315 Commonwealth

315 Commonwealth (2015)

Lot 26' x 124.5' (3,237 sf)

Lot 26′ x 124.5′ (3,237 sf)

315 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 313 Commonwealth to the east and 317 Commonwealth to the west.

315 Commonwealth was designed by architect George F. Meacham and built in 1878 by Gideon Currier, builder, for Daniel Chamberlin.  He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated May 11, 1878.

Daniel Chamberlin was proprietor of the Adams House hotel at 553 Washington.  He and his wife, Abby W. (Chapman) Chamberlin, lived at 1474 Washington.  He died in July of 1879 without ever living at 315 Commonwealth.  After his death, Abby Chamberlin moved to the Commonwealth Hotel at 1697 Washington.

By the 1880-1881 winter season, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Elizabeth (Dana) Dana, the widow of Thomas Dana (her first cousin).  Prior to his death January of 1878, they had lived in Cambridge.

Thomas Dana was a wholesale grocer.  Among his partners was Thomas Dana, II, Elizabeth Dana’s nephew, who lived at 311 Commonwealth.

She lived at 315 Commonwealth until about 1882, when she moved to Lincoln.  She continued to be shown as the owner on the 1883 and 1888 Bromley maps.

315 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1883 Blue Book.

During the 1883-1884 winter season, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr., and his wife, Mabel (Bayard) Warren.  They had married in January of 1883, and 315 Commonwealth probably was their first home together.

Samuel Warren was an attorney, in partnership with future Chief Justice Louis D. Brandeis.  After his father’s death in 1888, he withdrew from active participation in the firm and assumed management of his father’s paper manufacturing firm, S. D. Warren & Co.

By the 1884-1885 season, the Warrens had purchased and moved to 174 Marlborough.

315 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1885-1888 Blue Books.

By 1888-1889 winter season, 315 Commonwealth was the home William Tenant Hart and his wife, Emma E. (Porter) Hart.  They previously had lived at 6 East Brookline.  He is shown as the owner of 315 Commonwealth on the 1890 and 1895 Bromley maps.

311-315 Commonwealth (ca. 1883); photograph by Albert Levy; Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago (Digital file #51191)

311-315 Commonwealth (ca. 1883); photograph by Albert Levy; Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago (Digital file #51191)

William Hart was a banker and former president of the New York and New England Railroad.

William Hart died in November of 1896 and Emma Hart moved soon thereafter.

The house was not listed in the 1898 Blue Book.

By the 1898-1899 winter season, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Marietta (Shea) Reece, the widow of John Reece (inventor of the buttonhole sewing machine). She previously had lived in Brookline.  She is shown as the owner of 315 Commonwealth on the 1898 and 1908 Bromley maps.

In 1908, she was living at the Hotel Somerset and 315 Commonwealth was the home of Philip Shelton Sears and his wife Mary Cabot (Higginson) Sears.  They previously had lived at Haddon Hall at 282 Berkeley and before that at 184 Marlborough.  He was a lawyer and trustee, and later would become a noted sculptor.  In mid-1908 they purchased and moved to 205 Commonwealth..

In June of 1908, Marietta Reece married again, to real estate dealer and former Wyoming cattle rancher John Babson Thomas, and they made 315 Commonwealth their home.  Prior to their marriage, he had lived in Lexington.  Marietta Reece Thomas is shown as the owner of 315 Commonwealth on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1922.

During the 1915-1916 winter season, the Thomases were living elsewhere and 315 Commonwealth was the home of James T. Barron and his wife, Elizabeth (Nixon) Barron. Their son-in-law and daughter, Thomas Martin Fitzpatrick and Anna Marie (Barron) Fitzpatrick, lived with them.

James Barron was owner of the Thlinket Packing Company in Portland, Oregon, operators of fish canneries. They lived in Portland and frequently summered in Alaska, where he had business interests. From about 1912, they spent the winter seasons in Boston where their son, Robert J. Barron, was in school, and their daughter, Anna Marie Barron, was introduced into society. They had lived at 474 Beacon.during the 1913-1914 season, and probably spent the next season in Portland, where Anna Marie Barron married in October of 1914 to Thomas Martin Fitzpatrick, a dry goods merchant from Boston.

By the 1916-1917 season, the Barrons and the Fitzpatricks had moved to the Hotel Somerset (in August of 1917, the Barrons’ son, Robert, was killed while serving as a cadet in the Army Aviation Training Corps, drowned while attempting to save two other cadets who had crashed in the Delaware River).

