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August 24, 2007


Are you Kidding Me!

"He helped lead the effort to build schools in Wards 1, 2, 4 and 7, he said."

Building those schools and tearing down schools like the "Brown" was the biggest mistake this city ever made. Instead of spending the money on building these "white elephants" they should have spent the money repairing the other schools.

Tell me, what has happened to the schools he takes credit for?

Ron Newman

The Brown School is still standing and open.

Are you Kidding Me!


I am aware of that.....I was using the building as an example of all the other schools that were similiar to Brown being destroyed.


While Vinny LoPresti was the first Italo-American elected as an at-large alderman, he was, if I'm not mistaken, JUST ahead of Salvatore Albano, who served as an at-large alderman from 1971-1985. I forget the exact details, but it seems there were unusual circumstances which led to Sal's election to the BOA. Perhaps someone on here can refresh me on the details (Vin LoPresti ?).

Regarding the school dept.'s physical plant as it was in the early 70s...

As I progressed through the grades at the Proctor from 1965-'71, each year there would be two of each grade. This "bulge" followed us right up to Grade 4 with 2 classrooms each of First, Second, Third and Fourth graders. One interesting anomaly in this that I remember was that one teacher (Mrs. White) had TWO grades--Second and Fourth, in the same classroom. (Truth be told, I can't think of too many others who could have pulled this off successfully--she was pretty strict).

I don't know if this was the case elsewhere in the City, but I have no reason to doubt that it was. We were among the tail end of the Baby Boomers and class sizes were swelling. They likewise began to contract several years later. By the time I was in Grade 6 in 1970-'71, there were 32 students in the one class.

We were oblivious to the fact that there was a lot going on at that time with demographics in Somerville. The end of the Baby Boom and the beginning of Gen-X saw a significant contraction in the number of school-age children in Somerville. Add to that smaller families, suburban flight, and the imminent transition from a 6-3-3 system to a more conventional 8-4, plus a generally aging physical plant (the Proctor was built in 1904) and it's obvious things were going to change. Staffing costs, maintenance costs, etc., etc. all contributed as well to the demise of the neighborhood schools in Somerville.

I'll leave judgement on the adequacy of the brick schoolhouse's replacements in the form of "Community Schools" for someone else to make, but I'm sure that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. None of the elementary schools of that vintage had indoor gymnasiums or cafeterias (In-school lunches at the Proctor and elsewhere started in 1970. Prior to that time, we went home for lunch for 45 minutes).

Regarding the Community School buildings themselves, I am reminded of a remark by Denise Provost that described it well: "These buildings must have been designed by graduates of the Penitentiary School of Architectural Design". Remember, though, that in the late 60s and early 70s, cast concrete and cinder block and glass and electric heat were "in". Look at Boston City Hall, appropriately designated to be of the "Brutalistic" style.

In my opinion, they were a product of a changing philosophy in public education which collided with both an immediate need and a diminishing student population and the city fathers did what they could with what they had.



Silly thing to say, Mr Vinny. Somerville has never been noisier. Why would somebody complain about silence in the city? WHERE is it silent Mr. Vinny? Anywhere I go there is just too much noise! Perhaps it SEEMS silent because you hearing is not that good anymore. Think about that.

The silence can be deafening these days

Charlea Chisholm

Sonny LoPresti has his history correct: the school buildings were not only run down, they were dangerous.
The third floor of the Prescott School was condemned,
That building was over 100 years old. I was proud to be a member of the school committee which approved plans for the community schools and worked subsequently to build them as an alderman. Under the extraordinary vision of Rev. and Mayor Lester Ralph,
four community schools were built with cafeterias and gyms. For its efforts to respond to citizens' complaints, the City of Somerville earned an "All-American City award around 1977 for community involvement. We built schools to deal with a crisis, not to win an architectural design award.


"Sonny LoPresti has his history correct: the school buildings were not only run down, they were dangerous."

