Hey, there! Log in / Register

Debate over the future of the South End's Harriet Tubman House grows heated

The Boston Sun reports on a BPDA meeting over plans by United South End Settlements to sell the building to a condo developer.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

Boston doesn't respect ethnic history. If it were the Europe house it would be safe.

up
Voting closed 4

Boston? You mean the board of directors.

up
Voting closed 6

Those responsible for the welfare of those organizations

up
Voting closed 0

Help me out here. A "Europe House" here in Boston WOULDN'T be "ethnic"?

up
Voting closed 0

Ethnic means what to you?

up
Voting closed 0

Hello again Notre Dame Ed Center! Greetings Franklin Institute. Some asshole on the board is getting a cut just like at these institutions with their sleezy real estate deals

up
Voting closed 2

Search masslandrecords dot com (type united south end settlements, not the address, then click the deed for Columbus Ave 1974 in the list). The BRA sold USES the property (the former Hi Hat Club location) for $35,000 (it's assessed now at $10 million).

The deed stipulates that the building must be kept as a community facility (page 10); and on page 3, requires that the entire facility adhere to this ("or any part thereof"), until the South End Urban Renewal Plan is terminated. This is important since the developer (New Boston Ventures) is proposing some first floor community space, not to keep the entire building as a "community facility"

In 2016 the BPDA extended the SEURP for another six years (until April 2022) and plans to hold community meetings this fall to push for another six-year extension. Therefore, clearly this sale to a commercial developer is a violation until at least 2022.

It's undoubtably true that USES needs the funds to establish an endowment, keep programs running, etc., however rather than selling to a for-profit developer, they could sell to a coalition of non-profit organizations (such as ABCD and TDC) to maintain and expand programs there. USES may not get close to the $20 million they want, however they will still receive a large sum.

up
Voting closed 5

Funny that you should mention TDC. I was told recently that the real reason for the outcry in response to USES selling its property is that TDC wants to get the land on the cheap so it can build its own facilities.

Oops!

up
Voting closed 0

"Oops!" indeed. While I provided facts (link to the deed), you offered unfounded rumors. Can you provide a source for your story? Even if USES sold to TDC (Tenants Development Corporation), or another non-profit, for less than New Boston Ventures offer, it would in no way be "on the cheap". The intention of many of those opposed to the sale to NBV is to instead repair the building and maintain its vital services to the community.

Here's the opening to TDC's history on their website: Founded in 1968, TDC has been operating for over 40 years, developing affordable housing in Boston’s historic South End neighborhood. TDC was conceived and organized by low income renters, principally African-American tenants, who were distressed over the sub-standard and hazardous housing conditions to which they were subjected to live in many areas of the South End.

Respectfully, Mr. Keith, is it correct that you're a real estate broker? If so, you're not exactly an unbiased observer, as your field profits off of this type of development. Furthermore, your cavalier attitude towards TDC reveals a lack of empathy for the deep pain felt by many (particularly African-American residents), who have seen themselves largely erased by "urban renewal", or more accurately "urban removal". The late, great South End artist Allan Rohan Crite referred to it as "Negro removal", and he was right.

up
Voting closed 0

No, I am not a real estate broker or involved in the industry as a profession. Thank you for your response.

up
Voting closed 0

Many people would definitely like the current location to be repaired and for services to remain where they are, and the sense that the sale process denied the community a chance to raise funds or organize to make that happen is a big source of frustration.

That said, nobody has offered a realistic plan for actually doing it. Nobody has challenged USES's claims about how much money they need to get from this sale in order to stay solvent as an organization, and while people have said "maybe they could sell to a non-profit for less than NBV but still get enough", nobody has identified any non-profits that would be both interested and able to spend what USES needs. People keep bringing up TDC, but nobody has presented any evidence that TDC made an offer that would meet the needs of USES, or would even be able to do so; people have said different things about whether or not TDC was made aware of the sale early on, but they have an opportunity right now to make an offer and have not. Nobody has suggested any way the community could raise the necessary funds, either.

