325 Commonwealth

325 Commonwealth (2015)

Lot 28' x 124.5' (3,486 sf)

Lot 28′ x 124.5′ (3,486 sf)

325 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 323 Commonwealth to the east and 327 Commonwealth to the west.

325 Commonwealth was designed by architect George F. Meacham and built in 1879-1880 by James W. Tobey, builder, as the home of Frank N. Thayer and his wife, Ella S. (Young) Thayer.  They previously had lived at 547 Columbus.  He is shown as the owner of 325 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated April 28, 1879, and on the final building inspection report, dated November 1, 1880, and Ella S. Thayer is shown as the owner on the 1883 Bromley map.

Frank Thayer was a ship’s chandler, ship broker, and shipping merchant.

He died in April of 1882.  Ella Thayer continued to live at 325 Commonwealth until about 1884.

During the 1884-1885 winter season, it was the home of retired marble merchant, John Cowdin.  He was a widower and had lived at 36 Staniford Street in 1884.  He died in March of 1885.

Drawing of basement and second floor plans for 325 Commonwealth, drawn on the final building inspection report, 1Nov1880 (v. 1, p. 87); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Drawing of basement and second floor plans for 325 Commonwealth, drawn on the final building inspection report, 1Nov1880 (v. 1, p. 87); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

By the 1885-1886 winter season, 325 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Susan Tillinghast (Morton) Kimball, the widow of merchant and banker Moses Day Kimball.  Their unmarried children — Susan Day Kimball, Hannah Parker Kimball, Marcus Morton Kimball, and Moses Day Kimball, Jr. — lived with her.  They previously had lived at 65 Mt. Vernon.

Samuel S. Shaw et al, trustees are shown as the owners of 325 Commonwealth on the 1888 Bromley map.  S. Kimball et al, trustees, are as the owners on the 1890 map, and M. M. Kimball (Susan Kimball’s son, Marcus Morton Kimball) et all, trustees, are shown as the owners on the 1895 and 1898 maps.

Marcus Kimball married on April of 1892 to Jeanie Lawrence Perkins.  After their marriage, they lived at 325 Commonwealth during the 1892-1893 winter season, and then moved to 343 Beacon.  An attorney by training, he was in the electrical lighting business until about 1898, when he began to practice law.

Moses Day Kimball, Jr., graduated from Harvard Law School in 1892.  He died in March of 1893 in Washington DC while serving as private secretary to US Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray.

Susan Kimball died in March of 1900.  Her daughters, Susan Day Kimball and Hannah Parker Kimball, a poet, continued to live at 325 Commonwealth in 1901, but by 1903 had moved to 317 Beacon to live with their brother-in-law and sister, William and Mary (Kimball) Kehew.

In mid-1901, 325 Commonwealth was purchased from the Kimball family by Eugene Tompkins.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on June 5, 1901.  He previously had lived at The Kensington (northeast corner of Boylston and Exeter).  He was the assessed owner of 325 Commonwealth from 1902 through 1909 and is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map.

325-327 Commonwealth (ca. 1885); Soule Photograph Company, courtesy of Historic New England

325-327 Commonwealth (ca. 1885); Soule Photograph Company, courtesy of Historic New England

In his appendix to Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates that the façade of 325 Commonwealth was remodeled ca. 1900 (he is uncertain as to the date), and attributes the design to William G. Preston.

Eugene Tompkins was a theatrical manager, producer of stage plays and musical comedies, and owner and manager of the Boston Theatre, which his father had bought from Edwin Booth.  He had retired in 1901, probably about the same time he purchased 325 Commonwealth.

He was a widower.  In June of 1906, he married again, to Alice Maude (Huguley) Pervere, the widow of Asa Everett Pervere.  They lived at 325 Commonwealth after their marriage.

Eugene Tompkins died in February of 1909.  Alice Tompkins continued to live at 325 Commonwealth. Eugene Tompkins Devisees were the assessed owners from 1910 through 1914.

