223 Commonwealth

223 Commonwealth (2015)

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

Lot 26′ x 124.5′ (3,237 sf)

223 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Exeter and Fairfield, with 217 Commonwealth to the east and 225 Commonwealth to the west.

223 Commonwealth was designed by Cabot and Chandler and built in 1883 by Weston & Shepard, masons, and Benjamin. D. Whitcomb & Co., builders.  It was built for George Higginson, who is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated May 9, 1883.

George Higginson purchased the land for 223 Commonwealth on April 10, 1883, from Henry Saltonstall, the eastern half of a 52 foot wide parcel that Henry Saltonstall had purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on November 27, 1880.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 223 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 426, from Exeter to Fairfield.

George Higginson was a retired investment banker, having been a partner in the firm of Lee, Higginson & Co., which he founded with John Clarke Lee in 1848.  A widower, he lived at 39 Brimmer Street and appears never to have lived at 223 Commonwealth.

223 Commonwealth (ca. 1900), courtesy of Anthony Sammarco and the Forbes House Museum

On August 11, 1884, 223 Commonwealth was purchased from George Higginson by Charles Elliott Perkins.  He and his wife, Edith (Forbes) Perkins, made it their home.  They also maintained a home, The Apple Trees, in Burlington, Iowa, and a home in Milton.

Charles Perkins was president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad until his retirement in 1901.

The Perkinses’ seven children lived with them at 223 Commonwealth: Robert Forbes Perkins, Alice Forbes Perkins, Edith Forbes Perkins, Margaret Forbes Perkins, Charles Elliott Perkins, Jr., Mary Russell Perkins, and Samuel G. Perkins (who died in March of 1890).

Robert F. Perkins, an investment banker with Lee, Higginson & Co., married in June of 1891 to Annie Rodman Bowditch of Framingham, where they lived after their marriage.

Edith Perkins married in October of 1862 to Edward Cunningham of Milton, a chemical engineer. After their marriage, they lived in Milton.

Alice Perkins married in April of 1895 to William Hooper, a widower, who lived at 276 Beacon. He was treasurer of the Atlantic Cotton Mills. After their marriage, the lived in an apartment at 330 Dartmouth.

Margaret Perkins married in June of 1896 to George Tilly Rice, a banker and broker. After their marriage, they lived in an apartment at 362 Commonwealth. By 1899, they had made their home in Westwood. George Rice died in September of 1920 and in October of 1922, Margaret Rice married attorney Robert Frederick Herrick, a widower. They lived at 101 Chestnut and then at 25 Commonwealth.

In 1900 and 1901, 223 Commonwealth was the home of George Lee Peabody, an investment banker with Lee, Higginson & Co., and his wife, Elizabeth Copley (Crowninshield) Peabody. They previously had lived at 109 Commonwealth and their primary residence was Seven Pines in Wenham/Hamilton. The Peabodys probably lived at 223 Commonwealth for only part of the year, possibly while the Perkinses were at their home in Burlington (both George L. Peabody and Charles E. Perkins were listed at 223 Commonwealth in the 1901 and 1902 Boston City Directories; only the Perkinses were listed in the Blue Books).

Charles Perkins, Jr., married in June of 1904 to Leita Montgomery Amory, who lived at Treetops in Readville/Milton with her parents, Charles Bean Amory and Lillie (Clapp) Amory. They had lived at 331 Beacon during the 1902-1903 winter season, when she was a debutante. After their marriage, they lived in Burlington, where he managed his family’s investments and later became president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

In 1905, Charles and Edith Perkins purchased land in Westwood, Massachusetts, where they built an additional home.

Charles Perkins died in November of 1907, and on July 21, 1909, his estate and heirs transferred 223 Commonwealth to Edith Perkins. She and their daughter, Mary, continued to live at 233 Commonwealth and in Burlington.

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

Mary Perkins married in November of 1911 to John Grieves Mcilvain of the Four Day Ranch in Ranchester, Wyoming. They separated by 1918 and she traveled to Europe to do work for the Red Cross. They were divorced by 1920.

Edith Perkins died in June of 1925, killed in an earthquake in Santa Barbara, California.

On March 31, 1926, 223 Commonwealth was acquired from Edith Perkins’s estate by the Algonquin Club.  In April of 1926, the club applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into an annex to its main clubhouse next door, at 217 Commonwealth, including cutting connecting doors in the party wall between the two buildings.

It remained an annex to the Club until the mid-1970s.

On March 24, 1978, 223 Commonwealth was purchased from the Algonquin Club by Thomas P. McCann and his wife, Joan McCann. They lived in Newton.

As part of the purchase and sale agreement, the McCanns agreed that the Club would have the right of first refusal to repurchase the property or to rent all or part of the property from the McCanns, and also agreed that upon the death of the surviving spouse, the property would be reconveyed to the Club for specified price. On March 14, 2000 (recorded July 20, 2017), the Club and the McCanns agreed to cancel these provisions.

In July of 1978, the McCanns applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property into five apartments, and in April of 1979, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to change the legal occupancy from a club to a five unit apartment building.

The property was assessed as a four-to-six family dwelling until 1992, when it was designated as a combination residential and commercial building.

On January 13, 2020, 223 Commonwealth was purchased from Thomas and Joan McCann by the 223 Commonwealth Avenue LLC (Brendan Feeney and Aidan Gregory Feeney, managers).

On October 5, 2022, the 223 Commonwealth Avenue LLC received a permit to remodel the building into a single-family dwelling, including an interior garage for two vehicles.

On April 20, 2023, the property was purchased from the 223 Commonwealth Avenue LLC by the 223 Commonwealth Owner LLC (Upneet S. Teji of Chicago, manager).

223-227 Commonwealth (ca. 1954-1959), from the Kepes-Lynch Photograph Collection; copyright Massachusetts Institute of Technology and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-Commercial license