You get no argument from me on that one.

The Proctor (which burned in 1976) was actually pretty well-kept inside, but even then was way beyond its useable life; its schoolyard had a smaller footprint than the school building itself. The Bingham School's walls were literally crumbling (IIRC, wasn't it condemned?). The Morse School was nearly a hundred years old when it was torn down in 1966. The Forster (which my wife attended) was, I believe, over a hundred years old when it was torn down in 1975, and so on and so on. Other than the Healey, the Kennedy and the Conwell, I believe every elementary school in the city was of pre-WWI vintage (and a few were pre-Spanish-American War). The only exceptions that come to mind were significant additions made to the Pope and the Cummings.

You are correct, Charlea Chisholm, in saying that "we built schools to deal with a crisis."

Ron Newman

A question for those of you who were here back then: why was the Brown School kept open and in good condition, while these others were allowed to fall apart and eventually be demolished?



When I was a PTA officer at the Kennedy, I posed almost that exact same question. The response from one of the long-time members at the time was: "Two words... Stan Koty".

Stan was Ward 5 School Committeeman for a number of years. As such, he was an effective voice and staunch supporter of the Brown School community. He also had broad support from parents (read: constituents). While he may have his share of detractors, the Brown, in my opinion, owes its tenuous existence in large part to his efforts. Further, the Brown School ALWAYS had an active and vibrant PTA. Their contributions cannot be overlooked either.

Beyond that, its physical location in a neighborhood which was had remained relatively stable throughout the 80s and 90s has a lot to do with it.

Plus, the school building itself was never really impacted by any significant force majeure (fire, structural failure, vandalism, etc.) and was physically large enough to accommodate such things as a library, cafeteria, etc. Additionally, it is a K-6 school. I THINK this may have been a significant factor in complying with changing state regs and mandates.

Back in the late 90s, there was discussion to replace or rebuild it. This would have involved several takings of adjacent homes at a projected cost of $400K each. It never happened though.

I'm sure there are at least a few present-day Brown PTA members who read this web blog that may comment further. I would be interested in hearing what they have to say.



Good post, JAR. I'm also interested in what the others may comment.

Charles Chisholm

There was much discussion about renovating these schools to save money. Many, many people in Somerville were relatively poor back then and taxes were high for many people. Lester Ralph floated bond issues to spread the cost out over 20 years. No one thought that more than one school would be built, given the city's history. Suddenly, one end of the City was pitting itself against the other. Lester said he'd build them all, and I must admit, I was one of his skeptics. He proposed them all, first the East Somerville and the Powderhouse, then the Lincoln Park and the Winter Hill. In five short years, over 100 years of neglect was disposed of. While Lester and I had many disagreements from time to time (I even ran against him in 1973), and many old timers opposed him,
he show extraordinary vision and determination. I'm proud I had the good sense to put politics aside and support his endeavors on school construction. Those were the best votes I ever cast as both a School Committee member and Ward Alderman.

And I approve of this ad.

... and I approve of this ad... American flag waiving and... CUT!

Are you Kidding Me!

Now I know Chisholm is not playing with a full deck, to utter this comment:

"Under the extraordinary vision of Rev. and Mayor Lester Ralph,"

Charlie did you drink with him over at the "Midget on Mass." Ave. in Camb.?

Ralph was an absolute degenerate, who in the process of building these schools somehow had a stream of Somerville Lumber trucks heading north on Rte. 93 to some property he owned.

He used his collar to bullshit a lot of people but those in the know knew he was an evil little egomaniac.

Smear Campaign

"Unfounded rumors that Somerville Mayor S. Lester Ralph was arrested for sexual assault have persisted as a result of an organized campaign to discredit the mayor, John Kerry, assistant district attorney of Middlesex County, said in a press release issued Tuesday."

