314 Commonwealth is located on the SW corner of Commonwealth and Hereford, with 40 Hereford to the east, across Hereford, 318 Commonwealth to the west, 311 Commonwealth to the north, across Commonwealth, and 45 Hereford to the south, across Alley 430.
314 Commonwealth was designed by architect Charles Brigham and built in 1899-1900 by L. D. Wilcutt & Son, builders, as the home of Albert Cameron Burrage and his wife, Alice Hathaway (Haskell) Burrage. They previously had lived at 140 Townsend. He is shown as the owner of 314 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated April 29, 1899, and Alice Burrage is shown as the owner on the 1908, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps. She continued to be the assessed owner through 1948.
314 Commonwealth was built on two lots, occupying a vacant lot at 314 Commonwealth and replacing an earlier townhouse at 316 Commonwealth.
Albert Burrage was an attorney and former president of several local gas lighting companies. In 1898, became interested in copper mining and was one of the original organizers of the Amalgamated Copper Company, which later became the Chile Copper Company. He also was owner of several chemical companies through the Drugs and Dyestuffs Corporation of New York.
In 1901, he built a second home on West Crescent Avenue in Redlands, California, also designed by Charles Brigham. In 1921, he purchased an estate in Manchester, designed by Little and Browne, which they called Seahome.
By 1948, 314 Commonwealth was owned by Mathew A. MacAuley. In July of 1948, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into twenty medical offices.
314 Commonwealth Avenue Inc. was the assessed owner from 1949.
In 1959, 314 Commonwealth became the Boston Evening Clinic. It previously had been located at 397 Commonwealth.
In October of 1990, 314 Commonwealth was purchased from the Boston Evening Medical Center, Inc., by the Boston Back Bay Board & Care LP of Ocean View, New Jersey. In March of 1989, prior to finalizing the purchase, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a nursing home and elder care facility, called Burrage House.
In 1999, Boston Back Bay Board and Care declared bankruptcy, and in January of 2000, it transferred 314 Commonwealth to LB Burrage House, Inc., in compliance with its bankruptcy plan.
In June of 2002, Burrage House LLC purchased 314 Commonwealth from LB Burrage House Inc.
In October of 2002, ELV Associates filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into five apartments with a garage. In conjunction with the conversion of the property, the entry vestibule, great hall, grand stairway, and second floor common hall were designated as landmarks to ensure their preservation.
In November of 2003, Burrage House LLC converted the property into five condominium units: the Burrage Mansion Condominium.
Below is a panoramic view of the corner of Commonwealth and Hereford ca. 1903, looking southwest, with 314 Commonwealth in the foreground; image by E. Chickering & Co., provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.
316 Commonwealth (Demolished)
314 Commonwealth replaced an earlier townhouse at 316 Commonwealth designed by architect Obed F. Smith and built ca. 1881 for Frank N. Thayer. He and his wife, Ella S. (Young) Thayer, lived at 325 Commonwealth.
Frank Thayer was a ship’s chandler, ship broker, and shipping merchant.
Ella Thayer continued to live at 325 Commonwealth.
By the 1883-1884 winter season, 316 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. Richard Charles Flower and his wife, Mayde M. (Manfull) Flower. They had lived at 2 East Brookline in February of 1883, when their daughter, Evangeline, was born. Mayde M. Flower is shown as the owner of 316 Commonwealth on the 1888 and 1890 Bromley maps.
Richard C. Flower had been a lawyer and later a minister in the Midwest. He then became a physician and practiced in New York and Philadelphia before coming to Boston in 1882. In Boston, he founded a patent medicine company, producing and marketing a number of proprietary remedies through the Flower Medical Company, including “Dr. R. C. Flower’s Liver and Stomach Sanative,” “Dr. R. C. Flower’s Nerve Pills,” “Dr. R. C. Flower’s Lung Cordial,” and “Dr. R. C. Flower’s Blood Purifier,” among others.
Richard Flower’s brother and sister-in-law, Benjamin O. Flower and Hattie (Cloud) Flower, lived at 316 Commonwealth in 1884 and 1885. He was president of the Flower Medical Company and later became a magazine publisher and editor. By 1886, they had moved to 316 Newbury.
In 1889, Richard Flower opened the Hotel Flower on Columbus Avenue at Holyoke Street, described in Boston of To-Day as combining “the features of the home, hotel, and hospital without the disagreeable accompaniments of the latter.” The sanitarium was operated on an elaborate scale and news reports indicated that, in addition to more traditional cure, spiritualism, séances, and hypnotism were practiced. It was not a financial success and in March of 1890, he sold the property and it subsequently became the Grand Hotel.
In addition to his medical business, Richard Flower was a promoter of various investments, including gold and silver mines, large land developments, and other projects. In 1893, he and Paschal R. Smith were accused of selling Nathaniel C. Foster, a lumber merchant of Fairchild, Wisconsin, fraudulent bonds in the Deming Land and Water Company. Dr. Flower fled Boston and was arrested in Texas in December of 1894. It is unclear whether he was ever convicted.
Richard Flower and his family continued to live at 316 Commonwealth until about 1898, when they moved to New York City.
Ella C. Taylor is shown as the owner of 316 Commonwealth on the 1895 Bromley map, possibly owning the property on Mayde Flower’s behalf because of Richard Flower’s legal troubles. Mayde Flower is once again shown as the owner on the 1898 map.
In January of 1899, Mayde Flower sold 316 Commonwealth to real estate broker James G. Freeman. At the same time, he also purchased the vacant lot at 314 Commonwealth from H. Hollis Hunnewell. He purchased both on behalf of Albert C. Burrage, to whom he transferred them in March of 1899. The transactions were reported in the Boston Globe on March 11, 1899. 316 Commonwealth was razed and replaced by Albert Burrage’s new house at 314 Commonwealth.
After leaving Boston, Richard Flower ceased being a physician and styled himself as a promoter of mining companies.
In 1903, the relatives of Theodore Hagaman, a millionaire who had died in 1900 while living at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City, had brought suit to contest the distribution of his estate under his will. In the course of the proceedings, it was alleged that Mr. Hagaman had been poisoned. Both Dr. Flower, who was living at the Waldorf at the same time, and Mr. Hagaman’s widow, were implicated. An autopsy showed no evidence of poisoning, and no charges were brought.
At about the same time, investors began filing complaints alleging fraud in his sale of stock in the Arizona and Eastern Mining Company. He was indicted on five counts and disappeared, forfeiting bail posted by Mrs. Richard C. Storrs.
He was arrested in Philadelphia in January of 1907, where he was calling himself Dr. Oxford and promoting investments in a Persian gold brick manufacturing company. He was released on bail and again fled.
In 1909, Mayde Flower sued Richard Flower for divorce, naming Mrs. Hagaman as the co-respondent. At the time of their divorce, his whereabouts were unknown.
He was arrested again in 1913 and convicted in December of 1914 on charges of fraud. He was released from jail in August of 1915 and died in October of 1916 in Hoboken.