The Last Thanksgiving at West Rutland Square


ACLS Fellowship Program




“The Last Thanksgiving at West Rutland Square” centers a legal battle between twelve elderly Black women and a real estate developer in 1980s Boston. The battle was waged over twin brownstones in the historic South End neighborhood, and ended with the residents displaced, even though they won their settlement in court. In a statement to a local newspaper following the case, one resident who had been living at West Rutland Square for 43 years told reporters, “I would still be there if the boom wasn’t lowered on me.” This book investigates the problem space of urban development in and through the scale of the intimate: the collective action of a group of women who labored to save their homes. One of those women was the author's grandmother, and her prescient record keeping preserved the memory of this event through newspaper articles, ephemera, bureaucratic documents, and photographs. Following the archival traces of the West Rutland Square case, the book surfaces the interior protocols of displacement that upended the lives of residents and fractured the landscape of Black Boston.