Monday, December 3, 2007

Perkins And Day Streets - An Incomplete History

Picture found at JPHS web site.

Bromley, 1931 (BPL)

This picture, and my previous post about the Perkins Institution for the Blind kindergarten at the same location, made me think about a follow-up entry. The problem is, I have little detailed knowledge of the history of the site through the 20th Century, so I can only give a loose outline of the property's use. Rather than wait until I can nail down dates, I've decided to put the little I do know online, and hope that those with more knowledge than me can fill in the details and correct any mistakes.

The first institutional use for the site seems to be the Perkins kindergarten. When they moved to Watertown, the House of the Angel Guardian orphanage and school purchased the property, as described below. Some time later, the property became the home of the Cardinal O'Connell Seminary, which fronted on South Huntington avenue. In 1976, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Angell Memorial Hospital for animals moved to the site. That's all I've got so far, and I'm hoping this post will draw Google searchers who can add to our knowledge of the site.

The House of the Angel Guardian was an orphanage and school located on Vernon street in Roxbury. The institution was founded in 1849 by the Rev. G. F. Haskins, and in 1876 passed to the control of the Brothers of Charity. In its time the home was one of the major charitable institutions of the city. After the Perkins Institution and School for the Blind moved their kindergarten to Watertown, the House of the Angel Guardian purchased the property and moved to Jamaica Plain. The picture above shows the Angel Guardian facility at the corner of Day and Centre streets at Hyde Square, Jamaica Plain. The entire area around the old building was razed, with even the streets being eliminated. A segment of Vernon street shows up in a Google map, but the section where the House sat is gone. In a strange case of architectural conservation, a cupola from the building was saved, and sits near its old home on the plaza of the Boston Center of the Arts on Tremont street, doing duty as a kiosk.

Boston Daily Globe April 9, 1914

Rev Bro Amadeus Coming. General Superior of Brothers of Charity Will Inspect Proposed Site for Home in Jamaica Plain.

Rev Brother Amadeus, general superior of the Brothers of Charity, is expected today at the House of the Angel Guardian, the Roxbury home of that order, accompanied by Rev Brother Philmen, his assistant, and for eight years the provincial superior in America.

While in Boston for two days Brother Amadeus will visit the Jamaica Plain property purchased by the brothers last August, with a view to making it their home, and will inspect the plans for development. Because of the necessity of his being back in Belgium for the May elections he will not have the time to visit the schools and institutions of Boston as is his wont.

[continues with information about Brother Amadeus]

Tremont and Ruggles streets should help orient you. While you're at it, note the ball field at the top right - Fenway isn't the only professional baseball field Boston ever had.


  1. The trolley car her is circling Hyde Square and is going to return to Dudley Station. As kids we loved to ride at the back of these trolleys and play with the inoperable controls. Some wise guys would always hitch a ride on the coupler and then, just before they got to theor destination, would yank the pole away from the overhead wires and then off all power to the car. When these cars were idling at a stop, they would always make a sound like "Ginny Ginny Ginny" and we would tease our Italian friends.

  2. Your history is more or less complete. The site was a Curtis farm and acquired in pieces by Leondard Hyde in the early 19th Century. Hyde was essentially a truck farmer and the intersection of Centre and Cross (now Day) Streets became known as Hyde's corner or Hyde Square. After annexation the name was changed to honor Moses Day whose house still sits on Kenney Street. Hyde occupied and 18th Century Curtis Farm house that faced into the square in the location of the Angel Guardian chapel. The house was replaced by the chapel sometime in the 1920s. Hyde died in 1850 and in 1855 by property was bisected by the division of Roxbury and West Roxbury along an old range line. He left a substantial estate and his son did some real estate development. The continuation of Bynner across Day was originally called Hyde Street. The Creighton Street end was Priesing Terrace. In 1877, the estate sold the property to Perkins which built it's experimental kindergarten for the blind on the site. At one point it boasted a substantial collection of institutional buildings. The brick terrace houses facing on Day Street were designed by the same architect, S.D. Kelly, as at least the first Perkins building. Kelly also designed many brownstones in the Back Bay.
    One house moved to Bynner Street around 1920, predates Perkins and Hyde was was built in 1802.

  3. Regarding the comment made by Anonymous, "After annexation the name was changed to honor Moses Day whose house still sits on Kenney Street." I would like to know which house, exactly, he is referring to. We do know that Mr. Day's son, Charles Otis, married Abby Ann Randall whose family lived on the corner of Day St. and Hutchins Ave (now Nira Ave.). Their daughter, Abby Ann (Day) Chandler acquire all the property which is now Arcola St., on the north side of Kenney St. I see no mention of another Day relative on Kenney St. Mr. Moses Day's other son, Moses Henry, lived at the northern-most point of Day Street where it ended at Heath Street. There is currently a school at that location. Can this be quote be clarified? See the following link for accurate drawings of this Ward 19/22 in 1895.

    Contact with follow-up. Thanks!

  4. My Father, Ulric George LaChapelle (1901-1966) was in the Angel Guardian Home in JP but I can't find a listing showing names of the occupants anywhere. Supposedly he and his best friend Joe Opidee ran away and joined the Navy about 1917. He was born in New Bedford and died in Stoneham. He and his four brothers became State Wards when his Mother died in 1903 or 4. Does anyone know where I can find a list of the boys ? Arlene J LaChapelle Gootee at

    1. Anonymous - You might try the census records. I just found a young man I was looking for in the Home in the 1920 census.

  5. In the early 1940s a junior American Legion Drum Corps, known as the YD Juniors, Post 290 was housed at the YD Clubhouse on Huntington Ave. Across from the Elks Hall where the Prudential Tower now stands. The YD stands for the 26th Division , known as the Yankee Division made up of New England men in World War 1. This drum corps needed a place to march and practice. Arrangement were made for us to use the field at the House of the Angel Guardian, which we and others irrrevrently referred to it as the H.A.G This drum corps made up of sons and daughters of WW1 veterans was the National YD Champions.

  6. Re looking for list of AG residents. Archdiocese of Boston now has Archives office at their offices in Braintree. Might try there. Also.wonder if State House library would have any info.