386 Commonwealth was designed by architect Arthur H. Vinal and built in 1899-1900 by Edward W. Clark & Co., masons, as a six story, six unit apartment building for real estate dealer George P. Ridgway. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated October 2, 1899.
In 1896, George Ridgway had built 384 Commonwealth, The Torrington, also a six story, six unit apartment building designed by Arthur Vinal. The new building at 386 Commonwealth created a symmetrical pair similar in design to The Colonial at 382 Commonwealth, also designed by Arthur Vinal.
George Ridgway purchased the land for 384 and 386 Commonwealth on February 20, 1896, from the Third National Bank of Boston.
Both lots originally were part of one of four parcels purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on October 15, 1880, by Henry Melville Whitney, Grenville Temple Winthrop Braman, and Henry Dwight Hyde, trustees of The Park Entrance Lands Trust.
The lots had been purchased from the trust on December 9, 1891, by leather dealer Thomas Owen Richardson and his wife, Mary Rich (Baker) Richardson. They lived at 265 Commonwealth. They sold the lot at 384 Commonwealth on December 9, 1891, to Francis Bacon Sears, vice president of the Third National Bank of Boston, and on the same day, they transferred the lot at 386 Commonwealth into Mary Richardson’s name.
Thomas Richardson’s business failed in May of 1893 and on May 24, 1893, Mary Richardson transferred the lot at 386 Commonwealth to Francis B. Sears, who transferred it to the Third National Bank on June 15, 1893.
The circumstances surrounding the transfer were described by H. W. Chaplain, Mary Richardson’s attorney, in a September 24, 1893, Boston Globe interview following Thomas Richardson’s indictment for defrauding a number of banks and merchants. Mr. Chaplain commented that after her husband’s business failure in May, some of the creditors “’approached Mrs. Richardson and desired that she should settle their claims. They knew she was a wealthy woman in her own right, and they also knew that she was very generous and honorable, and they found her disposed to settle the matter. I know that she gave the Third national bank a very valuable piece of property, but when the claims began to multiply to such an extent that she would have found it almost impossible to satisfy them all she attempted to make a settlement.’”
Francis B. Sears continued to own the lot at 384 Commonwealth until January 10, 1894, when it was acquired by the Third National Bank, which subsequently sold it and the lot at 386 Commonwealth to George Ridgway.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 386 Commonwealth, and click here for further information on the land on the south side of Commonwealth between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East.
384 Commonwealth was first listed, as The Torrington, in the 1898 Blue Book. After 386 Commonwealth was completed, the two buildings were listed together as The Torrington, starting with the1902 Blue Book. They continued to be listed in that manner, implying that they were operated as one apartment house, through the last Blue Book in 1937. However, they were separately owned from 1902, when the Proprietors of Mount Auburn Cemetery foreclosed on a mortgage given by George Ridgway and took possession of 384 Commonwealth.
On August 25, 1903, 386 Commonwealth was acquired from George Ridgway by Royal Ripley Sheldon, treasurer of the Chelmsford Foundry Company and owner of the Bowdoin Square and Lyceum Theaters.
On May 31, 1907, the Cambridgeport Savings Bank foreclosed on a mortgage it held on 386 Commonwealth and took possession of the property.
On February 27, 1915, 386 Commonwealth was purchased from the bank by Hannah M. (White) Sands Webster, the widow of Arthur Sands and of Samuel Webster. She lived at 677 Cambridge in Brighton.
On May 16, 1923, 386 Commonwealth was acquired from Hannah Webster by Miss Dorothy Gertrude Charlton. She lived in Brookline with her brother-in-law and sister, Edward A. Bardol and Mary (Charlton) Lyman Bardol.
On July 9, 1927, 386 Commonwealth was acquired from Dorothy Charlton by her sister, Mary (Charlton) Lyman Bardol. They all continued to live together in Brookline.
Edward Bardol was New England regional manager for F. W. Woolworth’s five and ten cents stores. Mary Bardol’s brother, Earle Perry Charlton, was vice president of F. W. Woolworth. He had been an early novelty and notions store entrepreneur who began in Fall River and eventually sold his chain of 54 stores to F. W. Woolworth in 1912.
Edward Bardol died in June of 1927 and Mary Bardol died in January of 1941.
386 Commonwealth was inherited by Mary Bardol’s two children: Charlton Emmet Lyman (her son with her first husband, William E. Lyman) and Frank Howard Bardol. On February 5, 1941, they transferred the property to Harry Marshall as trustee of the Bardol Trust.
In May of 1942, the Bardol Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to remodel 386 Commonwealth and convert it from six to eighteen apartments (three per floor). Only the apartments on the third through six floors were completed, resulting in fourteen apartments, and in January of 1950, the trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to similarly remodel the first and second floors, bringing the total number of units to the originally planned eighteen.
On April 11, 1958, 386 Commonwealth was purchased from the Bardol Trust by Maurice M. Galer and his wife, Evelyn (Levitman) Galer. He was a beverage manufacturer and also a real estate dealer in partnership with their sons, Lawrence Irwin Galer and Michael Master Galer.
Maurice Galer died in January of 1968. In his will, he devised 386 Commonwealth to a trust he had established on January 17, 1966, for the benefit of his wife. Evelyn Galer died in October of 1972, having remarried to William W. Berman.
On April 23, 1973, 386 Commonwealth was purchased from the trust established by Maurice Galer and from the executors and heirs of Evelyn Galer Berman by Alice Melzer, trustee of the Jersey Realty Trust.
On October 25, 1974, the trust established by Maurice Galer foreclosed on a mortgage given by Alice Melzer when she purchased 386 Commonwealth and took possession of the property. On July 11, 1975, it was acquired from the trust by Marvin M. Glick, trustee of the 386 Realty Trust.
On January 27, 1981, 386 Commonwealth was purchased by William H. Schwartz, III, and David L. Crary. On March 8, 1982, they transferred the property to themselves as trustees of the Alamo Real Estate Trust.
On June 25, 1982, they converted the property into eighteen condominium units, the 386 Commonwealth Avenue Condominium.