Posted on April 11, 2018
Single Room Occupancy
Portraits and Stories of Northampton Lodging, 1976-2016
For the past two years, Cassandra Holden has been interviewing former residents of Northampton Lodging, a single room occupancy boarding house located on Pleasant Street in Northampton, and members of the community about what it was like to live and work there. The stories of camaraderie and mutual support stand in stark contrast to some of those seen in the police blotter.
Photographer Paul Shoul came to know many of the former residents and captured thoughtful portraits of them just before they relocated to other housing.
The exhibition, which will run from March 9th – June 10th, features 20 photographs of residents, staff, and the building; excerpts from oral histories about their lives; construction documents, and a re-creation of a resident’s room at the Lodging.
Until it closed in 2016, Northampton Lodging, located at 129 Pleasant Street, occupied an awkward place in town. Positioned just past Hampton Court, it marked the transition from the brightly lit storefronts, galleries, and restaurants of Main and upper Pleasant Streets to the less pedestrian friendly stretch of road that connects the city to the highway.
Initially constructed in 1967 as a dormitory for the now-closed Northampton Commercial College, the property, since 1976, offered 58 single-room rentals with common kitchens and baths.
In October of 2016, the building was demolished. Today, the newly constructed, yellow brick, “Live 155” stands in its place. The building boasts 70 affordable and market rate units, all studio and one-bedroom apartments, and will see its first tenants move in later this spring.
In the larger context, the exhibit traces the waning years of boarding house living in Northampton and raises questions about the availability of affordable housing in our community.
The photographs and the oral histories will become part of the collection at Historic Northampton.
During the course of the exhibit, Historic Northampton will host programs to explore issues of transitional and temporary housing in Northampton and the variety of groups these properties serve.