MARKSDALE GARDENS I&IIEdit
Marksdale Gardens was the first housing completed in the urban renewal district with 82 units of cluster homes completed at the end of 1964 on Crestwood Park and Humboldt Avenue.
This was developed as moderate income homeowners by St Marks church on 3.5 acres of land labeled parcel B-1 between Harold St.,Humboldt Avenue and Townsend St. Fifteen homes were razed on the rectangular site.
The $2.5 million project was reviewed by Mayor John Collins and BRA director Ed Logue in October, 1963 and plans were approved in December.
Marksdale Gardens was designed by the minority-owned and operated architectural firm, Associated Architects and Engineers, with Henry C.Boles as chief architect. Forty one duplexes arranged in 13 clusters were built around
A horseshoe shaped private way called Crestwood Park, after an existing cul de sac The longest clusters were built in rows with their backs toward Humboldt Ave and Townsend Street screened by a wooden slat fence.
Two clusters were set around an enormous outcrop of Roxbury conglomerate.§
Typical building permit.
28 – 30 Crestwood Park
2-family duplex. 40’x27’
Permit October 24,1963
Estimated cost $16,416
12-26 Crestwood Park
6, 2 family duplexes. 172’x 27’
Permit October 30,1963
Completed Sept 11,1964.
Just as the Crestwood Park section was nearing completion, the St Marks Development team ( that had formed its own non profit corporation under Section 221(d)(3) of the 1961 Housing Act) took out building permits for a second group, of 94 cluster homes on the other side of Humboldt Avenue called Marksdale Gardens II. Sandwiched between newly widened Humboldt Avenue the curve of Townsend Street and the right-of way of the new crosstown highway built to connect the expressway with the proposed I 95. The first half of the boulevard from Warren to Humboldt was completed in 1965.
The construction of the crosstown and Marksdale Gardens required the demolition of 61 , 1 and 2 family homes as well as St Marks Church and the social center both adjacent to each other at Townsend and Hazelwood Street. Monroe Street was amputated and turned into a parking lot for the new homes.
Associated Architects and Engineers designed eight cluster blocks all of which faced interior common areas on Hazelwood and Elbert Streets. The style was the same as at Crestwood Park. Financed by the Church at $1.107 million, Marksdale Gardens II was ready for occupancy in 1965.
HUD transfered ownership of Marksdale I & II after lengthy financial struggles to a resident –run co op board on Sept. 23,1984. Two other housing developments-Charlame and Warren Gardens was transfered to resident run co ops at that same time.
Typical building permitEdit
40 – 42 Hazelwood ( formerly Monroe )St.
2 family duplex. 40’ x 27 ‘
Building permit March 27, 1964
Estimated cost $16,416.
A rectangular tract at Townsend and Humboldt was taken out of the housing plan and reserved for a new St Marks designed by Henry Boles of Associated Architects and Engineers in 1968. The 2 and 1/2 story brick and concrete church at 200 Humboldt Aveneue is 114 feet long with a steep chalet roof topped by a small cupola. The church was ready for services on May 30, 1969 and cost $152,000. Designed to look more like a ski lodge than a church, it is dignified by a ribbon of colored glass that runs down the center of the end walls 1,200 c/f of Roxbury conglomerate had to be blasted out for the foundation. The site of the original church is today ( 2005) a treeless lawn.
The homes of Marksdale Gardens II are clustered around the new church like an English country village.
In March, 1963, the BRA allocated two sites for small businesses displaced by renewal ; one on Humboldt Ave at Marksdale Gardens I and the other at Walnut and Warren St below Warren Gardens.
In July of 1967 a small commercial block at 95- 101 Humboldt Avenue was completed that for many years was the home of Marksdale Pharamacy. Associated Architects and Engineers. Building permit Jan.7, 1965.
It is flanked by two rows of duplexes and was completed in July, 1969.
CHARLAME HOMES I & IIEdit
The second group of faith- based housing was developed by Charles St AME Church that formed Charlame Park Homes Inc in 1963 to develop 92 -units of housing on a portion of Tract I, the largest clearance area of the renewal district§. Charlame Homes was built in two phases on the opposite side of Martin Luther King Blvd. facing Marksdale II.
