Hibernian Hall

182-186 Dudley Street, Roxbury

The Emerald Isle Orchestra, Hibernian Hall, 1939. Source: Digital Collections, Joseph P. Healey Library, UMass Boston.

Built in 1913, Hibernian Hall was an important center for Boston’s Irish community for almost fifty years. It hosted concerts of traditional Irish music, and contained a bowling alley, ballroom and many meeting rooms. Among other organizations, many local chapters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization, which had its 19th century roots in combating discrimination against Irish immigrants, frequently took advantage of the space. So, too, did Boston’s largely Irish Catholic chapter of the Christian Front (see the entry on the Copley Square Hotel), an anti-Semitic organization, in the early 1940s.

In the initial decades of the 1900s, an influx of Jewish immigrants to Roxbury led to the Hall providing space for Bar Mitzvahs. In later years, the growing Black community in Roxbury led it to host James Brown and the Famous Flames before their rise to prominence. In a context in which many residents of Irish origin had moved out of Roxbury to other areas in Greater Boston and growing numbers of African Americans moved in, the Opportunities Industrialization Center bought the building in 1972. Started by Reverend Leon Sullivan of Philadelphia, the Center focused on providing technical and life skills training to the Black community.

In 2000, the Madison Park Development Corporation, a local community non-profit, purchased the Hall and relocated its offices there. The building’s 250-seat ballroom serves as the Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, a venue for theater, concerts, dances, film screenings, and private events.

Hibernian Hall, 2014. Photo by Eleni Macrakis.

Getting there:

Silver Line to Nubian Square station. Walk towards Dudley Street and turn left. Hibernian Hall is on the left side of the street. (0.2 miles, a 4-minute walk.)

To learn more:

Charles R. Gallagher, Nazis of Copley Square: The Forgotten Story of the Christian Front, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2021.

Gedutis, Susan. See You at the Hall: Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance. Lebanon, NH: Northeastern University Press/University Press of New England, 2004.

Madison Park Development Corporation. “Hibernian Hall 100th Anniversary Video, Dudley Square, Roxbury, 1913-2013,” posted on YouTube on October 11, 2013.

One Reply to “Hibernian Hall”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *