319 Commonwealth

319 Commonwealth (2015)

Lot 24' x 124.5' (2,988 sf)

Lot 24′ x 124.5′ (2,988 sf)

319 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 317 Commonwealth to the east and 321 Commonwealth to the west.

319 Commonwealth was built ca. 1878 for building contractor Asa Harden Caton, probably for speculative sale, one of three contiguous houses (319-321-323 Commonwealth).  The original building permit application for 319 Commonwealth has not been located; however, the application for 321-323 Commonwealth was dated March 26, 1879, and showed Asa Caton as the builder and owner (no architect was identified).

A drawing of 319 Commonwealth (without the address given) appeared in the November 23, 1878, edition of the American Architect and Building News, indicating that it was designed by Kirby and Lewis, architects.

By the 1879-1880 winter season, 319 Commonwealth was the home of Andrew Cunningham Wheelwright, a lawyer and real estate dealer, and his wife, Sarah (Cabot) Wheelwright.  They had lived at 4 Mt. Vernon in 1878.  He is shown as the owner on the 1883 Bromley map.

They continued to live there in 1885 but had moved to Brookline by 1888.

319 Commonwealth; American Architect and Building News, 23Nov1878

By the 1885-1886 winter season, 319 Commonwealth was the home of Miss Sarah Haskell Crocker, daughter of printer and publisher Uriel Crocker.  Her father is shown as the owner on the 1888 Bromley map, and she is shown as the owner on the 1890, 1898. 1908, and 1917 maps.

She continued to live there until her death in March of 1917.  Sarah Crocker’s Heirs were the assessed owners from 1917 through 1919.

The house was not listed in the 1918-1920 Blue Books.

By 1920, 319 Commonwealth was owned by William Converse Chick, who was the assessed owner from that year through 1937 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.  He and his wife, Ruth Agnes (French) Chick, lived next door at 317 Commonwealth.

By 1920, it was the home of Rev. William Russell Scarritt and his wife, Elizabeth (Mariner) Scarritt.  Their unmarried son, William Russell Scarritt, Jr., a lawyer, and daughter, Gwendolen Scarritt, lived with them.  They previously had lived at 182 Bay State Road.

William Scarritt was an Episcopal clergyman, having served as co-rector of the Church of the Advent until his retirement in 1919.

The Scarritts continued to live at 319 Commonwealth until about 1922, when they moved to 182 Commonwealth.

By the 1922-1923 winter season, 319 Commonwealth was the home of Russell H. Leonard and his wife, Helen Elizabeth (Case) Leonard.  They previously had lived in Fall River.  They also maintained a home in Falmouth.

Russell Leonard was treasurer and later president of the Pepperell Manufacturing Company, operators of textile mills.

They continued to live at 319 Commonwealth during the 1932-1933 winter season, but moved to Brookline thereafter.

319 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1934-1937 Blue Books and is shown as vacant in the 1934-1945 City Directories.

Real estate dealer Ray C. Johnson was the assessed owner of 319 Commonwealth in 1938 and 1939 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map. By 1940, however, it was once again owned by William C. Chick, who was the assessed owner from that year through 1945 (he and his wife continued to live at 317 Commonwealth).

By 1946, 319 Commonwealth was the home of Harvey E. Genereux, a porter at Symphony Hall, and his wife, Priscilla E. (Charbonneaux) Genereux. They previously had lived at 79 Hampstead Road. Harvey Genereux et al were the assessed owners of 319 Commonwealth from 1946 through 1951.

The Genereuxs converted 319 Commonwealth into a multiple dwelling, either a lodging house or apartments. They continued to live there until about 1951, when they moved to Needham.

By 1952, 319 Commonwealth was the home of John M. O’Connell, an advertising salesman with the Boston Globe, and his wife, Blanche M. (Dolan) O’Connell.  They previously had lived at 138 Lake.  Blanche M. O’Connell, trustee, was the assessed owner of 319 Commonwealth from 1952. It continued to be a multiple dwelling.

The O’Connells continued to live at 319 Commonwealth until about 1963, when they moved to West Roxbury. In that year, the City Directory indicated that there were eight apartments in the building.

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

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

In August of 1963, 319 Commonwealth was acquired by Garland Junior College.  Garland Junior College had acquired 321 Commonwealth in May of 1963 and had converted it into a dormitory.

319 Commonwealth appears to have been operated for one year as a dormitory for Emerson College.  Thereafter, Garland Junior College occupied both 319 and 321 Commonwealth as dormitories.

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).

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 April of 1981, the Commonwealth College Trust filed for permission to convert 319 Commonwealth from a dormitory into six apartments, which it stated was the existing use.  It subsequently abandoned the application.

In May of 1982, Judith Schwartz sold 319, 321, 337, 339, and 343 Commonwealth back to Glen Grant and Mac C. Grant.

In June of 1983, they transferred 319, 321, and 343 Commonwealth to Dorothy F. Wirth, trustee of the 337-339 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.

In November of 1983, the 337-339 Commonwealth Avenue Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 319 Commonwealth as six apartments.

In January of 1984, the Trust converted 319 Commonwealth into six condominium units, the 319 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.