Historic Markers: South Boston

Albanian Orthodox Cathedral of St. George

The first Albanian Orthodox church in the United States was founded in 1908 by Archbishop Fan S. Noli. In 1950, the church acquired this edifice, the former Hawes Unitarian Church, named for John Hawes, founder of one of South Boston's oldest religious groups.  Samuel J. F. Thayer designed the High Victorian Gothic structure in 1872. The exquisite icons and hand-carved altar screen of the interior typify Byzantine sacred art in Albania.

Boston Fish Pier - Commonwealth Pier #6

The Boston Fish Pier was built in 1912 to accommodate the city's growing nationally recognized seafood industry. The 44 wholesale fish stores comprised the world's largest fish market in 1926, and more than 250 million pounds of fish were distributed from the Pier. Designed by Henry Keyes, the Pier's eclectic, Greco-Roman style architecture includes two identical buildings spanning the Pier's length, used for stores and processing houses. The central administration building, notable for bas-relief images of Neptune and the sea, housed the Boston Fish Market Association and the New England Fish Exchange.

Click to view historic image.

St. Augustine Chapel - Dorchester and Tudor Sts.

The oldest Catholic building still standing in Boston, this Gothic Revival chapel was built in 1819 as a mortuary chapel for the remains of Father Francis Matignon, one of the founders of the Church in Boston and for many years the only Catholic priest in the city. It was enlarged in 1831 to accommodate the increasing Catholic population in South Boston. Services were held here until 1844, when Sts. Peter and Paul was completed. The adjoining cemetery has been used since 1818 and was the first Catholic burying ground in New England.

John Hawes House - 568 E. 5th St.

About 1805, gentleman farmer John Hawes (1740-1829) and his wife Sarah Clapp retired from their prosperous Dorchester farm to this fashionable 5-bay mansion. Perhaps the oldest extant house in South Boston, it shows how brick residential architecture spread all across the city in the Federal era. When John Hawes was born in South Boston in 1740, the narrow peninsula had been part of Dorchester. In 1804, the district was annexed to the city, streets laid out and a bridge built. Hawes was a major benefactor to the new community. His gifts included a church and a trust to establish public school (including an early school for girls).

Hawes Burying Ground – Emerson St.

In 1816, John Hawes, a prominent South Boston landowner and benefactor, donated this parcel of land to be set aside as a burying ground. Historically and physically separate from the adjacent Union Cemetery, Hawes Burying Ground is the oldest graveyard in South Boston. John Hawes himself is entombed there. Even though it was not officially approved for use as a cemetery until 1821, the oldest gravestone marks the grave of Jonathan Spooner, 1817. The last stone, dated 1858, marks the grave of Elizabeth Smith.

L Street Bathhouse - William Day Blvd. at L St.

This Art Deco structure is credited to Boston Mayor James Michael Curley (1874-1958). Dedicated to the working class, Curley dominated Boston politics for years, focusing on issues of public health, housing, and recreation. In 1931 Curley replaced an earlier structure with this facility, which boasted many amenities in spite of the Depression. Now known as the Curley Community Center, the bathhouse, long home of the famous L Street Brownies, continues a long tradition of recreation and community.

Click to view historic image.

Union Cemetery – East 5th St.

A solemn row of graves separates Union Cemetery from the adjacent Hawes Burying Ground. The last cemetery laid out in South Boston, Adam Bent purchased the burying ground from the Warren Association Trustees in 1841. Bent then sold all but two small parcels to Samuel Blake who sold lots to individuals and families. The cemetery’s stones date from 1845-1886. Prominent Bostonians buried here include Cyrus Alger, whose iron foundry dominated South Boston’s industrial life during the mid 1800s.