362-366 Commonwealth

362-366 Commonwealth (2013)

362-366 Commonwealth (2013)

Combined Lot 85' x 124.5' (10,583 sf)

Combined Lot 85′ x 124.5′ (10,583 sf)

362-366 Commonwealth are located on the SE of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenues, with 360 Commonwealth to the east, 370 Commonwealth to the west, across Mass. Ave., 355 Commonwealth to the north, across Commonwealth, and 359 Newbury to the south, across Alley 430.

362 Commonwealth, a 6-unit apartment house, and 364-366 Commonwealth, a 10-unit apartment house, were designed by Richards and Richards, architects, and built in 1889-1890 by Thomas R. White, mason.

The two apartment houses were owned by the builder, Thomas White, and his wife, Henriette (Kurrus) White, and originally were called The White House apartments.  Thomas White is shown as the owner of 364-366 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated August 12, 1889, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 17, 1890. Henriette K. White is shown as the owner of 362 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated March 20, 1890, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 17, 1890 (drawings of the floor plan of a typical floor in each building are bound with the building inspection reports, located in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department).

In his Houses of Boston’s Back Bay, Bainbridge Bunting indicates that 362 Commonwealth was built in 1889 and was a 10-unit building, and that a second 6-unit building was built at 366 Commonwealth.  The original building permits and final inspection reports, however, indicate a 6-unit building at 362 Commonwealth, and a 10-unit building at 364-366 Commonwealth.

By 1895, they 362-366 Commonwealth were owned by Nathan Matthews.  He is shown as the owner on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps.

By 1898, they were known as The Commonwealth apartments.

In addition to residential apartments, 364-366 Commonwealth also included commercial space on Massachusetts Avenue. Among the non-residential tenants from about 1892 to 1900 was Carro Morrell Clark, who operated a stationery and variety store, and later a dry goods store. She was a lodger at various locations until August of 1897, when she married Charles F. Atkinson, manager of the Bowdoin Square Theatre; after their marriage, they lived at 848 Beacon. In 1900 she founded the C. M. Clark Publishing Company, credited as being the first woman-owned publishing company in the United States. Soon after founding the business, she moved it to 185 Summer and then to 211 Tremont. The firm was disbanded in 1912, and she and Charles Atkinson divorced in 1913. In 1914, she married Leon Henry Lempert, Jr., an architect from Rochester, New York, noted for designing theatres. In later years, Carro (Clark) Lempert authored a series of children’s books under the name Carro Frances Warren.

In about April of 1903, Nathan Matthews transferred 362-366 Commonwealth to his son, former Boston Mayor Nathan Matthews, Jr., and George Howe.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on April 15, 1903.  Nathan Matthews, Jr., et al, were the assessed owners in 1903 and 1904.

By 1905, 362-366 Commonwealth were owned by William H. Lincoln and Joseph B. Moors.  William Lincoln et al were the assessed owners from 1905 through 1924, and are shown as the owners on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.

In the spring of 1924, 362-366 Commonwealth were acquired by George J. Wilson.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on April 4, 1924.

By 1925, 362-366 Commonwealth were owned by the George F. Welch Trust, which was the assessed owner in 1925 and 1926.

In early 1927, James C. McKenzie purchased 362-366 Commonwealth from the George F. Welch Trust.  The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on February 13, 1927.  He was the assessed owner from 1927 through 1929 and is shown as the owner on the 1928 Bromley map.

362-366 Commonwealth (ca. 1960), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

362-366 Commonwealth (ca. 1960), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

The property changed hands and by 1959 was owned by Reith-Speigel, Inc.  In June of 1959, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remove the existing front entries and make a new, single entrance at 362 Commonwealth

In May of 1962, the Board of Appeal issued a decision (the appellant being Leah Realty, Inc.) allowing the consolidation of 362-364-366 Commonwealth as a single property.  In the decision, it indicated that 362 Commonwealth consisted of 9 apartments, 364 Commonwealth consisted of 20 apartments, and 366 Commonwealth consisted of 11 apartments and 5 retail stores, which the appellant was converting into 15 apartments and retail stores.  The resulting occupancy of 362-366 Commonwealth therefore would by 44 apartments, 5 retail stores, and 1 real estate office.  The Board allowed the consolidation of the buildings but required that there be at least two entrances, one at 362 Commonwealth and the other at either 364 or 366 Commonwealth.

By 1972, 362-366 Commonwealth were owned by the Alford Realty Corporation.  In October of 1974, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as 81 apartments, 5 stores, and 4 offices.  In November of 1974, it filed to modify the occupancy by converting one of the stores into a launderette.

In February of 1977, the First American Bank for Savings took possession of the properties through foreclosure.

In June of 1977, Frederick W. Rust, III, trustee of the 362 Commonwealth Trust, purchased 362-366 Commonwealth from the First American for Savings.  In July of 1977, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert one of the stores into a restaurant, so that the occupancy became 81 apartments, 3 stores, 4 offices, 1 launderette, and 1 restaurant.

In July of 1981, 362 Commonwealth, Inc. (Frederick Rust, III, treasurer, and Louise D. Rust, president) purchased 362-366 Commonwealth from Frederick Rust, III.

In February of 1980, prior to acquiring the property, 362 Commonwealth Inc. had filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into 59 apartments, 3 stores, 2 offices, 1 launderette, and 1 restaurant.

In September of 1981, 362 Commonwealth, Inc., converted the property into 61 residential condominiums and six commercial condominium units, the Commonwealth Condominium.