A look back at life on the Hill in ’22

2022 was a year filled with milestones on Beacon Hill.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Beacon Hill Civic Association while another neighborhood institution, the Boston Athenaeum, began a new chapter with the opening this fall of its expanded and renovated Beacon Street headquarters.

Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon
The city’s annual Children’s Winter Festival returned to the Boston
Common on Thursday, Feb. 24.

The eagerly awaited Beacon Hill Books & Café opened at 71 Charles St. to much fanfare this fall while two other longstanding Charles Street shops celebrated their respective anniversaries this year – Blackstones turned 40 while Linens on the Hill celebrated 35 years in business. Another longstanding neighborhood business, Rouvalis Flowers, turned 40 this year as well.

“Cheers” – the long running, classic sitcom based on the Bull & Finch Pub (now called “Cheers on Beacon Hill”) at Hampshire House – also marked a milestone, with Sept. 30 marking the 40th anniversary of its debut on NBC.

This year also highlighted by many of the neighborhood’s most beloved recurring annual events, including the Beacon Hill Garden Club’s Hidden Gardens Tour on Thursday, May 22, the Beacon Hill Art Walk on Sunday, June 5; and the 27th “Garlands & Greens” fundraiser at Hampshire House on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to support the cost of decorating the neighborhood’s approximately 1,100 lamp-posts for the holidays, among other happenings.

Laura Cousineau Photo
The tree-lighting at Charles and
Mt. Vernon streets was among
the highlights when the Beacon
Hill Business Association’s
Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll
returned on Thursday, Dec. 1.

• On Jan. 3, District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn was unanimously voted in as the new council president for a two-year term  by his fellow councilors during the City Council’s first meeting of the new year on Jan. 3 at City Hall’s Christopher A. Iannella Chamber.

* On Saturday, Jan. 15, a sprinkler check-valve ruptured on the fourth floor of West End Place at 150 Staniford St., leading to flooding in nearly 30 units on the building’s bottom four floors, as well as in the adjacent West End Museum and office space.

• On Thursday, Feb. 24, during School Vacation Week, Mayor Michelle Wu joined the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to bring the annual Children’s Winter Festival back to the Boston Common Parade Ground.

• On Monday, March 14, the Bay Village Historic District Commission held a public meeting to review a mock-up of an electrified gas street-lamp in the area of 212 Stuart St., which could set the city’s standard for its “gas-to-electric streetlight retrofit” throughout the rest of Bay Village, as well as on Beacon Hill and Marlborough Street in the Back Bay.

D. Murphy Photo
A “human bike lane” makes its way down Charles Street on Aug. 2 as part
of a demonstration organized by the Boston Cyclists Union.

Another public meeting sponsored by the Bay Village Historic District Commission on Wednesday, March 30, when the mock-ups of two streetlights were viewed in the area of 212 Stuart St.

The Bay Village Historic District Commission unanimously approved the installation of nine new electrified streetlights as part of developer Greystar’s residential project at  212 Stuart St. at its April 12 public hearing, which took place virtually.

• On Monday, April 4, the Esplanade Association’s annual meeting returned as an in-person event at the Westin Copley Place Hotel’s the Staffordshire Room after going remote for the previous two years due to the pandemic.

• On April 29, the Friends of the Public Garden’s Green & White Ball returned after a two-year absence to the Four Seasons.

More than 170 guests were on hand for cocktails, dinner, and dancing, while raising nearly $500,000 to support the ongoing care of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

• On Sunday, May 15, “Voices of Humanity” – the city’s fourth annual interfaith concert – took place at The Vilna Shul.

The concert, formerly known as “Voices of Freedom,” again featured three choirs – the Zamir Chorale of Boston, America’s foremost Jewish choral ensemble; VOICES 21C, a diverse choir dedicated to positive interactions, social justice, and global understanding; and the Boston Community Gospel Choir, which often performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Each group separately performed songs from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, respectively, before joining together to perform for the finale.

The concert also marked the first time in three years that many guests had set foot inside the Vilna’s historic Phillips Street building, which had been closed for more than a year for the first phase of extensive renovations before the pandemic struck.

