Museum by day, social center by night: that's one new vision for the Curley Mansion at 350 Jamaicaway.
City Councilor Matt O’Malley and the Friends of the James Michael Curley House in Jamaica Plain held a public meeting with local residents Monday evening to proclaim a new chapter in the history of the Curley Mansion.
The Georgian Revival style mansion overlooks Olmsted Park next to Jamaica Pond. Curley built the mansion in 1915, causing many, including the City of Boston’s Finance Commission, to wonder “how a man on a $10,000 salary could afford a $45,000 house on a $15,000 lot,” according to a Boston Landmarks Commission report.
Curley sold the house in 1956 to the Society of Oblate Fathers for Missions Among the Poor, a missionary congregation originally founded in France in 1816, according to the report. In 1988, the City of Boston purchased the mansion using money from the George Robert White Fund, a trust fund that Curley was responsible for establishing.
The house has been underutilized since then, with the city operating it in a “status-quo style,” according to Carole Mathieson, Assistant to the Chief of Basic City Services for the city's Property and Construction Management Department which handles the day-to-day care and upkeep of the house.
Mathieson and Richard J. Dennis, stepson of James Curley — who also grew up in the house — saw the need for leadership in utilizing the property. Dennis created the Friends of the James Michael Curley House in 2010 to address that need.
“Friends” wants the mansion to be a community resource that is both accessible and educational.
At the meeting, there was discussion of using the house as a museum dedicated to Curley during the day, and a venue for events during the evening. Michelle Manasian, president of Manasian Events, the company which will coordinate programming for the house, said in response to an audience question that the number-one event will most likely be weddings. Manasian said other possible events are likely to include holiday parties, birthdays and anniversaries.
The house will continue to be owned by the White Fund, but the day-to-day management of the mansion will slowly be transferred from the city to the “Friends.” Mathieson said in the next six months, she hopes to see program activities become more frequent. But she said she expects it will take “one to three years for it to get to the point where the city will be able to back out of the costs on a day-to-day basis.”