318 Commonwealth was designed by architect Samuel D. Kelley and built in 1881-1882 by Antoine Xavier and William Welch, builders, for building contractor John W. Shapleigh, probably for speculative sale, one of two contiguous houses (318-320 Commonwealth). John Shapleigh is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for the two houses, dated September 6, 1881.
By the 1882-1883 winter season, 318 Commonwealth was the home of attorney Edward Olcott Shepard and his wife, Mary Coffin (Lunt) Shepard. They previously had lived at the Hotel Vendôme, and before that at 225 Marlborough.
Mary Shepard is shown as the owner of 318 Commonwealth on the 1883, 1888, 1890, and 1898 Bromley maps. By 1902, Frank O. Woods, trustee, was the assessed owner, and remained so through 1906. Mary Shepard was again the assessed owner in 1907 and is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map.
The Shepards continued to live at 318 Commonwealth during the 1889-1890 winter season, after which they appear to have made Newburyport their primary residence. Edward Shepard continued to practice law in Boston and to list 318 Commonwealth as his residence in the City Directories, and it appears likely that he maintained a town residence there while leasing most of the house to others He died in April of 1903.
During the 1890-1891 winter season, 318 Commonwealth was the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Smith.
The house was not listed in the 1892 and 1893 Blue Books.
By the 1893-1894 winter season, 318 Commonwealth was the home of Lucius H. Tuttle and his wife, Estelle Hazen (Martin) Tuttle. They previously had lived in New Haven, where he had been first vice president of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. He was named president of the Boston and Maine Railroad in August of 1893 and moved to Boston to assume that position in October.
The Tuttles continued to live at 318 Commonwealth in 1907, but had moved to Brookline by 190.
318 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1908 Blue Book.
In the spring of 1908, 318 Commonwealth was purchased from Mary Shepard by wool merchant Conrad Hobbs and his wife, Jessie (Langmaid) Hobbs. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on May 1, 1908. They previously had lived at 31 Hereford. They also maintained a home at North Grafton.
Conrad Hobbs was the assessed owner of 318 Commonwealth in 1908 and 1908, and Jessie Hobbs was the assessed owner from 1909 through 1919 and is shown as the owner on the 1917 Bromley map. Conrad Hobbs’s father, Warren D. Hobbs, was the assessed owner from 1920 through 1923, after which Jessie Hobbs was again the assessed owner through 1930 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.
They continued to live at 318 Commonwealth in 1928, but had moved to 162 Riverway by 1929.
During this period the property changed hands several times and by late 1935 was owned by Charles G. Densmore. In December of 1935, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into four apartments. He was the assessed owner in 1937 and 1938 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
The property changed hands and in April of 1977 was purchased by Betty Bishop. In December of 1977, she converted the property into five condominium units, the 318 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.
In January of 1979, she filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as five units.