Temple, where Michael Ferrant previously had maintained his office. She moved to 36 Temple in about 1965.
On September 15, 1965, 204 Commonwealth was purchased from Lillian Ferrant by Back Bay Dormitories, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newbury College, which converted it from a lodging house into a dormitory.
By 1968, Back Bay Dormitories owned 198, 200, 202, 204, and 206 Commonwealth and 138 Marlborough. On December 29, 1986, Back Bay Dormitories transferred all of these properties to Newbury College and liquidated its operations effective the end of the year. Newbury College continued to operate the properties as dormitories.
In the 1990s, Newbury College moved its operations from the Back Bay to Fisher Avenue in Brookline.
On June 28, 1996, Newbury College sold 198-200-202-204 Commonwealth to 202 Commonwealth, Inc. (Enrique Darer, president, and Arthur Scheinholz, treasurer).
202 Commonwealth, Inc., sold 198 Commonwealth in December of 1996. It retained 200-202-204 Commonwealth and combined them into a single building.
On January 16, 1998, it converted the combined property into 8 condominium units, the 202 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.