409 Commonwealth

409 Commonwealth (2014)

Irregular Lot: 30' on Commonwealth and 30.08' on Marlborough (4,206.66 sf)

Irregular Lot: 30′ on Commonwealth and 30.08′ on Marlborough (4,206.66 sf)

409 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 407 Commonwealth to the east and 411 Commonwealth to the west.

409 Commonwealth was designed by Peabody and Stearns, architects, and built in 1898-1899 by Norcross Brothers, builders, for attorney William Minot, III. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application, dated May 17, 1898.

The rear of the lot on which 409 Commonwealth was built extends north to Marlborough Street and has a secondary street address of 458 Marlborough.

Plans for the house are included in the Peabody and Stearns Collection in the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (reference PS/MA.107). The plans include a large number of drawings, including front and rear (Marlborough Street) elevations, a lateral section, piling and foundation plans, floor plans, framing plans, interior elevations of the first floor stair hall and various other rooms, and detailed drawings of the staircase and other interior features.

409 Commonwealth, front and rear (Marlborough Street) elevations, excerpt from drawings by Peabody and Stearns (1898); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Click here to view the original plans for 409 Commonwealth.

William Minot purchased the land for 409 Commonwealth on February 8, 1898, from his daughter, Grace Josephine (Minot) Amory, the wife of Francis Inman Amory. They lived at 413 Commonwealth. She had purchased the land on April 11, 1888, from John Malcolm Forbes, part of a 104.77 foot lot at 403-409 Commonwealth. J. Malcolm Forbes had acquired the lot on February 19, 1887, from Louis Curtis, who had purchased it on January 8, 1886, from a real estate investment trust formed by Francis W. Palfrey, Francis A. Osborn, and Grenville T. W. Braman. The lot was part of a tract of land the trust had purchased on June 1, 1880, from the Boston Water Power Company.

When the trustees sold the lot to Louis Curtis, they included language prohibiting the use of any building on the land as a stable and prohibiting the erection of any building of more than one story in height within thirty feet of Marlborough.

On April 22, 1899, while 409 Commonwealth was under construction, the Boston Herald cited it as an example of modern fireproof construction.

Click here for an index to the deeds for 409 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.

By the 1899-1900 winter season, William Minot had made 409 Commonwealth his home. He was a widower, his wife, Elizabeth Vredenburgh (Van Pelt) Minot, having died in September of 1897. He lived at 409 Commonwealth with their four minor children: Katharine, William, Vredenburg, and Sedgwick Minot. They previously had lived at 297 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Wareham.

William Minot died in November of 1900.  In his will, he named his brother, Laurence Minot, as guardian for his children, and left his property, including 409 Commonwealth, in trust for their benefit, with Laurence Minot and Robert H. Gardiner as trustees.

Laurence Minot moved to 409 Commonwealth to live with his niece and nephews.  He was unmarried and previously had lived at 24 Marlborough.

409 Commonwealth; American Architect and Building News, International/Imperial Edition, 31May1902

Katharine Minot married in November of 1904 to attorney Henry Morse Channing.  After their marriage, they moved briefly to 3 Exeter. In December of 1904, Laurence Minot purchased and moved to 144 Marlborough with her three brothers, and in January of 1905, the trust established under William Minot’s will purchased the house next door, at 142 Marlborough, and the Channings moved there from 3 Exeter.

On August 1, 1905, 409 Commonwealth was purchased from the trust established under William Minot’s will by Ruth Felton (Ward) Paine, the wife of William Albert Paine. That same month they also purchased the stable at 352 Newbury. The Paines previously had lived at 181 Walnut Avenue in Roxbury. They also maintained a home, The Farm, at Beach Bluff in Swampscott.

William Paine was co-founder of the investment banking firm of Paine, Webber & Co.

He died in September of 1929 and Ruth Paine moved soon thereafter and Ruth Paine moved soon thereafter to their home in Swampscott.

409 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1930 and 1931 Blue Books.

On March 28, 1931, 409 Commonwealth was acquired from Ruth Paine by the Garland School of Homemaking (later Garland Junior College).

Garland School converted 409 Commonwealth into its main school building, which previously had been located at 2 Chestnut. In June and July of 1931, it acquired 341 Commonwealth and 343 Commonwealth, and in January of 1932 it acquired 337 Commonwealth. In June of 1937, it acquired 339 Commonwealth, in August of 1940, it acquired 413 Commonwealth, and in June of 1942, in acquired 415 Commonwealth.

In October of 1944, Garland School acquired 411 Commonwealth, which it converted into classrooms and assembly areas, and later partially into a dormitory. In August of 1947, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to cut openings in the party wall, connecting it with 409 Commonwealth.

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

In March of 1952, Garland School acquired 407 Commonwealth, and in May of 1954, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert it into a dormitory and cut openings in the party wall, connecting it with 409 Commonwealth.

By the late 1960s, Garland Junior College had assembled a portfolio of 22 properties in the western portion of the Back Bay: 315, 319, 321, 329, 337, 339, 341, 343, 349, 377, 407, 409, 411, 413415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth), and 447, 449, and 451 Marlborough (composed of 451-457 Marlborough).

In April of 1976, Garland Junior College announced that, because of financial difficulties, it was merging with Simmons College. It subsequently sold twelve of its properties and on October 21, 1977, it transferred the remainder — those located furthest west (407-415 Commonwealth, 24 Charlesgate East, and 451 Marlborough) — to Simmons College.

Simmons College utilized the former Garland Junior College buildings for its Graduate School of Management.

In the early 2000s, Simmons College embarked on a longterm plan to expand its Fenway campus and sell its properties in the Back Bay. In 2002, it moved its School of Social Service from 49-51 Commonwealth, which it sold, and in 2005 it began designing a new School of Management building at the Fenway campus to centralize the programs housed in its buildings in the western portion of the Back Bay.

407-411 Commonwealth (2014)

407-411 Commonwealth (2014)

On June 28, 2005, Simmons College sold those buildings – 451 Marlborough, 407-415 Commonwealth, and 24 Charlesgate East – to Terra Green II LLC (formed by Terra Mark Development of New York and local partners). The proceeds from the sale were used to finance construction of a new school of management building. Simmons College continued to occupy several of the Back Bay buildings until the new building was completed.

On November 2, 2010, 407-411 Commonwealth and 451 Marlborough were purchased from Terra Green II LLC by HD 407-411 LLC, formed by the Holland Development Company.

In January of 2011, HD 407-411 LLC filed for (and subsequently received) permission to consolidate 407, 409, and 411 Commonwealth into one property, with the address of 409 Commonwealth, remodeling them into twelve apartments and adding an interior garage. It subsequently filed for (and received) permission to reduce the number of units to eleven.

On October 18, 2012, HD 407-411 LLC converted the combined buildings into eleven condominium units, The Bradley Condominium.

North side of Commonwealth, looking east from Charlesgate East; detail from photograph taken March 24, 1923, by Leslie Jones, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

North side of Commonwealth, looking east from Charlesgate East; detail from photograph taken March 24, 1923, by Leslie Jones, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection