George Fifield and Michael Reiskind recently unveiled the return of the Eden of America Boston 200 plaque, which is now located on the side of the Jamaica Plain Post Office. Fifield, a Myrtle Street resident, saved the plaque 14 years ago when the old post office was demolished.
Mayor Kevin White established the Boston 200 Committee to celebrate the US Bicentennial in 1976. The committee held various activities, one of which was to put up a series of plaques to mark historic locations across the city. These plaques are brown with white lettering, and each has an image on it.
Fifield bought his home on Myrtle St. in 1976, the bicentennial year and the year many plaques were put up throughout the Boston neighborhoods extolling local historical features. One plaque, placed on the Myrtle Street side of the Jamaica Plain Post Office, read “Jamaica Plain is the Eden of America.” The plaque included an image from a 19th century A.J. Dowling “Pattern Book” of an Italianate Tuscan Villa style Victorian, which Fifield said looked very similar to his house and its “twin” across the street.
“It was a pleasure to see that as I turned down Myrtle on my way home every day,” Fifield said.
In order to build the current post office, the old post office was torn down by a construction company, Bullfinch, in late 2004.
“In a gracious attempt to mitigate the disruption of a major construction project just across the street, the construction manager came to my house, explained the process and made sure I was good with it,” Fifield said. “Then he asked if there was anything else he could do for me. I took him outside, showed him the plaque and said I would like it. He stopped a passing worker with a crowbar and told him to pop it off and give it to me. So I saved it from the dumpster. It has been in my front foyer ever since.”
Michael Reiskind called Fifield about a year ago to ask if he still had the plaque and if he would return it to be put on the post office again, which Fifield thought was “a wonderful idea.”
“Bulfinch is honored to work with the JP Historical Society to preserve JP’s rich history in the City of Boston,” said Eric Schlager, Bulfinch CEO. “We are proud to display the ‘Eden of America’ plaque on our building to celebrate the beauty of the 19th Century.”
“The Eden of America plaque is important in that it tells the story of JP in general,” said Gretchen Grozier, President of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. “Also it was placed on the Post Office to have a prominent position where lots of people would see it.”
One of the Boston 200 plaques in JP was for Bromley Vale, an estate once owned by John Lowell that was created into Bromley Park, an affordable housing project. That area is now called the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments. However, the whereabouts of this plaque are currently unknown.
“The area where the plaque was placed in 1976 has seen a lot of change, like the Orange Line and Southwest Corridor Park being built,” said Grozier. “That may have caused the plaque to be moved and unlike the Eden of America one, its whereabouts are unknown. That is just an educated guess.”