384 Commonwealth was designed by architect Arthur H. Vinal and built in 1896-1897 as a six story, six unit apartment building, The Torrington, for real estate dealer George P. Ridgway. He is shown as the owner and builder on the original building permit application, dated April 2, 1896, and on the 1898 Bromley map.
George Ridgway also owned the lot immediately to the west, and 1899 he had Arthur Vinal design a companion apartment building built at 386 Commonwealth, creating a symmetrical pair similar in design to The Colonial at 382 Commonwealth, also designed by Arthur Vinal.
From 1900 through the late 1930s, 384-386 Commonwealth were listed in the Blue Books as The Torrington, implying that they were operated as one apartment house. However, from the early 1900s, if not before, they were separately owned.
By May of 1902, 384 Commonwealth was owned by the Proprietors of Mt. Auburn Cemetery. A May 27, 1902, Boston Globe article reported: “The well known hotel Torrington, 384 Commonwealth av … which was advertised to be sold a few days ago at auction, and which sale did not take place, has been sold at private sale by the office of Alex S. Porter. The property is a handsome one and comprises a large six-story swell front brick and stone hotel, standing on about 3375 square feet of land…The grantors are the proprietors of Mt. Auburn Cemetery.”
By 1905, 384 Commonwealth was owned by real estate dealer James Sumner Draper.
In early 1905, 384 Commonwealth was purchased from J. Sumner Draper by architect Charles Hercules Rutan of the firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on January 20, 1905. He is shown as the owner on the 1908 and 1912 Bromley maps. He and his wife, Sarah Ellen (Brower) Rutan, lived in Brookline.
Charles Rutan died in December of 1914. and the Heirs of Charles Rutan are shown as the owners of 384 Commonwealth on the 1917 and 1928 Bromley maps..
The property subsequently changed hands and by 1947 was owned by the Cambridge Housing Corporation.
In July of 1947, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from six apartments (one per floor) to eighteen apartments (three per floor).
In May of 1948, 384 Commonwealth Avenue, Inc., purchased 384 Commonwealth from the Cambridge Housing Corporation. In August of 1948, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of units to 21 by adding three apartments in the basement.
By 1964, 384 Commonwealth was owned by George L. Reef, a lawyer.
In 1964, on March 23 and again on March 27, the building was seriously damaged by fire, with the cause attributed to arson.
384 Commonwealth subsequently changed hands. It remained an apartment building in 2014.