381 Commonwealth was designed by architect Obed F. Smith and built in 1885-1886 by Charles H. Dodge, mason, for building contractor George Wheatland, Jr., for speculative sale, one of six contiguous houses (381-383-385-387-389-391 Commonwealth). George Wheatland, Jr., is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for 381 Commonwealth, dated December 15, 1885. At the same time, George Wheatland, Jr., was having six more houses built at 430-440 Marlborough on the lots to the north, behind 381-391 Commonwealth, also designed by Obed Smith and built by Charles Dodge.
By the 1887-1888 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of Charles S. Andrews and his wife, Katherine (Kate) Henshaw (Jackson) Andrews. They had married in April of 1887 and 381 Commonwealth probably was their first home together. Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 401 Beacon with his parents, Charles H. Andrews and Josephine (Maralious) Andrews. Katherine Andrews is shown as the owner of 381 Commonwealth on the 1888 Bromley map.
Charles Andrews was a journalist and later an editor with the Boston Herald, of which his father was a former owner.
Katherine Andrews’s parents, Dr. Samuel Jackson and Katherine (Kate) Henshaw (Baury) Jackson, lived with them. They (and probably their daughter) previously had lived at 405 Beacon. He was medical director for the US Navy.
Charles and Katherine Andrews continued to live at 381 Commonwealth during the 1891-1892 winter season. He subsequently obtained a divorce and remarried in January of 1893 to Annie G. Paul; after their marriage, they lived in an apartment at 31 Massachusetts Avenue. He died in October of 1897 and, after his death, a controversy arose over whether the divorce he had obtained in South Dakota was valid in Massachusetts and, therefore, whether Kate Andrews or Annie Andrews was his legal widow for purposes of inheritance.
In 1892, 381 Commonwealth was the home of Samuel Hoar and his wife, Helen Putnam (Wadleigh) Hoar. He was an attorney and general counsel of the Boston & Albany Railroad. Their primary residence was in Concord. By 1893, they had moved to 265 Beacon.
By the 1892-1893 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of retired shoe and leather dealer Daniel Harwood and his wife Sophia (Wardwell) Harwood. They also maintained a residence in Hingham. They previously had lived at 64 Commonwealth.
The Harwoods were joined at 381 Commonwealth by Mrs. Abby S. (Bangs) Dennis, the widow of Samuel James Dennis, and Samuel W. Greene, a teller at the Atlantic National Bank. They also previously had lived at 64 Commonwealth.
They all continued to live at 381 Commonwealth during the 1894-1895 winter season, also joined by Mrs. Sarah Henshaw (Carruth) Washburn, the widow of Miles Washburn. Her usual home was 342 Beacon, where she had resumed living by the next season.
By the 1895-1896 season, the Harwoods had moved, probably to Hingham (where he died in July of 1896), Mrs. Dennis had moved to Brookline, and Samuel Greene had also moved to Brookline.
By the 1895-1896 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of retired wholesale boot and shoe dealer David White Hitchcock and his wife, Anna Maria (Conant) Hitchcock. They also owned a farm in Marlborough, which previously had been their year-round residence. Their son, Lemuel Hitchcock, lived with them.
Anna Hitchcock died in November of 1895. Lemuel Hitchcock married in August of 1898 to Geraldine A. Cann. After their marriage, they lived at 381 Commonwealth with his father.
In the fall of 1900, David Hitchcock – who had been leasing 381 Commonwealth from Samuel Jackson — purchased the house. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on October 25, 1900.
David Hitchcock died in March of 1901. Lemuel and Geraldine Hitchcock continued to live at 381 Commonwealth during the 1901-1902 winter season, after which they moved to their home in Marlborough.
In early 1903, 381 Commonwealth was purchased from the estate of David W. Hitchcock by Henry Howard Fay. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on February 11, 1903.
Henry Fay’s wife was Elizabeth Elliot (Spooner) Fay, and by the 1903-1904 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of her mother, Elizabeth Elliot (Torrey) Spooner, the widow of shipping merchant and textile manufacturer Daniel Nicolson Spooner. The Spooners’ two unmarried daughters, Ellen O. Spooner and Mary Torrey Spooner, lived with her. They previously had lived in Baltimore, and before that at 341 Beacon. Henry Fay was the assessed owner of 381 Commonwealth from 1903 to 1906, and Elizabeth Spooner was the assessed owner in 1907.
Elizabeth Spooner died in February of 1907. The Heirs of Elizabeth Spooner are shown as the owners on the 1908, 1912, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps, and remained the assessed owners until 1951.
