By Darlene DeVita
(The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) this fall in a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)
We came over here because Jack came over here. We [Ali and Jack, fellow artists from Museum School] were pioneers of the neighborhood.
We bought the house [on Medford Street] in 1971 for $1,000 [and finished renovating in 1973]. We went before the Aldermen and told them if they sold us the house we would rehabilitate the building and put it back on the tax rolls, and we would become residents of Chelsea. The not-to-remain-nameless Alderman Jim Mitchell wanted to make it into a parking lot. There were quite a number of vacant places. Many [of the residents] had lived here all their lives, it was an old Polish neighborhood. A lot of the neighbors came up to us and said they’d sell their building to us for $500-1,000. They thought we were crazy! We knew we were taking somewhat of a chance, but it was worth the investment.
It was a neighborhood then, and it’s still much a neighborhood now. That’s hard to find this day and age.