I spent last weekend being a tourist at home again!
Walking the entire route of Southwest Corridor Park is #35 on the birthday list. I’ve walked along parts of the 4.7-mile-long route in the past, so I decided it was time to walk the entire length of it.
I love the story of this park: the short version is that the government knocked down lots of houses and businesses in preparation for building a 12-lane highway through this part of the city in the 1960s.
The community protested and won! The governor cancelled the project in 1969, and over the next couple of decades, the area was transformed into a park. Residents along the route take care of sections of the park. I’ve volunteered with the Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy in the past and have had a lovely experience.
Deb and Melissa joined me for the walk, and it was a beautiful day. This is the most urban park I have ever seen. It cuts through the South End, Back Bay, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods of Boston.We walked through landscaped green space as well as city streets. We saw tennis courts, playgrounds, community gardens, and huge granite blocks with short stories engraved on them along the way.
We got a little lost in Roxbury at one point, but we found our way with the help of our trusty phones. I look forward to doing the walk again this summer.
The following day, Anya and I visited the Dorchester Historical Society‘s open house. Dorchester was founded in 1630, and the society has been in existence since 1843. The DHS owns three historic houses; its headquarters is in the William Clapp House (1806), and the Lemuel Clap house (1765) is next door. The James Blake House (1661) is nearby. It is the oldest house in the city of Boston!
William Clapp and his father, Lemuel Clap, were in the tannery business in Dorchester. William also became very involved in farming and he and his sons developed many apple and pear hybrids. His son Thaddeus developed a famous pear named “Clapp’s favorite,” which Dorchester is quite proud of. I hope to find that pear in the store someday.
James Blake was an English immigrant who grew up in Dorchester and built a house there in 1661. It stayed in the family until 1825. It then passed hands a couple of times until the city of Boston bought it in 1895. The city soon granted the house’s ownership to the DHS.
Besides the exploration of the houses, Anya and I enjoyed the DHS’s current exhibit of hand fans. Not only are the fans beautiful, but we were also tickled to learn that there is a “fan language.” In the nineteenth century, when hand fans were in vogue, women used them to relay all kinds of messages to male suitors, such as “I’m married; you are cruel; I’m not interested.” Here’s a list of the various messages.
The DHS is volunteer-run, and I am grateful that these folks are so passionate about preserving their town’s history. If you live in the Boston area and enjoy touring historic homes, do not miss these gems!
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