Charlame Homes I&II

by Andrew Hatt, Northeastern University Public History Program

The Charles Street AME Church was responsible for constructing the second group of faith-based in the Washington Park Urban Renewal Area. Charlame Parks Homes Inc was founded in 1963 to develop ninety-two units of housing in area that extend from Monroe to Regent Streets and from Warren Avenue almost to Walnut Avenue, an area collectively known as Tract One. Phase one of the development began when architects Rudolph Beders and Phineas Alpers submitted their plans to the BRA on February 3, 1964. Their plans called for the construction of six pairs of brick and cinder—block flat roofed barracks, essentially boxes set in parallel rows perpendicular to the proposed Charlame Street. Ultimately, twenty-five homes were destroyed to make way for fifty-two two and three story-attached houses in rows of eight on a private way called Charlame Terrace.

Phase Two began shortly after the first half of Martin Luther King Boulevard was completed in 1965. There, forty homes were built in a zigzag formation around a triangle created by the cross-town, Walnut and Humboldt Avenues. Bower Street was eliminated all together to make room for parking. The groundbreaking for Charlame Homes II took place on September 26, 1965. Apparently, the barrack style design of Charlame Homes I was disliked throughout the community, causing Beders and Alpers to opt for a completely different design for Charlame Homes II. There, the newly constructed housing resembled ski lodges situated around a village green. In total, forty units of modular designed duplexes were clustered around two small common areas.