337 Commonwealth was designed by Kirby and Lewis, architects, one of three contiguous houses (337-339-341 Commonwealth) built ca. 1880 for wall paper merchant Charles Henry Hayden.
Charles Hayden purchased the land on which the three houses were built on February 27, 1879, from Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank William Andrews, trustees, part of a tract of land they acquired on March 1, 1872 , from the Boston Water Power Company.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 337 Commonwealth.
In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates that 337-339-341 Commonwealth were originally owned by building contractor Asa Harding Caton. It is possible that he built the houses, but he did not own them.
On October 1, 1881, 337 Commonwealth was purchased from Charles Hayden by Harriet (Cottrell) Simes Nowell, the wife of Thomas Shepard Nowell. They previously lived at 10 Claremont Park.
A former shoe manufacturer, from the early 1880s Thomas Nowell was president of the Avery Lactic Company, manufacturers of lactic acid. By the mid-1880s, he was an investor in and promoter of gold mines in Alaska, where he spent much of each year. In 1894, he served as Alaska’s delegate to Congress.
The Nowells continued to live at 337 Commonwealth during the winter seasons through 1901, but moved thereafter, he probably to Juneau, Alaska, and she probably to Newport, where she was living by 1907.
337 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1902-1910 Blue Books. Harriet Nowell continued to own the property, but it was heavily mortgaged, with the mortgages held by Alfred Hemenway, an attorney.
On April 28, 1909, the City of Boston Tax Collector sold 337 Commonwealth at public auction to Edmund K. Baker of Springfield for $505.10 in unpaid taxes and associated charges. Edmund Baker’s ownership of the property was subject to Harriet Nowell’s right to redeem the property.
On July 20, 1909, Alfred Hemenway acquired 337 Commonwealth from Edmund Baker with the title still subject to Harriet Nowell’s right to redeem the property. From 1910, Alfred Hemenway was the assessed owner of 337 Commonwealth; however, Harriet Nowell continued to be shown as the owner on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps.
By the 1910-1911 winter season, 337 Commonwealth was the home of investment banker Arthur Hewes Sargent and his wife, Emily Hall (White) Sargent. In 1909, they had lived in Brighton, and in mid-1910, at the time of the US Census, they were living in Hamilton. They continued to live at 337 Commonwealth until about 1913.
By the 1913-1914 winter season, 337 Commonwealth was the home of stockbroker and banker Joshua Bennett Holden, Jr., and his wife Mabel (Bonsal) Holden. They previously had lived at 124 Marlborough.
They probably moved from 337 Commonwealth to 267 Beacon during the 1914-1915 season, inasmuch as they are listed at both addresses in the 1915 Blue Book (they continued to live at 267 Beacon until about 1918).
337 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1916-1920 Blue Books.
By the 1920-1921 winter season, 337 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Lula M. (Fox) Darling, the former wife of Jerome M. Darling, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 356 Commonwealth, where she also operated a lodging house. She continued to live at 337 Commonwealth in 1931, but had moved to 320 Commonwealth by 1932.
Until mid-1926, Alfred Hemenway had continued to be the assessed owner of 337 Commonwealth, but Harriet Nowell also continued to retain her right to redeem the property. Alfred Hemenway held four mortgages on 337 Commonwealth and, on July 26, 1926, she transferred the property to him. She continued to be a resident of Newport, by then a widow, Thomas Nowell having died in January of 1914 in Seattle.
Alfred Hemenway died in October of 1927. On June 30, 1928, his estate sold 337 Commonwealth to real estate broker William J. Stober. On the same day, he entered into a mortgage on the property with the Taunton Savings Bank and then transferred the property to Claire Carlin, who assumed responsibility for payment of the mortgage.
On December 6, 1929, Taunton Savings Bank foreclosed its mortgage and William Stober transferred 337 Commonwealth to the bank.
On January 14, 1932, the Garland School of Homemaking (later to become Garland Junior College) acquired 337 Commonwealth from the Taunton Savings Bank. 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.
On May 27, 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 on June 9, 1981).
In April of 1981, the Commonwealth College Trust filed for permission to convert 337 Commonwealth from a dormitory into four apartments, which it stated was the existing use. It subsequently abandoned the application.
On May 7, 1982, Judith Schwartz sold 319, 321, 337, 339, and 343 Commonwealth back to Glen Grant and Mac C. Grant. On May 24, 1982, they transferred 337-339 Commonwealth to Dorothy F. Wirth, trustee of the 337-339 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.
In November of 1983, the 337-339 Commonwealth Avenue Trust, filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 337 Commonwealth from a dormitory into seven apartments.
On January 4, 1984, Dorothy Wirth converted 337 Commonwealth into four condominium units, the 337 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.