By Suzanne Besser
Deb Hanley and Frank McGuire, whose years of volunteerism on behalf of this community have made it a better place for all, will be honored by more than 200 of their neighbors at the 45th Beacon Hill Gala, sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association on February 4th at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston.
For more than 40 years the couple has generously donated their time and talents to the neighborhood. “We do this because of our love for the neighborhood that has given us so much,” said Hanley. “We want to give back as much as we can and use whatever skills we have to do so.”
Those skills were developed early on. Hanley who is from Rhode Island and McGuire from Virginia arrived here in the early 70s – he a budding architect and she on a career path in advertising and marketing. She made her home on Beacon Hill and convinced him to move across the river from Cambridge. “I was dubious about living on Beacon Hill coming from Cambridge, but it turned out very well,” he jokingly said.
And indeed it did. It was the village-like ambience of this historic neighborhood that the pair fell in love with. “America has so much disconnection,” he said. “We believe in community and wanted to live in a village like this where people know each other.”
They found the same atmosphere in a section of Rome where they lived while McGuire worked for an American architecture firm designing buildings in Saudi Arabia at the height of the oil boom. Hanley commuted back and forth to carry on her work here opening Faneuil Hall Marketplace. In the winter of 1977, both flew back together to celebrate their marriage at the Church of the Advent on Brimmer Street.
When Frank’s firm opened an office in Boston a few years later, the newlyweds came back to Beacon Hill to stay, much to the good fortune of the neighborhood and its people.
For years McGuire continued to lead the corporate life, traveling extensively as he designed and oversaw projects as close as Yale University and as far as University of Southern California and the University of Cairo. However, corporate work with all its travel and administrative tasks eventually became less appealing to him.
One day Deb suggested to Frank that “It’s time to launch your own boat.” And so he did. In 2002 he founded Frank McGuire Architects and never regretted it. “Because of her support, I get to be a hands-on architect again and can take old houses and help them keep their history and their spirit.”
It is this same passion that has driven Frank’s years of volunteer work to preserve the historic fabric of Beacon Hill. For ten years he served on the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission, donating his expertise to review and comment upon proposed changes to the exterior design of homes – homes, he said, that we really don’t own. “We are not owners but custodians of these historic homes during the short time we live in them. We are stewards of their history.”
In 2008 he stepped down from the Commission, but continues to help others care for their homes by serving as co-chairman of BHCA Architecture Committee, where he served on the board for sixteen years. When Frank left home to attend these many meetings over the years, his daughter Amanda, then a young child, would ask where he was going. “I told her that I was walking down the street to attend a meeting so that when she grew up, the street will look exactly like it does now.” He’s worked hard to make that happen.
As does Deb. Both professionally and voluntarily, she has dedicated her life to community betterment. As a retail development and marketing consultant, she helped create a multimedia portrait of the city and its people for the City’s Bicentennial celebration “Where’s Boston?” She co-founded Todreas/Hanley, developers and planners in the revitalization of historic buildings and pedestrian enclaves like Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Downtown Crossing with specialty shops, restaurants and bars. Her work extends as far as Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico; Tampa, Florida, the Strand Historic District in Galveston and the San Antonio River Walk in Texas.
A skilled fundraiser, Hanley believes that one should first give whatever one can to charitable causes and then set about helping to raise whatever more is needed. Over the years she has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits around Boston, primarily through sponsoring events. “The essence of building support in this neighborhood is social,’ said Hanley. “Events bring people together and build community.”
Among the fundraising events Hanley has chaired are the Ellis Antiques Show to support the Ellis Memorial and Eldredge Settlement House, the New England Conservatory Feast of Music Galas, the Bostonian Society Awards Dinner, the Beacon Hill Civic Association Winter Gala and most recently the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum Gala. In the past she has also served as President and Board member of the Beacon Hill Circle for Charity and the Beacon Hill Garden Club, Director of the BHCA and Hill House, and on the Membership Committee of the Boston Athenaeum and the Church of the Advent Capital Campaign. All Beacon Hillers are invited to help honor Deb and Frank at the Gala, to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel on February 4. Cocktails begin at 6:30, dinner at 7:30 pm and the After Hours with dancing and dessert at 9:00 pm. The nine-member Boston-based Kahootz Band will play hip, modern and classic music. Tickets for the dinner dance or After Hours are available now on www.bhcivic.org or by calling the Beacon Hill Civic Association at 617-227-1922.