321 Commonwealth was built in 1879 for building contractor Asa Harden Caton, probably for speculative sale, one of three contiguous houses (319-321-323 Commonwealth). He is shown as the owner and builder on the original building permit application for 321-323 Commonwealth, dated March 26, 1879, and as the owner on the final building inspection report for 321 Commonwealth, dated October 5, 1880; no architect is identified on either document. The application for 319 Commonwealth — built ca. 1878 — has not been located.
By mid-1880, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Henry Hall Tuttle and his wife, Elizabeth Lawrence (Pettes) Tuttle. They had married in June of 1879, and probably had lived briefly at 234 Clarendon, which had been his home prior to their marriage (he had lived there with his first wife, Helen Maria (Smith) Tuttle, who died in March of 1874). He is shown as the owner of 321 Commonwealth on the 1883 Bromley map.
Henry Tuttle was a retail boot and shoe dealer.
Laura Tuttle married in February of 1914 to Henry Richardson Hallett, a paper and twine dealer. After their marriage, they lived in Brookline. Elizabeth Tuttle moved soon thereafter, also to Brookline.
By the 1884-1885 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Bishop (Beals) Kendall, widow of merchant Isaac Kendall and daughter of William Beals, co-founder of the Boston Post. In 1881, she had lived at 123 Commonwealth. She is shown as the owner of 321 Commonwealth on the 1888, 1895, and 1898 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1902.
She continued to live there during the 1894-1895 season, but moved thereafter.
By the 1899-1900 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of George Nathaniel Dana, a merchant and agent for the Eagle Sugar Refinery, and his wife, Caroline Melissa (Dodge) Dana. They previously had lived at 318 Beacon.
They continued to live at 321 Commonwealth in 1901, but had moved to 260 Commonwealth by 1902.
During the 1901-1902 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Miss Helen Turner. She previously had lived at The Marlborough at 416 Marlborough.
321 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1903 Blue Book.
By the 1903-1904 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Zerviah (Brown) Dane, the widow of boot and shoe manufacturer Francis Dane. She previously he had lived at 532 Massachusetts Avenue. She was the assessed owner of 321 Commonwealth from 1930 through 1909 and is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map.
Her nephew, Edward Lester Potter, lived with her. He was chief clerk of the US Sub-Treasury in Boston.
She continued to live 321 Commonwealth until her death in November of 1909.
After Zerviah Dane’s death, Edward Potter continued to live at 321 Commonwealth. Zerviah Dane’s Heirs (or Devisees) were the assessed owners from 1910 through 1913 and are shown as the owners on the 1912 Bromley map, and Edward Potter was the assessed owner from 1914 through 1919 and is shown as the owner on the 1917 map.
By 1911, he had been joined by Dr. Freeman Clark Hersey and his wife, Evelyn Hersey. They had lived in an apartment at 362 Commonwealth in 1910.
Freeman Hersey was a physician and maintained his medical offices at 321 Commonwealth. He was a leader in the Masons and served as Grand Master of the Massachusetts Knights Templar.
The Herseys continued to live (and he to maintain his medical office) at 321 Commonwealth with Edward Potter in 1914, but had moved to 405 Marlborough by 1915..
In mid-1919, 321 Commonwealth was purchased from the estate of Edward L. Potter by real estate dealers Fred Holdsworth and Robert D. Farrington. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on June 4, 1919.
By the 1920-1921 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of wool merchant Julius Eisemann and his wife, Gertrude N. (Wetzler) Eisemann. They previously had lived at 381 Commonwealth. Gertrude W. Eisemann was the assessed owner of 321 Commonwealth from 1920 through 1937 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map. They also maintained a home in Beverly Farms.
By the 1926-1927 winter season, 321 Commonwealth was the home of publisher Henry Cannon Clark and his wife, Mary Lovering (Head) Russell Clark. They previously had lived at 225 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Prides Crossing.
The Clarks continued to live at 321 Commonwealth in 1930.
By 1931, the Clarks had moved to 194 Beacon and the Eisemanns once again were living at 321 Commonwealth. After about 1930, they spelled their name Eiseman rather than Eisemann. They continued to live there until shortly before his death in January of 1939.
By 1938, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Ernest Hyde Blake, an insurance broker, and his wife, Viola Isabella (Olson) Blake. They had lived in Brookline in 1937. He was the assessed owner of 321 Commonwealth from 1938 through 1950 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map. They continued to live there until about 1950. They also maintained a home in Gloucester.
In 1950, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Jennie Saporito, who was the assessed owner that year. She operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived in Somerville.
On April 10, 1950, the Boston Globe reported that the police had arrested Mrs. Jennie Saporita (sic) for unlawfully selling alcoholic beverages at 321 Commonwealth. She was identified the being a former “show girl” who performed under the name of Jean Parker, and was now the wife of Filippo Saporita, a pizza chef and unemployed opera singer.
By 1952, 321 Commonwealth was the home of Harold John Ellis, an investment broker, and his wife, Frances (Brown) Ellis. They previously had lived in Newton. He was the assessed owner of 321 Commonwealth from 1952
By the mid-1950s, the Ellises had converted the property into a multiple dwelling, either a lodging house or apartments.
In May of 1963, Garland Junior College acquired 321 Commonwealth from Harold and Frances Ellis. It converted the property 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, 413–415 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 321 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 321 Commonwealth as seven apartments.
In January of 1984, the Trust converted 321 Commonwealth into six condominium units, the 321 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.