Earlier this month Heritage Consultants, LLC had the honor of working with the Boston Landmarks Commission to prepare a study report on the Nazzaro Community Center to assess its eligibility for Landmark Status. The Nazzaro Community Center was constructed in 1906 as the North End Bath House and Gymnasium.
The building, which was designed in 1903 by the Boston based architectural firm, Maginnis, Walsh and Sullivan, is an exceptional example of early 20th century Beaux-Arts Renaissance Revival Style architecture with its detailed ornamentation indicative of the Arts and Craft movement. The building was constructed by the city of Boston as one of twelve municipal run bath houses, as a result of the new public health policy of 1895. New public health policies sought to address the combined effects of industrialization, urbanization, and poverty, by providing public access to bathing and recreational facilities. The North End Bath House, situated in the heart of the North End, became integral to the area’s growing immigrant population. As of 1920, approximately 123,535 people had utilized the bathing facilities and 8,749 people had used the gymnasium. The facility underwent minor renovations and upkeep in the 1940s after community members continually protested the conditions of the Bath House. The Bath House was in operation until the 1970s when the facility had fallen into a state of neglect and officially closed. The building was then acquired by the Boston Center for Youth & Families in 1985 and reestablished as the Nazzaro Community Center.
Today, the building continues its long history of serving as a space dedicated to the public and community of the North End, offering a wide range of facilities and classes. For the residents of the area the building represents a sense of pride in community heritage and sense of place. It was a great honor to aid them in their efforts to preserve this extraordinary piece of architecture and social history for future generations.