283 Commonwealth was built in 1879-1880 by Weston & Shepard, masons, and Creesy & Noyes, carpenters, for real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated October 29, 1879, and on the final building inspection report, dated August 5, 1880. No architect is identified on the permit and inspection documents.
The house was built on a portion of a 190 foot parcel running west from the northwest corner of Commonwealth and Gloucester that Henry Whitwell had purchased on April 1, 1872, from a real estate investment trust formed by Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman, Henry Dwight Hyde, and Frank William Andrews. The parcel was part of one of several tracts of land purchased by the trust on March 1, 1872, from the Boston Water Power Company.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 283 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 428, from Gloucester to Hereford.
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 dining room, library, and drawing-room on the entrance story.
On February 15, 1881, 283 Commonwealth was purchased from Henry Whitwell by Mary Wallingford (Herrick) Dame, the wife of liquor dealer Frank O. Dame. They previously had lived at 142 West Chester Park.
By the 1886-1887 winter season, 283 Commonwealth was the home of brick manufacturer John Henry Hubbell and his wife, Sarah Marietta (Dana) Hubbell. They had lived at 250 Commonwealth during the previous season. They continued to live at 283 Commonwealth in 1889, but had moved to 383 Commonwealth by 1890.
During the 1889-1890 winter season, 283 Commonwealth was the home of Mary (Vinton) Clark, the widow of Randolph Marshall Clark, who had been treasurer of the Boston Elastic Fabric Company. She also maintained a home, Glen Elsinor, in Pomfret, Connecticut. She had lived at 148 Commonwealth during the 1886-1887 winter season. By the 1891-1892 season, she had moved to 27 Commonwealth.
During the 1890-1891 winter season, Mary Dame was living at 283 Commonwealth once again. She moved soon thereafter to Brookline.
On May 22, 1891, 283 Commonwealth was purchased from Mary Dame by Thomas Reed Wheelock. He and his wife, Edith Haswell (Clarke) Wheelock, made it their home. They previously had lived at 196 Commonwealth.
Their three children – Mary Florence (called Florence) Wheelock, Geoffrey Manlius Wheelock, and Thomas Gordon Wheelock – lived with them.
In 1897, the Wheelocks built a home, Topside, in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
During the 1897-1898 winter season, the Wheelocks were traveling in Europe and 283 Commonwealth was the home of Eliza Jones (Hersey) Andrew, the widow of John Albion Andrew, who had served as Governor of Massachusetts during the Civil War. She previously had lived at the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth. She continued to live at 283 Commonwealth at the time of her death in June of 1898.
In December of 1898, Florence Wheelock married Francis Ayscough of Malvern, England, and Shanghai. After their marriage, they lived in Shanghai where she became a noted authority on Chinese customs and traditions, and translator of Chinese literature, including translations of Chinese poetry published in collaboration with her friend, poet Amy Lowell.
In 1899 and 1900, Thomas and Edith Wheelock and Thomas Gardner Wheelock were in China.
In 1900, 283 Commonwealth was the home of William Hadwen Ames and his wife Mary Elizabeth (called Daisy) (Hodges) Ames. They also maintained a home in North Easton. William Ames was Secretary of his family’s business, the Ames Shovel Company, and later was president of the American Pneumatic Service Company, which built and operated pneumatic tube systems to deliver mail in Boston, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis. William and Daisy Ames had moved to 120 Beacon by the 1900-1901 winter season.
Geoffrey Manlius Wheelock married in September of 1902 to Mary Barrett Wendell. After their marriage, they lived at 358 Marlborough with her parents, Harvard professor Barrett Wendell and Edith (Greenough) Wendell. Geoffrey Wheelock had graduated from Harvard in 1901 and was associated with William A. Russell & Brother, paper manufacturers. In 1904, Geoffrey and Mary Wheelock moved to 283 Commonwealth to live briefly with his parents, and then to Shanghai, where he became a partner in his father’s ship brokerage firm.
Thomas and Edith Wheelock continued to live at 283 Commonwealth, to maintain a home in St. Andrews, and to travel frequently to Shanghai.
