Letter to the Editor: Humor, activism and our past

To the Editor:

Dorchester resident Ryan Landry was the special guest speaker at the Dorchester Historical Society’s Gala on October 12th at the Venezia Restaurant. The comedian, playwright and director, who entertained the audience with a serious message about historic preservation cloaked in humor. 

Landry was preaching to choir – an audience self-selected because of their interest in promoting the history of Dorchester and willingness to pay a hefty amount to support the cause. These party-goers were ready to be entertained, and Landry did not disappoint them.  They roared at his story of a nightmare of a new Dorchester Avenue lined with big box stores filled with cheap poorly-made merchandise.  While enjoying the performance, the audience absorbed the message that without constant vigilance, we may lose our historic buildings and streetscapes.

 An opportunity to support preservation will occur at the Boston Landmarks Commission hearing scheduled for next Tuesday (Oct. 23) in Boston City Hall, Room 900.  At 6:05 p.m. the Commission will hear a petition to designate the property at 24 Grampian Way as a Boston Landmark.  The significance of this property is not only its mid-19th century architecture but also its association with George Wright, a 19th century baseball great, founder of Wright & Ditson and an author of sporting books. He was known across teh country and abroad.

At 6:25 p.m. the Commission will hear a petition to designate the Industrial School for Girls building at 232 Centre Street as a Boston Landmark.  This building appears to be the only charitable institution building for children still standing anywhere in the Commonwealth and especially as an example of the Industrial School movement in the 19th century.

Earl Taylor

The writer is president of the Dorchester Historical Society.