Hill Happenings

St. Alphonsus Hall, designed by Franz Joseph Untersee, was built on Smith Street in 1898.

Mission Hill residents are aware that the majestic auditorium was razed a few months ago. The demise of St. Alphonsus Hall was the culmination of a series of missteps starting when the Redemptorists sold  the building to Western Associates in 2003. With the deterioration and lack of maintenance on the building, it was inevitable that St. Alphonsus Hall was destined for the dustbin of history and imminent wrecking ball, despite it being a landmark designation. St. Alphonsus Hall was the site of Reverend Kenzel’s famous play, ‘Pilate’s Daughter.’ That religious play, first performed in 1901, attracted huge crowds to the Hall until the mid ‘60s.

I have wonderful memories of St. Alphonsus Hall going back to the 1950s at Mission Grammar School when the nuns would escort us there to watch movies every month. While at Mission High. I had bit parts in a few plays at the Hall including ‘The Sound of Music,’ and I had so much fun in my role in a barroom brawl in ‘Oklahoma,’ or was it ‘Lil Abner’?  

In the 1970s and ‘80s, theater fans packed St. Alphonsus Hall, to watch Rick McDermott, Frank Garvin, and several other talented actors perform in the Mission Hill Theater Group.

Weston Associates plans to build residential towers on the site. The company also purchased the old grammar school building and the convent.

The Mission Hill Post 327 will hold their next meeting March 14, time and location to be announced.

We are always seeking good men and women to join the M.H. Post, and interested parties may contact our Commander, Col. George Rollins, at 703-209-2124.

Mission Church Pastor Father Philip Dabney was assaulted but not injured on Jan. 8 by a young woman, who darted to the altar, while our beloved priest was saying Mass. Father Dabney asked me to mention this in praise of the several Boston Police officers who responded immediately. The officers gently escorted the boisterous woman out of church, and Father Dabney said a prayer for the troubled lady.

Condolences to the family of Jane (Kane) Giblin who passed away Jan.19.

Jane, who lived in Norwood, is a 1974 Mission High graduate. The Kanes are a wonderful Mission Hill family and I fondly recall engaging in many games of whist with Jane’s dad, Willie Kane,  50 years ago  at the Mission Hill Post.

Jane was a wonderful woman and the proud mother of four who  was an active member in St. Timothy’s parish in Norwood. Jane will be deeply missed.

Donations in Jane’s name may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In last month’s column I made an error of omission by not mentioning that the New England Baptist Hospital sponsored the seniors party at the Tobin Center in December. N.E.B.H. is a terrific Mission Hill neighbor. The Tobin Community Center also chipped in to feed the M.H. senior citizens for that event, including me, with the excellent food.

For a quick lunch, I recommend the smallish Solid Ground Cafe at Brigham Circle. I visited the café last week and had a delicious chicken-salad sandwich tinged with cranberries, lettuce and celery for $12. While waiting in line for my food, a friendly young lady asked, to my surprise, if I was a vegetarian,

“No,” I responded. “That would be a missed steak.”

Maurice can be reached at [email protected]

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