Life on the Corner: The Hotel Rome

Last week, ran an article about the new plans for the Rachel Revere park at the intersection of North Street and North Square. I thought our readers would like to see a picture of the Hotel Rome which occupied that site for almost a century before being demolished in the 1950’s.

In a previous post, I showed a side view of the Hotel Rome. This post card shows the entire hotel.
The Hotel Rome was the largest and most famous of several North End hotels. It had seven stories and must have had an elevator because I see an elevator tower on the left side of the roof.

In looking through some old city records, I discovered that my grandfather”s uncle, Alessandro Onesti, owned a liquor license for 172 North Street which was the street level of the hotel. My family tradition is that Zio Alessandro was the owner of the restaurant/tavern and at least a part owner of the hotel.

I read in the New England Magazine (volume 40, 1909) that there was also a table d’hote on the top floor. The restaurant was well known for its Neopolitan food and a lot of celebrities ate there including Enrico Caruso when he visited Boston with the Metropolitan Opera. Apparently, Caruso traveled in his own private railway car and stayed at the Hotel Lennox in Copley Square. Dining in the North End was one thing, staying there was, well, not quite up to his standards.

In the early 1900’s almost every building on North Street had a small business on the street level, most sold some type of food. These street level businesses gave the North End a vitality that resembled many European cities. Sadly, many of these storefronts which were so characteristic of the North End are being turned into apartments.

Nicholas Dello Russo is a lifelong North Ender and columnist. Often using vintage photographs, Nick tells the stories of growing up in the North End along with its culture and traditions. It was a time when the apartments were so small that residents were always on the streets enjoying “Life on the Corner.” Read more of Nick’s columns.

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