In 1905, 283 Commonwealth was the home of Carl (Charles) Senff Stillman, a banker, and his wife, Anna Jones Dyer (Hubbard) Stillman. They also maintained a home, Broadmoor, in South Natick/Wellesley, which was their primary residence. By the 1905-1906 winter season, they had made 5 Gloucester their winter home.
During the 1905-1906 winter season, the Wheelocks were in China and 283 Commonwealth was the home of Morris Gray and his wife, Flora (Grant) Gray. He was an attorney and trustee of estates. They also maintained a home in Chestnut Hill, which previously had been their year-round residence. The December 3, 1905, “Social Life” column in the Boston Herald noted that their daughter, Elizabeth “is one of the debutantes of the season, and a town residence is more desirable.”
By the 1906-1907 season, they had moved to 149 Beacon, and 283 Commonwealth was the Wheelocks’ home once again.
In the spring of 1910, at the time of the 1910 US Census, the Wheelocks were living elsewhere and 283 Commonwealth was the home of dry goods merchant Henry Coffin Everett and his wife, Ellen Crocker (Tufts) Everett. The had lived at the Hotel Somerset during the 1909-1910 winter season.
By the 1910-1911 winter season, the Everetts had moved to 353 Commonwealth and the Wheelocks were once again living at 283 Commonwealth.
On October 8, 1912, the “Social Life” column in the Boston Herald reported that the Wheelocks “are leaving for Shanghai for the winter to be near their son and daughter-in-law” Geoffrey and Mary Wheelock.
During the 1912-1913 winter season, 283 Commonwealth was the home of Clarise Sears (Risley) Harrold Ramsay, the widow of Elam Worthington Harrold and former wife of William McCreery Ramsay. Her daughter, Elizabeth Sears Harrold, probably lived with her. Their usual residence was in Charles City, Virginia, where Clarise Ramsay owned the Westover Plantation. She probably was in Boston visiting her two sons, John Sears Harrold, who had graduated from Harvard in 1910 and was working in Boston, and Bishop Sears Harrold, who was attending Harvard with the Class of 1913.
The Wheelocks returned to Boston by the spring of 1913 and were living at 283 Commonwealth at the time of Edith Wheelock death in May of 1913.
By the 1913-1914 winter season, he was joined there by Philip Leffingwell Spalding and his wife, Katherine Hobart (Ames) Spalding. They previously had lived at 265 Commonwealth. He was president of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company.
Thomas Wheelock continued to live at 283 Commonwealth during the 1914-1915 winter season, but moved thereafter, probably to Shanghai (where he died in January of 1920). The Spaldings continued to live at 283 Commonwealth during the 1917-1918 season, but moved thereafter to Cambridge.
By the 1918-1919 winter season, 283 Commonwealth was the home of Jesse S. Koshland and his wife, Edith (Guggenheim) Koshland. They previously had lived at 479 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Manchester, Massachusetts.
Jesse Koshland was a wholesale wool merchant from San Francisco.
The Koshlands first leased the house from the Wheelock family and then purchased it on August 23, 1923, from Thomas Wheelock’s heirs: his daughter, Florence (Wheelock) Ayscough, and his daughter-in-law, Lois Hazen (Grimmer) Wheelock Dalgliesh (Geoffrey and Mary (Wendell) Wheelock had divorced in 1919 and he had remarried in February of 1920 to Lois Hazen Grimmer; he died in June of 1920 in Brookline and she married again in February of 1921, in Shanghai, to Robert McEwan Dalgliesh).
The house was not listed in the 1932-1937 Blue Books and was shown as vacant in the 1931-1937 City Directories.
On May 26, 1937, 283 Commonwealth was purchased from Jesse Koshland by the Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing. It previously had been located at 339 Commonwealth.
In July of 1937, the Guild filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 283 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into offices and a dwelling. The permit subsequently was abandoned, but the Guild nevertheless occupied the property as offices, meeting rooms, and a school for the hearing-impaired.
In June of 1954, and again in October of 1954, the Guild filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as a “philanthropic institution for social and guidance work of hard of hearing persons.”
On June 1, 1999, 283 Commonwealth was purchased from the Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing by the Third Stone from the Sun LLC of Saugus (Daniel Silva, manager). That same month, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into four apartments.
On August 23, 2000, it converted the property into four condominium units: The Guild House Condominium.