Tremendous thanks to the First Year Honors program at Curry College, Professor Peter Hainer, Bill Stanton, and the Boston Natural Areas Network/Trustees of Reservations for their day of service in the Back Bay Fens on September 27, 2014. More than 40 students worked in 4 project areas in an around the Back Bay Fens to rake, weed, prune, and clean the park as part of a project to engage in urban issues.


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After nomination by the Fenway Civic Association, the Johnson Memorial Gates were selected as a Most Endangered Resource for 2014 by Preservation Massachusetts.

For background and history of the Gates and FCA’s work in restoring them, see here.

The following text from Preservation Massachusetts describes the listing:

Johnson Memorial Gates, Boston

Johnson Memorial Gates

Johnson Memorial Gates in Boston’s Fenway area has been named one of Massachusetts’ “Most Endangered Historic Resources”. Since 1993, this list is compiled annually by Preservation Massachusetts, the state’s historic preservation advocacy organization.

In 1902, The Johnson Memorial Gates, designed by Guy Lowell, were dedicated to the City of Boston. The handsome public monument was a bequest of Ellen C. John, known for her advocacy for prison reform for women, to memorialize her husband, Jesse Johnson. The Johnson Memorial Gates monument is a three part structure comprised of two tall piers made of pink Tennessee Marble, which is no longer quarried, and Milford Pink Granite. “The Gates” display decorative bronze ornamentation, lions heads on each pier, two toughs originally designed for horses, and marble benches. “The Gates” are the grand entrance to the Back Bay Fens, which is a historically landmarked Olmstead park under the oversight of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The Back Bay Fens is the oldest of the linked parks in the Emerald Necklace Parks system.

Although under the protection and jurisdiction of the Historic Parks of the Parks Department, with approval by Boston Landmarks Commission and its care’s authorized and administered by the Boston Arts Commission, “The Gates” suffer from deferred maintenance. An ongoing, costly need for repair is often the case for public works of art. “The Gates” need substantial restoration to repair structural issues caused by water infiltration which is causing the monument to deteriorate. The time is now to secure funding to proactively stabilize monument. Without treatment, the conditions will continue to worsen and so will the cost of restoration.

The Fenway Civic Association, a wonderful example of a civic group taking a strong stewardship role in their neighborhood. They have endeavored for the past two years to secure “The Gates” by seeking and gaining support from abutting neighbors, institutions and business, likeminded non-profits like the Massachusetts Historical Society and Emerald Necklace Conservancy as well as the city entities which govern “The Gates”. Their work has included extensive conditions reviews and treatments recommendations report as well as conserving the bronze elements of the Johnson Memorial Gates. The Fenway Civic Association hopes to conduct direly needed repairs in next 8 months, but they need to secure avenues of funding in order to do so.

Marie Fukuda of the Fenway Civic Association, who nominated the Johnson Memorial Gates feels, “The visibility provided by the Most Endangered Listing will elicit much needed support for resources including grant funding and city capital funds.”

Fenway Civic Association is pleased to partner with Curry College First Year Honors Program and Boston Natural Areas Network/The Trustees of Reservations to perform maintenance work in and around the Back Bay Fens on Saturday, September 27.

More than 45 students from Curry College will perform raking, cleaning, and pruning work as a service project to engage in city parks, followed by a BNAN-led tour of community gardens.
Our thanks to Professor Hainer, Bill Stanton, The Trustees of Reservations, and Curry College for this project!


Olive Swift - photo courtesy of Wesley Swift

Olive Swift – photo courtesy of Wesley Swift

With sadness, Fenway Civic Association reports the death of our long time President and friend, Olive Swift, who passed away at her home in Sedalia, Missouri on July 14, 2014 at the age of 89.

Olive was a highly respected, vocal supporter of the Fenway neighborhood, and served as FCA president in the 1970’s during the early years of the association. A long-time resident of Clearway Street, she continued to advance the interests of the Fenway for many years on the often contentious FenPAC and Prudential project (PruPAC) committees and as a historical resource to the FCA board, before moving to Missouri in 2009 with her husband, Wesley.

In the words of Ed Burke, who co-chaired FCA with Olive in the late 1970’s, “When I first became involved with FCA, Olive Swift was the driving force and glue that held the organization together. Olive was small in stature but had the drive and the guts to take on anyone or thing that was impeding her Fenway. We had battles because of our different approaches to problems, but usually reached a conclusion that we could agree on. May she rest in peace.” Linda Brown, resident services coordinator for Morville House, recalls “Olive was my introduction to Fenway Civic Association when I came to Morville House. She cared so much about the Fenway community.”