Phase I of the 4.9 acre development was begun when architects Rudolph Beders and Phineas Alpers submitted plans to the BRA and the church team on Feb. 3, 1964. They planned six pairs of brick, and cinder –block flat-roofed barracks –like boxes set in parallel rows perpendicular to a new street called Charlame. Twenty five homes were razed for 52, 2 and 3 story attached houses in rows of 8 on private ways called Charlame Terrace, Court and Place. All are tidy shoe boxes with blank brick walls that face the public streets. Two 3 story duplexes face Laurel Street, at the corner of Charlame St.
Typical building permit
7-11 Charlame Court
3 family, 2 story concrete block buildings
Building pernit Feb 4, 1964.
Completed Jan. 25, 1965.
Phase II was begun after the first half of Martin Luther King Blvd was completed in 1965.Forty homes were built in zigzag formation around a triangle created by the crosstown, Walnut and Humboldt Avenues, Existing Bower Street was eliminated and turned into a private parking lot for the new homes and Harold Street was truncated on the opposite side of the boulevard at Monroe Street. The parking lot forms the bleak backyard of three original old style apartment buildings dating from 1928§§
Groundbreaking for Charlame Homes II took place on Sept. 26, 1965.
Beders and Alpert were apparently embarrassed enough by the quality of their first design§§§ that they chose a radically different style in the Warren-Humboldt cluster island.
Charlame II had pitch roofs with thick overhanging eves and cut in dormers; the facades of were given ribbons of color as highlights. Resembling ski lodges around a village green, they were nonetheless a lot more distinctive looking than its sister development and still is today. Both Charlame II Homes were repetitive patterns of modular design duplexes in clusters totaling 40 units around two small common areas. All the homes face inward with tier backs toward the public streets.
Typical building permitEdit
134 – 136 Walnut Avenue ( 2-4 Bower St)
2 family concrete slab with brick veneer
Permit June 6, 1966
Estimated cost $10,150
Rehabilitated and upgraded in 1999.
Chisholm ,Washington, architects.
Permit Oct 8, 1999
The 1964 rental brochure stated that “all families displaced by urban renewal will receive preference in consideration… The national Housing Act of 1961 prescribes the maximum income levels for middle families of the Greater Boston area as $6,100 for a 2 person family… 5 or 6 persons in a family is $8,300.” §
The largest housing development in the urban renewal district, Warren Gardens got underway in June of 1965 when the BRA announced that 200 units of moderately priced homes would be built over a 12 acre site in Tract I.§
Warren Gardens was built in two sections between 1967 and 1969 and stretched from Regent to Dale Streets between the civic center and shopping center.§§ Second only in size and scale to Academy Homes I, Warren was designed by Hugh Stubbins Associates ( the architects of record) with Ashley Meyer and Associates.
This team propose a development of 228 townhouses attached in clusters of from 4 to 12 homes built largely of prefabricated concrete and wood forms. A retail block was planned but never built for the flat corner of Circuit Walnut and Warren, one of the three sites for displaced businesses. The Dabney Street cluster of homes was built above this site which has long had a flower-filled garden growing that is the pride of the Warren Gardens residents with the only working fountain in Roxbury ( the garden also features Christmas lights during the holiday season).
On September 30, 1965,Warren Gardens Inc was formed as a cooperative under Section 221(d)(3) to develop the land that was sold by the BRA for $25,000 on March 31, 1967. That same day the Provident Institute for savings agreed to a $4.4 million mortgage §§§. The BRA accepted the development as complete on March 13, 1969.
Warren Gardens is a rambling and complex pattern of row houses reminiscent of London Council house communities with prominent party walls, repetitive unit styles and tiny private yard space. Warren Gardens occupies two self contained domestic villages with virtually no contact with the public streets. ( indeed 46 row houses on Warren Street are set off by a high masonry wall like a cloister).
At Fountain and Circuit Streets the housing is built of cement blocks and wood
in attached rows 2 to 21/2 half stories high in four concentric circles around Dabney Street with wonderful cityskyline views. The rows are painted in pastel hues with high roof lines and prominent party walls spare and stark against the sky.
Ninety homes, apartment houses and other buildings were razed to create Warren Gardens, including the 6 story brick “suburban apartment house” that sat solidly for 65 years at the Warren, Regent and Saint James Street corner. Each side of the apartment faced one of the streets with a deep inset entrance above which stared out a bust of Joseph Warren for whom the apartment was named. The Warren was designed by Carl Fehmer in 1886 as a very early apartment house in Roxbury only one year after the first one, The Dunbar at Roxbury and Washington Streets ( destroyed by fire in 1982).
