Beacon Hill - West End neighborhood notes

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Spring is a beautiful time of year on the Charles River esplanade.

Lithuanian, Israeli, American, Jewish: Which food are you?

What's the difference between New York, Israeli and Polish bagels? Are latkes Jewish food? Chicken soup is chicken soup, right? 

Join the Vilna Shul at noon on Sunday, May 23 as they present Israel's leading culinary journalist and a popular TV personality Gil Hovav in conversation with Lithuanian food blogger Nida Degutiene. Moderated by journalist Shira Springer, this incredible worldwide conversation will trace the history of these three specific foods and what makes them unique to each nation and culture. 

This event is organized in collaboration with Lithuanian Culture Institute, General Consulate of Lithuania in New York and Embassy of Lithuania in Israel.

Register at

New England’s role in the slave trade

Boston By Foot will present the second of a two-part series – Atlantic Black Box: collectively rewriting the story of New England – on New England’s role in the slave trade from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24.

New England has long repressed the memory of its complicity in Atlantic world slavery, just as the dominant narrative has occluded the stories of the region's free and enslaved Black and Indigenous populations.

Despite these gaping holes in the historical record, by collaborating to perform concerted research at the local level, people can work to recover the collective memory. 

Atlantic Black Box empowers communities throughout New England to perform a deep audit of local and state archives and to read and interpret their findings through the lens of racial history. Participants will acquire foundational knowledge about this emerging field of scholarship and will learn how to take the first steps on the journey of historical recovery.

Register at ($0-$8).

Curator's Choice: Kentucky Beech Forest

Follow Assistant Curator Ginny Badgett down the winding path into the dense Kentucky Beech Forest. Massachusetts artist and Transcendentalist Sarah Freeman Clarke painted the landscape around 1839, foreshadowing her later collaboration with Margaret Fuller. After traveling together throughout the Great Lakes region, Fuller wrote and Clarke illustrated Summer on the Lakes.

In this presentation from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, Badgett will explore both Kentucky Beech Forest - likely the first painting by a female artist to enter the Athenæum’s art collection - and the artist’s adventurous life. 

Visit for more information and registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

Skip Finley with ‘Whaling Captains of Color: America's First Meritocracy’ 

The history of whaling as an industry has been well-told in books, but none has shared the stories of whaling’s leaders of color in an era when the only other option was slavery. Working with archival records at whaling museums, in libraries, from private archives and interviews with people whose ancestors were whaling masters, Skip Finley profiles the lives of more than 50 Black whaling captains.

Whaling was one of the first American industries to exhibit diversity. A man became a captain not because he was white or well connected, but because he knew how to kill a whale. Along the way, he could learn navigation and reading and writing.

Whaling presented an alternative to mainland life. The stories of these captains’ success – of why, how and their historical impact – are now being told.

Join the Boston Public Library in partnership with the Museum of African American History (MAAH), the State Library of Massachusetts and the American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) for an online conversation with Skip Finley, author of Whaling Captains of Color: America's First Meritocracy from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25. Priscilla H. Douglas, Chair of the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees, will provide opening remarks for this talk, which is part of the BPL's Repairing America Series.

Register at

Virtual Tour: Athena at the Athenæum

Join BA Docent Clive Martin from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, May 26 for a discussion of the Goddess of Wisdom's presence in the library and her place in the ancient world, beginning with the towering sculpture of Athena and the monumental head of Zeus that grace the Athenæum's lobby.

Register at:

Gentle movement and meditation                          

Join the Boston Public Library, Hands to Heart Center and Debra Becky at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 27 for an online hour of gentle movement and calming breathwork.

Suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners, this gentle Kripalu yoga class emphasizes moving at your own pace and compassionate self-acceptance. It includes breathwork to calm the nervous system, relaxing meditation and simple postures to increase flexibility and strength.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Kanopy Club: ‘The Story of a Three Day Pass’ (1967)    

Kanopy Club at the Boston Public Library will follow the May Reading Together theme of An Author of Color as they discuss The Story of a Three Day Pass from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 27.

About The Story of a Three Day Pass: An African American soldier stationed in Europe encounters racism from his superiors following his idyllic three-day affair with a young French woman. Directed by Melvin Van Peebles, The Story of a Three Day Pass is the first major film by a Black director to be released in the U.S.

Watch the film on Kanopy prior to the discussion.

Visit more information and Zoom registration.

Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Virtual Tour                              

Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Virtual Tour will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30.

People are invited to in and be guided through seven enchanting and treasured gardens featured in a film created this May.

The virtual tour will offer a new lens on the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill, which will be fresh, beautiful and inspiring.

Since its founding in 1928, the Beacon Hill Garden Club has encouraged the love of horticulture and urban gardening. All proceeds from the tour provide direct financial support to environmental, conservation and civic improvement projects.

Virtual Ticket: $25; Virtual Ticket and Book - Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill: Creating Green Spaces in Urban Places: $45.

Visit for tickets.

Museum of African American History online/onsite                   

The Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St. will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

Visit for ticket and scheduling information along with virtual programs and events.

The Boston Common Frog Pond Carousel

The Boston Common Frog Pond Carousel is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Tickets: $3/ride | 10 Ride Card for $25. Face Masks required.

Visit for more information

Simple morning meditation practice

Beacon Hill Friends holds a simple meditation practice that helps reduce stress and ease you into the morning. The meditation is 15 minutes long and begins and ends with a brief introduction to the practice. Orientation for newcomers begins at 8 a.m., and the practice begins at 8:10 a.m. on weekdays. 

Join once or join regularly – this meditation is free and open to the public.

Go to for more information and the Zoom link.

