History at 541-551 Winthrop St

Massachusetts Labor Leaders of the Progressive Era

winthrop stone house

Part 2 of 2 – On a historical note, the two buildings demolished to make way for the Winthrop St development were once home to two of Boston’s great labor organizers. The first, Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, is now publicly honored in the Massachusetts State House, as part of the State House Women’s Leadership Project. A bronze and marble sculpture, installed at the entrance to Doric Hall in 1995, commemorates the contributions of Sullivan, and other Massachusetts women, to the government of the Commonwealth. Mary Kenney O’Sullivan received this obituary in the Boston Globe on her death in 1943,

[In] Chicago, Mrs. O’Sullivan [worked] with Jane Addams in the Hull House movement for the betterment of conditions in the city’s overcrowded tenement districts. While still in her teens she founded the Jane Clubs for working girls, and was active in putting through the Illinois Legislature laws favorable to working people. She organized the first bookbinders’ union of women in Chicago, was the first woman organizer appointed by the American Federation of Labor, and the first woman factory inspector in the United States. osullivan

She came to Boston in 1892 as national organizer of the American Federation of Labor […]  After [her husband’s] death in an accident she became an inspector in the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries […] holding that position until her retirement in 1934.  She founded the Boston Women’s Trade Union League, conducted a camp for working girls at Point Shirley in connection with the Dennison House for many years, and spoke for women’s suffrage.  She was president of the Boston Women’s Labor League, vice president of the Boston Women’s Trade Union League, and treasurer of the National Women’s Trade Union League. In 1926 she was appointed a delegate from the United States to the annual conference to prevent war, which was held in Dublin, Ireland, under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

She was a frequent speaker on economics and labor problems at Ford Hall Forum. She was also a member of the Women’s Industrial League and the Massachusetts League of Women Voters.  She wrote a number of articles for the Globe on women’s rights, trade unionism and fair labor practices.

More information about Mary Kenney O’Sullivan’s life and work can be found on the website for the State House Women’s Leadership Project.

state house2The second property demolished, the stone house pictured above, was the home of Philip Davis (1875-1951) and his wife, Belle, both born in Russian Poland, and Jewish immigrants to the US in the late 1890s. According to his Globe obituary, Philip Davis – a friend and colleague of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan’s – was also influential in the settlement house and labor movements of the Progressive Era. While attending the University of Chicago, he too was a protégé of Jane Addams and on her recommendation he attended Harvard, graduating in 1903. He then earned a law degree from Boston University and was active in labor organizing and workers’ rights advocacy in Boston’s North End.

Meet Your Commissioners-Peter Miller

Corey Street Circa 1915

Corey Street, c. 1915  Photo Courtesy of Jeff Myung

Peter Miller joined the Medford Historical Commission in winter 2019, just in time to help with our annual spring rush of demolition applications. He has jumped right in and he has this to share with us: a view of old Corey St (above), and the following personal introduction,

My wife and I feel lucky to have settled in the Hillside neighborhood in 1997. We have three children, all of which have attended the Medford public schools. As an architect, I have an appreciation for the timeless craftsmanship and detail that can be found in our historic structures and I look forward to helping contribute to the preservation of Medford’s historic fabric. In summer, I can be seen performing with my band at the Medford Farmer’s Market and I very much enjoy walking my dog, Edward, past the Paul Curtis House and along the Mystic river paths.

Historically Significant: 23 Bower St

At the Historical Commission’s April public meeting, the carriage house at 23 Bower St was found to be historically significant. At our May public meeting we will determine whether or not this building is also preferably preserved.

If a building is found preferably preserved, an 18 month delay of demolition will take place, to give the owner time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition. Meeting will be Monday, May 13 at 7 PM in Room 201 of City Hall.

At the April meeting, the application for demolition of the house and garage at 45-47 Mystic Ave was approved, as these were NOT found to be historically significant.

Preferably Preserved

Buildings at 421 High Street16 Foster Court104 Winchester Street and 7 Lauriat Place were all determined to be preferably preserved at our April public meeting. Thanks to the Medford residents who shared their thoughts and concerns at the public meeting, and in writing.

For details on each decision, please see our forthcoming meeting minutes.

When a building is found to be “preferably preserved” an 18 month delay of demolition is imposed, to give the applicant time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition.

Each of the applicants is invited to return to the Commission’s upcoming public meetings to present plans and alternatives, and to discuss the preservation concerns that their neighbors and the commission have. If, in any case, a plan is developed that addresses the concerns of the public and the commission, the demolition delay may be lifted before the 18 month period.

April Agenda

It’s a big meeting – with Cincotti Funeral Home in West Medford, a shipbuilding family’s early Cape Cod in East Medford, a 19th century gold leaf workshop, and a Ball Square beauty all on the agenda. Each of these buildings was deemed “historically significant” at the March public meeting. At this month’s public meeting the Historical Commission will decide whether or not each of these properties is also “preferably preserved.”

April 2019 Agenda

If a building is found preferably preserved, an 18 month delay of demolition will take place, to give the owner time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition. Meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 7 PM in Room 201 of City Hall.