Hill Happenings

By Mossy Martin

In April, 1894 in Mission Hill history, land developer, F. Gordon Dexter began to  develop the Mission Hill area. He chose Indian names for many of the streets, perhaps because Allegheny Street had already been laid out in 1845. Pontiac St. and St. Alphonsus St. had been previously quarry roads, with the puddingstone used for construction for foundation material for churches and other buildings.

At the same time, the surrounding area of Roxbury was dominated by breweries and tanneries. By 1900 there were 25 breweries within a mile of Roxbury Crossing, which was previously called Pierpoint Village.

Mission Hill was previously called Parker Hill, named for local wealthy merchant, John Parker. Upon the construction of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, commonly known as Mission Church in 1871, the area was soon called Mission Hill.

Having attended Mission schools for 12 years, I’m fortunate to have known several of the wonderful priests at the Mission. Father Manton, who came to Mission Church in 1939, comes to mind.

Known as the “Novena Priest”, Father Manton presided over the Wednesday Novenas for 59 years. Following World War II as many as 20,000 residents would attend the eight Wednesday Novenas at Mission Church.

I recall playing Little League baseball at Smith Street Playground in the early 60s and hearing Father Manton’s booming voice over the loud speaker at the church. Despite my young age, I sensed the eminence of this great priest, who died at age 94 in 1994. Incidentally, the original Mission Church was a wood framed chapel at Saint Alphonsus and Tremont Street, (currently the Church Rectory) which was the Brinley Mansion and had been purchased by the Redemptiornist Fathers.

The current Mission Church was built in 1877.. The Mission Hill Post 327, which closed more than a year ago, is slated to resume serving our veterans. With no building for meetings and  nightly social hang outs, it’s called a “Paper Post” and there will be meetings at local Mission Hill establishments. Anyone interested in participating in the new endeavor may contact Col. George Rollins, Bill Mullin or John Kelly. The Col.’s E-mail is [email protected].. 

A tip of the hat to the folks at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard for sponsoring the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration March 16 at the RTH gymnasium. Thanks to the volunteers and Committee members include Chairman Bill Sullivan, Laura Adams and Ellen Saucier. Mark Coyle and Toni Yarde get an A plus for handling their bartending duties. It was nice seeing my favorite, Theresa Parks at the party and John Clune was all Irish in his leprechaun attire. I particularly enjoyed the Irish step dancing and the Shepherds Pie hit the spot. Last week, I attended the New England High School All Star game at the Reggie Lewis Center with my focus on 6ft. 7 inch forward, Anthony Selden from Mission Hill. Selden, a senior at Tilton Academy in New Hampshire, elated the horde of fans with several lusty dunks. Anthony is the younger brother of Wayne Selden, who plays for the Chicago Bulls.

The crowd was so large that fans were turned away and I was initially denied entrance to the gym. Fortunately I heard a youngster shout to his friends, “Over here”, as I followed the kids into the side door of the Reggie Lewis Center. It brought back memories of my youth when I would sneak into Fenway Park and the old Boston Garden. 

Belated happy birthday (March 21) to Mimozo Salillari. Mimozo works at Mike’s Donuts and she’s always pleasant when she pours that fine coffee.  Shown on the big screen at the Garden during last months Celtics-Kings game was my friend, Emerson Chadderton and his charming 18-year-old granddaughter, Zerena Cambridge. Emerson and I work together at the New England Baptist Hospital  in Environmental Services where Emerson is our Leader. Zerena Cambridge is a senior at Somerville High School and she plans to be an entrepreneur.

The N.E. Baptist, located on Parker Hill Ave., is a terrific hospital and it is the official hospital of the Boston Celtics. The hospital was founded in 1893 by Dr. Francis Whittier and was initially called the Boston Baptist Hospital..

There will be an Easter egg hunt April 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the Charlesbank Apartments, 650 Huntington Ave. in the Community Room. It will be fun for the little ones. If bringing a group, stop by ahead of time and ask for Jan so she will know the Easter egg head count. A caution, make sure the kids behave or they will be told to put an egg in their shoe and beat it.

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