356 Commonwealth is located on the south side of Commonwealth, between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue, with 354 Commonwealth to the east and 358 Commonwealth to the west.
356 Commonwealth was designed by Obed F. Smith, architect, and built in 1883-1884 by Vinal & Dodge, masons, for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr. for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated November 30, 1883. The house was originally numbered 354 Commonwealth until about 1889, when 328 Commonwealth was built and the houses to the west of it were renumbered.
356 Commonwealth was one of thirteen houses (336-360 Commonwealth) built for George Wheatland, Jr., by Warren D. Vinal and Charles A. Dodge on land owned by Charles Merriam and by Jacob Rogers. 336 Commonwealth was designed by George Avery, 338-340 Commonwealth were designed by Bradlee, Winslow, and Wetherell, and 342-360 Commonwealth were designed by Obed F. Smith.
Charles Merriam purchased his land, with a 50 foot frontage, on October 25, 1879, from David Skillings, and Jacob Rogers purchased his land, with a 231 foot frontage to the west of Charles Merriam’s parcel, on January 19, 1880, also from David Skilllings. All of the land was part of two parcels originally purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on April 19, 1870, and December 16, 1870, by David Skillings as trustee for a trust composed of himself, Lawrence Barnes of Burlington, Vermont, Charles Whitney of Lowell, and David Whitney, Jr., of Detroit. The land had subsequently changed hands and he had re-acquired it, in his own name, on January 12, 1878.
336-338 Commonwealth were built first, in 1881-1883, on Charles Merriam’s land. On December 10, 1881, after 336 Commonwealth was completed, Charles Merriam sold George Wheatland, Jr., the house and land, together with the remainder of his land to the west. On the same day, George Wheatland, Jr., sold 336 Commonwealth and the 24 foot lot at 338 Commonwealth to Warren Vinal and Charles Dodge. He retained the two feet to the west. Warren Vinal and Charles Dodge sold 336 Commonwealth in June of 1882, and sold 338 Commonwealth back to George Wheatland, Jr., in July of 1883, after it was completed.
340-360 Commonwealth were built between 1883 and 1885 on Jacob Rogers’s land. All of the building permit applications were filed by George Wheatland, Jr., in November of 1883, and the houses were constructed by Vinal & Dodge, with the houses towards the east built first. Jacob Rogers sold his land to George Wheatland, Jr., in one- and two-lot transactions between November of 1883 and January of 1885, sometimes before construction of the houses had begun and sometimes after the houses were substantially completed.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 356 Commonwealth, and click here for further information on the land on the south side of Commonwealth between Hereford and Massachusetts Avenue.
On January 3, 1885, Jacob Rogers sold George Wheatland, Jr., the land where 356 Commonwealth was built.
On July 7, 1885, 356 Commonwealth was purchased from George Wheatland, Jr., by Mary Williams (Henderson) Shattuck, the widow of Noah Gilman Shattuck, of Groton.
During the 1885-1886 winter season, 356 Commonwealth was the home of Flavia (Smith) Smith, the widow of Kimball R. Smith. She previously had lived at 158 West Chester Park, where she operated a lodging house.
Living with her at 356 Commonwealth were Joshua Granville Nickerson, an oil merchant, and his wife, Anna C. (Bassett) Nickerson. They previously had been lodgers with Mrs. Smith at 158 West Chester Park.
Mrs. Smith and the Nickersons had moved from 356 Commonwealth by the next season. In 1887, the Nickersons were living at 282 Marlborough.
During the 1886-1887 winter season, 356 Commonwealth was the home of Arthur D. McClellan, an attorney, and his wife, Mary A. (Townsend) McClellan. They previously had lived at the Hotel Copley at 18 Huntington. By the next season, they had moved next door to 358 Commonwealth.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, it was the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Fuller. They continued to live there during the next season, but moved thereafter.
During the 1889-1890 winter season, Mary Shattuck made 356 Commonwealth her home. Her primary residence remained in Groton.
During the 1890-1891 winter season, 356 Commonwealth was the home of Benjamin E. Corlew and his wife, Juliet (Snow) Corlew. They had lived at 395 Beacon during the previous season. Benjamin Corlew was a real estate dealer. By 1893, they had moved to Brookline.
356 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1892 Blue Book.
On November 18, 1891, 356 Commonwealth was acquired from Mary Shattuck by real estate dealer Samuel Horatio Whitwell, and on November 21, 1891, it was acquired from him by attorney John Duncan Bryant. He and his wife, Ellen M. (Reynolds) Bryant, made it their home. They previously had lived at 28 St. James. They also maintained a home in Meriden, New Hampshire.