"Kerry stated in the press release that because rumors of Ralph's sexual misconduct persisted through this week, "the conduct of people calling the news media in an anonymous and organized fashion telling details of an incident that never occured is positively reprehensible--it is the basest of human behavior."

"The man who charged Ralph with sexual assault admitted several hours after making the charge that he had lied, Kerry stated in the press release."
From the Harvard Crimson

The John Kerry in the press release is none other than Sen. John Forbes Kerry.

Oh, and Ralph's opponent at the time of these baseless charges? None other than Clean Gene. Maybe people are smearing Ralph because he's a Republican. In any event, the man served our city well, let's not stoop to 'Kidding's' level.

Are you Kidding Me!


The police were seconds away from arresting the Rev. for rape , but was told to cross their T's and dot their I's by going to Kerry first to swear out a complaint.

Kerry in a political move, squashed the complaint because the victim became nervous and scared of getting caught up in all the hoopala that would follow the Rev's arrest and didn't want his family and friends to know that he was gay.

There are alway's two sides to every story and if you are getting your "facts" from the Harvard Crimson then you have a lot to learn.

Are you Kidding Me!


By the way, I never mentioned the the situation the Rev. found himself did.

Smear Campaign

You' would have to be retarded not to know what degenerate activity you were talking about.

As for the Crimson, they were reproducing the press release from the DA's Office. I wasn't relying on the investigative prestige of the Crimson, I was using the Crimson as the source for where I found the contents of the press release. It's called 'citing your work,' something you choose not ot do. It just so happens that I woeked at the Crimson during the original investigation and I know, first-hand, that this story is flase fromits inception. So much for what I have to learn.

Ralph was never arrested because there was no evidence. That case was built on a lie, like the one you are trying to continue here.

The police wouldn't go to Kerry for a complaint, they would build a case against Ralph and seek an indictment. If the case was week, as here, there wouldn't be an indictment.

Better luck with your lies next time.

Are you Kidding Me!


There are a lot of posters in here who have no idea what we are talking about, so being retarded is not one of my qualities.

"I was using the Crimson as the source for where I found the contents of the press release. It's called 'citing your work,'"

If you truly worked for the Crimson then you know a lot of press releases seem to get lost in translation when it is printed.

"The police wouldn't go to Kerry for a complaint, they would build a case against Ralph and seek an indictment. If the case was week, as here, there wouldn't be an indictment."

That's what they did, but I used the word complaint instead of indictment. They had enough evidence to go in front of a grand jury to let the people decide the Rev.'s fate but Kerry was posturing for the LT. Governor run and wasn't about to start arresting politicians.

As Mark Twain said:

"Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment."

And that openly transgressed custom in this town is when running for office don't mess with other politicians.

The Patriot

Brune didn't run against Ralph, he ran against August.

Hasnt  B.  Sober

Let me say "THIS" about "THAT".................................There is nothing unique at work here in Somerville with respect to it's drug problem with Oxies and black tar heroin. There are alot of youngsters with time on their hands and weak characters that sercum to the pressures around them for whatever reason and start to dable in taking these poisons. 2 some sicko's it is a status symbol there is a "SICK" sub culture here in the city that loves the make up of the city's personallity surrounding the drugs and what comes with the life style parents really do have to play a more active role in their children's lives,,,,

People have to start taking responcibility for their actions and unfortunately when taking these drugs you have to understand that 1................ nothing "GOOD" ever came from takining any of these drugs and 2. taking / selling and or abusing these drugs is for LOSERS. So it is up to the individual to say No to them and live your own life.....Long live Mary Soglerio and the "Peggy the Pelican lady" from Summer st and her long time Lover : the One and Only "Butchie the Ball eater" a legned berore his time. Butchie never abused those nasty drugs he was on a Natural high for his entire life here in the VILLE...

long Live "BELMONT PARK" and all the Madmen that called it home.....



That son of a gun deflated three of my basketballs. He was without a doubt a fixture and legend around Somerville for many years.

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