293-295 Commonwealth

293-295 Commonwealth (2015)

Combined Lot 54' x 124.5' (6,723 sf)

Combined Lot 54′ x 124.5′ (6,723 sf)

293-295 Commonwealth are located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Gloucester and Hereford, with 291 Commonwealth to the east and 297 Commonwealth to the west.

293 and 295 Commonwealth were designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1890-1891 by Keening & Strout Brothers, masons, two contiguous six-family apartment buildings built for jeweller and real estate investor Edwin B. Horn, Jr. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit applications, dated May 26, 1890.

Edwin Horn purchased the 54 foot wide lot for 293-295 Commonwealth on May 24, 1890, from lawyer and paper manufacturer Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr., who had acquired it from building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., on March 9, 1889. It was the eastern 30 feet of a 185 foot parcel George Wheatland, Jr., had purchased on May 10, 1872, plus an additional 24 foot lot George Wheatland, Jr., had purchased on June 9, 1881, from real estate dealer Henry Whitwell, the western portion of a 190 foot parcel Henry Whitwell had purchased on April 1, 1872.

The two parcels owned by George Wheatland, Jr., and Henry Whitwell comprised the full 375 feet of the northern side of Commonwealth between Gloucester and Hereford. They had purchased the land from a real estate investment trust formed by Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman, Henry Dwight Hyde, and Frank William Andrews. It was one of several tracts of land purchased by the trust on March 1, 1872, from the Boston Water Power Company.

Plan of 293-295 Commonwealth, drawn by William H. Whitney, 19Sep1890; Suffolk Co. Deed Registry, Book 1959., p. 55

Click here for an index to the deeds for 293-295 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Commonwealth and Alley 428, from Gloucester to Hereford.

On November 29, 1890, 293-295 Commonwealth were purchased from Edwin Horn by real estate developer and investor Albert Geiger, who oversaw the completion of the buildings.

In an April 26, 1891, Boston Globe interview, Albert Geiger described the new buildings. “Each suite of 11 rooms will have the latest improvements. One great feature will be the bathrooms, which will be entirely of marble, therefore water and odor proof. These houses will be finished about July 1. I have recently been to New York to look at the Navarro flats and others of reputation, but I tell you we are away ahead of anything of that kind.”

On May 13, 1891, Albert Geiger sold 293-295 Commonwealth to iron and steel merchant Barthold Schlesinger.  He and his wife, Mary (McBurney) Schlesinger, lived in Brookline.  At the same time, Berthold Schlesinger sold Albert Geiger several apartment buildings, including The Hereford at 52 Hereford, the Hotel Anthony at 142 Warren Avenue, and two apartment houses on opposite corners of Massachusetts Avenue and St. Botolph.

Albert Geiger and Barthold Schlesinger also were associated in several other apartment building projects in the Back Bay. In January of 1891, Albert Geiger had purchased 290 Commonwealth while it was still under construction and in March of 1891 had sold it to Barthold Scheslinger. In the spring of 1892, he had begun construction of two buildings at 220 Marlborough and 222-224 Marlborough, and sold both in November of 1892 to Barthold Schlesinger.

293-295 Commonwealth had been occupied by the 1891-1892 winter season. On January 1, 1894, Albert Geiger acquired the buildings back from Barthold Schesinger and immediately resold them to two separate buyers. The buildings remained under separate ownership until the early 1920s.

293 Commonwealth was purchased from Albert Geiger by the heirs of and trustees under the will of real estate dealer James Thomas Eldredge, who had died in December of 1889. He and his wife, Ellen Sophia (Williams) Eldredge, had lived at 199 Beacon, where she continued to live. They continued to own it until December 1, 1922, when it was acquired by the Willard Welsh Realty Company.

295 Commonwealth was purchased from Albert Geiger by George Washington Crosby, treasurer of the R. H. White Company department store, who probably held the property for the benefit of Ralph Huntington White, president and founder of the company.  George Crosby and his wife, Helen Augusta (Searle) Crosby, lived in Newton.

