385 Commonwealth

385 Commonwealth (2014)

385 Commonwealth (2014)

Irregular Lot: 24' on Commonwealth (2,233 sf)

Irregular Lot: 24′ on Commonwealth (2,233 sf)

385 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 383 Commonwealth to the east and 387 Commonwealth to the west.

385 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 385 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.

385 Commonwealth was purchased in December of 1887 by Mrs. Mary (Baker) Glover Patterson Eddy, widow of George Washington Glover, former wife of Dr. Daniel Patterson, and widow of Dr. Asa Gilbert Eddy. She is shown as the owner on the 1888 and 1895 Bromley maps.

385 Commonwealth (ca. 1896). detail from photograph of 383-387 Commonwealth; © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

385 Commonwealth (ca. 1896). detail from photograph of 383-387 Commonwealth; © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science Church. She previously had lived at 571 Columbus, where she had moved in about 1884 after the death of Asa Eddy. They had lived at 569 Columbus at the time of his death in June of 1882, and before that had lived in Lynn.

Mrs. Eddy lived at 385 Commonwealth until 1889, when she moved to Concord, New Hampshire. She continued to own 385 Commonwealth and made it available for use by the Church.

In the mid-1890s, when the original Mother Church was being completed on Massachusetts Avenue, Mrs. Eddy decided to renovate the house.  In a July 12, 1894, letter to Septimus Hanna, at that time Pastor of the Mother Church, she commented that “perhaps I shall cleanse and refurnish that house [385 Commonwealth] … for my winter home.”  However, instead of becoming her Boston home again, in the fall of 1894 385 Commonwealth became the home of Septimus Hanna and his wife, Camilla (Turley) Hanna.

Judge Septimus James Hanna was a former lawyer and judge in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and then Leadville, Colorado.  He left the practice of law to devote himself to Christian Science. In 1892, Mary Baker Eddy appointed him as editor of the Christian Science Journal and his wife as assistant editor, and in January of 1895, he became First Reader of the Church. He also continued as editor of the Christian Science Journal and also as editor of the Christian Science Sentinel when it was created in 1898.

383-387 Commonwealth (ca. 1896), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

383-387 Commonwealth (ca. 1896), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

Mrs. Eddy proceeded with her plan to remodel 385 Commonwealth,  and Edward P. Bates, who  oversaw construction of the Mother Church, also supervised the renovation of the house. In his reminiscences (The Construction of the Mother Church: Reminiscences of Edward P. Bates, C.S.D.), he comments on the remodeling:

“In the spring of 1895, she sent for me and commissioned me to do considerable work on the house. It was in a block and looked like the other houses; she wished to have it emphasized in some way so that it might be distinguished from the others. It was located near the middle of the block, so this could be done to advantage. The vestibule doors of the house were red oak, hardly in keeping with the style of the building. The vestibule itself was very plain and was susceptible of improvement. She also suggested building a room or tower on the roof which could be seen for several blocks, and the house put in general good order.

“We employed the same architect who helped us finish the church; he made designs and specifications for the remodeling of parts of the house, for additions and renovations, submitted them to her, and she ordered the work done and the bills brought to her when it was finished. I employed the same builder who was so efficient in finishing The Mother Church, and set him at work. We removed the front and the vestibule doors and substituted very fine San Domingo mahogany doors with panels of cathedral glass. The hardware for the original doors was common, and we had elegant bronze fittings made for the new doors. A very neat design in mosaics was made for the floor of the vestibule, which was laid, also dado on the sides. This very much improved the appearance of the front. The room which was built on the roof had slightly the appearance of a tower, with a stairway leading up to it, and it was a very nice apartment to retire to on a summer evening, and it distinguished the house from its neighbors.”

383 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

385 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of The Gleason Partnership

Margaret M. Pinkham’s A Miracle in Stone: The History of the Building of the Original Mother Church indicates that the architect for the remodeling was Frederic R. Comstock.

In February of 1898, Mrs. Eddy deeded 385 Commonwealth to the Christian Science Church, specifying that it be used as the residence for the First Reader. The Church is shown as the owner on the 1895 Bromley map, and trustees of the church are shown as the owners on subsequently Bromley maps.

The Hannas continued to live at 385 Commonwealth until about 1902, when he retired and they moved to Colorado Springs.

In about 1906, Mary Baker Eddy acquired 387 Commonwealth, which she leased to others. It remained her property at the time of her death in December of 1910. In her will, she left the bulk of her estate to the Christian Science Church, and 387 Commonwealth passed into its possession following the resolution of a court challenge by her son, George W. Glover. The Church leased 387 Commonwealth to others, converting it into a lodging house in 1933 and into apartments in 1987. By 1942, the Church also owned 383 Commonwealth, which it also converted into a lodging house and then into apartments.

385 Commonwealth remained a single-family dwelling, the residence of the First Reader in 2014.

381-389 Commonwealth (ca. 1898), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.

381-389 Commonwealth (ca. 1898), © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection; used with permission.