254 Commonwealth was designed by architect George Alden Avery and built in 1879 by Justus J. Little, builder, for speculative sale.
George A. Avery, who designed the house, is also shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated May 7, 1879. On May 3, 1879, he entered into an agreement with George B. Hyde, who owned the land, under which he agreed to build a brick dwelling house no less than 56 feet in depth and no less than three stories high (not including the mansard roof but including the basement), and George Hyde agreed to sell him the land at a specified price on a future date. The lot was part of a larger parcel George Hyde had acquired on November 19, 1875, from a real estate investment trust that his nephew, Henry Dwight Hyde, had formed with Nathan Matthews and Grenville T. W. Braman. The land had previously changed hands several times and was part of a parcel previously owned by Nathan Matthews, part of an even larger tract he had purchased on January 2, 1871, from David Sears, Jr., Frederick R. Sears, and Knyvet Sears.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 254 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 432, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
On December 19, 1879, George A. Avery’s father, Alden Avery, purchased the land from George Hyde, and transferred the land and completed house to his son on the same day. Also on the same day, George Avery sold the property to real estate dealer Henry Whitwell.
In August of 1880, Henry Whitwell offered the house for sale through real estate dealer J. D. K. Willis, who noted in his advertisements in the Boston Daily Advertiser that it had a parlor and dining-room on the entrance story.
On October 15, 1880, 254 Commonwealth was purchased from Henry Whitwell by boot and shoe dealer Richard Girdler Haskell. In December of 1880, he married Mary Beebe of Columbus, Ohio, and they made 254 Commonwealth their home. They continued to live there during the 1881-1882 season, after which they moved to the Hotel Brunswick (southeast corner Clarendon and Boylston). They separated about this time (she remarried in June of 1886 to Ethan Cutler).
By the 1882-1883 winter season, 254 Commonwealth was the home of Sara Elizabeth (Campbell) Tucker, the widow of Wales Tucker, a retired boot merchant. They had lived at the Hotel Brunswick at the time of his death in March of 1882.
Richard Haskell’s father, William T. Haskell, had died in April of 1866. In his will, he established a trust for the benefit of his children, and when Richard Haskell purchased 254 Commonwealth, he entered into a mortgage with the trustees. On August 21, 1883, they foreclosed on the mortgage and took possession of the property.
On October 1, 1883, Sara Tucker purchased 254 Commonwealth from the Haskell trust. She moved soon thereafter but continued to own the house and lease it to others.
By the 1883-1884 winter season, 254 Commonwealth was the home of Susan (Greene) Page, the widow of John H. W. Page, who had been attorney and president of the Cape Cod Railroad. She continued to live there in during the 1886-1887 season, after which she moved and by the 1887-1888 season was living at the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth.
On April 1, 1886, 254 Commonwealth was purchased from Sara Tucker by Sarah Jane (Goodenow) Rust, the wife of Dr. William Appleton Rust. At the time of the sale, Sara Tucker was a resident of Randolph. She remarried in October of 1886 to Alfred Skinner Woodworth. After their marriage, they lived at the Hotel Vendome until 1890, when they moved to 204 Commonwealth.
William and Sarah Jane Rust made 254 Commonwealth their home. They previously had lived at 2 Chester Square.
William Rust was a physician and wholesale druggist in partnership with his brother, Nathaniel J. Rust.
On January 20, 1905, 254 Commonwealth was purchased from William Rust and the Rusts’ four children (Frances I. Rust, Amelia Rust, Winifred Rust, and Philip S. Rust) by real estate investor George Theodore Cruft. He was unmarried and lived at 433 Shawmut.
George Cruft was associated with his uncle, Isaac S. Cruft, in the management of Isaac Cruft’s real estate interests in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, and his hotel properties in the White Mountains and in Florida. George Cruft had served two terms in the New Hampshire legislature and had served as quartermaster general of New Hampshire, with the rank of Brigadier General, on the staff of Governor Natt Head.
On April 24, 1905, 254 Commonwealth was acquired from George Cruft by Eunice McLellan Cruft and Frances C. Cruft, the daughters of George Cruft’s deceased brother, Charles F. Cruft, and his wife, Florence L. (Clarke) Cruft. Charles Cruft had been auditor and general ticket agent for the St. Paul and Duluth Railway until his death in January of 1880.
Florence Cruft lived at 254 Commonwealth with her daughters. They all previously had lived at 7 Hereford.
George Cruft purchased 258 Commonwealth that same month and made it his home.
Florence Cruft died in July of 1915. Eunice and Frances Cruft continued to live at 254 Commonwealth until their deaths, Eunice in December of 1939 and Frances in August of 1941.
On April 9, 1943, 254 Commonwealth was acquired from the estates of Eunice Cruft and Frances Cruft by real estate dealer David C. Levin, and on April 30, 1943, it was acquired from him by Irene K. McGrath, a nurse. She previously had lived in an apartment at 504 Beacon.
In January of 1943, she applied for permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house (“residence and ten guests”). Her application was denied and she reapplied in April of 1943, also requesting permission to install fire balconies to meet the necessary egress requirements. Her application was subsequently approved.
On November 7, 1934, 254 Commonwealth was acquired from Irene McGrath by Corinne (La Brecque) Campagna-Pinto, the widow of Leonardo Campagna-Pinto. She lived at 457 Marlborough until 1947, when she moved to 254 Commonwealth. She was a teacher of foreign languages at Beaver Country Day School.
In September of 1954, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install additional fire balconies at 254 Commonwealth. The property subsequently was characterized as apartments in the City Directories, although the legal occupancy remained a lodging house.
By the late 1950s, the property was listed as an eight-unit apartment building in the City Directories.
Mrs. Campagna-Pinto continued to live at 254 Commonwealth until about 1953, when she moved back to 457 Marlborough, where she lived until about 1957, when she moved back to 254 Commonwealth.
On March 24, 1964, she transferred the property to herself and her son, Dr, Dante Francesco Campagna Pinto, a physician. He and his wife, Marjorie Elaine (Freeman) Campagna-Pinto, a singer with the San Francisco Symphony and Opera, lived in Berkeley, California.
Corinne Campagna-Pinto continued to live at 254 Commonwealth in 1970 but moved soon thereafter to Quincy.
On June 7, 1971, Dante Campagna-Pinto transferred his interest in the property back to his mother.
On July 27, 1971, 254 Commonwealth was purchased from Corinne Campagna-Pinto’s conservator by Ronald S. Luccio. In November of 1977, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into eight apartments, legalizing the existing condition, and in November of 1979, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into four apartments.
On March 18, 1980, Ronald Luccio converted the property into four condominium units, the 254 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.