“Decent Places to Live”: Joe Corcoran and the development of mixed-income housing in Dorchester

Aerial view of Columbia Point in Dorchester, the Columbia Point Housing Project and the Calf Pasture Pumping Station

Aerial view of Columbia Point in Dorchester, the Columbia Point Housing Project and the Calf Pasture Pumping Station, 1960s.

The mission of University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston includes documenting the history of Columbia Point, the university’s home since 1974. Columbia Point has a long and storied history: it was a farm and calf pasture before and during much of the 19th century; it became the site of a pumping station that was vital to the city’s new sewerage system; it housed Italian prisoners of war during World War II; and, later still, it became the site of the 1,132 unit Columbia Point housing development. (You can learn more about the complex histories of Columbia Point by visiting our research guide and this blog about Columbia Point.)

joe_corcoran

Joseph Corcoran. Courtesy Corcoran Jennison, Inc.

Joseph Corcoran, a pioneer in developing mixed-income housing, has been a transformative influence in the development of the Point, and recently contributed several items of historic and scholarly interest to our Special Collections, including two videos and the digitization rights to the publication A Decent Place to Live. Through these archival contributions, Corcoran continues his strong support of the university. He is a member of the William H. J. Kennedy Society of the UMass Boston Founders Circle and, through the Joseph E. Corcoran Endowed Excellence Fund, provides an annual award to a faculty member in the College of Management who has exhibited excellence in teaching, curriculum development and/or research.

Joe Corcoran grew up in a mixed-income neighborhood in Dorchester, the youngest of eight children born to Irish immigrant parents. As he describes in his memoir Wasn’t That a Time! A Corcoran Family Memoir, 1925-1950the benefits of growing up in a mixed-income neighborhood have inspired his life’s work.

Harbor Point Apartments, ca. 2012

Harbor Point Apartments, ca. 2012. Courtesy Corcoran Jennison, Inc.

In the late 1980s, Corcoran Jennison Companies, the Boston-based development firm he co-founded, undertook the process of converting the failed Columbia Point housing project into a mixed-income community called Harbor Point, which has become a national model for the federal HOPE VI Program. The HOPE VI Program, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is described as “a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing.” Corcoran’s approach to housing development has always been to focus on working from the very beginning with the primary stakeholders in any new development – those who will occupy or otherwise be affected by the construction of housing or business real estate. When developers Corcoran, Mullins, Jennison, Inc., forged a partnership with the residents to redevelop the Columbia Point projects, only 350 units were occupied, with the rest boarded-up and condemned. Thirty years later, Harbor Point on the Bay is a 1,283-unit mixed-income community still managed by this unique developer/resident partnership and is viewed as a model of mixed-income housing.

Corcoran recently donated two historic films to University Archives & Special Collections, both of which describe the development of Harbor Point, and both of which have now been digitized and are available to all online. The first, Harbor Point, Boston is a five-minute video commissioned by Corcoran Jennison and produced by Cambridge Studios.  |  Harbor Point, Boston from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

A second film, Point of Change (21’52”) was produced and directed by Deborah Dorsey of Cambridge Studios in 1990, and includes more extensive footage from around Boston, as well as interviews with residents, government agency officials, and others.  |  Point of Change from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

In addition to the above films, Corcoran recently shared the digitization rights for the book A Decent Place to Live: From Columbia Point to Harbor Point (2000, Northeastern University Press) with University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston. A Decent Place to Live, written by Jane Roessner, who also freely shared her rights in the book, is the redevelopment story of Boston’s Columbia Point, America’s first federal public housing project to be converted into private mixed-income housing in a 50/50 partnership with the existing residents and a private developer. The book chronicles the redevelopment process from its inception to completion, and navigates the long road of redevelopment.

A Decent Place to Live is an account of an historic transformation as well as a reference point for those involved in community redevelopment today and into the future. Thanks to the support of Joe Corcoran, University Archives & Special Collections was able to digitize A Decent Place to Live and to make the work openly available to researchers, students, scholars, journalists and the general public.

For more information about collections related to the history of Columbia Point in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston, click here.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive launch: Saturday, November 19, at the Boston Public Library

hiphoparchive_nov19draft1In celebration of Hip-Hop History Month, the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston and the Boston Public Library invite the public to the launch of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016  |  12:00 to 5:00 pm

Where: Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall  |  700 Boylston Street., Boston, Mass. 02116

For more information and directions, visit www.bpl.org or RSVP on Facebook.

Browse the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive here.

This event is free and open to the public and will include:

  • Artist panels with legendary local hip-hop artists from the 1980s to the present, including members of first-generation Boston groups The Almighty RSO, Top Choice Clique, FTI Crew, and artists including Rusti Pendleton, Edo G, Akrobatik, Bay Holla, Professor Lyrical, among others;
  • Listening sessions where the public can hear unreleased demo tapes from the Lecco’s Lemma collection from artists like Guru (Keithy E.), The Almighty RSO, Top Choice Clique, FTI Crew, and many others;
  • Hip-Hop in black and white: A discussion of racism and appropriation in American popular music and hip-hop history hosted by local activist scholars and cultural historians Jamarhl Crawford and Reebee Garofalo;
  • Official launch of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and Lecco’s Lemma collection and thanks to donors Magnus Johnstone, Willie “Loco” Alexander, and Tony Rose.

mhha
Visit blogs.umb.edu/archives and follow the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive on Twitter for updates.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Nelson Dionne collection: Bicycling for the military, police force, and civilians

Bicycling postcard. Image Source: UASC-SC-0208-TBD

Bicycling postcard. Image Source: UASC-SC-0208

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the materials in the Nelson Dionne Collection, 1900-2009, have been processed and are available for research.

