334 Commonwealth

334 Commonwealth (2013)

334 Commonwealth (2013)

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

Lot 24′ x 124.5′ (2,988 sf)

334 Commonwealth is located on the south side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 332 Commonwealth to the east and 336 Commonwealth to the west.

334 Commonwealth was designed by architect George A. Avery and built in 1879-1880 by Vinal & Dodge, masons, and Charles F. Barton, carpenter, one of two contiguous houses (334 Commonwealth built in 1879-1880 and 336 Commonwealth built in 1881).  It was originally numbered 332 Commonwealth until about 1889, when 328-330 Commonwealth were built to the east of it.

334 Commonwealth was built as the home of hardware dealer William Noble and his wife, Mary Jane (Green) Noble.  In 1880, they had lived at 77 Rutland Square.  He is shown as the owner of 334 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated November 14, 1879, on the final building inspection report, dated October 12, 1880, and on the 1883 Bromley map.  Mary J. Noble is shown as the owner on the 1888 and 1890 Bromley maps.

The Nobles continued to live there in 1892, but had moved to Brookline by 1893.

By the 1892-1893 winter season, 334 Commonwealth was the home of boot and shoe dealer Francis Faulkner Emery.  He was a widower, his wife, Caroline (Jones) Emery, having died in October of 1890 while they were living at 17 Union Park.  F. J. Emery, trustee, is shown as the owner of 334 Commonwealth on the 1895 Bromley map.

Basement floor plan of 334 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 12Oct1880 (v. 1, p. 75); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Basement floor plan of 334 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 12Oct1880 (v. 1, p. 75); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Francis Emery continued to live at 334 Commonwealth until his death in January of 1897.

By the 1897-1898 winter season, 334 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. Herbert Codman Clapp and his wife, Mary O. (Richardson) Clapp.  They previously had lived at 11 Columbus Square.  He is shown as the owner of 334 Commonwealth on the 1898 and 1908 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1909.

Herbert Clapp was a homeopathic physician and also maintained his office at 334 Commonwealth.

The Clapps continued to live there in 1909, but had moved to Brookline by 1910.

In the spring of 1909, 334 Commonwealth was purchased from the Clapps by merchant tailor and wool dealer William H. Sullivan and his wife, Margaret T. (Cleary) Sullivan.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on May 29, 1909. They previously had lived in an apartment at 308-310 Commonwealth.

The Boston Globe article announcing the sale indicated that “Mr. Sullivan’s intention is to raze the present structure and erect one of the finest private houses in this section of the Back Bay.”  It continues on to state that “plans have been prepared by C. A. & F. N. Russell, architects, and call for a house containing 15 rooms, with baths, and containing every modern improvement.  It will be four stories high, of white sandstone for the front, with brick for the rear, and will cost $50,000.  The final papers will go to record in a few days , when work of razing the present house will begin.”

It is unclear whether the original house actually was razed or rather was significantly remodeled.  The Building Department records contain no information from the period, and Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay  does not indicate that the house was replaced or remodeled.  The façade of the post-1909 house clearly was updated, with sandstone at the first story and brick above.  The overall massing and configuration of the façade, however, is similar to 336 Commonwealth, designed by George Avery and built at about the same time, which would imply remodeling of the original structure.  The work had been completed by May of 1910, when William and Margaret Sullivan were shown as being in residence in the 1910 US Census.

Margaret Sullivan was the assessed owner from 1910 through 1931 and is shown as the owner on the 1912, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps.

They continued to live at 334 Commonwealth until 1931, when they moved to an apartment at 180 Commonwealth.

The house was not listed in the 1932-1937 Blue Books and was shown as vacant in the 1932 and 1933 City Directories.

By 1932, 334 Commonwealth was owned by the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company, which was the assessed owner in 1932 and 1933.

In the summer of 1933, 334 Commonwealth was purchased from Massachusetts Hospital Life by Edward R. Huffam.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on August 13, 1933.  He was the assessed owner from 1934 through 1936.

By 1934, 334 Commonwealth was the home of Clarence B. Benedict, a salesman, and his wife, Millicent E. (Thompson) Benedict, a medium, who operated the Church of the Congress for Wisdom.  They previously had lived at 414 Massachusetts Avenue.

Millicent Benedict died in July of 1935.  By 1936, Clarence Benedict had moved to 110 Cummington.

The house was shown as vacant in the 1936 City Directory.

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

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

By 1936, it was once again owned by the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company.

In the summer of 1936, 334 Commonwealth was purchased from Massachusetts Hospital Life by attorney and real estate investor Maurice Eli Goldberg and his wife, Kate D. (Byer) Goldberg.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on August 17, 1936.  They lived in Rockport.  Kate Goldberg, trustee, was the assessed owner of 334 Commonwealth from 1937 through 1940.

In August of 1936, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into three apartments.  After the remodeling was completed, Maurice and Kate Goldberg lived in one of the apartments until about 1941, when they moved to an apartment at 207 Commonwealth. They also continued to maintain their home in Rockport.

By 1946, 334 Commonwealth was owned by Earle Glendon Weston and his wife, Helen G. (Clark) Weston. They lived in one of the apartments. They previously had lived at the Farragut Building at 126 Massachusetts Avenue, where he was superintendent. Earle Weston et al were the assessed owners of 334 Commonwealth from 1946 through 1954, and Helen Weston was the assessed owner from 1955.

In June of 1947, the Westons applied for permission to convert the property from three apartments into five apartments.  They subsequently abandoned the application but, based on the City Directory entries, nevertheless appear to have increased the number of units to five.

The Westons  continued to live at 334 Commonwealth until the mid-1950s, when they moved to Brookline.

By 1969, 334 Commonwealth was owned by Robert White.  He also owned 324326328330332334336 Commonwealth, and in 1978 he acquired 322 Commonwealth.

In December of 1988, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 334 Commonwealth from three apartments into eight apartments.  At the same time, he also applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine it with 322-332 Commonwealth into one property with 63 apartments, to be known as 322-334 Commonwealth.  336 Commonwealth remained a separate property.

334 Commonwealth remained an apartment house in 2015.