’23: Looking Back At The Year On Beacon Hill

• On Jan. 4, the Beacon Hill Civic Association Zoning and Licensing Committee hosted a virtual meeting to discuss the ill-fated Ono Bistro, which was poised to take over the basement-level space at 89 Charles St., formerly occupied by Artu. The proposed tapas establishment then met with a largely unfavorable community response, and the applicant subsequently abandoned its plans for the restaurant.

• On Jan. 13, “The Embrace” – the long-awaited memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. – was unveiled during a ceremony on the Boston Common. The memorial was initiated via a partnership between the City of Boston and Embrace Boston.

“The Embrace” memorial on the Boston Common was unveiled on Friday, Jan. 13.

• In February, Rep. Jay Livingstone was named the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.

• In February, the Charles River Esplanade finished in eighth place in the category of Best Riverwalk in USA Today’s latest 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. Over the course of four weeks, votes were tallied for the 20 nominees in the Best Riverwalk category, which were chosen by an expert panel from the newspaper.

• On Feb. 13, Lauren Lapanto was named lead librarian of the West End Branch Library, where she had previously served as children’s librarian before becoming the branch librarian in the South End.

• On Feb. 15 and 16, 2023, Park Street School (PSS) Elementary School students (Kindergarten – Grade 6) presented engaging Science topics to parents, faculty and staff, peers and other PSS students during the school’s dynamic 2022-2023 Science Fair exhibition.​

• On March 1, the Music Research Library opened at 42 Joy St., apparently marking the return of a record store to Beacon Hill for the first time in more than 40 years. The independent business got its start in Providence, R.I., about seven years ago before relocating to Boston.

• On April 11, the Gibson House Museum honored the French Library at “À la Belle Époque,” the museum’s 26th annual benefit at the St. Botolph Club.

• On April 28, Kenzie Bok stepped down as District 8 City Councilor to assume her new role as administrator of the Boston Housing Authority.

• In May, , Historic New England began the process to reimagine its Otis House campus on Cambridge Street as a self-described “community cultural anchor.”

• On May 12, the public got its first look at a project that envisions the creation of a “West End Green Corridor,” which would connect the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway with the Charles River Esplanade, during a presentation in the Hub House community room.

The West End Civic Association’s Green Space Committee partnered with the landscape architecture department at UMass Amherst on the project, which solicited ideas from the community on a proposed green corridor running from Leverett Circle (the Science Park T station) down Nashua Street, Lomasney Way, Merrimac Street, and New Chardon Street. The process also looked at two major parks, including completing the Greatest Neighborhood Park on Nashua Street, as well as the proposed Merrimac Plaza, which will be part of the Hurley Building redevelopment project.

• On May 14, the Friends of the Public Garden again partnered with the Boston Parks Department to host Duckling Day – an annual Mother’s Day tradition that pays tribute to Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings” – in the Public Garden.

• On May 15, Barbara W. Moore, affectionally known as “Bobby,” received the 26th annual Beacon Award for her “sustained and significant contribution to the Beacon Hill community” during the Beacon Hill Civic Association’s 101st annual meeting at the Somerset Club.

• On May 18, the Beacon Hill Garden Club’s 94th annual Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Tour returned to the neighborhood. The sold-out event comprised 11 Hidden Gardens, as well as three additional “Ribbon Gardens,” which were restricted or only viewable from the street.

• On May 22, Beacon Hill Cleaners was among the 30 recipients honored by the city as ‘Legacy Businesses’ at the inaugural Legacy Business Ceremony and Reception.

The business had continuously operated at 151 Charles St. under the ownership of  Ledung Tran and her husband, Hai Tran, since opening in 1991 until early January, when the business was temporarily displaced by their landlord due to structural issues related to the building next door.

Beacon Hill Cleaners reopened soon after receiving the award.

• On June 3 and 5, Rose Standish Nichols was the subject of “I Give You My Home: The Rose Standish Nichols Story” – an original, one-woman opera that came  to the Nichols House Museum, her former family home, for five performances.

• On June 8, the Beacon Hill Art Walk returned, with more than 100 local artists plying their wares in the neighborhood’s alleyways, courtyards, and gardens, along with musicians performing live music throughout the day.

The annual event is traditionally held on the first Sunday in June and dates back to the 1990s.

• On June 22, the public got its first look at details of the proposed Charlesbank Landing on the Esplanade, including a timeline for the project, as well as several alternatives for its multi-purpose recreational space, during a public meeting held at the West End Branch Library, as well as virtually.

• On July 18, Margret “Maggie” Van Scoy assumed the role of the city’s neighborhood liaison for Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, and Mission Hill.

• On Sept. 13, representatives for the Nite Lite Café, which is poised to take over the basement-level space at 89 Charles St. formerly occupied by Artu, appeared before the city’s Licensing Board at its Sept. 13 virtual hearing. The proposed new restaurant would share the same name of a long-shuttered North End bar, which was the site of a reputed Mafia double-murder in 1966.

• On Sept. 24, the Beacon Hill Civic Association held its annual Fall HillFest, which featured games and food for children and their families, as well as live entertainment.

• On Sept. 23 and 24, the Beacon Hill Business Association’s annual Beacon Hill Sidewalk Sale returned to Charles Street.

• On Oct. 17, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jay Livingstone to expand the boundaries of the Beacon Hill Historic District garnered the support of several community leaders during a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government at the State House.

The proposed legislation (H.4076, “An Act enhancing the Historic Beacon Hill District”), which mirrors a home-rule petition that was passed unanimously by the Boston City Council  and then signed by Mayor Michelle Wu earlier this year, would enlarge the district to include all of the North Slope via the addition of an approximately 40-foot-wide area running from Charles Circle to Bowdoin Street along Cambridge Street on the Beacon Hill side not currently isn’t included in the district. This omission apparently came in response to concerns that including the entire North Slope in the Historic District could impede the city’s plans for the Engine Company 4 and Ladder Company 24 fire station, which subsequently opened in 1965 at 200 Cambridge St.

Rep. Livingstone’s bill would also give the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission (BHAC) the specific authority to levy fines for violations of the Historic District’s architectural guidelines for the first time in its history.

• On Nov. 7, District 8 City Councilor Sharon Durkan cruised to an easy reelection victory in the city’s municipal election.

• On Nov. 15, the 28th “Garlands & Greens” fundraiser was held at Hampshire House to support the cost of decorating the neighborhood’s approximately 1,100 lamp-posts for the holidays.

• On Dec. 7, the Beacon Hill Business Association’s annual Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll returned to the neighborhood.

For the occasion, Charles Street between Cambridge and Beacon streets was again closed off to traffic, allowing for holiday shoppers to stroll through its shops, restaurants, and offices while enjoying refreshments and music performances, including by the Brass Quartet and the Back Bay Ringers. 

The event also included the annual tree lighting – this time at the corner of Charles and Cambridge streets – and was preceded by festivities for youngsters at Hill House on Mt. Vernon Street, where Santa was on hand to take photographs with local children.

• On Dec. 10, the Nichols House Museum for the second time presented a performance by acclaimed musicians as part of the annual Beacon Hill Holiday House Tour festivities.

At that time, pianist Joe Mulholland, joined by renowned bassist Bruce Gertz, performed at the King’s Chapel Parish House at 64 Beacon St. during the reception for Nichols House

• On Dec. 14, Mayor Michelle Wu, the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and the Boston Public Library (BPL)  announced that the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Commission had tentatively designated the development team of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and Caste Capital to redevelop the West End branch of the Boston Public Library on Cambridge Street.

The renovation is slated to include a new, two-story branch library and 119 income-restricted units of housing above the library.

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