MARGARET FULLER NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE

Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, 71 Cherry Street

Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, 71 Cherry Street

What's New

The CRA and MFNH are now in the process of selecting a design firm for this project. We received 15 responses to the designer RFQ released in April. Interviews are being conducted in June with a final selection expected in July.

In Spring 2019 the Boards of Directors of Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House and the CRA entered into a partnership to bring new housing to MFNH's site in the Port, redevelop MFNH's after-school center, pantry and other program facilities, and upgrade its historic house. This project is aligned with the CRA's growing work to support affordable housing and social services in the City, using tools and strategies not readily available to other government agencies or nonprofits.

Project Goals:

Apply the value of undeveloped land owned by MFNH to expand the organization’s capacity, and strengthen and grow its programs.

Strengthen MFNH’s immediate and long term financial position.

Supply mixed-income housing for the Cambridge community.



Project Summary

Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House (MFNH) has provided a range of social services from the historic home it owns at 71 Cherry Street since 1902.

Since 2018, the CRA and the MFNH have been exploring options to develop a moderate-scale housing development on an approximately 9,000 square foot surface parking lot owned by MFNH. This project would provide revenue that would allow MFNH to make improvements to the interior of its historic house in order to better support its programs, and to construct a new social services facility to replace the basement level structure that now sits adjacent to the house, potentially utilizing portions of that existing structure.  The CRA and the MFNH have entered into a Cooperation Agreement in order to:

  • Supply mixed-income housing for the Cambridge community.

  • Apply the value of undeveloped land owned by MFNH (Parking Lot) to expand the organization’s capacity, and strengthen and grow programs.

  • Strengthen MFNH’s immediate and long-term financial position and improve its community-serving facilities.

 

The MFNH and CRA are considering a project that would include:

  • New construction mixed-income housing.

  • New program facilities, including upgrades to the youth program center, food pantry and related amenities.

  • Improvements to the existing historic house where MFNH administrative offices and other program space are located.

MFNH’s administrative offices, community library and computer lab are located in the historic home. The pantry is located in the house’s basement.  The after-school youth center is located in a basement/garden level structure built adjacent to the historic home.

Now is the time for MFNH to restore its facilities and so that it can continue serving the community for another 117 years.

MFNH has conducted repairs as needed to the house, but has not conducted any major renovations in the recent past. The house does not have air conditioning. Other systems may be near the end of their useful life.

16,000 individuals and families collect food from the pantry each year. However, the pantry is tiny, requiring MFNH to store some food in a separate part of the home’s basement, and requiring the pantry customers to navigate around through tight spaces when they come for groceries. The after-school program, currently serving youth aged 5 – 12, is inadequate in amenities and in size, given the potential need.

Additionally, the pantry, after-school center and the offices and programs in the house itself are not currently accessible to those with physical disabilities.

View of rear parking lot from back of historic house. The homes across from the far end of the lot are on Pine Street.

View of rear parking lot from back of historic house. The homes across from the far end of the lot are on Pine Street.

Room in the current childcare facility.

Room in the current childcare facility.

MFNH elder-pic.png

Members of MFNH’s “Breakfast Club” for elders.

BAckground

Margaret Fuller in 1845.

Home to Margaret Fuller until the age of 16, the three-story, Federal style house at 71 Cherry Street was built in 1807.  Fuller was born in 1810, and was considered a prodigy, reading Latin by age six.  In 1845 she published Women in the 19th Century  which was extremely  influential in the feminist movement of the 18th Century.  (Source: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/pwwmh/ma59.htm)

In 1902, the home was reinvented as the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, becoming one of the first settlement houses in the United States, and serving the social needs of recent immigrant families in the Port neighborhood of Cambridge.  This was at the the height of the industrial revolution and Cambridge’s local factories were staffed mostly by recent immigrants. Their living conditions, in boarding and tenement houses, were often overcrowded and unhealthy. In keeping with the spirit of the Settlement House movement, MFNH was designed as an outpost of education and culture for these workers. 

Today, MFNH serves as a nexus of activity for residents of the Port neighborhood and beyond, and provides adult enrichment programs, after-school programs, community outreach, a computer lab, a community library, and a food pantry.



CONTACT & Location

To learn more about the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House project please contact:

Erica Schwarz, Project Manager 

Cambridge Redevelopment Authority

 255 Main Street, 8th floor, Cambridge, MA 02142

Phone:  617-492-6800      

Email: eschwarz@cambridgeredevelopment.org