• On Monday, May 16, the Beacon Hill Civic Association held its 100th annual meeting at the Union Club, marking its return as an in-person event after a three-year absence due to the pandemic.

Alex Krieger, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and author of the recently published “City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present,” served as the keynote speaker.

At this time, Russ Gaudreau, chair of the Beacon Award Nominating Committee, presented two 25th annual Beacon Awards to Hill House and Gary Drug, respectively, for their “sustained and significant contributions” to the neighborhood.

• On Thursday, May 22, the Beacon Hill Garden Club’s 93rd Hidden Gardens Tour returned as an in-person event.

This year’s tour featured nine garden – four of which were new to the tour or reimagined green spaces – as well as four “ribbon gardens,” which were restricted and viewable only from the street.

It also marked the first in-person Hidden Garden Tour since 2019, with the event going virtual last year and being cancelled altogether in 2020 due to the pandemic.

• On Sunday, June 5, 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 Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, the Beacon Hill Business Association’s annual Sidewalk Sale returned.

• On Tuesday, June 28, the Friends of the Public Garden’s annual Summer Celebration  returned to Brewer Fountain Plaza on the Boston Common after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

• On Thursday, July 21, the Esplanade Association’s 11th  annual Summer Dock Party was held at the Community Boating docks.

• On July 27, the Friends of the Public Garden’s Summer Party returned to the UMass Club after a three-year hiatus.

• On Tuesday, Aug. 2, an estimated 150 activists formed a “human bike lane” that spanned the entire stretch of Charles Street between Charles Circle and Beacon Street during morning rush hour.

The Boston Cyclists Union, which organized the demonstration, has proposed  expanding the city’s bike-lane network via the elimination of one of Charles Street’s three traffic lanes to create two adjacent 4-foot wide, parking-protected, one-way bike lanes between Cambridge and Beacon streets.

• On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Beacon Hill Civic Association held a Centennial Dinner – an outdoor celebration with guests seated at a long table on Mt. Vernon Street between River and Brimmer streets.

• On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Beacon Hill Civic Association held its  annual Fall HillFest, which featured games and food for children and their families, the “famous” dog show, and live entertainment.

• On Saturday, Sept. 24, Blackstones at 40 Charles St. celebrated 40 years in business in the neighborhood, (although the store actually opened July 3, 1982).

• On Friday, Sept. 30, the eagerly awaited Beacon Hill Books opened at 71 Charles St. (Its café opened Nov. 15.)

• Friday, Sept. 30, marked the 40th anniversary of the debut of the longstanding NBC sitcom “Cheers,” which was inspired by the Bull & Finch Pub (now called “Cheers on Beacon Hill”) at Hampshire House.

• On Saturday, Oct. 1, demolition of the West End House on Blossom Street – one of less than a dozen structures in the old West End to survive urban renewal – got underway as part of Mass General Hospital’s planned $1 billion expansion of its Cambridge Street campus.

• On Friday, Oct. 21, Hill House brought back its annual Fall FUNdraiser on Friday, Oct. 21, to Alibi in the Liberty Hotel, following a three-year absence due to the pandemic.

• On Thursday, Oct. 27, Massachusetts General Hospital broke ground on a multi-year construction project that will create a new, state-of-the-art clinical care facility along Cambridge Street,

• On Saturday, Oct. 29, Beacon Hill Nursery School cut the ribbon on its newly acquired and renovated space at 180 Cambridge St.

• On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Massachusetts voters supported Maura Healey in the general election for her historic victory to become the next Governor of Massachusetts.

• On Tuesday, Nov. 15, a newly renovated and expanded Boston Athenaeum opened following 14 months of construction.

• On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the 27th “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 Friday, Nov. 18, Fabled Antiques reopened at 93 Charles St. after being closed for seven months due to a fire upstairs in the building.

• On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Beacon Hill Business Association’s Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll returned.

The event included Pictures with Santa at Hill House, as well as entertainment provided by the Back Bay Ringers, the Beacon Hill Village Carolers, the Brass Quartet, and the John Everett Band.

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