This sometimes feels like the community is frustrated at the whole situation and is saying, "surely you missed something! Surely there's another way!" without any real reason to believe it.

up
Voting closed 0

Several months ago, Rep. Pressley questioned Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, claiming to care about her legacy. If she cares, why is she silent on the Tubman House sale? Rep. Pressley also claims that Rep. Shirley Chisholm is her mentor and quotes Chisholm’s slogan “unbought and unbossed”. The reality is that it didn’t take long for Rep. Pressley to become “bought and bossed”.

Since 1/1/2019, Rep. Pressley received $6,100 in contributions from New Boston Ventures, the proposed buyer of the Tubman House. Plus many other developers, architects, realtors etc have contributed to her.

State Rep Jon Santiago received $1,500 from the two principals of New Boston Ventures.

up
Voting closed 0

Did Harriet Tubman ever live in/at the Tubman House location, or is it just a random building with her name slapped on it?

up
Voting closed 0

Harriet Tubman did not live at the current Tubman House location, though it's certainly not a "random building with her name slapped on it" either. The mural on the side of the building highlights the history of the location, including the Hi Hat club. The South End (and this area in particular, with its prevalence of jazz clubs) was home to a large African-American population.

Some of Tubman's history in Boston, as well as the establishment of the Tubman House (from tubmanboston dot org):

"Tubman's connection with Boston continued until the end of her life. She was an invaluable contributor to the abolitionist and women's rights movements, in Boston and elsewhere, and played an essential role in making Boston a focal point of these movements.

In the early 20th Century, responding to the discrimination in their own community, six Black women of Boston opened the Harriet Tubman House at 37 Holyoke Street in the South End. A personal friend of Tubman, Julia O. Henson rented the Tubman House as a place of lodging for Black females who had recently migrated from the South. Later on, the Harriet Tubman House was moved to Mrs. Henson’s own home at 25 Holyoke Street. There, she and her friends, Cornelia Robinson, Annie W. Young, Fannie R. Contine, Jestina A. Johnson, Sylvia Fern, and Hibernia Waddell, organized a settlement house for the purpose of “assisting working girls in charitable ways.”

The Harriet Tubman House took in young female boarders, providing them with food, clothing, shelter, and friendship while they adjusted to their new environment. In 1906, the six founders incorporated their organization according to the dictates of Massachusetts state law. Cornelia Robinson was elected President of the Board and Matron. By this time, the Harriet Tubman House had grown into an important community institution, gathering support from neighborhood churches and women’s clubs. Harriet Tubman was made Honorary President of the Harriet Tubman House during one of her visits to Boston four years before her death in 1913.

Today, the legacy of the Harriet Tubman House continues in the work of the United South End Settlements".

up
Voting closed 3

So it's a random building with a mural slapped on it?

up
Voting closed 0

The name was first given to an earlier USES location elsewhere in the South End, and kept when the current structure was built and services relocated. Harriet Tubman has no direct connection to the current building or location, though many would say that the symbolic connection is significant, and nobody is using a historical connection to Tubman herself as a reason to oppose this development, so it kind of doesn't matter.

up
Voting closed 0

Ya know, a quick Google search will inform you of the answer.

Here ya go:

https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/09/22/bostons-black-community-fights-t...

up
Voting closed 0

Pressley serves in the federal government. She used to be a city councilor, but she was at-large and did not represent the South End specifically. Why, exactly, would she be commenting on this situation? And why would you suggest via innuendo that NBV contributing to her campaign is somehow related to her silence? Pressley has no direct control over anything that happens in Boston.

up
Voting closed 0

We would act like we cared, but when happens up here we don't have the time to save our history. The fact that Boston doesn't have more pride in the connections Harriet Tubman has here is sad. Along with the truth we don't teach about it either so most just don't know or care. It will just become another Gentle Dentle or whatever box thing the committee approved long ago anyway.

up
Voting closed 0

Oh this is easy. The people who want to maintain the status quo should just buy it and continue as before.

up
Voting closed 0

They werent given the opportunity. That is apart of the outcry.

SN: My nana Mrs. Drumgold would be in tears over this if she were still alive.

up
Voting closed 0

There was an open bidding process. Awhile back, one of the local papers published the details of ABCDs offer. I believe it was $5M. It would be a breach of fiduciary duty for the board to sell at that price. If others chose not to bid - with a realistic offer - that's on them.

up
Voting closed 0