256 Commonwealth was built in 1879 by Uriah H. Coffin, a building contractor, probably for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated September 15, 1879. The application does not indicate the architect.
By the 1880-1882 winter season, 256 Commonwealth was the home of Frederick Augustus Haserick and his wife, Minna Emily (Hedwig) Haserick. He is shown as the owner on the 1883, 1888, and 1895 Bromley maps.
Frederick Haserick was an importer of textile machinery.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, 256 Commonwealth was the home of George Snell Mandell and his wife, Emily W. (Proctor) Mandell. They had married in April of 1896 and 256 Commonwealth probably was their first home together. They also maintained a home in Hamilton. Emily Mandell’s mother, Emma H. Proctor (the widow of Thomas Emerson Proctor), as trustee, is shown as the owner of 256 Commonwealth on the 1898 Bromley map.
George Mandell’s father, Samuel Pierce Mandell, was publisher of The Boston Transcript. George Mandell worked for the Transcript in various positions, including serving as treasurer and editor, and after his father’s death in 1920, he became the publisher.
They continued to live there until about 1906, when they moved to 247 Commonwealth, which they had purchased and significantly remodeled.
By the 1906-1907 winter seasom, 256 Commonwealth was the home of George H. Phelps and his wife, Melissa (Frost) Phelps. Melissa F. Phelps is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1912 Bromley maps.
George Phelps was treasurer of his father-in-law’s firm, George Frost Company, manufacturers of ladies’ and men’s furnishings.
George Phelps died in January of 1914 and Melissa Phelps moved soon thereafter.
In the spring of 1914, 256 Commonwealth was purchased from Melissa Phelps by Robert Ainsworth Leeson and his wife, Mildred Carruth (Dix) Leeson. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on March 4, 1914. They previously had lived in an apartment at 290 Commonwealth. Mildred D. Leeson is shown as the owner on the 1917 and 1928 Bromley maps. They also maintained a home in Newton Centre and later in Marblehead.
Robert Leeson was a manufacturer of textile machinery.
Mildred Leeson died in May of 1928. Robert Leeson continued to live at 256 Commonwealth until about 1942. when he moved to the Hotel Puritan at 390 Commonwealth.
He is shown as the owner of 256 Commonwealth on the 1938 Bromley map and remained the assessed owner through 1942.
By 1943, 256 Commonwealth was the home of John G. Walther, a mechanical engineer. A widower, he previously had lived in Arlington. Marion Walther (his daughter) et al were the assessed owners in 1943 and 1944.
In May of 1943, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
The property changed hands, remaining a lodging house, and in September of 1978 was purchased by Charles C. Patsos, trustee of the 256 Commonwealth Avenue Trust. In September of 1985, he submitted two applications, one to convert the property from a lodging house into eight apartments and the other to convert it into seven apartments. Both applications appear to have been abandoned.
In March of 1986, Berton M. Hochfeld purchased 256 Commonwealth from Charles C. Patsos. That same month, he transferred the property to the H & P Associates Limited Partnership III.
In July of 1986, H & P Associates applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the property from a lodging house into seven apartments. And in October of 1986, H & P Associates converted the property into seven condominium units, the 256 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.