415 Commonwealth is located on the north side of Commonwealth, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East, with 413 Commonwealth to the east and 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth) to the west.
415 Commonwealth was designed by architects McKim, Mead, and White and built in 1890-1891 by Benjamin D. Whitcomb & Co., builders, one of a symmetrical pair of houses (413-415 Commonwealth) built for law partners Francis Inman Amory and Richard Olney. Richard Olnay is shown as the owner of 415 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated November 12, 1890
The rear of the lot on which 415 Commonwealth was built extends north to Marlborough Street and has a secondary street address of 464 Marlborough.
Richard Olney purchased the land for 415 Commonwealth on May 28, 1890, from Walter Hunnewell. It was part of a 125 foot wide lot running east from Charlesgate East that Walter Hunnewell had purchased on December 21, 1885, 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 Walter Hunnewell, they included language prohibiting the use of any building on the land as a stable.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 415 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 1892-1893 winter season, Richard Olney and his wife, Agnes (Thomas) Olney, had made 415 Commonwealth their home. They previously had lived at the Hotel Kensington at 687 (307) Boylston, and prior to that at 241 Marlborough. They also maintained a home in Falmouth.
During the 1895-1896 winter season, 415 Commonwealth was the home of John Hitchcock, Jr., a lawyer and trustee of estates, and his wife, Esther Mary (Baker) Hitchcock. They previously had lived at 342 Beacon. By the 1896-1897 season, they had moved to 117 Commonwealth to live with Mary Hitchcock’s mother, Mary Ann (Martyn) Baker, the widow of Ezra Howes Baker, Jr.
During the 1896-1897 winter season, 415 Commonwealth was the home of banker Eugene Van Rensselaer Thayer and his wife, Susan (Spring) Thayer. They previously had lived at 17 Gloucester. They also maintained a home, Fairlawn, in Lancaster and a home I Pride’s Crossing. The Thayers had moved from 415 Commonwealth by the next season, possibly traveling abroad. By the 1899-1900, they were living at 1 Raleigh.
The Olneys had resumed living at 415 Commonwealth by the 1897-1898 winter season. They were joined by their daughter, Agnes (Olney) Minot, the widow of George Richards Minot, Jr., a dry goods commission merchant who had died in January of 1894.
They continued to live at 415 Commonwealth during the 1907-1908 winter season. By the next season, the Olneys were living at the Hotel Touraine (southeast corner of Boylston and Tremont) and Agnes Minot was living at 5 Marlborough.
On May 11, 1908, 415 Commonwealth was purchased from Richard Olney by Elizabeth Benjamin (Bliss) Perkins, the wife of Hamilton Perkins. They previously had lived at 25 Exeter with her widowed father, William Bliss, former president of the Boston and Albany Railroad, who had died in December of 1907.
Hamilton Perkins had been a career naval officer, after which he became freight agent for the Boston and Albany Railroad.
415 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1919 and 1920 Blue Books.
On June 7, 1920, 415 Commonwealth was purchased from Elizabeth Perkins by Florence R. (Stuart) Rust, the wife of Paul Drummond Rust. They previously had lived at 353 Commonwealth. They also maintained a home in Dublin, New Hampshire.
He died in March of 1929. Florence Rust continued to live at 415 Commonwealth until about 1941.
In September of 1942, Garland School filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 415 Commonwealth from a single-family dwelling into a dormitory. In April of 1943, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to change the legal occupancy from a dormitory to a lodging house.
In October of 1944, Garland School acquired 411 Commonwealth.
In June of 1949, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to combine 413 and 415 Commonwealth into one property, including removing portions of the party wall between the two buildings.
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, 413-415 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 (419 Commonwealth), 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.
On June 28, 2005, Simmons College sold those buildings – 451 Marlborough, 407-415 Commonwealth, and 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth) – 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.
In September of 2005, Terra Green II LLC filed for permission to combine 413-415 Commonwealth and 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth) into one building and convert it into fourteen apartments with an interior garage. It subsequently abandoned the permit.
In November of 2005, Terra Green II LLC filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 413-415 Commonwealth into nine apartments and an interior garage. At the same time, it also filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth) into four apartments and an interior garage. The two buildings – 413-415 Commonwealth and 24 Charlesgate East (419 Commonwealth) – remained separate buildings, with the latter having the street address of 419 Commonwealth.
On April 9, 2007, Terra Green II LLC converted 413-415 Commonwealth and 419 Commonwealth into thirteen condominium units – nine at 413-415 Commonwealth and four at 419 Commonwealth – The Meads of Commonwealth Condominium.
In the condominium master deed, it specified that the conversion was Phase I of The Meads, and that Phase II would be to convert 407-409-411 Commonwealth. Instead, on November 10, 2010, it sold those properties, along with 451 Marlborough, to HD 407-411 LLC, formed by the Holland Development Company, which remodeled and converted them into condominium units.