A majestic, Gothic-style building constructed in 1874, Fields Corner’s first Municipal Building marked the beginning of an institutional presence in the city. Designed by George Clough, Boston’s first City Architect, the building housed Fields Corner’s first police station, jail cells, and a public library.
Looking at any old brick building may be boring in a society that demands to be entertained, but there is nothing boring about the Municipal building. The large brick walls conceal many fascinating stories about the history of Fields Corner. The Municipal Building has been in Fields Corner “through good times and bad times,” as Donna Finnegan, the director of the CDC, tells us. If the Municipal Building’s walls could talk, a lot of interesting things would be told.
As I walk into the basement of the building, I can smell and see the oldness of the ancient walls. Glancing at the interior of the structure, I get an inside look at the past and history of this historic building. Every breath I take is bigger because the air is so moist and dense in the basement. You can only imagine what history this building has gone through and seen.
The Municipal Building has had many uses in the past and present. The building once housed the First Branch Public Library and the Boston neighborhood’s District 11 police station. This police station was there during the Boston Police strike of 1919. When the Massachusetts Governor Coolidge (AKA President Coollidge) sent in the state national guard to stop and calm down the riots going on in the city of Boston, Mrs. Finnegan told us that all of the police officers that went on strike never got their jobs back and were replaced with World War II veterans. One of those veterans that joined the police was James T. Sheehan. Sheehan was a by-the-book cop that revised the Boston Police fingerprint system to make it the second best fingerprint system in the country behind the Justice Department. He saved Police officers like Sheehan made the Boston Police Department the great department that it is today.
The Municipal Building also had many firsts for the city of Boston. The architect of the Municipal Building, George Albert Clough, was the first official architect for the city of Boston. The Municipal Building was built in 1874. Though closed in the 1970’s due to mysterious fires that’s cause has yet to be discovered, it is still here today in our Fields Corner community due to the FCCDC stopping the city of Boston from razing it. This building was not the only building to go on fire during the 1970’s because Saint Ambrose which is not that far from the Municipal Building in Fields Corner also went on fire. These fires in Fields Corner lead to much suspicion and lead people to have many questions to what was the cause of all this. It reopened in 1985 with 13 units of affordable commercial space, says Mrs. Finnigan. Even though there are now 13 units of affordable space, the jail cells that were in Boston neighborhood’s District 11 police station are still in the basement of the building. The jail cells in the Municipal Building were restaurants in the 1980’s as well.
The Municipal Building brings so much history to Fields Corner. The commercial space in the Municipal Building could also help the people of Field Corner in the future. I believe that the Municipal Building should use this space as a center for educated younger people about government, democracy, and inspiring the next generation of citizens to engage in public service. I believe that this would be a good way to use the space in the Municipal building because a lot of kids especially in Fields Corner aren’t involved enough in their government whether it’s local, state, or national. A lot of people believe that politicians in government are corrupt and because of this they don’t want to get involved with it. This institution could teach kids that there is nothing better in life than getting involved in public service and making a difference in their community. By getting kids involved in this program there will be fewer kids on the streets which will lead to less violence in Fields Corner. This is just one thing that the Municipal Building could be used for to help Fields Corner in the Future. Although the building would have to be reconstructed the memory of the old building would still be there because the building is still be used for good. There could also be a hologram of the old Municpal Buidling in the air at night so that people could remember all that it did in the past. Whatever it is used for in the future I am sure that it will strengthen the community in better way. The With As long as it is here the history of Fields Corner will remain very strong for the past, present, and future.
By Thomas Mannion
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