387 Commonwealth

387 Commonwealth (2014)

387 Commonwealth (2014)

Irregular Lot: 24' on Commonwealth (2,170 sf)

Irregular Lot: 23.99′ on Commonwealth (2,170 sf)

387 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 385 Commonwealth to the east and 389 Commonwealth to the west.

387 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.

As originally laid out, the portion of Commonwealth between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East had a curved roadway intended to provide a transition from the formal design of the preceding blocks to the parklands in the Back Bay fens. It was divided into uneven islands and included a strip of green space in front of 371-387 Commonwealth and a small triangular island at the eastern end on which the statue of Leif Ericson Ericson (Erikson) was located (dedicated in 1887). In 1917-1918, the roadway was straightened and widened, the central mall design of the previous blocks was extended to Charlesgate East, the green space in front of 371-387 Commonwealth eliminated, and the Ericson statue was relocated to the Charlesgate East end of the block.

1898 Bromley map

George Wheatland, Jr., purchased the land for 381-391 Commonwealth and 430-440 Marlborough on June 20, 1885, from Henry M. Whitney. It was part of a parcel Henry Whitney had acquired in two transactions, on November 24, 1882, and on March 20, 1885, all part of a tract of land originally purchased from the Boston Water Power Company on June 1, 1880, by a real estate investment trust formed by Francis A. Palfrey, Francis A. Osborn, and Grenville T. W. Braman.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 387 Commonwealth, and click here for further information on the land west of Massachusetts Avenue between the south side of Beacon and the north side of Commonwealth.

On October 30, 1888, 387 Commonwealth was purchased from George Wheatland, Jr., by Lillian Cortez (McDowell) Spitzer, the wife of Ceilan Milo Spitzer. They previously had lived at Young’s Hotel at 20 Court.

Plot plan for 381-391 Commonwealth; Suffolk Co. Deed Registry, Book 1713, p. 2 (10Feb1886)

Ceilan Spitzer was an investment banker from Toledo, Ohio, in partnership with his cousin, Adelbert Lorenzo Spitzer. They had opened a Boston branch in 1887, which they moved to New York City in 1899. In January of 1900, Ohio Governor George K. Nash named him quartermaster-general of Ohio, with the rank of brigadier general.

The Spitzers continued to live at 387 Commonwealth during the 1890-1891 winter season, but moved thereafter to the Hotel Vendôme.

387 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1892 Blue Book.

On September 29, 1892, 387 Commonwealth was purchased from Lillian Spitzer by Annie (Grant) Allen, the wife of hardware dealer George Allen. They previously had lived in Newton.

George Allen died in January of 1905 and Annie Allen moved soon thereafter to Cambridge.

387 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1906 Blue Book.

On April 28, 1905, 387 Commonwealth was purchased by Mary Morse (Baker) Glover Patterson Eddy, widow of George Washington Glover, former wife of Dr. Daniel Patterson, and widow of Dr. Asa Gilbert Eddy.

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science Church. She had lived at 385 Commonwealth in the late 1880s and subsequently had deeded it to the Church to be the residence of the First Reader of the Church. She lived in Chestnut Hill and in Concord, New Hampshire.

On March 6, 1907, Mrs. Eddy transferred 387 Commonwealth to Henry Moore Baker, Archibald McLellan, an Josiah E. Fernald, trustees on her behalf. Henry Baker was Mary (Baker) Eddy’s first cousin, once removed (his grandfather, James Baker was the brother of her father, Mark Baker).

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

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

By the 1906-1907 winter season, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Joseph Armstrong and his wife, Mary E. (Perrin) Armstrong. They previously had lived at 191 Huntington. Joseph Armstrong was charge of publishing for the Christian Science Church. He died in December of 1907 and Mary Armstrong moved soon thereafter.

387 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1909 Blue Book.

By the 1909-1910 winter season, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Thompson Howard Lewis and his wife, Jane (Jennie) Brumley (Lindsay) Lewis. They previously had lived at 495 Commonwealth.

