Developer New Boston Ventures bought the building and underlying property owned by United South End Settlements, Inc., where Harriet Tubman House (USES) operates youth and social service programs in the building today. The 57-year-old nonprofit says the Tubman House needed millions of dollars in repairs and maintenance, so selling it was the only way to insure that its current 350 student base and the employees could continue to use it and work there.
History of the Tubman House
As told by USES, in the early 20th Century, responding to the discrimination the community, six black women from Boston opened the Harriet Tubman House at 37 Holyoke Street in the South End. A personal friend of Tubman, Julia O. Henson rented the Tubman House as a place of lodging for black women who had recently migrated from the South. Later on, the Harriet Tubman House was moved to Mrs. Henson’s own home at 25 Holyoke Street. There, she and her friends organized a settlement house for the purpose of “assisting working girls in charitable ways.” In 1950, five settlement houses formed the Federation of South End Settlement Houses and in 1960, the Harriet Tubman House, along with four other settlement houses, combined to form United South End Settlements (USES). In 1976, the Harriet Tubman House legacy continued at 566 Columbus Avenue.
Now that the building sale was approved by city officials, 66 condos will rise on the property. An organized community of Tubman House users and supporters aggressively tried to stop the sale. .
Here’s what Tubman House leadership said after the sale was approved.
Selling 566 Columbus Avenue is our last financial lifeline. With the development approved, USES can move forward with its plan to stabilize the organization. The proceeds from the sale will be directly reinvested into the community to expand programs for whole families and will help to create a comprehensive campus at our Rutland Street location to include the 4th iteration of the Harriet Tubman House. Furthermore, it will help ensure the financial future of our organization.
Yesterday was a major milestone in our comprehensive plan to ensure USES’s future – we should all be proud! Our work is just beginning and we look forward to furthering our Vision125 strategic plan over the next few years. On behalf of our children, families, staff of educators and leaders, and board of directors, we are thankful for your incredible support to ensure our future. Today, we know we can continue to carry on Harriet Tubman’s legacy of service for generations to come.
Maicharia Z. Weir Lytle
USES President & CEO
Gentrification is on the minds of everyone. The pace of gentrification has taken over properties all over the city. Several other Boston nonprofits have sold their historic properties into the hot real estate market to get funding their organizations.
USES has been serving lower-income residents as a community center for children and the senior citizens for decades. The New Boston Ventures development would continue to house the USES office in a smaller space on the lot. Programs will be relocated to another property they own and millions of profit dollars from the sale will endow it to continue operating at the peek it once did.