280 Commonwealth was designed by Walker and Kimball, architects, and built in 1894-1895 by F. F. Morton, builder, as the home of wholesale dry goods merchant John Hogg, and his wife, Emma E. (Whiting) Hogg. They previously had lived at 74 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Framingham.
John Hogg is shown as the owner of 280 Commonwealth on the original building permit application dated February 24, 1894, and on the final building inspection report dated March 29, 1895.
John Hogg purchased the land for 280 Commonwealth on December 13, 1893, from Augustus F. Arnold, who had acquired it that same day from Alexander Moseley. Alexander Moseley and his wife, Frances A. (Richardson) Moseley, lived at 282 Commonwealth, and in the deed he included provisions specifying that only a single-family dwelling could be built at 280 Commonwealth and limiting the height and depth of any such house.
Alexander Moseley had acquired the lot on May 14, 1890, from Eustace Carey Fitz. It had 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 280 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 432, from Fairfield to Gloucester.
Emma Hogg died in June of 1895 in Framingham, possibly before 280 Commonwealth was completed. After her death, John Hogg lived at 280 Commonwealth with their son-in-law and daughter, attorney Charles Putnam Searle and Cora (Hogg) Searle. They previously had lived at 176 Newbury.
On April 18, 1898, John Hogg transferred 280 Commonwealth to Cora Searle.
The Searles’ four children — John Endicott Searle, Charles Putnam Searle, Jr., Richard Whiting Searle, and Corinna Searle — lived with them.
In 1898-1899, the Searles built a home, The Monastery, on Little’s Point in Swampscott, designed by architect Arthur Little. It remained their summer home in 1906, but later that year they and John Hogg purchased land in Ipswich, where they built a new home, Inglisby, which remained in the Searle family until 1919.
Charles Searle, Jr., died in December of 1913. At the time of his death, he was manager of the Globe Thread Mill in Fall River.
Corinna Searle married in September of 1916 to Harold Damrell Walker, an architect in practice with his father, Charles Howard Walker (whose former firm, Walker and Kimball, designed 280 Commonwealth). After their marriage, they lived at 18 Fairfield.
John Hogg and Charles Searle, Sr., both died in January of 1917.
Cora Searle and her sons, John and Richard Searle, continued to live at 280 Commonwealth. Frpm about 1919, she also maintained a home in Manchester, Massachusetts.
John Searle, a lawyer, married in June of 1923 to Jeanne Hortense Schroers. After their marriage, he continued to practice in Boston but they lived in Cedarhurst on Long Island.
Richard Searle, who had been an aviator during World War I and then became a wool merchant and (by 1929) investment broker, married in March of 1926 to Miss Allan Joy Ayers. After their marriage, they lived briefly at 35 Bay State Road and 316 Newbury, and by 1929 were living in an apartment at 31 Fairfield. They also maintained a home in Marblehead.
Cora Searle continued to live at 280 Commonwealth until her death in April of 1937.
On August 6, 1937, 280 Commonwealth was purchased from Cora Searle’s estate by Samuel Handler. In August of 1939, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install a boiler at 280 Commonwealth; in the application, he indicated that the property was a lodging house.
On March 15, 1940, 280 Commonwealth was purchased from Samuel Handler by William Karmazine, trustee of the Esdith Realty Trust. He acquired 278 Commonwealth on the same day.
William Karmazine was president of the Commercial Finance Service Corporation and treasurer of the Home Loan Co., Inc. He and his wife, Edna (Nurenberg) Karmazine, lived in Chestnut Hill. In March of 1940, he had established the Esdith Realty Trust to hold property for the benefit of his two daughters, Esther Reece Karmazine and Judith Shaefer Karmazine. and his niece, Enid Esta Karmazine, daughter of his brother, Nathan Karmazine and his wife, Mae (Lipsher) Karmazine.
On January 22, 1946, 280 Commonwealth was acquired from William Karmazine by Stanley C. Wilson, who operated The Wilson School at 285 Huntington, providing instruction in X-Ray technique. William Karmazine sold 278 Commonwealth to a different buyer in April of 1946.