T. Howard Lewis was manager of the Boston office of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.

They continued to live at 387 Commonwealth during the 1910-1911 winter season, but moved thereafter and by 1913 were living in Milton.

Mary Baker Eddy died in December of 1910. In her will, she left the bulk of her estate to the Christian Science Church, and, on March 25, 1913, her trustees transferred 387 Commonwealth to the Church following the resolution of a court challenge by her son, George Washington Glover, Jr.

By the 1911-1912 winter season, 387 Commonwealth was the home of David Crocker and his wife, Julia Gwathmey (Davis) Crocker. Julia Crocker’s mother, Ellen Maria (Andrews) Davis, the widow of Barnabas Davis, lived with them. They all previously had lived at the Hotel Victoria at 273 Dartmouth. The Crockers also maintained a home in Barnstable.

David Crocker had been a commission merchant in New York City in the China and India trade; he had retired about 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.

Ellen Davis died in December of 1913. The Crockers continued to live at 387 Commonwealth during the 1916-1917 winter season, but moved thereafter to The Ludlow (southwest corner of Clarendon and St. James).

387 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1918-1924 Blue Books.

By the 1924-1925 winter season, 389 Marlborough was the home of Laurence Willcomb Morgan, a trustee, and his wife Esther Parkman (Turner) Morgan. They previously had lived at 389 Marlborough. They continued to live at 387 Commonwealth during the 1925-1926 season, but moved thereafter to Dedham.

By the 1926-1927 winter season, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Gerald Dorr Boardman, a real estate broker, and his wife, Elizabeth Elwood (Devens) Boardman. They previously had lived at 49 Hereford. They continued to live at 387 Commonwealth during the 1932-1933 winter season, after which they moved to an apartment at 90 Commonwealth.

In August of 1933, the Christian Science Church filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 387 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.

By the 1933-1934 winter season, it was the home of Mrs. Lula M. (Fox) Darling, the former wife of Jerome M. Darling, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived (and operated a lodging house) at 320 Commonwealth. She continued to live at 387 Commonwealth until her death in 1939.

In July of 1938, the Church acquired 383 Commonwealth, which it also converted into a lodging house. Both 383 and 387 Commonwealth remained lodging houses, with various operators and owned by the Church, for the next forty-five years. 385 Commonwealth remained a single-family dwelling, the residence of the Church’s First Reader.

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

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

By 1940, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Michael F. Brady and his wife, Helen (Ellen/Nellie) (Anderson) Brady, who operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 26 Hemenway. He was a chief engineer at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital. They continued to live at 387 Commonwealth until about 1945, when they moved to 133 Peterborough.

On December 21, 1944, the Church transferred 387 Commonwealth to George L. Sleeper, Benjamin H. Leighton, and William E. McKee, trustees of the Shawmut Realty Trust, established to acquire and manage the Church’s property. The Shawmut Realty Trust also owned 387 Commonwealth (385 Commonwealth was held by a separate group of trustees). On May 2, 1946, the trustees of the Shawmut Realty Trust transferred 383 Commonwealth and 387 Commonwealth to themselves as trustees of the Church Realty Trust, a new trust created for the benefit of the Church.

By 1946, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Hugh Hardy and his wife, Annie (MacKinnon) Hardy, who continued to operate it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in Milton and, before that, had operated a lodging house at 338 Commonwealth. A former butler, he was a manager with the First National Bank of Boston. They continued to live at 387 Commonwealth until about 1949, when they moved to 193 Huntington, where they were living at the time of her death in June of 1950.

By 1950, 387 Commonwealth was the home of Clarence Leo Evans, a purchasing agent with the Christian Science Publishing Society, and his wife, Josephine F. Evans. They continued to operated it as a lodging house. They previously had lived at 95 Park Drive.

Clarence Evans died in 1963. Josephine Evans continued to live at 387 Commonwealth and operate it as a lodging house until about 1964.

In October of 1987, the Church Realty Trust applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 387 Commonwealth into five apartments.

387 Commonwealth remained an apartment building in 2018.

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.