Boston’s Hotel Alexandra for Sale Again

Hotel Alexandra

Like that classic 90s jam by Portrait, here we go again. Boston’s Hotel Alexandra is up for sale.

As I mentioned in my post back in 2019, I’ve been following this property for decades. Whenever the lottery goes really high, I start having real estate fantasies about buying it if I won. With the Powerball jackpot now up to a billion dollars and Mega Millions not far behind, I’ve played a few times. Even won a few bucks! So I’m reinvesting my winnings and continue to try my luck.

Silence remains on the project website about construction starting on the most recent plan for development and I’m wishing for winning lottery numbers. So I started wondering what was going on. I searched and found an article from last month on The Boston Sun stating that Hotel Alexandra is now up for sale by Cushman & Wakefield. What?!?!

I emailed the Boston Planning & Development Agency project contact, Nick Carter, and asked if he knew anything. He replied, “I have not heard anything to that effect but I would also say that we often are not updated on things like this.”

Huh. So I dug a little deeper and found information on the Cushman & Wakefield website. It’s true! There is a post dated June 1, 2023, stating that they are marketing The Alexandra. See below.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Multi-Family Advisory Group is now marketing The Alexandra, a former luxury hotel primed for redevelopment in Boston’s thriving South End neighborhood. Approved plans for the redevelopment include a 70-unit condominium project with a gym, bike storage, rooftop terrace with adjoining amenity room and ground floor retail. The property is within minutes of some of the city’s top dining destinations including Toro, Flour Bakery & Café, and Barcelona Wine Bar.

Further information about the sale states, “The Alexandra is offered on an ‘as-is’ basis and without a formal asking price. Upon receipt of a signed confidentiality agreement, qualified investors will be provided with access to the offering memorandum and due diligence materials. Once investors have had an opportunity to review the offering materials and tour the property, C&W will schedule a ‘Call for Offers’.”

This is so very interesting! Now would I really go through with buying it if I won? I don’t know.

Toying with the idea is different than the reality of what this would mean day to day in taking on such a massive construction project. Especially one that seems doomed to fail. But then again, maybe Hotel Alexandra just hasn’t found the right owner yet. And I can’t help but dream.

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Photo Credit: Nina LaNegra

An Artist Date at Italian Cafe Gelato

If you’re a writer, then you’re probably familiar with Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and the idea of Morning Pages. I’m not a morning person. So writing first thing was never something that appealed to me. But the Artist Date. Now that’s something that I can get with. And so I did.

An Artist Date is supposed to become a weekly habit. Weekly may not happen. But I can try. Visiting cafes is one of my favorite things, so it’s definitely an easy way to get that date in. I’ve also ventured out a lot more since the pandemic, so I’m getting used to or maybe creating a new way of being out in the world again. I still wear a mask indoors at many public places. But I’m also eating out now, obviously without a mask. It feels a bit strange, but it also felt a bit strange when I first started wearing a mask. Doing the reverse will take an adjustment period too.

Last week the weather was more like July than April. So one night after work, I decided to take myself out for a gelato at Italian Cafe Gelato here in Quincy. They have so many delicious flavors to choose from. I taste tested a few and settled on the lemon ricotta. It was so good! Sweeter than I expected, and so creamy and cold. Just perfect.

One thing to be aware of if you go. Most places you can get a cover and take your gelato to go. You cannot get a cover to go unless you buy a pint. Rather odd. Oh well.

So I sat inside, and savored my gelato while looking outside the window at the pretty lights in the alley.

It was such a lovely night out, so I took my time heading back to my car and looked around the area. Over the past several years, I’ve noticed so many places going out of business. Noticed trees being cut down. The landscape of cities and towns changes every few decades. The stores that you see and go to everyday probably won’t be around in 25 years. It made me think that I should have taken more pictures of the ordinary 25 years ago.

Since I don’t have the option of time travel at this point, I figured I’d start taking those ordinary pictures now. Future me will be glad that I did.

This Sully’s sign is from a bygone era and probably won’t be around for too long. According to Eater Boston, the bar opened soon after Prohibition ended and closed in June 2018. I love these old signs, so I’ll try and capture them when I can.

A little past the Sully’s sign is Sergeant George Montilio Square. As someone with a huge sweet tooth, I immediately though of George Montilio of Montilio’s Bakery. But it seemed that he would be way too young to have served in World War II. Maybe it was his father?

