A Letter to the Boston Landmarks Commission Regarding the Demolition of 928 East Broadway

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Dear Ms. Stifel,

 

     I am unable to attend the meeting regarding the demolition of 928 East Broadway due to work, however I wanted to contribute to the discussion in some way.  Like many others, I believe that the building should be preserved.  I am a life-long South Boston resident, and the house is on the same block as mine.  I have many anecdotes of watching the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in front of that house, and admiring it from my kitchen window, hoping that someday I would have a home like that, however I don’t believe that familiarity is an effective argument in this situation.

 

     I consider myself to be somewhat of a South Boston historian.  My family has lived in Southie since 1834.  The home that they bought on L and 2nd Street still stands today.  My great-great grandfather dug the cellars of my current home, and my great-great uncle owned a barroom where The Playwright stands today.  My family’s story in the community has given me such an appreciation for its history that I produced a documentary about South Boston’s part in the busing crisis of the 1970’s – an era that deeply impacted my aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents.

 

     While all of this background may seem disjointed, I bring it up for one reason: South Boston’s history has a critical point in it’s timeline; BB and AB (Before Busing and After Busing).  Since 1974 South Boston’s narrative has had consistent themes and images that reflect negatively on its inhabitants.  It is difficult to speak of the positive attributes of South Boston’s tight-knit community without hearing an argument about the violent actions that were displayed by some community members during desegregation. When I think about the mansion at 928 East Broadway, I see a representation of South Boston’s past that is not so tainted by the images of racist signs and rocks flying through the air.

 

     When I hear people talk about how this building must be preserved, I feel that they are also fighting to preserve a part of South Boston’s history that represents the good of the community.  I’m not saying that Southie’s history before busing was as virginal as 928 East Broadway’s lilly white facade, but it does represent a time when being from South Boston meant more than whether or not you are racist.

 

     I have heard some argumets that the building is not old enough to be considered historic, but as we forge ahead through the Twenty First Century, we must consider how the speed of technology and communication accelerates development.  As a result, we must give these iconic pieces of architecture the protection they need to survive through these real estate booms.  I urge you to make a decision in favor of 928 East Broadway not only because it defines the physical community, but also because it is an historic representation of a class and culture that deserve preservation as well.

 

Thank you for your time,
Padriac Farma
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