Papers of African American Architects Now at Northeastern

If you are like me and think the Southwest Corridor Park is one of the great hidden treasures of Boston, then you should read this article from the Globe about Donald Stull and David Lee, two great African American architects from the 1960’s whose achievements include the design of the Southwest Corridor, along with numerous other buildings in the Roxbury neighborhood. Snell Library’s Archives and Special Collections department has acquired the designs, drawings, and sketches of both men, now in their 60’s and 70’s. The Archives is in the process of applying for a grant that will allow them to hire new staff to sort through the 1,400 tubes and boxes containing Lee and Stull’s documents. Stull and Lee have connections with Northeastern dating back to 1966. Chuck Turner, who was a Northeastern administrator at that time, turned to both men to create the Southwest Corridor and re-vamp the surrounding neighborhood in order to make a better space for the mostly poor residents who lived nearby. The plan to build the park included the renovation of nine Orange Line stops that we all find so convenient today. It came as a welcome alternative to a proposed highway extension that was to be built in the same spot. Both architects empathized with the ideas behind the project because they had grown up poor, though they managed to graduate from the Harvard School of Design. In the Globe article, Stull said, “We were very much active in social change. We wanted people to have the opportunity to create their own destiny.” Today, the Southwest Corridor officially stretches from Dartmouth Street to Forest Hills, though the bulk of it runs through Roxbury. Today, Northeastern is no longer the mostly white commuter school it was in the 60’s, but a racially diverse boarding college located at the heart of the park. Most people, including most Northeastern students, probably do not realize how frequently they use the Southwest Corridor. But with this new acquisition of Stull and Lee’s archives, perhaps the beauty of this part of the city can be acknowledged once again.