( An 1890 photograph was published in Picturesque Boston Highlands, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester, a real estate promotion published in 1895. A line elevation drawing, a detail of the door way with Warren bust and floor plans were published in American Architect and Building News. Nov, 15, 1886). The site is today owned and used as a parking lot by 12th Baptist Church.
Another victim was the Masonic Building built next to the Warren built in 1902-1903 at Warren St and Tolman Place. It was a brick and limestone Italianate style building similar in style and scale to the Citizens Bank building in Dudley Square ( built in 1900). The Roxbury Masonic Hall was designed by Edwin H. Oliver and cost $80,000 ( Boston Herald. March 20, 1902. Page 9. Illustration and description).
The Joseph Warren statue placed in front of the Warren in 1903 was removed in a different fashion. In 1902, the City of Boston commissioned Paul H.Barrett to design a standing figure of Joseph Warren , physician and Roxbury revolutionary War patriot who died at Bunker Hill. The press reported that 10,00 people came to view the dedication parade and ceremony on Bunker Hill Day June 17, 1904. The statue was temporarily removed in 1966 for the reconstruction of Warren Street with the intention to reset the sculpture in the new civic center plaza when completed. §In the meantime the statue relaxed on its face in the maintenance yard at Franklin Park until the Boston Parks Department –acting on a request by an alumnus - gave it to Roxbury Latin School in 1969. Despite occasional public outbursts from a Roxbury resident or two , the Roxbury Latin School has never shown the slightest indication that it would return the statue and the City of Boston has never pressed the case.§§
The type of housing destroyed in much of Tract I is illustrated by a wrecking ball survivor at 36 Regent Street at the corner of Dabney. This is a wood frame, 6-family house with a distinctive round arch entrance frame that supports a four column inset piazza on the second floor. It was completed in Dec., 1905 and designed by Mackay and Dunham .
The second section of Warren Gardens was along Warren, Walnut, Rockland and Dale Streets largely invisible except for a few homes at Walnut Ave, Circuit St and Saint Richard and the wall along Warren Street. The hilltop Dabney Street circle is the main face of Warren Gardens, but the Kensington Park section is the heart of Warren Gardens, a sprawling maze of attached homes on separate grades and cul de sacs §
The architectural community loved Warren Gardens, in part because it loved Hugh Stubbins who was nearing the height of his international style fame, BRA Director Logue was very fond of Ashley Meyer; Logue said in an interview with this writer in 1990 that he credited Jack Meyer with a lot of the design of Warren Gardens.
The July, 1972 issue of House and Home carried an 8 page portfolio of photographs, plans and elevations showing “ an excellent example of the imaginative design possible in a low income project… the finished project is both handsome and reflective of its New England setting.” In 1998, Carole Rifkind included it in her book, A Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture. ( EP Dutton, Oct. 1, 1998)
Typical Building PermitsEdit
2 DABNEY STREETEdit
2 family, concrete and wood, 19’x 30’.
Building permit March 24, 1967.
Estimated construction cost $14,558.
21 DABNEY STREET
1 family. Concrete and wood. 15’6 x 30’
Building permit March 14, 1967.
Completed Nov. 6. 1968.
Estimated cost $14, 800
45 WALNUT AVENUE
1 family concrete block and wood 19’x30’
Building permit March 14, 1967.
Completed Nov 6, 1968.
Estimated cost $16,096
59 KENSINGTON PARK
1 family, concrete block and wood. 19’x 30’
Building permit, March 24, 1967.
Estimated cost $13,083.
ST JOSEPH’S COOPERATIVE HOUSING
The last housing built in Washington park urban renewal was faith-based like St Marks and Charles St AME, the 125 unit co operative development the Archdiocese Planning and Development office built around St Joseph’s Church on Washington Street and Circuit Street. St Joseph’s Housing Inc was formed as a 221(d)(30 cooperative by the Archdiocese to build the housing after the site around the church, the convent and the school was cleared by the BRA.§
St Josephs Church was built in 1846, the first Catholic church in Roxbury and the parish church of Mayor Collins. As a young boy, Collins attended mass in the spacious sanctuary built in such a way as to include no interior columns. The brick walls were load bearing and the wooden cross beams had decorative patterns cut into the grain.§§
In 1965. St Josephs Church was designated developer of about 5 acres of land along Washington, Circuit, Dale and Regent Streets. Rev Michael F. Grodin§, the 27 year old assistant pastor of the church, was project manager of what had been changed to a 137- unit cooperative housing financed with HUD subsidies; St Josephs is one of the oldest subsidized cooperatives in America§§ ( Marksdale, Charlame, and Warren Gardens all became co operatives in 1984).
