Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A South End Love Story

One morning a few weeks ago, I received an unusual phone call. I receive a lot of inquiries from people asking about a specific South End building, block, family, organization, etc. But this call was different.

Caller: “Good morning. I have an unusual question. In 1972 I attended an event that the South End Historical Society held. It was a Ball at the Back Bay railroad station. Do you know the date that the Ball was held that year?”

Me: “I’m not sure, but I can find out. May I ask why?”

Caller: “I met my husband there. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that date.”

Me: “May I have your name?”

Caller: “My name is Lael Montgomery.”

I told her I’d search and call her back.

I went into our archives and, surprisingly, found one copy of the 1972 Ball invitation (at left and above). The date: January 28th, 1972. I hadn’t expected to find one. We’ve held forty-five balls and we don’t have invitations saved from many of those years.

We have a few pictures from our balls but nothing from 1972. However, I knew that sometimes the Boston Globe wrote articles about our early balls. Knowing it would be a long shot, I looked for any reports of the 1972 ball in old issues of the Globe. And, to my astonishment, I found an article about the ball with a large picture of three women. The caption reads: “BUBBLY AT THE BALL: Janet Chute, Catherine Hinds, and Lael Montgomery (left to right) celebrate at the South End Historical Society ball at the Back Bay railroad station last night.” (See image above right).

I called her back and told her I found the invitation, which I scanned and sent her a copy of, and a Globe article with her picture on it.

Lael replied, “I remember that article; my father called me the next morning and asked me if I had seen the Globe yet.”

We chatted a bit about the event and about the transportation. Many of the guests, Lael included, took the train from downtown Boston into Back Bay station, where they disembarked (Back Bay station image at left, 1973, courtesy of Richard Card, South End Historical Society). Some dressed to match the ball’s Victorian theme. Other passengers, on their way through Back Bay station, must have been astonished to see the ball attendees on the train cars, headed to a dinner and dance.

Lael sent me a picture (see below- Lael and husband Jon), and a few days later, she emailed me to let me know that they celebrated both their 40th anniversary of meeting and her birthday with a party, complete with centerpieces of enlarged 1972 ball invitations.

So happy anniversary of meeting to Jon and Lael! I’m glad that our 1972 ball (and our 6th, I believe) holds such a special place in your hearts!

Our 46th annual ball will take place on Saturday, April 28th, at the Lenox Hotel, corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets. At this “Venetian Masquerade,” guests are encouraged to don masks. Along with food, drink, dancing, and our silent auction, we will award prizes to those with the most beautiful, unique, and creative masks.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Murder of Harry Hamberg

Harry Hamberg, South End Tailor (image at left from Boston Daily Globe, January 1, 1925).

On the evening of December 31, 1924, two men entered Harry Hamberg’s tailor and second-hand clothing shop at 358 Shawmut Avenue. They planned to commit robbery. When they entered, Harry attempted to rise but one of the men struck him in the head with a revolver, knocking him back. Yelling, Harry tried to get up and the same robber shot him in the mouth, fatally wounding him.

William Kendricks and Claude Townsel of 15 East Brookline Street and Emil Hudson of 7 Fairweather Street were in the lunch room next door to Harry’s tailor shop. Upon hearing Harry’s screams, they ran from the lunch room to the tailor shop and reached the door as the two criminals emerged.

“One of the men pointed a pistol at the trio and told them to get back into the lunch room.

‘Move quick! Get back where you came from or you’ll die too’,” yelled the gunman.

“Still covering the three men with the pistol the bandit, reinforced by his companion, followed the men back to the lunch room and then warned them not to come out for several minutes because…he would shoot.”

The thieves fled toward West Dedham Street, chased by people who had been attracted to the scene by Harry’s screams. The convicts turned onto Newland Street, where the pursuers lost their trail.

Meanwhile, Harry “staggered from his store and into the street, where he collapsed.” Passersby transported him to a nearby butcher shop, where the police found him, still alive, a few minutes later. He deteriorated rapidly and could not speak to the police. An ambulance brought Harry to nearby Boston City Hospital, where he died shortly after arriving. The image at right, from the Boston Daily Globe on January 1, 1925, shows Harry's tailor shop and secondhand clothing shop.

At 2:30 am on January 10th, 1925, following “clews,” police arrested sixteen-year-old Henry Alexander of 6 ½ Arnold Street (image at left, Boston Daily Globe, January 11, 1925), Roxbury, for the murder of Harry Hamberg and for the robbery of Manuel Oumanian at 333 Shawmut Avenue a few days before Mr. Hamberg’s murder. Henry Alexander confessed to the robbery at Mr. Hamberg’s but claimed that his partner, Frank Kearney, fired the gun. Henry pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 19 to 20 years in prison.

Henry Alexander’s partner in crime, the man who shot Harry Hamberg, eluded authorities until 1941, when authorities captured him near the Mexican border. Frank Kearney managed to avoid arrest for seventeen years and his “travels took him to many parts of the world, including Europe, South America, and Mexico. He left France at the outbreak of the war [World War II].” Kearney claimed that during the robbery of Harry Hamberg’s shop, the “revolver accidentally discharged when he struck the victim on the head.” Kearney was sentenced to 28 to 30 years in prison for manslaughter.

