291 Commonwealth was designed by Allen and Kenway and built in 1884-1885 by D. Connery & Co. and McNeil Brothers, builders. It was built as the home of hide and leather dealer William Henry Allen and his wife, Adaline A. (Smith) Allen. They previously lived at 15 Chester Square. He is shown as the owner of 291 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated May 2, 1884, and Adaline A. Allen is shown as the owner on the 1888, 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps.
William Henry Allen died in November of 1903. Adaline Allen continued to live at 291 Commonwealth until her death in June of 1911. The heirs of Adaline A. Allen are shown as the owners on the 1912, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps.
In 1912, 291 Commonwealth was the home of Henry Hornblower, a stock and bond broker, and his wife, Hattie Frances (Wood) Hornblower. They had lived in Arlington in 1911. By 1913, they had moved to 170 Beacon.
291 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1912-1915 Blue Books.
By the 1915-1916 winter season, 291 Commonwealth was the home of George Robert Carter and his wife, Helen (Strong) Carter. He was a lawyer and former businessman from Honolulu; he served as Territorial Governor of Hawaii from 1903 to 1907.
In January of 1920, at the time of the 1920 US Census, the Carters were living elsewhere and 291 Commonwealth was the home of Edmund Winchester Converse, a wholesale dry goods merchant, and his wife, Julia Anna (Pearson) Converse. Julia Converse’s mother, Margaret Pearson, the widow of Andrew B. Pearson, lived with them. Their primary residence was in Newton, and by 1921 they were living there again.
The Carters had resumed living at 291 Commonwealth by the 1920-1921 winter season, and continued to live there during the 1922-1923 season, but moved thereafter.
In 1925, 291 Commonwealth was the home of John Kenneth Howard, a lawyer, and his wife, Ruth (Gaston) Howard. They previously had lived at 15 Brimmer. By 1926, they had moved to 177 Marlborough, which was owned by Ruth Howard’s father, William Alexander Gaston.
By the 1925-1926 winter season, 291 Commonwealth was the home of Frederic Munroe Burnham, a stockbroker and trustee, and his wife, Rosamond (Eliot) Burnham. They had lived at 175 Marlborough during the previous season. They also maintained a summer home in Bolton, Massachusetts. They continued to live at 291 Commonwealth until about 1931, when they moved to 290 Marlborough.
291 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1932-1937 Blue Books and was shown as vacant in the 1932-1934 City Directories.
By 1933, 291 Commonwealth was owned by Katherine T. Sullivan. In November of 1933, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into eight apartments.
In the fall of 1934, Margaret M. Daley acquired 291 Commonwealth from Katherine Sullivan. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on November 25, 1934. She is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map and was the assessed owner through 1939.
By 1940, 291 Commonwealth was owned by Mrs. Rose (De Stefano) Ristuccia, widow of Joseph Ristuccia, who was the assessed owner from that year. She lived in Somerville.
In October of 1940, she applied for permission to legalize the occupancy of a basement apartment but subsequently abandoned the permit.
Rose Ristuccia died in March of 1946. 291 Commonwealth became the property of her daughter, Rose (Ristuccia) Forde. She and her husband, Benjamin Forde, lived in Brookline. Rose Ristuccia (presumably her estate or Rose Forde by her birth surname) continued to be assessed owner through 1954; Rose Forde was the assessed owner from 1955.
In December of 1954, Rose Forde applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior and add one lodging unit, establishing the legal occupancy as eight apartments and one lodging unit.
The property changed hands and in March of 1962 was acquired by Josephine (Cuoco) D’Amore, former wife of Santo D’Amore. She lived at 509 Beacon.
By 1966, Josephine D’Amore had moved to an apartment at 291 Commonwealth, and soon thereafter was joined there by her son-in-law and daughter, George and Jean (D’Amore) Bongaards. They previously had lived at 8 Humphrey Place in Dorchester. He was employed by the Herald-Traveller newspapers.
In May of 1978, Josephine D’Amore transferred the property to herself as trustee and beneficiary of the 291 Commonwealth Avenue Trust. In May of 1979, she appointed her daughter, Jean Bongaards, as sole trustee and beneficiary of the trust.
Josephine D’Amore died in July of 1979. George and Jean Bongaards continued to live in an apartment at 291 Commonwealth.
In July of 1996, Jean Bongaards appointed her sister, Nina (D’Amore) Millen, wife of Robert Millen, as sole trustee and beneficiary of the 291 Commonwealth Avenue Trust. The Millens lived in Canton. Jean Bongaards died that same month.
The property remained an apartment house, owned by the 291 Commonwealth Avenue Trust, in 2014.