391 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 391 Commonwealth, dated December 15, 1885, and on the 1888 Bromley map. 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 1889-1890 winter season, 391 Commonwealth was the home of attorney Francis Peabody and his wife, Rosamond (Lawrence) Peabody. They previously had lived at 230 Beacon. Rosamond Peabody is shown as the owner of 391 Commonwealth on the 1895 Bromley map.
Francis Peabody is called “F. Peabody, Jr.” in the 1890-1896 Blue Books, but was the son of Samuel Endicott Peabody and the grandson of Francis Peabody.
By the 1895-1896 winter season, 391 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Ellen Sears (Amory) Anderson, the wife of John Francis Anderson. She previously had lived at 455 Marlborough with her son-in-law and daughter, Francis Stanley Parker and Harriet Amory (Anderson) Parker. Ellen Anderson’s husband, a dry goods merchant, lived in Portland, Maine. Her brother, Francis Inman Amory, trustee, is shown as the owner of 391 Commonwealth on the 1898 and 1908 Bromley maps.
391 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1909 Blue Book.
By the 1909-1910 winter season, 391 Commonwealth was the home of Thomas Pelham Curtis and his wife, Frances Kellogg (Small) Curtis. They previously had lived at the Hotel Canterbury at 14 Charlesgate West, before that in an apartment at The Chesterfield at 371 Commonwealth, and before that at 120 Marlborough.
In 1894, Thomas Curtis had been a member of the Boston Athletic Club team that participated in the first Olympics, held in Greece. He won the 110-meter hurdles (gold medals were not awarded to first place winners until later Olympics). He was an engineer in the electric wiring and construction businesses, associated with his MIT classmate, Frederick W. Lord. Frances (Small) Curtis was a leader in the Massachusetts movement for women’s suffrage.
They continued to live at 391 Commonwealth during the 1910-1911 season, but then purchased and moved to 447 Beacon.
By the 1911-1912 winter season, 391 Commonwealth was the home of Ellen Anderson’s son-in-law and daughter, Francis and Harriet Parker. During the previous season, they had lived in an apartment at the Chesterfield at 371 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Bedford, which had been their year-round residence since they moved from 455 Marlborough in about 1894. Harriet Parker is shown as the owner of 391 Commonwealth on the 1912, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps.
Francis Parker was a wholesale coal dealer.
Francis Parker died in January of 1916. Harriet Parker continued to live at 391 Commonwealth until about 1944, when she moved to 68 Beacon.
By late 1944, 391 Commonwealth was the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Ann (Joyce) Broderick, the former wife of Walter Michael Broderick. She previously had lived in an apartment at 333 Commonwealth.
Elizabeth Joyce Broderick owned a direct mail advertising company, the Joyce Letter Shop at 462 Boylston.
In November of 1944, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 391 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into two apartments, one on the first and second floor, and the other on the third floor. She specified that she would not use the fourth floor unless and until a second means of egress was provided.
In August of 1948, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to increase the number of apartments from two to three (presumably having provided the necessary egress from the fourth floor).
In September of 1952, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to build a one story addition at the rear of the property for use as a kitchen.
Elizabeth Broderick continued to live at 391 Commonwealth untl about 1953, when she moved to Chestnut Hill.
By 1954, 391 Commonwealth was the home of Jean Baldwin (Dunning) Toohey, the widow of Peter Bernard Toohey. She previously had lived at in an apartment at 382 Commonwealth.
In February of 1954, she filed for (and subsequenty received) permission to legalize the occupancy of 391 Commonwealth as four apartments.
She continued to live in one of the apartments at 391 Commonwealth until 1957.
By 1958, 391 Commonwealth was owned by Gerald Thomas Dugan and his wife, Katherine (King) Dugan, who lived in one of the apartments. They previously had lived in Wellesley.
Gerald Dugan was regional manager for the California Oil Company.
In May of 1958, they filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from four to five apartments.
They continued to live at 391 Commonwealth until about 1961, when they moved to Millis, Massachusetts.
In September of 1961, 391 Commonwealth was acquired by Kenneth Clyde Dunlop and his wife, Ethel (Carlson) Dunlop, who lived in one of the apartments. They previously had lived in Brookline. He was a retired insurance broker and former lawyer.
Kenneth Dunlop died in November of 1976. Ethel Dunlop continued to live at 391 Commonwealth until her death in August of 1981.
In September of 1982, Dorothy F. Wirth and Susan F. DeAngelis, trustees of the 391 Commonwealth Avenue Realty Trust, purchased 391 Commonwealth from the estate of Ethel C. Dunlop.
In May of 1983, they converted 391 Commonwealth into five condominium units, the 391 Commonwealth condominium.