So after taking this picture, I did some research. George, the famous baker, just recently turned 70, so that definitely was not him. His father started the bakery 76 years ago, but his name was Ernest Montilio. The Square is named after an Army Sergeant who “died of wounds” on April 17, 1945. Well, that’s odd. Just realized that today is April 17th as well!

The Hall of Valor Project website states that Sergeant George Montilio received the Distinguished Service Cross, “[F]or extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company H, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, in France. As a volunteer scout, Corporal Montilio carried out an assault on a footbridge under intense machine gun and small arms fire. Though the bridge was held by a superior number of the enemy, his daring and aggressiveness forced them to withdraw and thereby permitted his unit to organize and hold their objective.”

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When I decided to go out for gelato, I didn’t realize that I was doing an Artist Date until afterwards and I thought about it. This type of practice really does bring about creativity and some learning along the way.

Since George Montilio is not a very common name, I wonder if he was part of the same family. Considering he was from this area, it seems likely that he could have been a relative. Maybe the current George was named after him? I guess it’s family history that he probably knows.

Rest in peace, Sergeant Montilio, and thank you for your service.

Celebrating First Lady Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams Statue

Maybe it’s because I live in Quincy. The one in Massachusetts, that is. Or because I feel a strong sense of history. Possibly both.

Whatever the reason, whenever there is an election where democracy hangs in the balance, which seems to be every election now; I find myself making a pilgrimage of sorts to places dedicated to the Adams family. One “d” not two! The presidential family, not the fictional funny/creepy one.

Anyway, soon after the 2020 election, we Americans, and probably most of the world, wondered if there would be be a peaceful transfer of power. To calm my nerves, I wandered around the garden at Peacefield. I sat and looked at the most magnificent tree. I thought about the depth of the tree’s roots and the depth of our democracy. Immersed myself into the feel of that place and called on the spirits of this old Quincy family to help democracy hold. Because if anything was important to former presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, it was democracy and this lovely place where they lived.

Because of January 6th, there was not a peaceful transfer of power. However, there was a transfer of power. And thankfully we were spared from another term of the one whose name I don’t want to write.

And here we are again. It’s Saturday, November 12th. The midterm election was only this past Tuesday, but it feels like it was weeks or months ago. Partly because Twitter’s new owner is causing complete chaos. Vote counts continue, so we still don’t know who will control the House or Senate.

Abigail Adams statue and memorial park in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Close up of Abigail Adams statute showing her hand holding a letter.

Last Saturday, the city of Quincy recognized another member of the Adams family with a new statue. This time it was finally for a woman! The magnificent Abigail Adams! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony that day. According to an article in The Patriot Ledger, the sculptor, Sergey Eylanbekov, also created the nearby John Adams and John Hancock statutes. His work is beautiful.

To vote for this election, I had my ballot mailed to me and on Monday, I dropped it off at Quincy City Hall. The new memorial is right across the street, so I walked by it. While I was there, several other people stopped to look and take pictures. Again, I called on Abigail’s spirit (and the rest of her family!) to help democracy hold, because it’s still faltering.

A couple of years ago, here in the United States, society was toppling, tearing down, removing, renaming and sometimes defacing statues. Most with good reason in my opinion. It’s nice to see someone remembered who was by most, if not all, accounts a kind person, intelligent and forward looking.

Some quick research shows that there may be some disagreement on the day she was born. Most places, including the National Park Service, give the date of November 11, 1744. However other places, including part of the memorial pictured below, give the date of November 22, 1744. The White House just gives the year. Either way, it’s around that time now, so either early or belated 278th birthday Abigail Adams!

Quote by Abigail Adams in letter to John Adams to remember the ladies.

She was our nation’s second first lady, the mother of the sixth president, against slavery and wanted better treatment for women.

One of her most famous quotes, from a letter dated March 31, 1776, to her husband, was memorialized in the picture above. But it’s not the original spelling or the full text as written by Abigail. The Massachusetts Historical Society has archives of her letters and they are available on the website. Below is more from the letter with the original spelling.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

Abigail Adams was right. We women did have to rebel and did not hold ourselves bound by laws not giving us a voice or representation. Otherwise we would never have gotten the right to vote or the right to own property.

Credit cards were created in 1958, but only for men. Women couldn’t open a credit card in their own names until 1974! We would have never had reproductive choice without rebellion. And we are still fighting. Sometimes the same fight over and over again.

The constitutional right to an abortion was only decided in 1973 and we lost that right just this year. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But just like Abigail, we women have to adjust to our current circumstances so we can survive. Then fight and keep looking to the future.

