Historic Markers: South End

Allen House - 1682 Washington Street

The most elaborate example of a grand Victorian mansion surviving in the South End, the Allen House was built in 1859 for wealthy furniture dealer Aaron Hall Allen. The fashionable brownstone house is an exotic blend of the Italianate and French Second-Empire styles, with richly carved ornamentation that reflects furniture design of the era, incorporated by designer and builder John J. McNutt. From the 1870s to the 1950s, the building was home to a succession of social clubs that reflected the changing neighborhood. These included the Central Club, the Catholic Union and the Lebanese American Club.

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Chickering Piano Factory - 791 Tremont Street

The South End was the center of Boston's thriving piano industry. Jonas Chickering's elegant case designs and technical improvements catapulted the company to the fore in the 1840's. When it was completed in 1854, this five acre complex was the largest factory in the nation. Designed by Edwin Payson, it was powered by steam, employed 400 men, and at its peak produced 60 pianos a week. During the Civil War, a portion of the mill housed Spencer's Repeating Rifle Co., whose firearms were credited with shortening the war. In 1972, the mill was converted into artist housing and studios.

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Pullman Porter House: 218 West Springfield Street

This brick Victorian rowhouse, built circa 1860, was once owned by the Pullman Porter Company. In the 1920s the company employed more blacks than any other U.S. corporation as porters on its luxury railroad line. The black Pullman Porters who were housed here held one of the first jobs that allowed blacks to join the middle class, despite very low wages and long hours. A. Philip Randolph, the founder of one of the first black unions, the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, held meetings on the first floor of this building.South End Landmark District

South Burying Ground - Washington Street

The final resting place of an estimated 11,000 nineteenth century Bostonians, this site was established in 1810 as a potter's field. It initially served working-class residents, most of whom were buried without gravestones. Later, freestanding and perimeter mounds tombs were constructed and sold to individuals and families. Originally a square-shaped landscape, urban development encroached on the site, and created today's L-shaped layout. The burying ground was designed to have four quadrants, bisecting pathways, and two ornamental entrances.

South End Grounds - Ruggles T Station

Professional baseball games were regularly played here from 1871-1914. Boston's only double-decked ball park was topped with distinctive twin towers, and was regarded as the latest in sports stadiums when it opened in 1888. Also known as the Walpole Street Grounds, the park burned in 1894 during a ball game. It was rebuilt and served as the home of the National League's Boston Braves.

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Tent City - 130 Dartmouth Street

Tent City's name commemorates a 1968 demonstration by South End residents to protest the lack of affordable housing in the area. When developers proposed building a parking garage here, members of the community occupied the site. It was a turning point in the resident's fight to control housing issues in their district. Designed by Goody Clancy & Associates in 1988, the new mixed income housing complex complements the older buildings of the neighborhood. The garage was included, underground.

Town Gate Site - Washington and E. Berkeley Streets

Before the South End marshes were filled in the 1830s, this site was the narrowest point on Boston Neck, the narrow strip of land that led to the city. Here, on the road to Roxbury, the colonial town maintained a fortified gate. The first fortification was built in 1631 to protect the town from Indian attack. It was replaced in 1714. During the British occupation of Boston in the 1770s, General Gage strengthened the fort to prevent assault from rebellious colonists. Vestiges of the town gate remained until the 1820s.

Villa Victoria - 85 W. Newton Street

In the 1950s and '60s, many South End residents were driven from the area by the city's urban renewal plan. Joining other activists to save the neighborhood, in 1968 the Puerto Rican community established Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA). IBA fought to control the future of this site, then known as Parcel 19. Rallying to the cry, "We shall not be moved from Parcel 19," residents won the right to redevelop the site. The result was Villa Victoria, a community development that combines housing, commercial space and services, and is a model of community empowerment and neighborhood preservation.

This marker is also presented in Spanish:
En los años 1950s y 60s, muchos residentes del South End fueron ahuyentados del area por el plan de la ciudad de renovación urbana. Uniendose a otros activistas para salvar el vecindario, la comunidad puertorriqueña estableció Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) en 1968. IBA luchó para tomar control del futuro de este sitio, conocido entonces como el Lote 19 (Parcel 19). Respondiendo al grito, "No seremos movidos de la Parcel 19," los residentes ganaron el derecho de desarollar el sitio. El resultado fue Villa Victoria, un desarrollo comunitario que combina viviendas, espacios comerciales y servicios, y que es un modelo de acción comunitaria y conservación.

Wally's Café Jazz Club - 427 Massachusetts Avenue

Wally’s Café Jazz Club is the last surviving reminder of Boston’s jazz heyday.  It was founded in 1947 by Joseph L. “Wally” Walcott, an immigrant from Barbados, when this area was at the heart of Boston’s African-American community and home to many jazz clubs. Wally’s was one of the first racially integrated venues in New England and is still known as a training ground for young jazz musicians. The club was originally across the street, but moved to its current location in 1979.  Jazz greats such as Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, and Art Blakey performed here.