After Elizabeth Spooner’s death, Ellen and Mary Spooner traveled to Europe. They returned in 1909 and lived at The Westminster (southeast corner St. James and Trinity Place) and then spent the 1909-1910 winter season at 108 Marlborough. They then traveled to Europe again, returning in the fall of 1912. They lived at the Hotel Somerset during the 1912-1913 winter season, and then moved back to 381 Commonwealth.
During the 1907-1908 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of George Bridge Leighton and his wife, Charlotte (Kayser) Leighton. They previously had lived at 152 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Monadnock, New Hampshire.
George Leighton was president of the Allegheny By-Products Coal Company, and previously had been president of the Los Angeles Terminal Railway and then of the Leighton & Howard Steel Company. The Leightons moved to 301 Berkeley by the 1908-1909 season.
During the 1908-1909 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of retired wholesale dry goods merchant Alanson Tucker and his wife, Katherine Sawin (Davis) Tucker. They also maintained a home in Bar Harbor, which previously had been their primary residence. Alanson Tucker died in May of 1909 and Katherine Tucker moved thereafter.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of Dr. Marshal Fabyan and his wife, Eleanor Harryman (McCormick) Fabyan. They previously had lived in Brookline.
Marshal Fabyan was a physician and an instructor and later assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
They continued to live at 381 Commonwealth during the 1911-1912 season, and then purchased and moved to 379 Commonwealth.
By the 1913-1914 winter season, Ellen O. Spooner and Mary Torrey Spooner had resumed living at 381 Commonwealth. They continued to live there during the 1918-1919 season, but for the next three years were traveling abroad during the winter seasons and living at the Hotel Somerset while in Boston.
During the 1919-1920 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of wool merchant Julius Eisemann and his wife, Gertrude N. (Wetzler) Eisemann. They previously had lived at the Hotel Somerset. By the 1920-1921 season, they had moved to 321 Commonwealth.
During the 1920-1921 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Caroline Vinton (Slater) Washburn, the wife of Charles Grenfill Washburn, and their daughter, Esther Vinton Washburn, a student. Their usual residence was in Worcester, where Charles G. Washburn, a former US Congressman, was a wire manufacturer. They appear to have been in Boston preparing to travel to Europe in the spring of 1921. Living with them at 381 Commonwealth was Annie Marie (Dickinson) Chapin, the widow of Dr. Amory Chapin; Amory Chapin was Caroline (Slater) Washburn’s first cousin (Amory Chapin’s mother, Frances J. (Vinton) Chapin, was the sister of Caroline Slater’s mother, Elizabeth (Vinton) Slater). Annie Marie Chapin also traveled to Europe in the spring of 1921.
381 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1922 Blue Book.
By the 1922-1923 winter season, Ellen and Mary Spooner were living there once again.
Ellen Spooner died in February of 1924.
During the 1924-1925 winter season, Mary Spooner was living elsewhere, and 381 Commonwealth was the home of Charles Sumner Bird, Jr., and his wife, Julia (Appleton) Bird. They previously had lived in England. By 1926, they were living in Hamilton. Charles S. Bird, Jr., was a paper manufacturer in his family firm, Bird & Co., in East Walpole.
Mary Spooner lived at 381 Commonwealth during the 1925-1926 winter season, but then lived elsewhere and traveled abroad again for the next two seasons.
During the 1926-1927 winter season, 381 Commonwealth was the home of Rev. George Grenville (Greenville) Merrill and his wife, Pauline Georgine Warren (Dresser) Merrill. They previously lived at 13 Gloucester. Rev. Merrill had served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, until his retirement in 1923. They retained a home in Stockbridge and also maintained a home, Merrillton, in Newport. During the 1927-1928 season, they continued to maintain their Boston home at 381 Commonwealth, but spent a portion of the season in Italy, after which they resumed living in Stockbridge.
By the 1928-1929 winter season, Mary Spooner had resumed living at 381 Commonwealth. She continued to live there until about 1948.
On October 17, 1951, William Grant purchased 381 Commonwealth from Thomas Motley et al, trustees of the estate of Elizabeth Spooner.
In September of 1952, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 381 Commonwealth into five apartments, and in March of 1957, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments from five to six.
In October of 1996, he transferred the property to himself and Paul E. Grant, as joint tenants.
In December of 1998, William and Paul Grant transferred 381 Commonwealth to Makor Properties LLC.
In December of 1999, Makor Properties filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from six to seven apartments. In July of 2001, it filed for permission to increase the number of apartments from seven to eight. The application was denied, and Makor Properties’ appeal of the denial was dismissed.
In May of 2002, the 381 Comm. Ave. LLC purchased 381 Commonwealth from Makor Properties.
381 Commonwealth remained an apartment building in 2014.