Stanley Wilson and his wife, Gertrude N. (Goldberg) Wilson, made 280 Commonwealth their home. They previously had lived in Brookline. Based on the City Directories and Lists of Residents, it appears that they occupied it as a single-family dwelling.
On June 26, 1952, 280 Commonwealth was purchased from Stanley Wilson by Christopher (Chrest) A. Dounelis. He and his wife, Cora A. (Wright) Dounelis, lived in Barre, Vermont, where they operated a candy shop and luncheonette.
On September 10, 1954, 280 Commonwealth was acquired from Christopher Dounelis by Robert Osborne Tillinghast. In August of 1956, he acquired 278 Commonwealth, in April of 1957 he acquired 29 Gloucester, in February of 1962 he acquired 211 Beacon, and in March of 1962, he acquired 34 Gloucester.
In January of 1960, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 278-280 Commonwealth as a lodging house. In June of 1961, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to install a dining hall in the basement (the dining room had been operating without a permit earlier that year and possibly before). And in April of 1962, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into a dormitory, which he called Osborne Hall, to be used by the Cambridge School of Business, located on Boylston.
On May 7, 1962, 278-280 Commonwealth were acquired from Robert Tillinghast by First Community Investment Co., Inc., of Lexington. They acquired 29 Gloucester, 34 Gloucester, and 211 Beacon, at the same time. On July 3, 1962, First Community Investment transferred all five properties to Robert J. McHugh, trustee of the Mifro Realty Trust.
278-280 Commonwealth continued to be occupied as a dormitory for the Cambridge School of Business.
In February of 1963, Mifro Realty Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to re-install kitchen equipment in the basement of 280 Commonwealth. The application indicated that the kitchen had been moved to another location in August of 1961. “Food will be prepared and served to students that dine in basement of 278 Commonwealth. The necessary door in the party wall was installed five years ago. The present occupant is Cambridge School of Business.”
In July of 1963, the Mifro Realty Trust and the Osborne Association of Boston, an association of Cambridge School of Business students, each filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the basement and first floor into a club for use by the students, with the remainder of the building continuing to be used as a dormitory.
On June 13, 1966, 278-280-282 Commonwealth were acquired from First Community Investment by Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College, located at 128 Commonwealth. Chamberlayne already owned 260–262–264–266–270–274–276 Commonwealth, which it had acquired earlier in the 1960s. Chamberlayne also acquired 29 Gloucester, 34 Gloucester, and 211 Beacon from First Community Investment.
Chamberlayne went bankrupt in the mid-1970s, and in June of 1975, it transferred 278-280-282 Commonwealth, 29 Gloucester, and 34 Gloucester to Bernard P. Rome, trustee in bankruptcy.
On December 15, 1976, Back Bay Restorations Company purchased 278-280-282 Commonwealth (and four other properties: 199 Marlborough, 238 Marlborough, 148 Commonwealth. and 298 Commonwealth) from Bernard P. Rome. One month earlier, it had purchased 274 and 276 Commonwealth from Alfonso Vitagliano, who had acquired them from Chamberlayne through mortgage foreclosures.
In October of 1976, prior to finalizing either purchase, Back Bay Restorations had filed for (and subsequently received) permission to combine 280 and 282 Commonwealth into one property, with the address of 280 Commonwealth, and convert the combined property into 18 apartments.
At the same time, it also applied to combine 274-276 Commonwealth and 278 Commonwealth into one property, with the address at 274 Commonwealth, and convert the combined property into 23 apartments. In February of 1984, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments at 274-276-278 Commonwealth from 23 to 25.
On February 3, 1984, Back Bay Restorations converted 274-282 Commonwealth into forty-three condominium units (ten units in 274 Commonwealth, five units in 276 Commonwealth, ten units in 278 Commonwealth, eleven units in 280 Commonwealth, and seven units in 282 Commonwealth): the 280 Commonwealth Condominium.