In its day one of the finest hotels in Boston, the hotel, adjacent to Boston's North Station, was opened in August 1930 and was named the Manger, for Julius Manger, head of the New York hotel- development company that built it for $2.5 million. For several years during the mid-1930s the Manger was home to radio station WMEX (before it moved to the Kenmore Square area.) Here are some photos and memorabilia of the hotel in better times....
A postcard of the Manger in the 1930s, courtesy of CardCow.com
Another postcard of the Manger and Boston Garden in better times
A 1939 ad for the Manger, touting its "direct entrance from Boston Garden"
Posted in the WMEX Facebook Group is this ad in a trade magazine, probably in the late 1930s/early 1940s,
showing their office in the old Manger
This 1952 photo clearly demonstrates the intimate connection between the Manger
and the old Boston Garden. (Courtesy of the West End Museum website)
NEW: Visible on the lower right is the
famous "Last Tenement," a building that defied the
and still tenaciously stands today just across the street from the wonderful West End Museum. In 2015
the Boston Globe published a great article on the story of this legendary remnant of Boston's past.
A 1930 aerial view showing the Manger (on the left) and the old Boston Gah-den (center.)
In the back are the tracks for North Station and in the front two lines of Boston's elevated
(Courtesy Boston Public LIbrary)
The Manger played unusual,
and sometimes sad roles in American history, as was
explained in this article
Magazine on the "red Scare" of the 1950s: "Noted
literary scholar F. O. Matthiessen [most known for his
influential 1941 book "American Renaissance"] was
one of five Harvard faculty members accused of belonging to
“Communist front” organizations. In March 1951 he committed
suicide by jumping from the twelfth floor of Boston’s Hotel
Manger." Just three years later, according to Sport
Magazine, it was in front of the Manger where boxer
Ray Arcel "...was skulled by an imported slugger wielding a
hunk of pipe on September 19, 1953..." this, after Arcel had
run afoul of the Mob.
I love learning new things. In December 2020 I was contacted by a deceased man's daughter who found this among his possessions. She was looking for a proper home for this hanger from the Manger, so I put her in touch with the folks at the wonderful West End Museum in Boston. What was it I learned from this simple coat hanger? That the Manger was just one of several hotels named for the developer, Julius Manger. I'd love to hear about the others in the chain, so please email me.
The hotel's name was changed to the Madison in 1958. Through its early life the hotel hosted NBA and NHL teams scheduled to play at the old Boston Garden, as well as performers such as the Beatles, who not only stayed here in 1964, but on September 12, 1964 held a press conference in the "Madison Room" of the hotel. It was at the press conference which three college students "crashed" and actually were able to ask the Beatles questions! Their hilarious story is told here, on the Beatles Ultimate Experience web site.)
The Beatles during their press conference at the Hotel Madison
Courtesy of The Beatles Experience website
Recently Janet, a visitor to this website, wrote with this wonderful story which she said we could share: "I have many fond memories of being at this fine hotel as a young girl. My Aunt Kay Simmons was in housekeeping and I often went to work with her. She once placed me in a utility closet so that I would be able to touch the Rolling Stones as they got into an elevator! I can still see the look on Mick's face! Actually I touched each one of the Rolling Stones and I remember they all looked frightened of me because I popped out of this utility closet and startled them! My Aunt stressed that I couldn't tell anyone about it because they demanded privacy. (I believe my Aunt also was involved in the "numbers" back then too, she was quite the character!)"
By the late 1960s and
early 1970s the Madison - like much of the area around busy
North Station - had lost its luster. By then, many of
its more than 400 rooms housed homeless and low-income
people. The Madison closed its doors in 1976.
Ten years later, on Sunday, May 1, 1986 the hotel was
destroyed by implosion to make way for construction of the
"Tip" O'Neil Federal Building, which now occupies the
site. (The old Garden was torn down in the late 1990s
after the construction of the Fleet Center.) In their
day, many of these hotels served as lodging for businessmen
visiting from other countries like Italy. Some of these
immigrants are eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by
descent according to Italy law. If you are from Italian
descent, learning how
to become an Italian citizen can be a great way to
restore your ties
with your Italian ancestry.
NEW: Just saw this
video clip on the wonderful "Dirty Old
Boston" Facebook page, showing the demolition of the
Hotel Madison (the video also includes a look at another
Boston relic which imploded, "newsman" Tom Ellis...)
This sequence of photographs of the demolition was taken by Bob Spicer, who was living at Charles River Park at the time (we also created an animated sequence of the implosion, which you can see here.)
I am always grateful to anyone who has a memory or photo to
share of the Manger/Madison or of Scollay Square. You
can contact me
here with questions or to share your own memory or