341 Commonwealth

341 Commonwealth (2013)

341 Commonwealth (2013)

Lot 27' x 124.5' (3,362 sf)

Lot 27′ x 124.5′ (3,362 sf)

341 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 339 Commonwealth to the east and 343 Commonwealth to the west.

341 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 in February of 1879 from Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman, Henry D. Hyde, and Frank William Andrews, trustees, part of a tract of land they acquired in March of 1872 from the Boston Water Power Company.

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.

In January of 1881, Nehemiah Webster Rice and his wife, Josephine (Emery) Rice, purchased 341 Commonwealth from Charles Hayden.  The Rices lived at 353 Beacon during the 1882-1883 season and 341 Commonwealth may have been the home of a Mr. Newell, who was listed there in the 1882 and 1883 Blue Books but not in the City Directories.  By the 1883-1884 winter season, the Rices had made 341 Commonwealth their home,   Nehemiah Rice is shown as the owner of 341 Commonwealth on the 1883, 1888, 1898, 1908, and 1912 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1914.

Nehemiah Rice was a dealer in leather, hides, and wool.

The Rices’ two children, Annie Tyler Rice and Charles G. Rice, a member of his father’s hide and wool firm, lived with them.  Charles Rice married in October of 1890 to Anne S. Proctor and they moved to 469 Beacon.

337-341 Commonwealth (ca. 1883), photograph by Albert Levy; Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Book Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago (Digital file #000000_100709-17).

337-341 Commonwealth (ca. 1881), photograph by Albert Levy; Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Book Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago (Digital file #000000_100709-17).

Nehemiah Rice died in December of 1911.  Josephine Rice continued to live at 341 Commonwealth with their daughter, Annie.   N. W. Rice’s Heirs are shown as the owners on the 1917 and 1928 Bromley maps, and were the assessed owners through 1931.

Josephine Rice died in 1925 and Annie Rice moved soon thereafter.

341 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1927-1935 Blue Books, and was shown as vacant in the 1930-1933 City Directories.

In June of 1931, Garland School of Homemaking (later to become Garland Junior College) acquired 341 Commonwealth from the Rice family.  The next day, it acquired 343 Commonwealth.

Both properties were shown as vacant (or were not listed) in the 1930-1933 City Directories, but had been converted into dormitories by 1934.

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).

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

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

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 May of 1981, the Commonwealth College Trust filed for permission to convert 341 Commonwealth from a dormitory into six apartments, which it stated was the existing use.  It subsequently abandoned the application.

In June of 1981, Judith Schwartz converted 341 Commonwealth into six condominium units, the 341 Commonwealth Condominium.

In February of 1985, the 341 Commonwealth Avenue Trust filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as six units.