Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House 1905Sometimes it takes a while for a historical site to get respect! This postcard shows Boston's Paul Revere House in historic North Square in the North End of Boston in 1905. At the time it served as Banca Italiana and a cigar emporium by the name of F.A. Goduti & Co.

The North End of Boston had become a "Little Italy" during the previous couple of decades. Its population of approximately 25,000 had shifted from 4% Italian (and 85% Irish) in 1880 to 60% Italian in 1900 to 80% Italian by 1905.

Banca Italiana was one of many banks that served the growing immigrant community. One of its customers might have been Pietro Pastene's food shop, located right around the corner at 69-75 Fulton Street, which would someday became the giant Pastene Corporation, still today one of the country's oldest continuously operated family businesses.

The house had been built in 1680, and owned by Paul Revere and his family from 1770-1800. Then the house was sold out of the family, and became a tenement with ground floor shops.

In 1902, Revere's great-grandson, John P. Reynolds, Jr., purchased the building to protect it from demolition. Over the next few years, enough money was raised by the newly formed Paul Revere Memorial Association to renovate the building, and it opened as a museum in April, 1908. It was one of the first historic homes so preserved and opened to the public in the United States.

Click on the link in the first paragraph of this post to see the house as it looks today; you'll notice that the third story in the 1905 photo has been removed and replaced with the sloping roof.


I'm currently reading Stephen Puleo's The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007) which inspired this post.


SantaFeKate said...

Just received this comment which was posted elsewhere on this site: "I just saw your post on Boston's Paul Revere house from 2009. FA Goduti is my great granfather and is the gentleman in the far right of the photo."

B said...

Hi Kate,

I actually emailed someone today to see if they knew a bit more regarding the photo. From what Ive seen the Boston Public Library has it too. I will also check with my family and get back to you. Ive found this photo so many places including as a post card at the Paul Revere House and numerous Boston based books on Google Books.



SantaFeKate said...

Bill, I too have seen this photo in a number of places...I've seen it identified as several different years (and of course there's a difference between the year the photo was taken and the year the postcard was printed).

Heather D said...

Not sure if you guys have the right facts but my grandfathers family owned the bank and cigar shop. I am a Goduti

SantaFeKate said...

Thanks for the comment, Heather! How interesting to know this history about your family. Please let me know what facts you think are incorrect.

Heather D said...

Did you say a Goduti was your great grandfather

SantaFeKate said...

Hi Heather: I'm not a Goduti descendant--I was quoting a comment I received on a different blog post that I cut and pasted to this location since it fit the Paul Revere House content. It was from a Blogger user named "B" whose signature is "Bill," and you can see further comments from him above.