Brooklyn based lifestyle blog by Lauren L Caron

Boston Then & Now

SPACES, VINTAGELauren Caron7 Comments

A few weeks ago Jack and I visited Boston for a quick birthday getaway.  In my last post I wrote about the interesting things we saw and did.  Now I'd like to finish the re-cap of our trip with a post dedicated to my mother. Judith grew up in Massachusetts and spent much of her young adulthood in Boston. Since I find it interesting to see the homes that my relatives lived in, I asked my mother to write down her list of past residences for us to visit.  With that list, Jack and I then took a tour back in time to when Beacon Hill and Commonwealth Ave were not the inaccessibly expensive places to live in this city.

For several years my mother lived on Beacon Hill in a pre-war apartment on Revere Street with her first husband, Bob.  Bob Venturi was a talented photographer who documented the city, and his wife. His photographs are beautiful and some of the best I've seen of my mother. You can tell they were taken through the lens of a loved one.

During my visit I photographed parts of Beacon Hill as well, making a point to stop on Revere street to snap a shot of her old home.  Looking at the photos she says not much has changed, accept that the paint has been stripped from the front door back to it's original wood paneling.

On another note, there is a special story about this apartment. My mother like me, has a strong interest in interior design and decorating. I now realize & attribute much of this appreciation to her. While she lived on Revere Street, her apartment was featured in a Boston paper - The Record American, describing her uncanny ability to pull together a space with flea market finds and unexpected uses of the often mundane.  In this article, about Judy in her twenties you can see a stylish young lady with a knack for decorating.  In reading the article many of the items listed come to mind as she still has a lot of them, which includes more than just the family heirlooms, the odd finds as well.  I know if she were 20-something today, she would be at the forefront of the DIY blogging community.  Cheers to you mom, Judy & now Judith (as she's "over 40") for passing on a gift and a passion that I especially appreciate.

If you have any interest, I have copied the verbiage from the article, and written it below:

When Bob and Judy Venturi moved into their Beacon Hill apartment two years ago, there still were dirty dishes in the sink and sheets on the beds of the previous occupants.

Today it is a sunny abode which, though located on the third floor of an undeniably shabby building, gives no hint of a less than tidy and picturesque past.

Judy has used enviable ingenuity to combine an interest in antiques with a definite need to economical.  Her husband just recently started training for an eventual management position with a Boston bank.

Unlike many young-marrieds who look upon apartment living as temporary only until they can afford a house, the Venturis threw themselves wholeheartedly into stylish redecoration of the place from the moment they moved in.

One wall in the foyer was stripped to a reveal the original brick, and then decorated with three printers' drawers picked up in a flea market.

Flea markets and Beacon Hill alleys are where Judy did most of her "shopping," in fact. She constructed posts for the bed out of two-by-fours and covered a fiber-board to turn out a genuine-appearing headboard.

She made curtain rods out of old mop handles and a bamboo stick around which a new rug had been rolled.

An interest in unusual baskets provided the ornamentation for an entire wall.  Various shaped baskets, too, may be spotted throughout the apartment, serving as everything from lamp shades to flower pots.

Bob is an amateur photographer. Lovingly framed, many of his pictures adorn the walls of the apartment, along with old tools found in the street and embroidered alphabet.

Certain of the items have followed Judy since childhood. The living room coffee table is really a hope chest given her by her grandfather. The couch in the foyer, known as a "settle," was built for her by her grandfather in imitation of the hard-backed couch of colonial times.

The apartment is definitely eclectic, yet it all fits together like a colorful jigsaw puzzle.  A white bird cage, hanging from the bedroom ceiling, holds a passion plant. In the foyer, a marble bust peers out from an old telephone stand attached to one wall.

"Granted, this isn't Louisburg Square -- it's actually the 'wrong' side of the Hill. But even working with only what you can afford, you can make a place look the way you know it could," Judy insisted.

That however, is a matter of opinion. Not everyone would the imagination to use an antique "potty seat" as a living room chair or to hang the curved leg of a chair on a wall.

It's been great for Judy and Bob, though.  Judy in fact, hopes to own an antique shop some day.

Article by: Beth Sanders

Sadly, I must mention, that my mother's husband Bob, passed away from a tragic accident a few years after this was published.  Bob's legacy lives on through the above photos and her stories.