Thursday, February 5, 2009

Urban Renewal Comes To Green Street

Woolsey square (JP Historical Society)

I copied this article from the Jamaica Plain News, but I neglected to record the date of the paper. It was after World War II, probably during the late 1940s or early 1950s. I have yet to find the article again, so I've been holding on to the article. Rather than keep it in the files, I though I'd publish it and leave locating the date to another time.

The Woolsey block is shown above. Today it would face east towards the Green street Orange Line station. At the time, it was opposite the Jamaica Plain railroad station - see the carriages waiting for passengers on the left. It was probably the coming of the Elevated train line to Washington street that killed the Green street station. Why take the train to Back Bay station when you could take the Elevated train all the way through downtown Boston and connect with the other rapid transit lines in town. And for the railroad company, why should they stop their trains at stations so close together, like Forest Hills, Green street and Boylston street? Some time after World War I, a combination of the automobile, the Elevated line and railroad company distaste for slow commuter lines killed Jamaica Plain Station. And with the death of the station, the viability of the Woolsey square as a business district was lost.

We can wish that the old buildings had been saved for historical reasons, but the I-95 project and the later Southwest Corridor train line would have taken them in the end in any case. The business district of Jamaica Plain moved to Centre street, and the hustle and bustle of Woolsey square was forgotten.

Jamaica Plain News

Urban Redevelopment Urged On Site Of Old J.P. Railroad Station.

The Mayor's Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Rehabilitation and Conservation Committee are highly elated about the removal of the ancient four story brick structures at 6 to 10 Woolsey square, opposite the former Jamaica Plain railroad station, says Col. Paul Hines, co-ordinator of the City's rehabilitation program. Demolition of the building was started last week on order of the Building Department.

With the removal of the structures long in disuse, it is the hope of the committee, says Chairman Robert T. Fowler, that it can induce the Urban Redevelopment Authority to designate the site of the buildings and adjacent land along the side of the railroad tracks for a spot clearance renewal program.

The rebuilding of the Woolsey square section, he says, would not only check blight, but would add to the City's tax rolls several hundred thousand dollars of real estate valuations. Furthermore, it would protect the adjacent Sunset Hill residential area for 50 years to come.

The Woolsey square building now being removed, before the automobile days were the most prominent ground floor stores and office properties in Jamaica Plain. In those days all the fashionable residents of that section rode to the area daily in their carriages or came afoot to take the train to their place of business in down town Boston. The result was that for a long period of years space in the buildings were at a premium. Since World War I however, and the shift from train service to automobile, the real estate in that area has steadily depreciated in value and appearance. With the elimination of the antiquated structure, it is the belief of the members of the Jamaica Plain Rehabilitation Committee that it will be the beginning of the restoration of that area to its former value.

Working hand and glove with the Rehabilitation Committee, the building and health departments, following the recommendations of Demolition Director John A. Murray, have removed more than a dozen sub-standard dilapidated residential structures from the Jamaica Plain district during the past year. As a result in several instances the owners of neighboring properties have been encouraged to repair and paint their houses.

1 comment:

  1. Fun to read this, thanks for researching and posting. Col. Paul Hines was my grandfather, a highly decorated veteran of WWI from South Boston. He raised his family just down the road from JP in Roslindale and one of his daughters lives there to this day. I lived around the corner from here not long ago and used to ride through the area on the bus back and forth to BLS every day. My own father Peter followed in his father's footsteps into politics and was a Boston City Councilor before serving as an attorney for the Dept. of Agriculture. It's wonderful to see JP thriving all this time later, it's wonderful place to live.