Community, DNA, Kin & Black History

DNA description and genetic community

“Your ancestors are always your ancestors. But their communities may not be your communities.”

                                                                                              ~ Matt

The quote above is from an article called “To Be Good Kin” on the website Midnight Sun and it makes a lot of sense.

Just because our DNA says one thing, doesn’t mean that’s our community — regardless of the percentage. The article is an excerpt from the book, Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future, by Patty Krawec, which will be released this September. The author is Anishinaabe and writes about how settler colonialism tried to change Indigenous ways of life and the idea of kinship.

Kin & Community

I feel like I sort of understand the big picture idea of kinship. But not so sure I understand the exact detailed meaning. There are many definitions for it.

Merriam-Webster says it’s a group of persons of common ancestry or clan; one’s relatives. According to Oxford, it’s our family and relations. Vocabulary.com says it’s a group of people related by blood or marriage. However, I would also add that it should include people related by adoption. But I don’t think these definitions cover everyone.

What about a neighbor who takes in someone who is unrelated and there is never a formal legal proceeding to make them family? What about close friends who are like family? We all have “aunts” and “uncles” who aren’t blood relatives, but they are part of our families. Are they kin? They’re definitely part of our communities.

Each of us has more than one community. But sometimes, because they are so intrinsic to our identities, we may not really think about it. We may take these different groups of people for granted. One group might center around our work or school. Another may revolve around our spiritual life. Another may revolve around a sport or hobby. One of the most central is based on blood relatives. Friends who enter our lives through one or more of these groups also play vital roles in our lives.

Maybe depending upon how close we get to certain individuals in these groups, any of them could be considered kin. Maybe all of them. I’m not really sure. What if you don’t spend holidays or other special occasions with your blood relatives, but with members of your church or your book club? What if you combine all of them?

The idea of kin and community is fascinating and worthy of much discussion. Thinking about the quote above made me think about my DNA results. They are all over the map, but heavily concentrated in West Africa. While I don’t know the names of the individuals, the blood in my veins is from my ancestors. The majority who hailed from Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria, Benin & Togo, Ivory Coast & Ghana.

Black History Month

I hadn’t planned on writing a Black History Month post. Often the celebration feels forced and fake. Like when conservative Republicans have the nerve to say they are celebrating it on Twitter at the same time they are doing everything possible to prevent Black people from voting.

Anyway…. The countries that my ancestors are from reveal a pattern showing the history of this country. A horrible and frightening trend by many states and localities seeks to prevent teaching American slavery and the history of Black people in this country.

My DNA connects me to three specific genetic communities: Early North Carolina African Americans (1700 -1800); Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama & Mississippi African Americans (1775 – 1950), Mid-Atlantic Coast African Americans (1750 – 1950). Where certain Africans were taken from and brought to in the United States is evident in my DNA now and in the DNA of all of us who descend from Africans enslaved in this country. No matter the attempts to erase what happened, it shows in the science.

Slavery severed generations of families and communities in countries all over Africa. It contributed to the growth of the African diaspora and the creation of African Americans. These ancestors’ communities may not be mine, but at least knowing the countries lets me be curious in a more specific way. And maybe I can learn more about these communities in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about Black History, during the month of February, you can stream for free a three-part class: Black History, Black Freedom and Black Love on MasterClass.com.

The Alexandra Hotel Reimagined Again

Alexandra Hotel

Here we go again. I wrote about Boston’s Alexandra Hotel back in January 2019. Then many updates to the post followed, because the situation with this property kept changing. As it has for the decades that I’ve been following it.

As expected, the pandemic didn’t make the proposed development of the property any easier. To me, it feels like this property has a purpose that hasn’t been found yet. With an owner that hasn’t been found yet. Because everything with it has been difficult for such a long time. When the purpose and owner are aligned, I would think things would flow easily.

But who knows? Maybe this next proposal will be it. A virtual public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 7, 2021, 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Also, the public may submit comments through Friday, September 17, 2021.

The last proposal for Alexandra Hotel was for a 150-room boutique hotel. Because the pandemic completely changed the hotel industry, that plan was scrapped. Now the intent envisions 106 residential condos. 71 of those units will be “Compact Units” that are a mix of studios and one bedrooms.

The last meeting I attended in person, so seeing this all play out on Zoom will probably be pretty wild. I’m planning to watch.

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Photo Credit: Nina LaNegra