Wednesday, February 2, 2011

South Boston Marine Park - What's Missing?

The Head House - South Boston Marine Park.


Pleasure Bay, South Boston 1919. The red arrow locates the Head House. The yellow arrow indicated the Aquarium.


Once upon a time, there was a giant gingerbread house at Pleasure Bay in South Boston. Actually, it was the Head House, designed by E.M. Wheelwright and built in 1894-95. Wheelwright was the official architect of the city of Boston, as well as designer of Horticultural Hall, the Longfellow bridge and New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. The building was modeled on the German Pavilion at Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893. It contained cafes, rest rooms, retiring rooms for men and women, restaurants and office space. Extending from the building was a long row of changing rooms.


This postcard shows the Head House and adjoining boat landing. A pier was built extending out from behind the Head House.



Looking out from the back of the Head House, a covered pier extended out into the bay for strollers to enjoy the cool breeze. The Hurricane of 1938 tore through the middle of the pier, and it was never repaired. In the 1950s it was replaced with a solid causeway that extended to Castle Island and enclosed Pleasure Bay. . The hurricane damaged the Head House as well, and it began to fall into a state of disrepair. When a fire tore through the building in 1942 - just a week after the infamous Coconut Grove fire, the fate of the Head House was sealed. It was soon torn down.


Pleasure Bay, with the Aquarium roof seen in the background.


The South Boston Aquarium, built by the city following the inspiration of the Boston Society of Natural History (already discussed here). The Aquarium was built in 1912 in the Marine Park on filled land diagonally across from the Head House. The Aquarium and the Franklin Park Zoo were opened around the same time, and competed for both funding and public attention, with the Zoo getting the better of it. Starved for funds, the Aquarium gradually fell into disrepair, and in 1954 it was closed for good.



For photos and discussion of the Head House and Aquarium, see South Boston, by Jim Sullivan


Interior and exterior photos of the Aquarium.

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