BOSTON – In honor of the centennial of the building of the former mayor’s mansion at 350 The Jamaicaway in Jamaica Plain, Wentworth Institute of Technology will feature an exhibition of work produced by students enrolled in a Media, Culture, and Communications Studies course titled Digital Approaches to Boston Culture: Curating the Legacy of Mayor James Michael Curley (http://studio.wit-mccs.org/curleyproject/).
A poster exhibit, showcasing curatorial concepts for a digital/virtual house museum, will be on display in the Mayor’s Neighborhood Gallery from March 1 to March 31, 2015. The Gallery is located on the 2nd floor near the South Elevators. From City Hall Plaza or Congress St. entrances, take South Elevators to the 2nd floor.
A companion exhibit of Curley-related projects and artifacts will be featured in a glass display case located in the lobby / reception area of the Mayor’s office, located on the 5th floor of City Hall. From City Hall Plaza or Congress St. entrances, take South Elevators to the 5th floor, follow signs to Mayor’s Office.
Nowhere in the Boston landscape is the power of politics and place more resonant with regard to James Michael Curley’s legacy than the former mayor’s mansion at 350 Jamaicaway in Jamaica Plain. Commonly known as the “House with the Shamrock Shutters,” this neo-Georgian style brick home was built in 1915 during Curley’s first term as mayor. Construction began, fittingly, on St. Patrick’s Day, and soon the stately mansion, designed by rising-star architect Joseph McGinniss and incorporating a dining room from the Fairhaven, MA estate of Henry H. Rogers, began to rise. Eventually, the elegant mansion filled with crystal chandeliers, marble fireplaces, and intricate woodwork would have over 21 rooms and be over 10,000 square feet in size, enough room to accommodate Curley’s rapidly expanding family. The window shutters adorned with shamrocks proclaimed Curley’s financial and political success as the son of impoverished immigrants.
Although his opponents had him barred from succeeding himself as mayor, Curley was re-elected at three different intervals from 1922-26, from 1930-34, and from 1946-50. In 1934, Curley reached the pinnacle of his career when he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He lived in the Jamaicaway mansion until he sold it to the Oblate Fathers in 1956, two years before his death. The Oblates lived in the house until 1988, when the City of Boston purchased it via the George Robert White Fund, and today it remains a testament to the Curley legacy.
The Curley house has proven to be an ideal vehicle for a new mode of pedagogy that is being developed at Wentworth Institute of Technology, E.P.I.C. Learning (externally-collaborative, project-based, interdisciplinary curricula for learning),which promotes undergraduate education by encouraging students from various disciplines to work in teams on projects that motivate both internal and external collaborations. The goal of this studio course is to utilize the E.P.I.C. approach while engaging with issues in the humanities and social sciences that can resonate with the Boston public in meaningful ways (http://studio.wit-mccs.org/curleyproject/e-p-i-c-learning/). In addition, through the use of innovative digital techniques, this course, and the Department of Humanities and Social Science’s new Media, Culture, and Communications Studies minor (http://wit-mccs.org), plays an important role in fostering digital humanities skills at Wentworth.
The Galleries at Boston City Hall are open to the public at no charge. Boston City Hall is accessible by MBTA via State Street (Orange and Blue lines) and Park Street (Green and Red lines). For additional information, call 617-635-3245, or visit http://www.cityofboston.gov/arts.
Wentworth Curley Exhibit press release