245 Commonwealth was designed by William Whitney Lewis, architect, and built by William H. Sayward, builder, in 1877 for East India shipping merchant Nathaniel Henry Emmons, Jr., and his wife, Eleanor Gassett (Bacon) Emmons, on land he had purchased on December 1, 1870. They entered into party wall agreements in June of 1877, and Eleanor Emmons is shown as the owner on the original building permit applications for the house and a stable, dated June 13, 1877, and on the final inspection report, dated December 31, 1878. Eleanor Emmons is shown as the owner on the 1883, 1888, and 1890 Bromley maps. They previously had lived in Jamaica Plain.
They also maintained a home in Falmouth.
During thr 1885-1886 winter season, the Emmonses were living elsewhere and 245 Commonwealth was the home of William Eliot Sparks and his wife, Harriet Augusta (Mason) Sparks. They had lived at 183 Commonwealth during the previous season. Their primary residence was in Taunton, where he was associated with his father-in-law’s machine works and where he died in September of 1886.
During the 1890-1891 winter season, the Emmonses were traveling abroad and 245 Commonwealth was the home of George Lombard Williams and his wife, Anna (Addicks) Williams. Their son, Gibson Tenney Williams, lived with them. George Williams was a leather merchant in Buffalo, and Gibson Williams was a student at Harvard in the Class of 1891.
Nathaniel and Eleanor Emmons were living at 245 Commonwealth again by 1891-1892 season.
Eleanor Emmons died in December of 1891. Nathaniel Emmons and their six children — Robert Wales Emmons, Eleanor Bacon Emmons, Susan Emmons, William Bacon Emmons, Nathaniel Franklin Emmons, and Mary Ann Wales Emmons — continued to live at 245 Commonwealth.
During the 1900-1901 winter season, the Emmons family was living elsewhere (probably in Falmouth, where they were enumerated in the 1900 US Census) and 245 Commonwealth was the home of Richard Dudley Sears and his wife Eleanor (Cochrane) Sears. During the 1898-1899 winter season, they had lived at 257 Commonwealth.
Richard Dudley Sears was a real estate trustee. In 1881, he had been the first American men’s singles champion in lawn tennis, and was the winner of that title for each of the six following years.
In the spring of 1901, the Sears purchased and moved to 232 Beacon.
By the 1901-1902 winter season, Nathaniel Emmons and his five unmarried children were once again living at 245 Commonwealth. Mary Ann Wales Emmons married in June of 1905 to John Parkinson, a stock and bond broker, and they subsequently lived with his father at 160 Beacon. Susan Emmons, married in October of 1907 to attorney Irvin McDowell Garfield, son of President James A. Garfield, and they moved to an apartment at 409 Marlborough and then to 355 Beacon. Nathaniel Franklin Emmons, a wool merchant, married in November of 1907 to Elizabeth Prescott Lawrence and moved to Concord. William Bacon Emmons moved to Pomfret, Connecticut, where he owned a farm.
Eleanor Bacon Emmons married in September of 1909 to Channing Chamberlain Simmons, a physician. After their marriage, they lived at 245 Commonwealth with her father, and he maintained his office at 317 Marlborough.
E. G. Emmons’s Heirs are shown as the owners on the 1898, 1908, and 1917 Bromley maps.
Nathaniel Emmons died in April of 1926, and Channing and Eleanor Emmons moved soon thereafter to Brookline.
By 1928, 245 Commonwealth was owned by real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson. He is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.
In late 1928, James M. Burr purchased 245 Commonwealth from Ray Johnson. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on December 23, 1928.
The house was not listed in the 1927-1930 Blue Books and was shown as vacant in the 1930 City Directory.
By 1930, 245 Commonwealth was owned by the Massachusetts Life Insurance Company. In the spring of 1930, it sold the property to real estate dealer Edward J. Ball and his wife, Ethel G. (Carmichael) Ball. The sale was reported by the Boston Globe on May 18, 1930.
In June of 1930, Edward Ball applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into six apartments, including expanding the fourth floor and modifying the roof. The remodeling was designed by architect Albert J. Carpenter. Architectural plans for the remodeling — including a front elevation and floor plans — are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference BIN P-78).
By 1932, 245 Commonwealth was owned by Institution for Savings in Roxbury. By 1935, it had converted the property into four apartments.
By 1947, 245 Commonwealth was owned by Lewis Lisack. In March of 1947, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from four to five apartments.
By 1962, 245 Commonwealth was owned by Philip J. Hackett (born Elias Philip Hackett) and his wife, Ellen. They lived in one of the apartments until the early 1980s, and possibly later, and continued to own the property for the rest of their lives. Philip Hackett died in February of 1987 and Ellen Hackett died in June of 2005.
The property changed hands. It remained an apartment house, assessed as a four- to six-family dwelling, in 2014.
In February of 2014, the property was acquired by the 245 Commonwealth Ave. LLC. In March of 2014, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the house, converting it into two units. As part of the remodeling, designed by architects Silverman Trykowski Associates, the top floor front was modified to add a dormer and modify the roof in a manner sympathetic to the original design of the house.
In April of 2015, the 245 Commonwealth Ave. LLC converted the property into two condominium units, The 245 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.
Below are architectural renderings of the front façade of 245 Commonwealth submitted to the Back Bay Architectural Commission in 2014, showing (on the left) the façade as it existed in 2014 (remodeled in 1930) and (on the right) the proposed new façade (subsequently approved by the Commission and constructed); courtesy of Silverman Trykowski Associates.