Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting to Know Dudley Square: Getting Here

Dudley Square has long stood as a gateway to Roxbury and the surrounding southern neighborhoods of Boston. During the colonial period, when the delicate Roxbury Neck Road, now Washington Street, served as the only land bridge between Boston and mainland Massachusetts, Dudley saw all traffic into and out of the city. During the Revolutionary War, colonists fleeing British occupied Boston, travelled through what would later become known as Dudley Square in order to reach neighboring safe havens.

However, even after the Back Bay and the South End were filled in, and other highways opened into Boston’s downtown, Dudley remained a transportation hub.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Additions to HBI's Dudley Square Headquarters

Working on the new iron fence
Last week brought three new physical transformations to the Eustis Street Fire House. Two dying trees in the Eliot Burying Ground that stood near the fire house for many years were removed, resulting in a lot more light into our offices and far more visibility of the fire house from Washington Street.  We were especially sad to see the beautiful old silver maple go, but tropical storm Irene did some damage that revealed rot within, and we were relieved that it didn’t fall on the fire house, as we feared could happen in stormy weather. 

Our sidewalk extended
The second major transformation is the City’s continuation of the brick sidewalk to the front of the fire house. This was a logical extension, as the brick sidewalk now helps define the historic district comprised of the Owen Nawn Factory, Eliot Burying Ground and Eustis Street Fire House. We are very grateful to the City for this elegant improvement.

The most exciting new addition to the fire house was the arrival and installation of the long-awaited ornamental fence that now runs alongside our walkway. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Boston Businss Journal highlights new HBI headquarters

The Boston Business Journal featured Historic Boston Inc. in recent article about our new Dudley Square headquarters:

Renovation group relocates to Roxbury
An organization that restores historic buildings to catalyze community development has moved from its longtime headquarters in Downtown Crossing to the city’s oldest remaining firehouse — a newly renovated building in Dudley Square.
The move is an important one for Historic Boston Inc., which launched more than 50 years ago with the renovation of what became its headquarters at the Old Corner Bookstore downtown.

Friday, September 23, 2011

HBI Acquires Historic Hyde Park Building

Current photo of facade

1965 Bostonian Society photo showing early storefronts;
note Baptist Church in the background

Historic Boston is pleased to announce the acquisition of the historic Vertullo building in Hyde Park’s Logan Square for a planned rehabilitation next year.

Located at 74-84 Fairmount Avenue in Logan Square, the Vertullo Building is thought to be one of the few surviving commercial structures from the period of Hyde Park’s early commercial development in the 1850s and 1860s. Built in the late 1860s and then expanded with new storefronts in about 1895, this is one of the priority properties that HBI and its Historic Neighborhood Centers program partners identified together in a 2008 work plan for the program in that district.

It has been our genuine pleasure getting to know building owner Carmela (Vertullo) Pearce during the course of our discussions to purchase the property.  Carmela’s father, Pasquale “Patsy” Vertullo, bought the building in 1932 and operated a cobbler shop and shoe store there for almost four decades. Carmela has lived in the building most of her life, and is a walking treasure trove of neighborhood history.  While Carmela makes plans her own future, she is happy to be shedding her property management duties, which have been her responsibility for quite some time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting to Know Dudley Square: the Businesses

HBI works in a microcosm of its former offices at Downtown Crossing.  There are many lunchtime options, places to buy clothes and shoes, and shops for our daily fix of office candy.  We even have our own version of the Filenes hole in the ground at the former Ferdinand’s Blue Store, slated for development next year.  Gradually, we’re learning the new landscape and enjoying the adventure of discovery.

By this time, we are “regulars” at Haley House, a newer institution in Dudley that is the lunch hub for neighbors and workers.   In what looks like a hip, cool, yuppie lunch spot, Haley House’s managers and staff are carrying out a really important mission.  They train at-risk young people in food services and culinary arts and are devoted to the justice of good, healthy food for everyone.  The group of men and women who prepare awesome meals at Haley House have become a steady presence in our daily lives too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Getting to Know Dudley Square: The People

Our Groundbreaking earlier this year let us meet some of our neighbors.
We're enjoying getting to know them better.
HBI’s long-time office snack, gummi worms, has been replaced with coconut macaroons and mango wafer cookies.   Dudley Square is turning out to be more than just a new office in a new place for HBI staff; it’s a perspective shift.   Known as the heart of Roxbury, it is where the neighborhood’s major institutions and businesses are clustered in some of the city’s most beautiful historic buildings.  It is also the busiest bus station in the public transit system. In this “grand central” of communities, you can imagine that one encounters an incredible variety of people. 

If you think Dudley is just the center of African-American Roxbury, think again.  Culturally, that’s true, but the Census tells us that Roxbury is changing with significant increases in Spanish-speaking residents, and it’s evident on the street.  Visit Tropical Foods – a long time magnet for Latino food anyway – and you will experience one of the truly great markets of Boston.  Tropical Foods, at its core a basic grocery store, is peppered with imported food from Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, and produce that reflects the cooking styles of many cultures.  And as you check out, pretty much all the cashiers and staff are speaking Spanish with their customers.