A stickler for detail, Olive was known for keeping precise minutes — penned in shorthand — of the many meetings she attended for FCA, which she kept at the ready if any public official dared diverge from a previous commitment. With her sweet smile and dogged tenacity, Olive accomplished more than her size would ever suggest.


It was Olive’s allegiance to FCA and the importance it held for the Fenway neighborhood that compelled her to retain for years the historical records of Fenway Civic Association, dating back to its first meetings as the “Fenway Citizens’ Committee” in the former Hemenway Hotel in 1961. Happily, prior to Olive and Wesley’s departure from Boston in 2009, FCA board members retrieved the boxes of historical documents from her and arranged for their preservation, cataloging, and public access at Massachusetts Historical Society.


Olive is especially remembered for two of FCA’s signature events. The annual Flower Share with Northeastern University began in 1976, when she and then NU President Ryder devised the idea of NU offering flowers from its greenhouse for FCA members to beautify the Fenway and to also serve as an incentive for residents to join the neighborhood’s civic association. Another favorite, the annual Rose Garden Picnic, was begun by Olive and Ed Burke to highlight the poor condition and safety of the Back Bay Fens in the 1970’s and to begin bringing people back into the park.


For this writer, one of the most endearing memories is that of tiny Olive Swift in high heels, smiling up at her tall husband, Wesley, as they danced to the rhythmic swing of the seasoned “No-Name Band” at the Morville House  Christmas Party. We are greatly indebted to Olive for her positive spirit, determination and accomplishments that have made the Fenway a more caring, livable neighborhood.


Fredericka Veikley, FCA Board Member

Swingin’ in the Fens

with Ron Mahdi and Friends

Wednesday, July 23rd 6:30 PM

Swingin’ in the Fens is an annual free outdoor concert held at beautiful Ramler Park, 130 Peterborough Street, in the West Fens. Presented by Berklee College of Music, Fenway Civic Association, and the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, this year’s featured jazz artist is Berklee alumnus and professor Ron Mahdi, bassist, recording artist and clinician.

Mahdi has performed with such artists as Chet Baker, Kevin Eubanks, Roy Hargrove, and Stanley Jordan and toured worldwide with Roy Haynes, Nnenna Freelon and Teodross Avery, among others.

Bring a friend! Picnics and folding chairs are encouraged.

This event is fair weather only.   Please note – this concert will be held on the reserved RAIN DATE listed below.


Dear Members and Friends:


Fenway Civic Association is pleased to host its annual Rose Garden Picnic on Wednesday, June 11th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., outside of the Kelleher Rose Garden (across from 85 Park Drive).

Please join us with your picnic basket, chairs, or a blanket, and enjoy light fare, entertainment, a stroll through the roses, and a chance to connect with your neighbors! Bring a friend!
Live Music, courtesy of Emmanuel College, will be performed by The Whiskey Boys
Light fare, provided by Jerry Remy’s

This event is free and open to the public and is FAIR WEATHER ONLY. Our rain date is Wednesday, June 11th.
Special thanks to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for their support of this event

The Friends of Symphony Park are pleased to announce their 4th season of free Tai Chi classes at Symphony Park.
Funded by the Boston Parks Summer Fitness Series and the Mews, and supported by Community Arts Advocates, this hour long, 8-class series will provide free healthy movement opportunities for seniors and neighborhood residents alike. Instruction will be provided by Sifu Huan Zhang of Huan’s Tai Chi, and will take place in the park, located at the corner of Edgerly Road and Norway Street in the East Fenway. In event of rain, classes will be moved to Morville House, located adjacent to the park at 100 Norway Street. New warm up exercises and movements will be added to make the curriculum interesting for both new and returning participants.
Instructor Huan Zhang has over 25 years of experience in Tai Chi Chuan. He has given lectures, seminars and demonstrations at locations including Harvard University, Northeastern University, and MIT.
All are welcome to join- wear comfortable clothing; feel free to bring your water bottle. Restrooms and water fountains will be available inside Morville House.
Classes will start  June 3rd at 10:00 a.m. and take place every Tuesday with the following schedule:
  • June 3, 10, 17, 24
  • July 1, 8, 15, 22
Please see the Flyer for more information. Hope to see you there!

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