344 Commonwealth was designed by Obed F. Smith, architect, and built in 1883-1884 by Vinal & Dodge, builders, for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., probably for speculative sale. It was one of five contiguous houses (342-344-346-348-350 Commonwealth) built at the same time, and one of fifteen houses (322-326 Commonwealth and 338-360 Commonwealth) built on the same block for George Wheatland, Jr., in 1882-1884. He is shown on the original building permit application for 344 Commonwealth, dated November 10, 1883.
344 Commonwealth was originally numbered 342 Commonwealth until about 1889, when 328-330 Commonwealth were built to the east of it.
By the 1885-1886 winter season, it was the home of Dr. James Henry Payne and his wife, Harriet Maria (Whittier) Payne. He was a physician and also maintained his office at 344 Commonwealth. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his office) at 1472 Washington. James Payne is shown as the owner of 344 Commonwealth on the 1888 and 1898 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1907.
Their son, James H. Payne, Jr., also a physician, lived and maintained his office at 344 Commonwealth until June of 1898, when he entered the Navy. He became a career officer in the Naval Medical Corps.
Blanche Payne, their daughter, also lived with them. She is shown was the assessed owner from 1908 through 1917 and is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.
James Payne died in May of 1909 and Harriet Payne died in December of 1913. Blanche Payne moved soon thereafter and by 1920 was living at The Marlborough at 416 Marlborough.
344 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1915-1921 Blue Books.
By 1917, 344 Commonwealth had been purchased by David A. Yuill.
In mid-1917, 344 Commonwealth was acquired from David Yuill by Edwin Rich. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 4, 1917.
In June of 1917, Edwin Rich applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into two apartments. He appears to have abandoned this permit, and in July of 1917, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into a lodging house.
By 1918, 344 Commonwealth was owned by Catherine E. Condon. She was the assessed owner from 1918 through 1921.
In September of 1918, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a dental hospital to provide “dental operating and reconstruction work connected with war.”
By 1920, the dental hospital at 344 Commonwealth was operated by Dr. Joseph Crandall Burrows, who also lived there. He continued to live there until about 1924, when he moved to Hyde Park. He married in 1925 to Florence Gardner; they subsequently lived in Milton. He continued to maintain his office at 344 Commonwealth in 1925, but had moved it to 6 Beacon by 1926.
Elaclaire M. Conley was the assessed owner of 344 Commonwealth in 1922 and 1923.
In about 1924, 344 Commonwealth became the home and office of Dr. George J. Ott, a physician, and his wife, Mary (Roulstone) Ott. They previously had lived (and he had maintained his medical office) at 407 Marlborough. Mary R. Ott was the assessed owner of 344 Commonwealth from 1924 through 1944 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps.
The Otts converted the property into apartments and medical offices.
Also living at 344 Commonwealth from about 1924 were Mrs. Sarah (Bowdoin) Lawrence, widow of Samuel C. Lawrence, and their two unmarried children, Harry Victor Lawrence and Miriam Phillips Lawrence. Sarah Lawrence died in May of 1925; Harry and Miriam Lawrence continued to live at 344 Commonwealth in 1937, but had moved to 1138 Boylston by 1938.
In April of 1931, Mary R. Ott filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 344 Commonwealth into four apartments and an office. In the application, she indicated that the current occupancy was three apartments and an office.
George Ott died in March of 1941. Mary Ott and her son, Lawson Roulstone Ott, continued to live at 344 Commonwealth until about 1944, when they moved to 394 Marlborough.
344 Commonwealth changed hands and by 1950 was owned by Albert Zimmerman. He was the assessed owner in 1951, and the Zimmerman Realty Corporation was the assessed owner from 1952. He also owned 336 Commonwealth.
In May of 1951, Albert Zimmerman filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as eight apartments, which he indicated was the occupancy when he purchased the property “a year ago.”
In December of 1988, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 344 Commonwealth from eight apartments into nine apartments. At the same time, he also applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine it with 346, 348, and 350 Commonwealth into one property, to be known as 344-350 Commonwealth. In May of 1989, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the occupancy of the four buildings from 17 to 35 apartments.
344-350 Commonwealth remained an apartment building in 2015.