In January of 1912, Alice Tompkins married again, to Ernest Grant Howes, a leather merchant.  They lived at 325 Commonwealth after their marriage. Lauriston L. Scaife et al, trustees, were the assessed owners from 1915 through 1934 and are shown as the owners on the 1917 and 1928 Bromley maps.

In April of 1916, Alice Howes applied for (and subsequently received) permission to raise the roof in the front of the house, eliminate the mansard to provide headroom to create two new rooms with two new windows.  The remodeling was designed and constructed by the George A. Fuller Company, a building contracting firm with offices in New York, Chicago, Boston, and other cities.

The Howes continued to live at 325 Commonwealth until the mid-1930s, after which they made Cohasset their home.  They also maintained a home in Palm Beach, Florida.

In 1935 and 1936, it was the home of Alice Howes’s son by her first marriage, Everett Whitfield Pervere, and his wife, Nanine Woodward (Pond) Greene Pervere.  He was a leather merchant.  They subsequently made their home in North Andover.

Reginald L. Robinson et al, trustees, were the assessed owners of 325 Commonwealth in 1935 and 1936.

325 Commonwealth was shown as vacant in the 1937 and 1938 City Directories.

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

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

By 1937, 325 Commonwealth was owned by Aaron Eck, who was the assessed owner in that year and 1938, and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.  He was the assistant treasurer and office manager of Ernest Howes’s leather firm.  Aaron Eck and his wife, Edith (Stokes) Eck, lived in Braintree.

In 1938, 325 Commonwealth became the home of Miss Rose Ruvin.  She was the assessed owner from 1939 through 1946.  Living with her were her sisters, Eda Ruvin, a nurse, and Pauline Ruvin, a secretary in a dispensary.  They all previously had lived at 521 Beacon, where Rose Ruvin had operated the Kenmore Dormitory.  They had come to America in 1906-1907 with their mother, Gertrude (Gittel) (Garshfield/Herschschild) Orzefsky (Orzewsky), widow of Reuben Orzewsky; they began using the name Ruvin in about 1913.

In September of 1938, Rose Ruvin applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 325 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house, which she subsequently operated as the Kenmore Dormitory.  She and her sisters continued to live and operate the dormitory there until about 1946.

By 1947, 325 Commonwealth was the home of William Mills Dawes, an accountant, and his wife, Grace S. (Baxter) Frederick Dawes, who operated it as a lodging house.  They previously had lived at 211 Beacon, which they had converted into a lodging house and continued to own.  Grace B. Dawes, trustee, was the assessed owner of 325 Commonwealth from 1947 through 1955, and possibly later.  They continued to live there until about 1956.

In August of 1958, The Dormitory Corporation filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 325 Commonwealth from a lodging house into a dormitory.  It subsequently became a dormitory for the Berklee College of Music.

By 1959, 325 Commonwealth was owned by Robert Osborne Tillinghast.  In October of 1960, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory into a lodging house, citing as the reason that the change was “to comply with laws …that owners operating for profit cannot own legalized dormitories.”

It continued to be a Berklee dormitory.

325-327 Commonwealth (2015)

325-327 Commonwealth (2015)

In April of 1962, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property back into a dormitory, to be used by Burdett College.

325 Commonwealth remained a Burdett College dormitory until about 1966.

In 1966, 325 Commonwealth was acquired by Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College, which operated it as a dormitory for its students.

In the mid-1970s, Chamberlayne went bankrupt and in May of 1975, the property was transferred to the Home Owners Federal Savings and Loan Association.

In January of 1976, Allan W. McLeod, trustee of the 325 Commonwealth Avenue Trust, purchased 325 Commonwealth from Home Owners Federal Savings and Loan.  In February of 1976, the Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory into seven apartments.

In April of 1978, Kevin O’Reilly, trustee of The Jaime Realty Trust, purchased 325 Commonwealth from the 325 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.

In November of 1978, he converted the property into seven condominium units, the 325 Commonwealth Condominium.