Online ESL conversation groups                                       

Practice speaking English with other adult learners in an informal and friendly group setting from 3 to 4:15 p.m. on most Mondays, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on most Tuesdays, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on most Wednesdays, and from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on most Fridays through Aug. 31. The group is led by a native speaker and will take place online.

Online elementary, intermediate and advanced ESL classes are also offered at select times.

Visit for more information and registration.

‘MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness’

The Beacon Hill Friends will host MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. This facilitated spiritual practice with Quaker flavor and an experimental ethos is open to everyone.

Go to for more information about the facilitators and the practices they offer along with program details and Zoom registration. These closed-captioned programs are free, although donations to support their work are welcome.

Friday Unwind: Gentle Yoga                                                                     

Unwind with Gentle Yoga – sponsored by Hands to Heart Center and the Boston Public Library – will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

The yoga classes are geared for beginners with plenty of options and modifications for all bodies and ability levels.

The class will be live-streamed on YouTube/Hand to Heart Center – Yoga for the People.

You can also get the link at events. The recorded sessions will remain online.

Operation ABLE                                                                              

Operation ABLE (174 Portland St.) provides employment services and training programs to job seekers from economically, racially and occupationally diverse backgrounds.

All services, including distance learning, coaching, and wrap-around services, are being conducted remotely. Class enrollments are open for computer skills training and Health Care and Social Services training, among others.

Visit for more information and registration.

Hill House spring programs and summer camps online/onsite                           

Registration for the spring program and summer camps at Hill House, 127 Mount Vernon St. is open for new and returning participants.

Check out the wide variety of offerings in their Spring Athletic and Program Guide and Summer Camp Guide from spring baseball and softball leagues, STEM and creative expressions to summer onsite and offsite opportunities.

Hill House Camps (Kiddie Kamp for 3-to-5-year-olds and Day Camp for 5-to-12-year-olds) offer weekly Kiddie Kamp onsite adventures; Day Camp field trips; expanded enrichment opportunities; sailing, theatre, sports and film camp options; weekly themes; extended day options for Day Campers; and expanded LIT program for 13-to-15-year-olds.

Give to Hill House's 2020-2021 Fundraising Appeal to help keep programs running.

Visit for more information and sign ups.

BPL reading challenge                                                        

As the pandemic drags on and Boston residents remain cooped up in their homes, the Boston Public Library invites readers throughout the city to participate in “Reading Together.”

In the challenge, each month has a distinct theme and participants are asked to read a book tied to the theme.

The library offers recommended book lists for the monthly themes for adults, teens and children at Participant patrons can track their progress as well.

Visit for more information.

MOS experience onsite/online

The Museum of Science has reopened following health and safety guidelines – face coverings and reservations are required for admission.

Highlights of your visit can include permanent and temporary exhibits and a variety of shows in the Planetarium and newly refurbished Mugar Omni Theater.

MOS at home also offers an array of programs and events. Schedules change weekly and may include a weekly STEM challenge; virtual planetarium visits; live animal visits; science stories; science-related question and answer panels; and Sub-space events.

Visit for more information and reservations.

Boston Athenæum online/onsite   

Boston Athenæum offers many activities online free of charge, serving their members, the Boston community and beyond. They also offer a tour of the first floor of their landmark building and artworks from the special collections.

Visit for more information.

Big Sister mentoring                                                                                    

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister, and Little sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit

Blessing Barn Beacon Hill                                                                                       

The Blessing Barn at 122 Charles St. is a thrift and antique shop, as well as a self-described “sharing center,” that accepts donations of and sells new and gently used clothing, linens, home decor, furniture, kitchen items, toys, records, books and wall art, among myriad other items.

BBBH exists to provide simple, short term housing for patients and their support individuals needing medical care away from home. They are proud to provide a room in the city.

Join them by giving in the following ways: Offer to be a host home; Pay for a room in the city for one night; Purchase items in their store; Give a monetary donation using their secure form.

Visit for more information.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information                              

Boston Eats provides free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth – 18 years of age and under. No ID or registration required.

Visit or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens, along with other information is also included.

Visit for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

Contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333 if you need additional food resources.

Neighbors in Need/Neighbors in Deed                   

There are times when we could all use a helping hand and other times when we could lend one, and that’s the underlying sentiment behind Neighbors in Need/Neighbors in Deed (NIN NID) – a program that connects St. Joseph’s parishioners with neighbors who could use a little assistance or just some cheering up.

If you are in need of anything – or are willing to assist them in outreach – please email or call the office at 617-523-4342 with your name, phone number, email, and a list of items needed, or availability to serve.

Old West Church Community Lunch/Dinner

Everyone is invited to the community meals at the Old West Church at 131 Cambridge St. – served rain or shine and holidays, too. While these meals primarily serve people who are housing insecure or elderly, it’s for anyone.

The Community Lunch is served from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Community Dinner is served from 5 to 6 p.m. on Mondays.

During the pandemic, the meals are served to go. Everyone is welcome to come by and grab a hot meal to takeaway.

Visit for more information.

Wednesday Night Supper Club – ‘Takeout Meal in a Sack’

The Wednesday Night Supper Club is held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Paulist Center Auditorium, 5 Park St. Place. At this time, they have shifted to a “takeout meal in a sack.”

The Paulist Center volunteers have been serving more than 200 people a week who don’t have access to a good hot meal. The program has been running for more than 50 years. 

Visit to volunteer to help out in any way (cook, serve, clean up; donate supplies, food or money; etc.) or for more information.

Support the parks – give the gift of membership                                                  

Give the gift of membership to ensure that the beloved parks - the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall - remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at