Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Essex Street - Sinners and saints, then and now

It seems as we creep up on half way to St. Patrick's Day, we take a look at an incident very near St. Patrick's Day 1959.

Charles Joesph McIntyre, the officer in the above report, was my Grandfather. A couple of years ago, on a whim and a rare moment of absolute genological dumb luck, I requested his emploment records from the City of Boston.
There were several reports like this one detailing on the job incidents and my living so near to the places mentioned, I've often thought it would be really fun to go track the places down and see what they look like today.
I doubted "The Golden Nugget Cafe" was still in business but I wondered, has the building changed? Is it still being used as a bar? What is the street like now, what businesses occupy it, how do the area demographics compare to what they might have been in the past?

A few days ago I had a little time before work and I went and found 25 Essex Street:

I actually forget what sort of buisness was advertised in the windows but the building is most likely the one that was there in 1959 (most of it anyways), it looked like it could have been used as a bar room in the past and I noticed that the buisness in it now is most definately not of the night crawling, seemy side of the city variety. (I want to say it now houses a chinese tax agency or something very much like it. Kind of had a 'family run' business look to it, definately not a dive bar.)

As neat as it was to stand across the street looking at the very same spot where the above reported incident occured some 60 years prior, that wasn't the building that really grabbed my attention.

The lot next to 25 Essex seems to down for the count but I noticed the building next to that empty lot surely had some glory in it's past life somewhere along the way:

It doesn't look like much at street level but when you stop and look up, it's clear that this building was never built to be a dive bar. It looks kind of "churchy" to me but it's a skinny 4 story walk up, hard to figure out what it could have been if not a church or religious society of some type.

It's pretty clear that whatever it was, it hasn't been used for anything in quite some time. I love looking at old buildings like this and wondering what forgotten relics lay forgotten inside?

(A few years back I worked for Filene's Department Store in Downtown Crossing and one day I was waiting for a frieght elevator and a maintenance guy walked up to wait as well. In his arms he was holding out flat a couple of old newspapers from the 1950's. (The Boston Post, when did that stop publishing?)When I asked where he got them he said he found them on a shelf in a part of a sub basement that no one had opened in years. The papers had been left by some past worker who probably stashed them on a shelf before a break that he never came back from. That always makes me wonder about old buildings and lost or forgotten things)

I did find this one refrence to a church on Essex online (Thank you Library of Congress : ) but I don't think it's refering to this building. It's nice enough but it just doesn't seem the sort of building that a lot of fan fare would be made over the setting of a corner stone.

The area is littered with amazing churches, my guess is I was looking at one that's just not as documented as the rest. Maybe this little building was one of the big churches accountant's office? Who knows.

I do know for sure though that my Grandfather would have been horrified if he knew his Granddaughter was anywhere near "The Golden Nugget Cafe" at any point even in the advancing years of time. He just was that sort of guy, nice girls didn't go to those parts of town, period.

I thought about maybe telling that to the colorful 'spandex-ipod clad pony tail swinging like a movie star' woman I saw jogging my way up the street past a gaggle of men of a certain lifestyle that allowed them to have no particular place else to be at 8am on a Monday morning but hanging on the street corner.
I think tho, from the wary look on her face as she passed them, she'll stick to jogging through the Public Garden from now on and leave the garden of good and evil to others and their own particular brand of ghosts...