Ellen Bryant died in July of 1908. John Bryant continued to live at 356 Commonwealth until his death in July of 1911.
By the 1911-1912 winter season, 356 Commonwealth was the home of Ellen Bryant’s nephew, Robert Duncan Reynolds, an engineer, and his wife, Fanny Louise (Lawrence) Reynolds. They previously had lived in Cambridge. He was the son of Ellen (Reynolds) Bryant’s brother and sister-in-law, Frank W. Reynolds and Cordelia Frances (Weld) Reynolds. On October 2, 1912, he purchased 356 Commonwealth from John Bryant’s estate.
Robert and Fanny Reynolds had moved by 1913. By 1917, they were living in Cambridge. He continued to own 356 Commonwealth and lease it to others.
356 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1914-1916 Blue Books.
By 1915, 356 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Lula M. (Fox) Darling, the former wife of Jerome Darling, who operated it a lodging house. She previously had lived at 81 Mt. Vernon.
Lula Darling continued to live at 356 Commonwealth in January of 1920, at the time of the 1920 US Census, but had moved to 337 Commonwealth by the 1920-1921 winter season.
On July 8, 1920, 356 Commonwealth was purchased from Robert D. Reynolds by Carolyn Draper (Nutt) Gilpatric, the wife of Dr. William Henry Gilpatric. He had acquired 358 Commonwealth in April of 1920 and had transferred it into her name in June of 1920. The Gilpatrics lived in Winchester.
William Gilpatric was a dentist specializing in orthodontia, and he converted 356-358 Commonwealth into dental offices.
In June of 1920, Dr. Gilpatric filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 358 Commonwealth from an office and single-family dwelling into three dental offices and “habitation,” and in July of 1920, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 356 Commonwealth from offices and lodgings into dental offices. As part of the applications, he also received permission to cut doors in the party wall between the two buildings, on the first floor.
On July 30, 1926, Carolyn Gilpatric transferred 356-358 Commonwealth into her and her husband’s names.
In April of 1928, the Gilpatrics acquired 360 Commonwealth, and that same month they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel the interior, including cutting four doors in the party wall connecting with 358 Commonwealth. The building’s use was shown as being dental offices.
William Gilpatric died in March of 1938. Carolyn Gilpatric continued to own 356-358-360 Commonwealth and to live in Winchester.
On April 26, 1946, 356-358-360 Commonwealth were acquired from Carolyn Gilpatric by real estate dealer Howard Stephen Cosgrove of Winchester.
On February 16, 1948, 356-358-360 Commonwealth were acquired from Howard Cosgrove by Harry H. Byron. In March of 1948, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 356-358 Commonwealth from 23 dental offices into 22 dental offices and one office for medical massage and physical therapy.
356-358-360 Commonwealth changed hands and on September 4, 1960, were acquired by Hyman Goodman. By that time, each building contained dental offices and six apartments.
In November of 1960, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the dental offices on the second, third, and fourth floors at 356 and 358 Commonwealth into apartment use, expanding the existing apartments (and not increasing the number of units). 356 Commonwealth subsequently had one dental office and six apartments, and 358 Commonwealth had two dental offices and six apartments.
356-358-360 Commonwealth changed hands and on June 30, 1966, were acquired by real estate dealer Michael J. Smith, trustee of Wethersfield Associates.
On September 1, 1967, 356-358-360 Commonwealth were acquired from Michael Smith by Robert White. He already owned nine other buildings on the block – 324–326–328–330–332–334–336 Commonwealth, 344 Commonwealth, and 348 Commonwealth – and would acquire 354 Commonwealth in 1972 and 322 Commonwealth, 346 Commonwealth, and 350 Commonwealth in 1978.
In December of 1988, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 356 Commonwealth into ten apartments and 358 Commonwealth into nine apartments, and at the same time to consolidate the two buildings as one property, with nineteen units. In May of 1989, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 356-358 Commonwealth into one office and nineteen apartments.
On February 1, 1991, Robert White transferred 322-330 Commonwealth, 336 Commonwealth, 344-350 Commonwealth, and 354-360 Commonwealth to Charles White Management, Inc. He transferred 334 Commonwealth on April 8, 1999.
In February of 1992, Robert White filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments at 356-358 Commonwealth from nineteen to twenty-one by converting the office into two apartments.
In September of 2000, Charles White Management applied for (and subsequently received) permission to combine 356-358 Commonwealth and 360 Commonwealth into a single property consisting of 27 apartments (18 in 356-358 Commonwealth and 9 in 360 Commonwealth) and one professional office (in 360 Commonwealth).
356-358-360 Commonwealth remained an apartment house in 2020.