311 Commonwealth is located on the NW corner of Commonwealth and Hereford, with 32 Hereford to the east, across Hereford, 313 Commonwealth to the west, 31 Hereford to the north, across Alley 429, and 314 Commonwealth to the south, across Commonwealth.
311 Commonwealth was designed by Funk and Wilcox, architects, and built in 1924-1925 by the Marden and Orlando Construction Co. as a 14-unit apartment house. It replaced a townhouse at 311 Commonwealth built in 1877.
Plans for the building, including elevations and floor plans, are included in the City of Boston Blueprints Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference BIN N-4).
By 1927, 311 Commonwealth was owned by Bernard Brooker, who was the assessed owner in 1928 and 1929, and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map. He was a dealer in building materials. In December of 1927, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 311 Commonwealth from fourteen apartments into medical offices. Thereafter, the building was known as the Medical Arts Building.
The property changed hands and by 1952 was owned by Saul I. Shray, who was the assessed owner from that year.
By 1968, Saul Shray had sold 311 Commonwealth to Jerome S. Bartzoff and Daniel S. Shoostine. In October of 1975, Milton H. Shray, executor of the estate of Paul I. Shray, foreclosed on a mortgage to Jerome Bartzoff and Daniel Shoostine and took possession of the property.
In December of 1975, Milton Shray filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into fifteen apartments and one medical suite.
311 Commonwealth (Demolished)
The original house at 311 Commonwealth was designed by architect William Whitney Lewis and built in 1877-1878 by Woodbury & Leighton and John Morrison, builders, one of two contiguous houses (311-313 Commonwealth). It was built as the home of Thomas Dana, II, and his wife, Mary Catherine (Baldwin) Dana. They previously had lived at 168 West Newton. He is shown as the owner of 311 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated August 15, 1877, and on the 1883, 1888, and 1890 Bromley maps.
Thomas Dana, II, was a wholesale grocer in partnership with his first cousin, once removed, Thomas Dana, who was married to his aunt, Elizabeth Dana. Thomas and Elizabeth (Dana) Dana lived in Cambridge until Thomas Dana’s death, after which Elizabeth Dana moved to 315 Commonwealth.
Thomas and Mary Dana’s son, William Franklin Dana, a lawyer, lived with them.
Thomas Dana was a director of the Maverick National Bank and in October of 1891, the bank failed. Asa Potter (of 29 Fairfield), the bank’s president and principal owner, Jonas H. French (of 128 Commonwealth), the other principal owner, and Thomas Dana were indicted on various charges, including embezzlement and violating federal banking laws. In November of 1891, Thomas Dana’s wholesale grocery firm was dissolved, having received substantial loans from the bank. The bank held a mortgage on 311 Commonwealth which was transferred to the banks receivers, Charles Kellogg and Thomas P. Beal. Thomas Dana subsequently defaulted on the mortgage. The Danas moved to Newton and he became a selling agent for the National Pure Food Company.
On February 29, 1892, 311 Commonwealth was sold at auction by the Maverick National Bank’s receivers and was purchased by Joseph Augustus Ropes and his wife, Mary E. (Gill) Ropes, at that time residents of Swampscott. Mary G. Ropes is shown as the owner on the 1895, 1898. 1908, and 1917 Bromley map, and was the assessed owner through 1923.
The Ropeses appear not to have occupied 311 Commonwealth for several years, and it was not listed in the 1893-1896 Blue Books.
By the 1896-1897 winter season, however, they had made it their Boston home. They also maintained a home in Salem.
Joseph Ropes died in October of 1911. Mary Ropes continued to live at 311 Commonwealth until her death in 1922.
The house was not listed in the 1923 Blue Books, and was razed in 1924.