Historic Boston Inc. Features Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House

Historic Boston Inc. Features Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House

National Trust for Historic Preservation Designates Roxbury Home


ROXBURY, MA, June 19, 2012 – Historic Boston Inc., a nonprofit redeveloper of historic buildings, has launched a campaign to support preservation of the 1874 Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House and seek a new use for the deteriorating structure, the last known surviving residence of young the black civil rights activist and the family of his older half-sister, Ella Little-Collins.

Historic Boston Inc. has estimated that it will take $750,000 to restore the home, and one possible new use would be as housing for graduate students for a Boston area college or university.

On June 6, the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined Historic Boston Inc., Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Malcolm X?s nephew Rodnell Collins, and scores of guests in front of the home, at 72 Dale St., in Roxbury, announcing that it was naming the Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House to its 2012 list of America?s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

The annual list, now in its 25th year, spotlights important examples of the nation?s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

The home, located near a park now named for Malcolm X, was built in 1874 and has been vacant for several years and underused for decades. Malcolm X lived there with his sister and her husband and was in and out of trouble with the law before joining the Nation of Islam while in jail in the 1940s.

?It?s the only remaining residence of Malcolm Little from his Boston years,? said Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston Inc. ?That represents the importance of transformation and endurance on the part of a human being.?

?Historic Boston Inc. and the National Trust are all about saving places,? said Kottaridis. The home will be restored to its 1941-?47-era condition, as money is raised and a new, sustainable use is sought.

Mayor Menino praised Historic Boston Inc. for acting to preserve an important piece of history and said many more significant buildings in Boston should be preserved.

The Malcolm X building was designated a Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1998. Historic Boston Inc. entered a partnership with Malcolm X?s nephew, Rodnell Collins, about a year ago and stabilized the structure, threatened by weather, age, and lack of use.

Charles Yancey, the longest-serving member of the Boston City Council, called yesterday ?a very historic and emotional moment for many of us in Roxbury.?

He described how his grand-aunt lived in a house across the street and how he once met Malcolm X, in a corner pharmacy, when Yancey was about 6 years old. ?He was of course 15 feet tall, and greater in stature,? said Yancey. ?He was courageous, he was strong, he was proud.?

Several members of the second-grade class from the nearby Higginson-Lewis K-8 School attended and said they admired Malcolm X. Accompanied by their teacher, Kimvy Mguyen, they watched the hour-long ceremony in bright sun and heard inspiring words from Yancey and others.

Malcolm X ?instilled that sense of pride and justice in many of us who fight for equality everywhere,? Yancey said. ?He did get into a great deal of trouble while here in Boston,? he said, ?but he overcame that.?

Rodnell Collins urged the young students and others in the crowd to be courageous and make a difference, as he said his uncle had.

In Washington, Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, issued a statement saying, ?The National Trust, along with the Collins family and Historic Boston Inc., are dedicated to preserving the legacy of such a significant figure in American History. The rehabilitation of the Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins home into housing for students studying African-American history is both an appropriate tribute to Malcolm X?s life, and an innovative model for dynamic new uses of historic sites across the country.?

Kottaridis noted that the home?s rehabilitation would not only restore an important piece of American history but also help encourage improvements in the surrounding community. Historic Boston Inc. saved, restored, and has moved into a historic fire house building on Eustis Street in nearby Dudley Square.

?This is going to be a remarkable neighborhood,? she said. ?We are now members of the Roxbury community.?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America?s historic places to enrich our future. For more information about the Trust, the 11 historic places named yesterday, and other endangered sites, please go to www.PreservationNation.org/places.

Historic Boston Incorporated is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston?s neighborhoods so they are a useable part of the city?s present and future. HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose re-use will catalyze neighborhood renewal. HBI acquires and redevelops historic structures and provides technical expertise, planning services and financing for rehabilitation projects. HBI projects demonstrate that preserving historic properties is economically viable and that they can be useable and functioning assets in a community. For more information, please see www.historicboston.org .

For more information, please contact:
Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston, Inc., 617.442.1859, kathy@historicboston.org
Tom Palmer, Tom Palmer Communication, 617.755.7250, tompalmer@rcn.com