415 Commonwealth

413-415 Commonwealth (2014)

Irregular Lot: 24' on Commonwealth and 24.06' on Marlborough (3,212.9 sf)

Irregular Lot: 24′ on Commonwealth and 24.06′ on Marlborough (3,212.9 sf)

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.

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.

415 Commonwealth became the home of Richard Olney and his wife Agnes (Thomas) Olney. They previously had lived at the Hotel Kensington at 687 (307) Boylston, and prior to that at 241 Marlborough. He is shown as the owner of 415 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated November 12, 1890, and on the 1895, 1898, and 1908 Bromley maps. They also maintained a home in Falmouth.

In 1893, Richard Olney was named US Attorney General by President Grover Cleveland. He served in that position until mid-1895, when he was named Secretary of State, serving until March of 1897.

The Olneys continued to maintain their home at 415 Commonwealth during the 1894-1895 winter season, but during the next two seasons they lived in Washington DC.

413-415 Commonwealth (ca. 1890); from A Monograph of the Works of McKim, Mead & White: 1879-1915 (The Architectural Book Publishing Company, New York); Plate 96

413-415 Commonwealth (ca. 1890); from A Monograph of the Works of McKim, Mead & White: 1879-1915 (The Architectural Book Publishing Company, New York); Plate 96

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, 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 in South Lancaster, which they subsequently made their year-round home.

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.

By the 1908-1909 winter season, 415 Commonwealth was the home of Hamilton Perkins and his wife, Elizabeth Benjamin (Bliss) 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. Elizabeth Perkins is shown as the owner of 415 Commonwealth on the 1912 and 1917 Bromley maps.

Hamilton Perkins had been a career naval officer, after which he became freight agent for the Boston and Albany Railroad.

Hamilton Perkins died in January of 1918 and Elizabeth Perkins moved soon thereafter to Brookline.

415 Commonwealth was not listed in the 1919 and 1920 Blue Books.

By the 1920-1921 winter season, 415 Commonwealth was the home of Paul Drummond Rust and his wife, Florence R. (Stuart) Rust. They previously had lived at 353 Commonwealth. Florence Rust is shown as the owner of 415 Commonwealth on the 1928 and 1938 Bromley maps. They also maintained a home in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Paul Rust was an investor in timber lands, wholesale lumber dealer, and investment banker and broker.

Paul Rust died in March of 1929. Florence Rust continued to live at 415 Commonwealth until about 1941.

In mid-1942, the Garland School of Homemaking (later to become Garland Junior College) acquired 415 Commonwealth. The transaction was reported in the Boston Globe on July 12, 1942. Garland School also owned 409 and 413 Commonwealth and 337-343 Commonwealth.

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 1944, Garland School acquired 411 Commonwealth.

413-415 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

413-415 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

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 in October of 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.

In June of 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 419 Commonwealth into one building and convert it into fourteen apartments with an interiod 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.

In April of 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.

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