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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Boston, US Congressman James M. Curley Lays Corner Stone for the New Hibernian Hall in Roxbury on May 30, 1913

On Sunday, May 30, 1913, Massachusetts Congressman James Michael Curley laid the corner stone for the new Hibernian Building on Dudley Street in Roxbury, before a crowd of over 5,000 people.  Curley was joined by numerous Irish leaders from the city, state and nation, including members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which organized the project in 1906 to create a headquarters for AOH divisions throughout greater Boston.

The ceremony was called to order by Patrick J. Larkin, president of the Hibernian Building Society.  Also on the dais were architect Edward T.P. Graham, past AOH National President Matthew Cummings, President of the Ladies Auxiliary Mrs. Ellen Ryan Jolley and AOH State President John H. Dillon.

"The building will contain one of the largest dance halls in Boston, on the top floor of the four-story building, as well as a large banquet hall," and various smaller rooms for meetings and cultural activities, Graham told reporters.  "On the first floor there will be two large double stores, with meeting room in the rear.  The basement contains eight bowling alleys, five billiard tables, store rooms and a boiler room.  The building is finely situated...near the Dudley Street Terminal."

Congressman Curley gave the keynote address on the Progress of the Irish People in America, in which he said, "The Irishman today stands for liberty and progress and his daily life is the most highly developed form of American citizenship," wrote The Boston Globe, which continued,  "He spoke of the character, purity and honesty of the Irish, who came here at the time of the 13 Colonies and made such a republic possible.  He told of the Irish in the Civil War.".

After the address, Congressman Curley "laid the stone with a silver trowel.  The crowed cheered and waved small American flags," according to the Roxbury Gazette weekly newspaper.  "President Larking placed in the corner stone a copper box containing a copy of the ddes, pictures, newspapers and other things which will be of interest to the future."

Hibernian Hall officially opened on October 1, 1913, and for nearly half a century served as a gathering place for the region's large Irish community.  Read more about Hibernian Hall in the recent issue of BITA's Travel & Culture Guide

Today Hibernian Hall houses the Roxbury Center for the Arts, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting arts and culture to the Roxbury community. 

For more information on Boston's Irish history, visit Irishheritagetrail.com.

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