348 Commonwealth

348 Commonwealth (2013)

348 Commonwealth (2013)

Lot 21' x 124.5' (2,615 sf)

Lot 21′ x 124.5′ (2,615 sf)

348 Commonwealth is located on the south side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 346 Commonwealth to the east and 350 Commonwealth to the west.

348 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 348 Commonwealth, dated November 10, 1883.

348 Commonwealth was originally numbered 346 Commonwealth until about 1889, when 328-330 Commonwealth were built to the east of it.

By the 1885-1887 winter season, 348 Commonwealth was the home of Francis Asbury Sawyer and his wife, Emma King (Smith) Sawyer.  They had married in September of 1884 after which they had lived at the Hotel Copley at 18 Huntington.  F. A. and Emma Sawyer are shown as the owners of 348 Commonwealth on the 1888 and 1890 Bromley maps.

Francis Sawyer was a shoe machinery manufacturer, serving as treasurer of the Rubber Step Manufacturing Company.

Francis Sawyer died in December of 1889 and Emma Sawyer moved soon thereafter.

By the 1890-1891 winter season, 348 Commonwealth was the home of John Page Woodbury and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth (Silsbee) Woodbury.  They previously had lived at the Hotel Huntington (Huntington at Blagden).  Sarah Woodbury is shown as the owner of 348 Commonwealth on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1903.

John Page Woodbury was retired from the real estate and insurance businesses.  He was a noted collector of books and prints.

Living with the Woodburys were their daughter, Marcia Eola (Woodbury) Parsons, the former wife of Edward P. Parsons, and their two sons, Ernst Mey Parsons, who became an architect, and Harold Woodbury Parsons, who became a noted art expert.

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

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

Sarah Woodbury died in January of 1904.  John Woodbury, Marcia Parsons, and Marcia Parsons’s sons, continued to live at 348 Commonwealth.  He was the assessed owner from 1904 through 1910 and is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map.

John Woodbury died in June of 1910, and the Parsons moved soon thereafter. Marcia Parsons traveled to Europe and Ernst Parsons moved to Brookline.  Harold Parsons, still a student, may also have moved to Brookline; by 1914, he was living at 345 Marlborough with his uncle, John Woodbury, and his wife, Jennie Russell (Churchill) Woodbury.

The house was not listed in the 1911 Blue Book.

By the 1911-1912 winter season, 348 Commonwealth was the home of retired coffee and tea merchant Henry Pickering Smith and his wife, Caroline C. (Pritchard) Smith.  They previously had lived in Brighton.  He was the assessed owner of 348 Commonwealth from 1911 through 1933 and is shown as the owner on the 1912, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps.  They also maintained a home in Rangeley, Maine.

Their daughter, Rachel Derby Smith, lived with them until her marriage in January of 1930 to Count Friedrich Franz Grote, a landowner in Mecklenburg and later a Nazi SS officer.

Henry Smith died in October of 1931.  Caroline Smith continued to live at 348 Commonwealth.  Henry P. Smith’s Heirs were the assessed owners from 1934 through 1946 and are shown as the owners on the 1936 Bromley map.

In February of 1932, she applied for permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into two apartments.  She subsequently abandoned the permit, but it appears likely that she nevertheless converted the property in the manner she had proposed, and the second apartment became the home of her son-in-law and daughter when they were in the United States.

Caroline Smith died in April of 1946.  Her daughter, Rachel (Smith) Grote, returned to the United States following the war and lived at 348 Commonwealth in 1946. She was the assessed owner in 1947. She married again in October of 1946 to Carlos Julius Warner, a US foreign service officer.

By 1947, 348 Commonwealth was the home of Benjamin Dunham Gilbert, a salesman, and his wife, Ethel Stella (Campbell) Gilbert.  They previously had lived at 154 Bay State Road.  Benjamin Gilbert et al were the assessed owners of 348 Commonwealth from 1948 through 1952.

In August of 1948, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into three apartments.

The Gilberts continued to live there until about 1952.  By that time, he was operating a collection agency at 348 Commonwealth.  By 1953, they had moved to 275 Marlborough.

Agnes H. Purdy was the assessed owner of 348 Commonwealth in 1953.

The property was shown as vacant in the 1953 City Directory.

By 1953, 348 Commonwealth was owned by Charles Thomas Mills, Jr., and his wife, Mary Mills.  They previously had lived at 24 Queensberry.  Charles Mills et al were the assessed owners of 348 Commonwealth from 1954.

In September of 1953, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into three apartments and a dental office.

The Mills lived in one of the apartments until about 1962.  Dr. Arthur I. Cohen maintained his dental office there for the same period; he and his wife, Florence, lived in Hull.

By 1964, 348 Commonwealth was owned by Russell Amaral.  In April of 1964, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from three apartments and a dental office into seven apartments.

By 1967, 348 Commonwealth was owned by Robert White.  He also owned 344 Commonwealth.  In August of 1978, he purchased 350 Commonwealth and in October of 1978, he purchased 346 Commonwealth.

In December of 1988, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 348 Commonwealth from seven apartments into eight apartments.  At the same time, he also applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine it with 344. 346, and 350 Commonwealth into one property, to be known as 344-350 Commonwealth.  On May 5, 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.

344-348 Commonwealth (2013)

344-348 Commonwealth (2013)