Paul G. Feloney was architect of the 137 units of 2 –story cluster housing built of wood with concrete block party walls. Groundbreaking took place on May 23, 1968. The first building permits were approved on June 24, 1968, foundations were poured that summer and some housing completed at the end of 1969. The development was not completed until late 1971. It was built by the Development Corporation of America.
St Josephs Co op is stretched out along Washington Street and nestles up around the church and blow the hanging cliffs of Tommy’s Rock. Most clusters are 3 homes in a row folded into shady common courts. All parking is placed on the outskirts of the the main groupings of homes. The homes on Hommegen and Crispus Attucks Places look like an English country village group under the church bell tower until the church was destroyed in Feb, 2005
There is a strong feeling of history at St Josephs Co-ops as shown in the street names of Hommagen, O’Bierne and Fenwick,Crispus. Attucks Place reflected the growing emergence of the black community in Boston, a phenomenon not present five years earlier when Academy Homes I was built and the streets were named for federal housing officials( albeit one who was the first black cabinet officer).
Typical Building Permit
2 – 20 O’BIERNE PLACE ( even numbers)
10. one family , 2 story homes/
Woodframe walls with partial brick veneers and concrete block party wall.
194’ x 31’
Building permit Nov 4, 1968.
Estimated cost $116,000
4 –1 6 CRISPUS ATTUCKS PLACE ( even numbers, facing Washington Street)
7, 2- story , one family homes. Wood and concrete block.
Building permit June 24, 1968,
Estimated cost $84,800
85 – 95 CIRCUIT STREET (below Tommy’s Rock)
6, 2-story, one family homes.
Building permit June 24, 1968
Estimated cost $52,810 § Marksdale was abutted on the westside of the development by one of the finest townhouse row in Boston, the handsome Queen Anne –style half timber and brick block of 15 townhomes called Harriswood Crescent, designed in 1890 by J.Williams Beal. Marksdale and Harriswood stand with their backs to each other.
American Architect and Building News, Aug 2,1890. Beal designed All Souls Church ( Charles St AME, 551 Warren Street ) at the same time.
§ Tract I extended form Monroe to Regent Streets, Warren almost to Walnut Avenue..Together with the tract that was razed to make room for the civic center, this was the area of lowest income in the renewal district from which many families were relocated to Academy Homes I and public housing.
§§150 Walnut Ave. and 134 Bower St. 1927. Barney Levy,architect.
154 “ “ 1927. Barney Levy, architect.
158 “ “ corner of Harold Street. 1928.Max Kalman, architect
§§§ Even BRA Director Logue didn’t like it. He told this writer in 1990 that “ we weren’t paying enough attention “ when Charlame I was proposed § Opposite the fenced-in walls of Charlame II is the handsome apartment house block at 2- 12 Humboldt Avenue called Lanesborough Gables, 5 attached woodframe row houses designed by Charles E Park in 1895 for ED Bell. Building permit Sept. 16, 1895. Estimated cost $9000 per row house.See also Boston Herald Dec 12, 1895. Page 6. and American Architect and Building News Jan 25, 1896. It has been sadly marred by aluminum siding.
Park also designed Wellington Court Apartments at 515 Warren St in 1902, a courtyard apartment house with ground floor retail opposite Charles St. AME Church.
§ Roxbury Citizen. July 1, 1965. Start up capital was provided by Charlesbank Homes, a Boston –based charitable foundation. §§ The Warren ,Walnut and Rockland stretch is in part a steep ledge on which a portion of foundation is still visible today of the Isaac Fenno House, a large gloomy French Second empire pile with the brackets and turrets and applied doodads typical of post Civil War architecture. It was originally the pasture of Teacher John Eliot who preached to the Massachusetts for over forty years. (Warren and Walnut streets are two of the oldest public ways in Roxbury – laid out in 1665 and 1662 respectively). The wealthy dry gods merchant Isaac Fenno purchased this land at the intersection of Warren and Walnut and built a large house in 1878 designed by Hartwell and Tilden ( file card at the Boston Public Library Fine Arts Dept.). On the death of ( Mrs) Almira Fenno on May 29, 1925 , this outcrop of about 11/4 acres was deeded to the city.
