Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Old postcard of the long-gone Head House in South Boston

This postcard, mailed in 1910 and published by Valentine & Sons, features "The Head House, City Point, South Boston, Mass." I'll spare you the suspense and report that it's been gone for more than 70 years. After being constructed around the turn of the 20th century, it suffered the double whammy of the 1938 New England hurricane (aka the Long Island Express) and a 1942 fire. The remains were demolished.

You can view some great vintage pictures of Head House at BostonZest and watch a short video about it from the Boston History Project on YouTube.

In the 1988 book South Boston, My Home Town, Thomas H. O'Connor writes a bit about Head House:
"The ocean, of course, was a major source of refreshment and recreation for the residents of South Boston. With its unusually long shoreline and its splendid array of beaches, the district soon became popular. Now that streetcars had become electrified, the 'Bay View' trolley would travel along Eighth Street alongside Dorchester Bay, turn up K Street, and then move along Sixth Street until it reached its terminus at City Point. During the host summer months, visitors traveled in open-air trolleys with a top speed of six miles per hour and a fare of five cents a person. Thousands of families from all over the Boston area, loaded down with blankets, bathing suits and huge box lunches, enjoyed the beaches or held picnics on the grass at Marine Park. In the background loomed what had become the popular landmark of the City Point area — the restaurant and bathhouse known as the Head House, so called because it was at the head of the peninsula that jutted out into Boston harbor. An ornate, gingerbread structure, the Head House was designed in 1897 by city architect Edmund M. Wheelwright after a rathaus (municipal building) erected by the German government in Chicago at the 1893 Columbia Exposition."
The message on the back of this 1910 postcard ties in a bit with O'Connor's description of the area during his childhood:
Dear Aunt Kattie
I was downtown buying my trolley ticket to Fall River so I thought I would answer your postal by saying I arrived home allright. Boston looked so dirty to me. John is up now though he got pretty thin for his little sick spell. I am spending my days at the Point.

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