The Mission Hill Gazette marks 20 years of serving the community this month.
The first issue of the Gazette hit the streets in April 1993. The front-page stories were about the controversial plan to sell the former English High School building in the Longwood Medical Area, and a profile of Mission Hill Little League co-founder Phil Doyle.
Sandra Storey, the former editor and publisher who founded the Gazette, recalled that the idea for a local newspaper came out of community demands. It had been several years since the prior local paper, “The Good News,” ceased publishing.
“For years, Mission Hill would ask, ‘Where’s our newspaper?’” said Storey, who already was publishing the Jamaica Plain Gazette.
Mission Hill at the time struggled to express its concerns, in part because officials always considered the area as part of some other neighborhood, Storey said.
And it had been only a few years since Mission Hill faced perhaps the worst event in its history, the Charles Stuart murder hoax. In 1989, Stuart, a white man, drove his pregnant wife to Mission Hill and murdered her, then told police an African-American man committed the crime. It took months for the hoax to be revealed, while Mission Hill was stereotyped in major media as a terrible place and the police rounded up innocent local men.
“Charles Stuart happened and poor Mission Hill was in such a terrible spotlight,” Storey recalled.
But at the same time, Mission Hill had many strong community institutions, from Mission Church to Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, Storey said.
“What a history of community leadership over there,” she said.
Over the past 20 years, the neighborhood has changed dramatically. Massive redevelopments such as the reconstruction of the Mission Main housing complex and several former Mission Church properties have altered the landscape. More community organizations have arisen, including Mission Hill Main Streets and the Community Alliance of Mission Hill. Along the way, Storey said, the Gazette helped the neighborhood understand and carry out those changes.
“I think it certainly helped empower people,” she said.