“I earnestly request” Mrs Fenno wrote in her will, ” that the city of Boston guard and preserve this natural feature – a bit of old Roxbury used by the Apostle Eliot- as my former husband and I have done for many years.”
When the BRA acquired the tract on Dec. 23, 1964, the agency paid $19,500 to the City Trust Fund, the holder of the Fenno will.It was the opinion of the City Law Department that the Fenno Trust was nullified by the eminent domain provisions of the urban renewal legislation. A school was proposed but never built on the ridge and it today remains a fragment of old Roxbury. ( BRA Archives. Washington Park). §§§ Warren Gardens Inc formed to develop parcels C.1A, D.2 and F.4. 536,168 square feet.
Suffolk County Deeds. Book 8108.Page 200 and 267. Sale of land and description of boundaries. See also Book 8269, Page 729. and Book 8770, Page 24. § BRA Director Edward Logue ,writing to the Boston Art Commission pledging the statue’s replacement, added that he wished “all of our relocation problems were as simple”, referring to the thousands of families displaced by renewal clearances. §§ Monument to Joseph Warren, Boston Municipal Printing Office. 1905.
Boston Herald, June 18. 1904. page 2.
Roxbury Gazette June 11, 1904 front page
Bay State Banner, Sept. 20, 1973. page 6
Boston Globe, Editorial Aug 31, 1997.Page D6
Boston Globe Feb 20, 2001 § Another loss throughout the renewal area was the disappearance of hero squares, intersections dedicated to a local WW I and II servicemen killed in those wars. One hero square marker in memory of Staff Sgt Herbert C. Shoals was taken out when Buena Vista Street was discontinued. Dedicated at a well attended ceremony on August 7, 1952, Sgt Shoals was the first Roxbury serviceman killed in WWI.He died at St Lo. His mother lived at 234 Warren St. The Square is now a blank wall. § The Archdiocese of Boston played an important role in the beginning of the BRA and Washington Park.
Monsignor Francis J. Lally, editor of The Pilot and Pastor of St Mary’s Church in Charlestown was appointed to the first 5 member BRA board by Mayor John Hynes in 1957. Msgr. Lally was chair of the BRA during the planning of Washington Park Urban Renewal. §§ Roxbury Citizen, August 26, 1948. Centennial story with photographs of the church..It was built into the side of a great Roxbury conglomerate cliff at Circuit Street called Tommy’s Rock. Tommy Hommagen was an old freed slave who kept horses at a way station next to his small cottage on the Dedham Turnpike ( Washington St,) at the turn of the 19th century. Until the 1940’s St Josephs was called the Tommy’s Rock Church and even had a Tommy’s Rock social club. Founded as a parish in 1845 by Bishop Benedict Fenwick, the second Archbishop of Boston, Bishop Fenwick appointed Rev Patrick O’Beirne as the first pastor whose first task was to raise the funds to build the church . Built by Irish brick masons in the country church style so common all over Ireland, the church had a simple brick tower with conical roof. The cornerstone was laid Sept 4,1845 and the dedication service was held on Dec 6, 1846. The name of the church and its completion date was cut into a simple marble plaque set over the door.
For a year in 1855 through 1856 the Sisters of Notre Dame held school in the church basement until the Academy house was completed outside Egleston Square.
Abandoned by parishioners and the archdiocese itself, St Josephs was allowed to deteriorate beyond repair and finally destroyed in February, 2005. Boston Globe June 29, 2002. and Aug 19, 2002 ( editorial). § Fr Grodin was appointed Director of the Archdiocese Planning and Development Office in 1968.He was pastor of St Cecelia’s Church in the Back Bay for 14 years. After 35 years, Fr Grodin was dismissed as Director of the Planning and Development in 2003. ( Boston Globe. May 15, 2003) §§ “ Applicants purchase a share representing membership in the cooperative and pay a monthly account that covers operating expenses. The cooperative owns the buildings. land and common areas.” Share value for May 2005 was $12,156 for a two bedroom apartment and the monthly carrying charge was $963.
Advertisement for waitlist applications. Dorchester Reporter. May 26,2005..