It was early afternoon on Mt. Vernon St., following an early snowstorm. The leaves had not yet shivered off the branches and onto the quiet road, which was covered in mountains of snow. In front of Suffolk Law School was a puddle that pooled into a dip in the cobblestones.
This seldom publicized image of Beacon Hill circa 1920, by William Sumner Appleton, sits on MaryLee Halpin’s desk at the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA). This fascinating black and white photograph is eligible to be one of the pictures used as table décor during BHCA’s 41st annual winter dance, “Moonshine and Memories.”
Halpin who became the BHCA Executive Director in June 2012 said the 1920s themed affair will take place on January 26th at the Taj in Boston to commemorate the organization’s 90th anniversary. It is a soiree for neighbors to come together, mingle, and get dolled up in their most spiffy attire.
“The Civic Association is a volunteer organization that tries to preserve and enhance the quality of life on the Hill, and the attractiveness of Beacon Hill’s urban residential area,” says Halpin, BHCA executive director.
The BHCA is dedicated to keeping the neighborhood clean, providing residents with easily accessible transportation, and improving the walkability of the neighborhood. It concentrates on how those living on the hill exist within the city.
Foremost in creating a neighborhood experience is residents’ familiarity with one another. The BHCA’s September 16th block party was the organization’s official launching of the fall season. Next, are plans to collaborate with Historic New England for “Greening Your Historic Home,” an event that explores how to maintain the historical architecture and style of one’s Beacon Hill home, while embracing new technologies.
Come November is a holiday decorating fundraiser, and then the BHCA’s yearly decorating weekend December 1-2. For a few hours, neighbors decorate lamp posts with garland and ribbon, taking part in holiday merriment, and snacking on pizza, coffee and donuts.
The BHCA does not only focus on social aspects, but also state and city-wide issues that impact the Hill. They are looking into how local, bricked sidewalk without ramps can be improved to accommodate people with disabilities. Halpin is concerned about the city’s recommendations for preserving the aesthetics of the Back Bay and Beacon Hill walkways.
“It’s a very rewarding job,” says Halpin. “There are lots of wonderful things to do, and people here. It’s nice to be able to make an impact.”