232 Commonwealth was designed by architect George A. Avery and built in 1880-1881 by Augustus Lathrop, mason, and Creesy & Noyes, carpenters. It was one of two, and probably three, contiguous houses (228-230-232 Commonwealth) designed by George Avery at about the same time.
232 Commonwealth was built as the home of iron and steel manufacturer Austin Augustus Wheelock and his wife, Fannie Smart (Coverly) Wheelock. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated March 29, 1880,
Fannie Wheelock purchased the land for 232 Commonwealth on March 20, 1880, from building contractor George Wheatland, Jr. He had purchased it on the same day from the National Bank of Commerce of Boston. It was part of a parcel that National Bank of Commerce had acquired on May 18, 1876, from Nathan Matthews, which, in turn, was part of a larger tract originally purchased by Nathan Matthews on January 2, 1871, from David Sears, Jr., Frederick R. Sears, and Knyvet Sears.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 232 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 433, from Exeter to Fairfield.
By the 1881-1882 winter season, the Wheelocks had made 232 Commonwealth their home. Fannie Wheelock’s father, James W. Coverly, lived with them. They previously had lived at 53 Waverly. They also maintained a home in Waltham.
The Wheelocks and Mr. Coverly continued to live at 232 Commonwealth during the 1885-1886 winter season. By 1887, the Wheelocks were living in Waltham and James Coverly had moved to 47 Mount Vernon. The Wheelocks spent the 1887-1888 winter season at the Hotel Vendome, and by the 1888-1889 winter season were living at 238 Commonwealth.
On February 16, 1886, 232 Commonwealth was purchased from Fannie Wheelock by George L. Randidge, a merchant tailor. He and his wife, Caroline (Harris) Randidge, made it their home. They previously had lived at 1734 Washington.
George Randidge died in August of 1890. Caroline Randidge continued to live at 232 Commonwealth, joined by her unmarried sisters, Emeline L. Harris and Adeline F. Harris.
Caroline Randidge died in October of 1895. Emeline and Adeline Harris continued to live at 232 Commonwealth during the 1895-1896 winter season, but moved thereafter to Brookline.
On March 6, 1897, 232 Commonwealth was purchased from George Randidge’s estate by Israel A. Ratshesky. He and his wife Theresa (Shuman) Ratshesky, made it their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Brunswick (southeast corner of Boylston and Clarendon). They also maintained a home in Swampscott.
Israel Ratshesky and his brother, Abraham, had been wholesale clothiers in the firm founded by their father, Asher Ratshesky. In 1895, the became bankers, founding the United States Trust Company, which specialized on the needs of the immigrant population, providing banking services not otherwise available to them in Boston. Abraham served as President and Israel served as Treasurer of the bank. Israel Ratshesky’s wife, Theresa, was the first cousin of Abraham Ratshesky’s wife, Edith.
Israel and Theresa Ratshesky continued to live at 232 Commonwealth during the 1911-1912 winter season, but moved thereafter to 347 Commonwealth.
On June 3, 1912, 232 Commonwealth was purchased from Israel Ratshesky by Miss Caroline J. Shea. Her unmarried brother and sister, Francis Augustus Shea and Helen E. Shea, lived with her. They previously had lived in an apartment at The Puritan at 390 Commonwealth, and before that at 353 Commonwealth.
The Sheas also maintained a home in Beverly Cove and later on Littles Point in Swampscott.
Francis Shea was president of the Reece Button Hole Machine Company, founded by his brother-in-law, John Reece (husband of Marietta Shea), who died in March of 1896.
Caroline Shea died in 1930, predeceasing her brother, Francis, who died in May of the same year. Helen Shea moved soon thereafter to an apartment at 250 Commonwealth.
In November of 1930, 232 Commonwealth was acquired by Anne Eleanor (Wise) Kellogg, the wife of architect Harold Field Kellogg. They also maintained a home in Duxbury and, from about 1936, another home in Millis, Massachusetts.
In April of 1930, at the time of the US Census, they had lived in Brookline with his mother, Carrie Isabelle (Masury) Kellogg, the widow of Charles Field Kellogg. By 1933, she was living with them at 232 Commonwealth. She continued to live with them until her death in April of 1936.
By 1949, 232 Commonwealth was the home of Mary E. McNeece and her sister, Anne McNeece. They operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 398 Beacon, where they also had operated a lodging house.
In October of 1952, 232 Commonwealth was acquired from Eleanor Kellogg by George Swartz, an insurance broker, and his wife, Beatrice (Heller) Swartz, and Benjamin Lipsky, a real estate dealer) and his wife. Augusta (Fingold) Lipsky. The Swartzes and the Lipskys lived in Brookline.
In May of 1953, 232 Commonwealth was acquired by William Francis Powers and his wife, Grace Margaret (O’Leary) Powers. He was a salesman with Gilchrist’s department store. They previously had lived at 227 Marlborough. They continued to live at 232 Commonwealth until about 1957.
The property changed hands and in September of 1958 was acquired by Cora A. (Wright) Dounelis, the wife of Christopher (Chrest) A. Dounelis, and their daughter, Thelma B. (Dounelis) Hatch, the wife of George Hatch, as trustees of the The Two Thirty Two Realty Trust. The Hatches and the Dounelises lived at 232 Commonwealth and operated it as a lodging house. The Dounelises previously had lived at 253 Commonwealth.
The Dounelises and the Hatches continued to live at 232 Commonwealth until about 1961.
In May of 1961, 232 Commonwealth was acquired by 21 Commonwealth Avenue, Inc. Matthew J. Malloy was treasurer of the corporation and purchased the property on behalf of Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College, located at 128 Commonwealth, of which he was the president. In December of 1961, 232 Commonwealth was acquired by the school.
In August of 1963, Chamberlayne filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a dormitory. It continued to operate a men’s dormitory at 232 Commonwealth until the mid-1970s, when the school declared bankruptcy.
In May of 1975, 232 Commonwealth was acquired by Daniel M. O’Reilly and John M. Nelson, IV, and in July of 1975, they transferred the property to themselves and John B. Wise as trustees of the 232 Commonwealth Avenue Associates Trust. That same month, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory into three apartments.
On December 23, 1975, they converted the units into three condominium units, the 232 Commonwealth Condominium.