269 Commonwealth was designed by Allen and Kenway, architects, and built in 1881-1882 by Standish & Woodbury and B. D. Whitcomb, builders, for Charles Archbald Kidder.
Charles Kidder is shown as the owner of 269 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated April 2, 1881. He purchased the land for the house on November 27, 1880, from George Bruce Upton, Jr. It was part of a 104 foot wide lot George Upton had purchased on March 22, 1880, from Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, who had acquired it through several purchases. The land originally was part of one of several parcels purchased on January 29, 1866, from the Boston Water Power Company by a real estate investment trust formed by John Templeman Coolidge, Franklin Evans, and Charles Henry Parker. The trust had subsequently subdivided the parcels into lots, which it sold to investors and builders, who then frequently resold the lots to others.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 269 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 427, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
A March 29, 1881, Boston Herald article on the “building boom” in Boston noted that “Charles A. Kidder has the foundations laid for a dwelling of the Venetian Gothic style of architecture – a style to be seen in the old buildings of Venice. It will be four stories high above the basement, and the material will be brownstone to the second story; above the second story the material will be brick, with belts of brownstone. The house will have a frontage of 26 feet and a depth of 70 feet. It will cost from $25,000 to $30,000.”
Charles Kidder had graduated from Harvard in 1879 and married in February of 1880 to Harriet Lois Rice, and they probably intended 269 Commonwealth to be their home. During the 1880-1881 winter season, they lived at 22 Marlborough. He was an investment banker in the firm of Kidder, Peabody & Company, co-founded by his father, Henry Purkitt Kidder.
Harriet Kidder died in childbirth in July of 1881 in Milton. Charles Kidder (and presumably their infant son, Charles, Jr.) moved to 2 Newbury to live with his recently-widowed father (his mother, Caroline Whitmarsh (Archbald) Kidder, had died in March of 1881 at 2 Newbury).
It appears that Charles Kidder never lived at 269 Commonwealth after it was completed. In September of 1883, he offered it for sale through real estate dealers John Jeffries & Sons, whose advertisements in the Boston Journal noted that “it was built by the present owner with great care for his own occupancy.”.
On September 28, 1883, 269 Commonwealth was purchased from Charles Kidder by Eleanor S. (Pearson) Claflin Mack, the wife of wholesale dry goods merchant Thomas Mack. They previously had lived at 13 Arlington.
Thomas Mack died in May of 1897. Eleanor Mack continued to live at 269 Commonwealth.
On March 4, 1915, Eleanor Mack transferred 269 Commonwealth to her son by her first marriage, William Henry Claflin. He was a paper, twine, and bag merchant. He and his wife, Carrie Stetson (Avery) Claflin, made it their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth. They also maintained a home in Swampscott
Eleanor Mack continued to live with them at 269 Commonwealth until her death in August of 1916.
On February 15, 1926, William Claflin transferred the property into his and his wife’s names.
Carrie Claflin died in April of 1929. William Claflin continued to live at 269 Commonwealth until his death in February of 1935.
On March 30, 1936, 269 Commonwealth was acquired from William Claflin’s estate by Mary F. Donlan. She conveyed the property the next day to real estate dealer H. Leon Sharmat.
On September 15, 1936, 269 Commonwealth was acquired from H. Leon Sharmat by real estate and insurance broker Forris Wood Norris. He and his wife, Bessie Everett (Griffin) Norris, lived at the Hotel Somerset. Their son, Jackson Morton Norris, who was associated with his father’s firm, lived with them.
In August of 1936, prior to Forris Norris’s taking title to the property, Jackson Norris, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into five apartments.
On April 27, 1937, Forris Norris transferred the property into his wife’s name.
By 1938, Forris and Bessie Norris and Jackson Norris had moved to one of the apartments at 269 Commonwealth.
The Norrises separated in the late 1940s and Forris Norris moved to Falmouth. Bessie Norris and Jackson Norris continued to live at 269 Commonwealth until about 1949.
On May 31, 1949, 269 Commonwealth was purchased from Bessie Norris by Francis Farrell, and on the same day, he transferred the property to himself and Bryon Randlett Switzer as trustees of the Commonwealth-Newbury Mortgage and Real Estate Trust. On June 27, 1957, they transferred the property from the trust into their own names.
In December of 1961, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from five apartments into six apartments.
On August 1, 1962, 269 Commonwealth was purchased from Morris Kalman by brothers, Charles George Alex and Daniel (Demosthenes) G. Alex, and their mother, Helen G. (Kokinakis) Alex, the widow of George Konstantinos Alex (Alexopoulos). In July of 1962 they had purchased 255 Commonwealth and 267 Commonwealth.
In December of 1962, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 269 Commonwealth from six apartments into a lodging house.
By 1963, all three properties had been leased as dormitories by Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College, located at 128 Commonwealth. 255 Commonwealth was operated as Gloucester House and 267-269 Commonwealth were operated as Windsor House. They continued to be located there until the late 1970s, and possibly later.
By 1965, 267-269 Commonwealth also were the offices of Datalex Inc., a scientific instruments firm. Charles Alex was president and treasurer of the firm, and Daniel Alex was the corporation clerk. It continued to be located there until the early 1970s.
On April 21, 1967, Helen Alex transferred her interest in 255 Commonwealth, 267 Commonwealth, and 269 Commonwealth to Charles and Daniel Alex. In November of 1978, Charles and Daniel Alex sold 255 Commonwealth.
On June 2, 1980, Daniel Alex transferred his interest in 267 Commonwealth and 269 Commonwealth to his brother, Charles.
In June of 1983, Charles Alex sold 267 Commonwealth. He retained 269 Commonwealth and on May 22, 1985, he transferred it to himself as trustee of the C. G. Alex Realty Trust. It remained a lodging house.
In June of 1985, Charles Alex and his wife, Helen (Fourtouni) Alex, applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 269 Commonwealth from a lodging house into seven apartments.
On October 16, 2009, he transferred the property to himself and Helen Alex, as tenants in common.
269 Commonwealth remained an apartment house in 2017.