349 Commonwealth was designed by architect G. Wilton Lewis and built in 1894, one of three contiguous houses (349-351-353 Commonwealth) built and owned by housing contractor Luther M. Merrill, probably for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application dated April 23, 1894, and on the final building inspection report dated March 8, 1895. The three houses are designed as a single, symmetrical unit, centered on a two-story palladian window.
In the fall of 1895, 349 Commonwealth was purchased from Luther Merrill by Miss Alice Worthington Ball as her home. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on September 25, 1895. She had lived at 26 Newbury earlier in 1895. She is shown as the owner of 349 Commonwealth on the 1908, 1917, and 1928 Bromley maps, and was the assessed owner through 1930.
Alice Worthington Ball was an artist, noted for her still-life and landscape paintings.
She continued to live at 349 Commonwealth in 1900, after which she traveled to Europe to study and paint. After returning to the United States, she lived in Baltimore and summered in Gloucester, where she died in July of 1929. She continued to own 349 Commonwealth at the time of her death.
By 1901, 349 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Lydia Bowman (Baker) Edwards Taft, the widow of John H. Edwards and of Orray A. Taft, Jr. She had lived at 341 Marlborough in 1900.
During the 1901-1902 winter season, 349 Commonwealth was the home of William A. Rust and his wife, Dora (Drummond) Rust. They previously had lived at 190 Commonwealth.
William Rust formerly had been Secretary of the Eau Claire Lumber Company in Wisconsin, where he had served as a State Senator in the late 1880s.
By 1903, they had moved to 154 Bay State Road, where they were living at the time of his death in March of 1903.
During the 1902-1903 winter season, 349 Commonwealth was the home of William Morgan Butler and his wife, Minnie Ford (Norton) Butler. They previously had lived at the Hotel Touraine (southeast corner of Boylston and Tremont).
William Morgan Butler was a lawyer. He retired from legal practice in 1912 and became a cotton manufacturer. In 1924, he served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and in November of that year, was appointed to the US Senate to fill the vacancy left by the death of Henry Cabot Lodge. He lost his bid for election to the office in 1926, and lost a second attempt for election to the US Senate in 1930.
During the 1903-1904 winter season, 349 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Henrietta Clementine (Bright) Inches, the widow of cotton broker John Chester Inches. In 1902, she had lived at The Empire at 333 Commonwealth. By 1905, she had moved to 166 Marlborough.
In 1905, 349 Commonwealth was the home of Charles Augustus Stone and his wife, Mary Adams (Leonard) Stone. They had lived at 386 Beacon in 1904.
Charles Stone and his MIT classmate, Edwin Webster, founded the firm of Stone & Webster in 1889. Under their leadership, it became an major international construction, engineering, and consulting firm.
In the spring of 1905, they purchased and subsequently moved to 234 Beacon.
By the 1905-1906 winter season, 349 Commonwealth was the home of real estate dealer and banker Benjamin Lombard, Jr., and his wife, Rose R. (Massey) Lombard. They previously had lived in Brookline. They continued to live at 349 Commonwealth in 1909. By April of 1910, at the time of the US Census, they were living in Los Angeles.
349 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1910 and 1911 Blue Books.
By 1924, 349 Commonwealth had been leased from Alice Ball by the MIT Chapter of the Phi Kappa fraternity. It previously had been located at 299 Newbury.
Phi Kappa remained at 349 Commonwealth until about 1927, but had moved to 278 Commonwealth by 1928.
In mid-1930, Mary A. Sullivan purchased 349 Commonwealth from the estate of Alice W. Ball. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 13, 1930. She was the assessed owner in 1931.
349 Commonwealth was shown as vacant in the 1930-1934 City Directories.
By 1932, 349 Commonwealth was owned by the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company, which was the assessed owner from that year through 1941 and is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.
By 1935, 349 Commonwealth had become the fraternity house of the Boston University (Alpha Zeta) chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.
Lambda Chi Alpha continued to be located at 349 Commonwealth until about 1939.
349 Commonwealth was shown as vacant in the 1940 and 1941 City Directories.
By 1942, 349 Commonwealth was the home of Gurdon Henry Reynolds and his wife, Lorena (Lena) Bradford (Allen) Oster Reynolds. In 1940, they had lived in Arlington. Gurdon H. Reynolds ewt al were the assessed owners from 1942 through 1955, and probably later.
In October of 1942, Gurdon Reynolds filed for permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house. He subsequently abandoned the application, but in September of 1943, he filed it again and subsequently received permission to convert the house.
In November of 1951, Gurdon and Lorena Reynolds filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into six apartments. In the application, they state that the “apartments were in building when purchased.”
Gurdon and Lorena Reynolds continued to live at 349 Commonwealth until about 1959.
By 1963, 349 Commonwealth was owned by Anthony William Saveri and his wife, Sally Saveri. They lived at 81 Westland Avenue where they operated a lodging house.
In May of 1963, Garland Junior College acquired 349 Commonwealth from the Saveris.
In May of 1963, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 349 Commonwealth 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.
On September 30, 1976, Andrew Saggese, Jr., trustee of the Drew Realty Trust, purchased 349 Commonwealth from Garland Junior College. The remaining eleven properties sold by Garland Junior College were purchased by Glen G. Grant, trustee of the Commonwealth College Trust.
In October of 1976, Andrew Saggese applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a dormitory into seven apartments.
In September of 1979, he converted the property into five condominium units, the 349 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.
In October of 1982, the 349 Commonwealth Condominium Trust filed for (and subsequently received) permission to establish the legal occupancy as five units.