At the time of his murder, Harry was 63 years old and lived at 30 Emerald Street with his wife, children, and an occasional boarder. Emerald Street was located in the Castle Square area and ran between Dover (now East Berkeley) and Castle (now Herald) Streets. The 1922 Bromley maps below indicate Emerald Street’s location. The arrow indicates 30 Emerald Street.

Harry and his wife Ida came to the United States from Russia in 1908 with three children: Benjamin, born in 1893; Dora, born in 1894; and Samuel, born in 1897. Dora married Samuel Katz, who lived in the Castle Square area and at one time had a shop at 488 Tremont Street. The 1930 census shows that Dora and Samuel Katz lived at 30 Emerald Street with their children, Arnold, Shirley, and Leon, as well as Dora’s mother and Harry’s widow Ida and Dora’s nephew Morris Hamburg.

“Tailor Shot to Death in South End Holdup,” Boston Daily Globe, January 1, 1925.


“Roxbury Boy Accuses Pal in South End Murder Case,” Boston Daily Globe, January 10, 1925 and “Guilty of Manslaughter,” Boston Daily Globe, May 26, 1925.

“Boston Slayer Suspect Back after Seventeen Years,” Daily Boston Globe, August 19, 1941.


United States Federal Census, 1930.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Some South End Images

Sometimes I get sidetracked when I look through our collections here at the . I go searching for one thing and end up, three hours later, twenty-five topics in the opposite direction and having completely forgotten what it was I went looking for in the first place. One interesting thing leads to another and so on and so on.

For your visual enjoyment on this icy Wednesday, here are some images that we hold in our collections. All of these images are courtesy of the SEHS.

Rather belatedly, to the left is a Hallmark Christmas card (opened and laid flat) dating from 1934. The "Merry Christmas" portion is the front of the card. This was recently donated to us as a part of a large object and photograph collection from a South End family. This collection was found in a South End house.

You're probably wondering why I posted the book mark at the bottom right. It depicts the Bunker Hill Monument, far from the South End. However, the maker of this book mark, Poole Pianos, was located at 5 and 7 Appleton Street in the South End. The back of this card reads:

embodies all piano excellences,
and has attained the highest level
possible in the art of piano making.

Unexcelled for
Design and

The "Poole" is the best piano possible for a customer to buy.

Poole Piano Co.
5 and 7 Appleton Street
Boston, MA

For Sale By
J.E. Lothrop Piano Co.,
Dover N.H.

This book mark probably dates to the very end of the nineteenth or early twentieth century.

The object at the left is a business card for W. W. Stall. The back of this card reads:

W.W. Stall,
All Kinds New and Second-Hand
Bought, Sold, and Exchanged
Odd Fellows' Hall, 509 Tremont Street., 4 Warren Ave.,
Boston, Mass.
Repairing A Specialty.
Telephone, Tremont 263.

W.W. Stall was located in Odd Fellows' Hall, which burned in 1932 (Atelier 505 stands in the location today).* Stall was a prominent athlete in the cycling world of New England and the mid-Atlantic states. W.W. Stall began business at 509 Tremont St. by 1885 (possibly earlier). The , which Stall participated in.

The image at right is a scan of a postcard. The postcard dates to 1918 and depicts Theodore Parker Memorial Hall at the corner of Appleton and Berkeley Streets. Built between 1872 and 1873, it housed the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society (actually Unitarian) and the Parker Fraternity, a community social organization, and was named in honor of leader Theodore Parker, who died in 1860. The church later moved but the Fraternity stayed until around World War I. Through the mid twentieth century it housed many organizations, including the Worcester County Creamery, a book store, the British Naval and Military Veteran's Association, Magna Film Productions, and the Boston Tea Party dance hall. A fire damaged the building in 1972 and in 1975 it was converted to residential and commercial use.[1]

The image below shows two unidentified women at the intersection of Dover, Tremont, and Berkeley Streets, again near the present day Atelier building.* The image was taken in the 1890s.I find the Historical Society's own institutional history very interesting. The image below contains two of our House Tour brochures. The white brochure is the first ever House Tour brochure from 1967. We still hold our South End House Tour and this past October we hosted our 43rd. The event has changed quite a bit from the beginning, especially the guidebook. The red brochure is from our most recent House Tour on October 15, 2011.

*See this 1890 Bromley map for a bit of context for Odd Fellows' Hall and the surrounding Tremont, Berkeley, Dover area. The Cyclorama (present location of the ) is the circular building in the lower center. Odd Fellows' Hall is right above it (east).**These images are courtesy of the . If you are interested in reproducing any of these images, please contact the SEHS by calling 617-536-4445 or by emailing admin@southendhistoricalsociety.org.

1. Adapted from former President and Historian Richard Card's article, The Parker Memorial.