This collection contains Dionne’s personal assemblage of bicycling-related materials and pertaining to the military, police, and civilians. The collection also includes copies of the League of American Wheelmen’s Bicycle USA publication, books on bicycling, newspaper clippings, police bike patrol patches, correspondence, national and international military bicycling postcards, police bike catalogs and articles about police bicycling, and newsletters from the Wombats (Women’s Mountain Bike and Tea Society), as well as their Massachusetts chapter (MassBats, c.1994-1995).

As a veteran, a Salem police officer, and a lifelong history buff, Dionne has spent many years gathering, organizing, and writing about Salem’s history. He is a Salem native of French Canadian descent and has been collecting primarily works documenting Salem history, from the Civil War era to the present, including business history, for over 50 years. Historic New England recognized his efforts in 2013 by awarding him their prestigious Prize for Collecting Works on Paper.

Dionne is the author of several books, including Salem in Stereo: Victorian Salem in 3D and, with Jerome Curley, co-author of Salem: Then & Now.

The finding aid for the Nelson Dionne Collection is available here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.

For more information about bicycling history collections in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston, click here.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Spencer Mass. Memories Road Show photographs and stories now online

Duct tape prom dress, 2007.

Duct tape prom dress, 2007. “My daughter, Christin, worked on this dress for months. She even made the sandals, purse, and necklace out of purple and white duct tape. She wore it to her high school prom. I’m so proud to be her mother.” Contributor: Denise Formosa.

The photographs and stories gathered at the Spencer Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

Held at the Spencer Town Hall on April 3, 2016, the event was organized by the Richard Sugden Library, Spencer Cable Access, the Spencer Historical Commission, and the Spencer Board of Selectmen.

Over twenty local volunteers collaborated with a team of UMass Boston staff members and “Roadies” from past Mass. Memories Road Shows to welcome nearly 80 adults and children with connections to the small town west of Worcester.

The Andrews family on Easter Sunday, 1969.

The Andrews family on Easter Sunday, 1969. “Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Donna Andrews, Darlene Andrews, Debbie Andrews, Nancy Andrews holding Diana Andrews in her lap, Dale Andrews, Denise ‘Buffy’ Andrews, and Albert ‘Sonny’ Andrews, Jr.” Contributor: Nancy Andrews.

Participants shared photographs and stories of themselves and their families at home in Spencer over the years. Many individuals contributed memories of marching in parades, performing in bands, and participating in sports competitions as well as a variety of other community activities. Images of life at work in local businesses and factories document aspects of town’s industrial heritage.

Several people brought materials documenting places in Spencer that are important to them, such as family farms, Peloquin’s Beach at Lake Whittemore, and St. Joseph’s Abbey. The 1955 flood and the great fire in Joe’s Junkyard in 1988 are among the memorable events represented in the collection.

Peloquin's Beach, c. 1938.

Peloquin’s Beach, c. 1938. “Pictured: my grandfather Albert R. Peloquin, my great uncle Robert Peloquin, and my great grandfather Albert J. Peloquin with an unidentified lifeguard. Location: Lake Whittemore.” Contributor: Vito J. Colonna.

The video interviews from this event are not yet available and will be added to the collection at a later date. Visit blogs.umb.edu/archives for updates.

Browse the Spencer Mass. Memories Road Show collection here.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide digital history project that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 8,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.  

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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Happy National Poetry Day! Explore the Cid Corman collection of poetry, translations, and edited works

corman_no-less

Corman, Cid. no less. Elizabeth Press, 1968.

In celebration of National Poetry Day, we’re highlighting our collection of works by local poet Cid Corman. Cid Corman was born in 1934 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and grew up in Dorchester. He graduated from Tufts University in 1941 and did graduate work at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, and the Sorbonne.

A prolific poet, editor, and translator, Corman was the owner of the Origin Press, and he edited and published Origin magazine. While living in Boston he worked to promote the poetry community through events and a radio program. He moved to Japan in the late 1950s and continued to edit Origin, write poetry, and translate Japanese works. He died in 2004.

This collection in University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston consists of volumes of poetry written by Cid Corman, volumes of poetry written by other authors that were edited or translated by Corman, and two series of the periodical Origins, edited by Corman. In addition to the cataloged monographs and serials, the collection contains a small number of broadsides, publicity material, and miscellaneous publications.

Snow drips
into
snow drifts

What less
than this
than this

Rain falls —
nothing else
to say —
but say it

In cylin-
drical
rainwater

azalea
petals:
help
yourself

-Excerpt from no less by Cid Corman, 1968.

View the finding aid for the Cid Corman collection here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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