A Walk Through Roslindale Village

A Walk Down Centre Street

Now its fourth century of existence, West Roxbury's Centre Street remains the main street of this vibrant Boston neighborhood - the center of a suburbia within a city.  The street has gone through many phases.  once a tree-lined country road with large houses on either side, today it is a business district serving locals through shops, banks and restaurants.  

Centre Street and West Roxbury as a whole is in a period of change.  Twenty years ago, this was a middle-class Irish Catholic enclave.  Today the area seems to be experiencing at least a partial gentrification as well as a new multi-cultural influx.  Long-time businesses like Blanchard's and Corrib Pub and Restaurant now compete with Vietnamese restaurants and used bookstores appealing to a rather different clientele. One wonders what the street may become in the next 20 years.

 Tucked away along Centre Street along the tracks of the commuter rail one can find a truly ancient part of Boston history at the Westerly Burying Ground.  Founded ____.  The Burying Ground actually played a key role in the original formation of West Roxbury as a separate entity from Roxbury.  Back in the 1800s, .  Eventually, West Roxbury was annexed from Boston and today remains a neighborhood within the city. Many of the early families of West Roxbury can be found as tombstones with such familiar local names as Billings and Draper are present.

Billings Field off LaGrange Street provides a kind of green oasis for the Centre Street area of West Roxbury.  

For decades, West Roxbury had the reputation of being the middle-class version of Southie.  The area has always had a high proportion of cops, firerighers and other public service officers.  But cut off from the rest of Boston to some degree without a T connection, West Roxbury was provincial and at least to some, exclusionary.  Largely Irish-Catholic, many South Boston residents made the move up to the single family homes of "Westie," and sometimes brought their prejudices with them.  

Today West Roxbury seems to be in transition.  Centre Street reflects the transfomation of the neighborhood, as the main drag has a far more diverse feel than it did two or three decades ago.  While Deno's Subs, Anna's Coffee, Parkway Printing and other longtime establishments remain, the street has been dotted in the past ten years with new cuisines and establishments once unthinkable in Westie.  Here Thai Spice and Amigos Mexican Food are seen as more traditional townie establishments like Friendly's and Brigham's are long gone.  Elsewhere Phucket (Vietnamese), ___ and ___ 

Gentrification has occured on some level here as well, although that process has took place in fits and starts.  Starbucks has come to West Roxbury and three used bookstores lend West Roxbury a somewhat hippie feel.  A sparkling new Roche Brothers is decidely 21st Century and a bright new CVS takes the ground formerly ---and amazingly--- occupied by the grocery store.  (Were supermarkets really ever that small?0 But many Joe six pack establishments remain such as Family Dollar, as well as two prominent long-time liquor stores, Macy's and Blanchard's.  Ads for low-priced cigarettes seem to be everywhere.

Whether these trends continue or the street heads in a new direction is anybody's guess.

 Above: Irish pride has long been present in the West Roxbury and "Parkway" area.  Old Boston is still well-represented in the Centre Street area.


The West Roxbury Public Library still centers the meandering main street of the neighborhood at the corner of Mount Vernon.  The older library, built in 1922, stands to the right of the photo, the expansion wing was added in 1988.  The original West Roxbury Free Library stood on the grounds of the older library as part of Westerly Hall at the turn of the century while the __ church once occupied the nearground.  It burned to the ground in .  Today the branch is part of the larger Boston Public Library system.

Right: The West Roxbury Congregational Church is seen at left with Westerly Hall to the right about 1910.

Left: Westerly Hall as seen in 1878.  Students went to school on the second floor while the first floor housed the West Roxbury Free Library.  The building stood on the site of the older wing of today's West Roxbury Public Library. 

Above: A collection of photographs featuring a new Centre Street, more diverse, yuppie and 21st Century. 

The Theodore Parker Church has stood at the corner of Corey and Centre Streets since ___.  Named after its former pastor, the fiery and progressive Theodore Parker, the church has ___. 

Holy Name blah blah 

The West Roxbury Firehouse has  

Left:  Old West Roxbury and new stands side-by-side here as Chrisio's Pizzeria competes for hungry locals against ___ cuisine and ___.

Below: Anna's Donuts has 

Below: A final then & now look up Centre Street just north of LaGrange Street.