298 Commonwealth was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built ca. 1880 by building contractor John W. Shapleigh, probably for speculative sale, one of three contiguous houses (294-296-298 Commonwealth).
By the 1882-1883 winter season, 298 Commonwealth was the home of Thomas Norton Hart and his wife, Elizabeth (Snow) Hart, and their daughter, Abbie Snow Hart. They previously had lived at 85 Worcester. Elizabeth S. Hart is shown as the owner of 298 Commonwealth on the 1883, 1888, and 1898 Bromley maps.
Thomas Hart had been a hat and cap manufacturer until 1878, when he retired from the business. He also was president of the Mount Vernon National Bank. He served as Mayor of Boston twice, once in 1889-1890, and again in 1900-1901.
Living with the Harts were Thomas Hart’s brother-in-law and former business partner, Frederick B. Taylor, and his daughter, Mabel Taylor. Frederick Taylor’s wife, Abigail (Snow) Taylor, had died in June of 1878. Frederick and Mabel Taylor had lived with the Harts at 85 Worcester.
In June of 1885, Abbie Hart married to Carl William Ernst. After their marriage, they lived with her parents at 298 Commonwealth. Carl Ernst was a journalist, author, and historian, and served as Thomas Hart’s private secretary for many years.
Frederick Taylor died in March of 1891, and Mabel Taylor married in April of 1891 to Walter L. Fisher, a lawyer from Chicago.
Elizabeth Hart died in November of 1906.
Thomas Hart and the Ernsts continued to live at 298 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Swampscott.
The Heirs of Elizabeth S. Hart are shown as the owners on the 1908 and 1912 Bromley maps, Thomas N. Hart et al are shown as the owners on the 1917 map, and Thomas Hart is shown as the owner on the 1928 map.
Carl Ernst died in April of 1919. Thomas Hart and Abbie Ernst continued to live at 298 Commonwealth.
Abbie Ernst died in March of 1924, and Thomas Hart died in October of 1927.
In May of 1928, the estate of Thomas Hart filed on behalf a prospective purchaser for permission convert the property from a single-family dwelling into dental offices. The application subsequently was abandoned.
The house was not listed in the 1929-1930 Blue Books.
By 1929, 298 Commonwealth was the home of Joseph Leonard MacCalduff and his wife, Mary (McQuaid) MacCalduff, and their son-in-law and daughter, Francis J. O’Hara, Jr., and Dorothy (MacCalduff) O’Hara. The MacCalduffs previously had lived at 114 Newbury, and the O’Haras had lived at the Copley Square Hotel. Francis O’Hara was the assessed owner of 298 Commonwealth in 1929; Dorothy O’Hara was the assessed owner from 1930 through 1942, and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
Joseph MacCalduff was a barber at the Hotel Touraine (southeast corner of Boylston and Tremont). Francis O’Hara, Jr., was a wholesale fish dealer.
In September of 1929, Joseph MacCalduff applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install a fire escape, indicating that the property would be used as a lodging house. Based on the Boston Lists of Residents, it appears that they accepted lodgers during the early 1930s, but probably not after that time.
The MacCalduffs and the O’Haras continued to live at 298 Commonwealth until about 1941, but moved thereafter. By that time, Joseph MacCalduff was a liquor dealer. Francis O’Hara continued to be a wholesale fish merchant.
298 Commonwealth was shown as vacant in the 1942 City Directory.
By 1943, 398 Commonwealth was owned by Alice M. Donoghue, who was the assessed owner from that year. It was operated as a lodging house; she does not appear to have lived there.
In the mid-1970s, Chamberlayne went bankrupt and on June 11, 1975, it transferred 298 Commonwealth to Bernard P. Rome, trustee in bankruptcy.
On December 15, 1976, 298 Commonwealth was purchased from Bernard Rome by the Back Bay Restorations Company, Limited Partnership (Zena Nemetz, president, treasurer, and general partner). At the same time, it also purchased Chamberlayne’s properties at 199 Marlborough, 238 Marlborough, 148 Commonwealth, and 278–280–282 Commonwealth. In November of 1976, it had acquired 274 Commonwealth and 276 Commonwealth, which also previously had been owned by Chamberlayne.
In conjunction with the purchase, Back Bay Restorations entered into an agreement with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to operate the buildings as rental properties in exchange for being allowed to make yearly payments to the city in lieu of paying property tax on the properties.
In October of 1976 (prior to taking title to the property), Back Bay Restorations applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory and lodging house into nine apartments. In March of 1978, it amended the application to reduce the number of apartments from nine to seven.
On February 3, 1984, Back Bay Restorations converted 274-276-278-280-282 Commonwealth into condominiums, and on September 24, 1984, it converted 148 Commonwealth, 298 Commonwealth, 199 Marlborough, and 238 Marlborough into condominiums.
298 Commonwealth was converted into seven condominium units, the 298 Commonwealth Condominium.
In March of 1985, the BRA brought legal action for violation of the 1976 agreement, and in July of 1985, Back Bay Restorations signed a consent decree agreeing to keep most of the units as rental apartments for three years and to provide relocation costs to tenants previously forced to move out.
On February 24, 1992, the St. Paul Federal Bank for Savings foreclosed on its mortgage to Back Bay Restorations and sold all of the condominium units at 148 Commonwealth, 298 Commonwealth, 199 Marlborough, and 238 Marlborough to Managed Properties, Inc., of Chicago.
On June 29, 1992, Patricia M. Bailey, trustee of the PBH Realty Trust, purchased the condominium units at 298 Commonwealth and the other three properties from Managed Properties, Inc. She subsequently sold the units to individual buyers.