The announcement last week by Suffolk University officials to start the process of moving classrooms out of the neighborhood and shifting toward a downtown campus is a win-win for both the university and the residents of Beacon Hill. Over the last forty years, both the residences of the neighborhoods of the north side of Beacon Hill and Suffolk University have changed dramatically.
These neighborhood buildings in the 60’s and early 70’s were occupied primarily as rooming houses. In this same period, Suffolk University was primarily a commuting school drawing students from the Greater Boston area. Today, the buildings on the north slope are for the most part high end residences and Suffolk University has become a national, even international, university with more than 9,000 full and part time students. Both of these changes collided into what could be best described as a troubled relationship. Suffolk University needed to grow and the residents who bought these residences did not want to be living on a college campus.
Over the last decade, Suffolk University officials have become more sensitive to the needs of the residents and have initiated many outreach programs to alleviate the problems that come with the college life. The signing of an agreement three years ago with officials from Suffolk University and The Beacon Hill Civic Association demonstrated the efforts of both parties to coexist relatively peacefully.
Last week’s announcement of closing classrooms in two buildings in the neighborhood, selling the Fenton Building on Derne Street and the Ridgeway Building on Cambridge Street, and moving the classrooms to the building at 20 Somerset Street that will be a state of the art facility is another huge step forward in the continuing effort by Suffolk University to be a good neighbor.