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Historic Roxbury mural relocated

Posted by Patrick Rosso  August 26, 2013 05:01 PM

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(Image courtesy Historic Boston Inc.


An image of the mural, which was recently relocated.

The mural that adorned the foyer of the Alvah Kittredge House will now call the National Center for Afro-American Artists home, after it was relocated so it wouldn’t be damaged during the restoration of the historic house.

The painting, which took up a whole wall in the home’s main entrance, was first painted in the 1970s when the Roxbury Action Program inhabited the space, according to Historic Boston Inc., which is leading restoration efforts at the 177-year-old home.

Titled “Building a Model Black Community,” the mural is believed to have been painted by James Reuben Reed, according to Barry Gaither, director of the National Center for Afro-American Artists.

“In its background, Reed contrasts a dilapidated old brick townhouse with the projected renovated Kittredge House. A survival garden lies between the two. In the foreground, builders are at work, and planners are busy charting the future,” Gaither said in a post by Historic Boston Inc. “Just behind them, residents are playing chess and exploring the world via computers. Several images in the work evoke local activists including Doris Bunte, Joseph Warren, and Mel King.”

Reed was born in Kansas City, MO, in 1920, according to Historic Boston Inc. Orphaned at a young age he relocated to Hartford, CT, where he studied painting and decorating at the Connecticut State Trade School.

Eventually Reed found his way to Boston where he studied portraiture and still life painting at the Scott Carbee School of Art.

The co-founder of the Boston Negro Artists Association, now the Boston African American Artists Association, Reed also helped shape the African American Master Artists in Residence Program at Northeastern University.

Reed eventually went on to earn a Masters Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and became an Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean in the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University.

The mural was removed without damage by Will Raymer and Paul Watkins of Restoration Resources and will now be on display at the Roxbury-based museum, which also holds a number of works by Reed.

The Linwood Street structure that the mural called home for more than 40 years was constructed in 1836 by Alvah Kittredge, a Roxbury alderman, famed furniture maker, and deacon at the Eliot Congregational Church. Organizers with Historic Boston Inc. are currently in the process of restoring the Greek Revival style mansion back to its original glory as part of a $3.8-million effort.

The project, which broke ground in June, is expected to be completed in February 2014.

To read more about the groundbreaking, click here.

For a tour inside the house, via Boston.com, click here.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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