Among the early residents of 295 Commonwealth were Dr. John Preston Sutherland and his wife, Evelyn Greenleaf (Baker) Sutherland, who lived at 295 Commonwealth from the 1893-1894 winter season. They previously had lived at 157 Newbury. He was a physician and chairman of the Anatomy Department at Boston University Medical School, In 1899, he was named Dean of the school. Evelyn Sutherland was a journalist, author, and playwright, often writing under the name Dorothy Lundt. On March 22, 1900, their apartment was damaged by a fire attributed to faulty electrical wiring.  They continued to live at 295 Commonwealth until 1905, when they moved to 302 Beacon. Evelyn Sutherland died in December of 1908 and by the 1910-1911 winter season, Dr. Sutherland had resumed living at 295 Commonwealth. He retired as Dean of the Boston University Medical School in 1923 and in June of 1925 he married again, to Catherine Grovenia Stewart, formerly his secretary. They continued to live at 295 Commonwealth until his death in February of 1941, after which she moved to 146 Commonwealth, Fisk House, a residence operated by the Boston University Women’s Council.

On October 30, 1900, 295 Commonwealth was acquired from George Crosby by Ralph Huntington White. He and his wife, Lena Elizabeth (Hubbard) White, lived in an apartment at 290 Commonwealth. His first wife, Ellen Maria (Tucker) White, had died in November of 1897, and he and Lena Hubbard had married in October of 1899. She lived at 295 Commonwealth at the time of their marriage.

On April 21, 1914, 295 Commonwealth was acquired from Ralph H. White by the estate of real estate dealer Henry Bigelow Williams.  It subsequently changed hands.

On October 22, 1922, was acquired by a trust established under the will of Sarah Elizabeth (Appleton) Lawrence, the widow of Amos Adams Lawrence. She had died in May of 1892.

293-295 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

293-295 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

On January 10, 1923, 293 Commonwealth was acquired from Willard Welsh Realty by the Lawrence Trust. Thereafter, 293 Commonwealth and 295 Commonwealth remained under the same ownership.

On June 29, 1923, 293-295 Commonwealth were purchased from the Lawrence Trust by real estate dealer James M. Burr.

The property changed hands and on August 18, 1925, were acquired by Dr. Frederick William Murdock, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist who lived in Brockton.

In December of 1925, Frederick Murdock applied for (and subsequently received) permission to cut doors in the party wall between the two buildings.

On July 15, 1930, he transferred the property to the Murdock Realty Trust, Inc.

In December of 1946, the Murdock Realty Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments at 293 Commonwealth from six to eight, and the number of apartments at 295 Commonwealth from six to seven. In October of 1947, Murdock Realty applied for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of units at 293 Commonwealth to twelve, and to increase the number of units at 295 Commonwealth to eleven apartments and one doctor’s office.

On October 11, 1956, 293-295 Commonwealth were acquired from the Murdock Realty Trust, Inc., by brothers Alvin Jacob Slater (Abraham Slotsky) and Maurice Zachary Slater (Slotsky), trustees of the Slater Realty Trust.

In January of 1957, the Slater Realty Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine the two properties into one property and to convert each building into eighteen apartments.

On March 24, 1975, the Slater Realty Trust transferred 293-295 Commonwealth to Maurice Slater and his wife, Betty (Meister) Slater.

On May 1, 1975, 293-295 Commonwealth were purchased from Maurice and Betty Slater by Andrew Saggese, Jr., trustee of the Drew Realty Trust. That same month, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to reduce the number of units from 36 to 35.

On October 16, 1978, he converted the properties into thirty condominium units, the 293-295 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.

293-295 Commonwealth (ca. 1896-1897), courtesy Historic New England

293-295 Commonwealth (ca. 1896-1897), courtesy Historic New England