John and Marietta Thomas resumed living at 315 Commonwealth during the 1916-1917 winter season.  They continued to live there in 1922, but had moved to 34 Gloucester by 1923.

By 1923, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Lincoln Baylies and his wife, Mary Beatrice (Ballard) Baylies.  They had been married in June of 1920, after which they had lived briefly in New York City and then in an apartment at 8 Gloucester.  Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 5 Commonwealth with his parents, Walter and Charlotte (Upham) Baylies.  His father is shown as the owner of 315 Commonwealth on the 1928 Bromley map, and the Heirs of Walter C. Baylies are shown as the owners on the 1938 map.  Lincoln Baylies et al were the assessed owners through 1941.

Lincoln Baylies was a member of his father’s wholesale dry goods firm until his father’s death in May of 1936.  He subsequently was employed by the New England Power Association.

Lincoln and Beatrice Baylies continued to live at 315 Commonwealth until about 1941, when they moved to Newton.

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

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

By 1941, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Miss Stella M. Perry. She previously had lived at 23 Brimmer, where she had operated a lodging house. She was the assessed owner of 315 Commonwealth from 1942 through 1944. In September of 1941, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.

By 1945, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Nels (Nils) Oscar Fredrik Spongberg and his wife, Elin (Villander) Spongberg, who operated it as a lodging house.  They previously had lived and operated a lodging house at 111 Commonwealth, and they also operated a lodging house at 197 Commonwealth.  Their son, Arne Spongberg, lived with them.  Elin Spongberg was the assessed owner of 315 Commonwealth from 1945 through 1949.

They continued to live at 315 Commonwealth in 1946, but had moved to 184 Marlborough by 1947.  315 Commonwealth became the home of their son, Arne, and his wife, Barbara (Anderson) Spongberg, who were married that year.  They continued to live there and operate it as a lodging house about 1949.

By 1950, 315 Commonwealth was the home of Nels Spongberg’s brother-in-law and sister, Gustaf Ragnar Hulteen, a house painter, and Lilly Alvida (Spongberg)  Hulteen, who operated it as a lodging house.  They previously had lived in Belmont.  Lilly Hulteen was the assessed owner of 315 Commonwealth from 1950.  They continued to live there until about 1955.

By 1960, 315 Commonwealth was owned by Mrs. Paula Frieda (Goller) Lescrinier Koebbel, the wife of George Koebbel.  She continued to operate it as a lodging house.  George and Paula Koebbel lived at 114 Huntington, where they operated the Elite Guest House.

In September of 1961, Garland Junior College acquired 315 Commonwealth from Paula Koebbel.  The College already owned 329 Commonwealth and 337, 339, 341, 343 Commonwealth.

In August of 1961, prior to taking title to 315 Commonwealth, the College applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into a dormitory.

By the late 1960s, Garland Junior College had assembled a portfolio of 22 properties in the western portion of the Back Bay: 315, 319, 321, 329, 337, 339, 341, 343, 349, 377, 407, 409, 411, 413415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth), and 447, 449, and 451 Marlborough (composed of 451-457 Marlborough).

On February 21, 315 Commonwealth was damaged by a fire caused by faulty wiring.

In April of 1976, Garland Junior College announced that, because of financial difficulties, it was merging with Simmons College.  It subsequently sold twelve of its properties and transferred the remainder — those located furthest west (407-415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East, and 451 Marlborough) — to Simmons College.

Glen G. Grant, trustee of the Commonwealth College Trust, purchased eleven of the twelve properties that Garland Junior College sold.  In October of 1976 he purchased 315 and 341 Commonwealth, and 447 and 449 Marlborough; in January of 1977, he purchased 319, 321, 329, 337, 339, 343, and 377 Commonwealth.  The remaining property, 349 Commonwealth, had been purchased in September of 1976, by Andrew Saggese, Jr., trustee of the Drew Realty Trust.

In May of 1980, Glen Grant transferred 315, 319, 321, 337, 339, 341, 343, and 377 Commonwealth to Judith S. Schwartz, trustee of Seofon Trust (the deed was dated in May of 1980 but recorded in June of 1981).

In May of 1981, the Commonwealth College Trust applied for permission to legalize the occupancy of 315 Commonwealth as seven apartments, which it indicated was the existing condition.

In June of 1981, Judith Schwartz converted the property into seven condominium units, the 315 Commonwealth Condominium.