373 Commonwealth

373 Commonwealth (2014)

373 Commonwealth (2014)

Irregular Lot: 54.5' on Commonwealth (5,684 sf)

Irregular Lot: 54.5′ on Commonwealth (5,684 sf)

373 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 371 Commonwealth to the east and 375 Commonwealth to the west.

373 Commonwealth was designed by Mackay and Dunham, architects, and built in 1892-1893 by Mead, Mason & Co., building contractors, as a six story, 21 unit apartment house, The Ericson. It was built for Arthur Wilkinson Sawyer et al, trustees, who are shown as the owners on the original building permit application, dated November 19, 1892, and on the final building inspection report, dated January 27, 1895.

Arthur Sawyer was an investment banker and broker.  He and his wife, Caroline Ann (Lodge) Sawyer, had lived at 33 Gloucester in 1890.  After 373 Commonwealth was completed, they lived there briefly.  By 1894, they had moved to an apartment at 184 Commonwealth.

During the 1894-1895 winter season, Henry Squarebriggs Mackay, who designed 373 Commonwealth, lived there with his wife, Robena (Robina/Ruby) Mackay, while he was desigining the Hotel Empire at 333 Commonwealth, which he and his partner, Charles B. Dunham, also owned. The Mackays moved to 333 Commonwealth when it was completed.

Second floor plan of 373 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 27Jan1895 (v. 59, p.. 142); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Second floor plan of 373 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 27Jan1895 (v. 59, p.. 142); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

By 1895, 373 Commonwealth was owned by George T. Sheldon, treasurer of the Chemlsford Foundry Company. He is shown as the owner of 373 Commonwealth on the 1895 and 1898 Bromley maps. He died in January of 1903.

In the fall of 1904, 373 Commonwealth was purchased from George Sheldon’s estate by William Ball Rice. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on November 30. 1904, which commented: “This property is one of the best of the latest apartment houses in this section of the city, and comprises a large six-story stone and brick building, containing 21 suites of one to four rooms and bath each.” He is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map.

William Rice was a boot and shoe manufacturer and real estate dealer. He and his wife, Emma Louise (Cunningham) Rice, lived in Quincy. In 1908, he would build The Puritan at 390 Commonwealth.

373-393Commonwealth (ca. 1905), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

373-393 Commonwealth (ca. 1905), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

William Rice died in May of 1909. His estate continued to own 373 Commonwealth. The Heirs of William B. Rice and shown as the owners on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps.

In December of 1920, the Avenue Real Estate Trust, the shares of which were owned almost entirely by the Rice family, acquired 373 Commonwealth from the estate of William B. Rice, in exchange for 400 shares of the Trust’s stock. The Trust also owned the Hotel Puritan. It continued to own 373 Commonwealth until 1924.

By 1924, 373 Commonwealth was owned by real estate dealer Edward J. Ball, who was the assessed owner from 1924 to 1926.

By 1927, 373 Commonwealth was owned by the Cape Ann Savings Bank.

By 1928, 373 Commonwealth had been acquired by Emerson College of Oratory (later Emerson College), which operated it as a dormitory. It is shown as the owner on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps.

373 Commonwealth remained an Emerson College dormitory until about 1960.

In 1960, 373 Commonwealth became a men’s dormitory and dining room for the Bentley College of Accounting and Finance, located at 921 Boylston.

Colorized photographic postcard of 371-381 Commonwealth (ca. 1900), showing Commonwealth Avenue before it was widened and straightened ca. 1918; courtesy of Historic New England

Colorized photographic postcard of 371-381 Commonwealth (ca. 1900), showing Commonwealth Avenue before it was widened and straightened ca. 1918; courtesy of Historic New England

In June of 1968, Chamberlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College purchased 373 Commonwealth from Bentley College. It continued to use the property as a dormitory and dining room.

In April of 1974, Julius R. Cavadi, trustee of the 373 Commonwealth Avenue Realty Trust, purchased 373 Commonwealth from Chamerlayne School and Chamberlayne Junior College. Julius Cavadi entered into a mortgage on the property with Lester Werman, Mark Werman, Ralph Werman, and Inez (Werman) Levenson.

On May of 1974, Julius Cavadi applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into 24 apartments.

In May of 1978, the Werman family foreclosed its mortgage and took possession of the property.

In August of 1978, Glen G. Grant, trustee of the Commonwealth College Trust, purchased 373 Commonwealth from the Werman family.

In July of 1981, the Erickson Development Corporation purchased 373 Commonwealth from Glen Grant. In September of 1981, it converted the property into 24 condominium units, the Erickson Condominium.