Reminiscing About Faneuil Hall, 40 Years Later
In the 1970s, the buildings that made up Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market were in such deteriorated state, they were slated for demolition despite their historic significance. Luckily, some persevering preservationists campaigned to save them.
Yet when a Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market revival project was presented, it was met with skepticism. Enter urban planner Jim Rouse, who stepped in to change Boston’s mind about the place. Along with architect Benjamin Thompson and Mayor Kevin White, the trio brought new life to the marketplace’s run-down granite buildings. The grand reopening of the renewal project kicked off on August 26, 1976, 150 years after its original opening in 1826 by Mayor Josiah Quincy.
“Almost overnight, once it opened, it was just an ocean of people,” says Luke Prevost, owner of Quincy Market’s Salty Dog Seafood Grille & Bar. “Nobody expected it to be so popular right off the bat like that. It was very much a Disney World-like festival.”
Now, 40 years later, the marketplace is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Before this weekend’s lineup of 1970s disco-themed activities in honor of the anniversary, a group of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market’s original merchants met in the marketplace to reminisce about its early days. Boston sat down with them to relive a bit of the market’s history—below, read reflections from four Faneuil Hall veterans.
Name: Mort Berenson
Role: Former owner of Berenson’s Prime Shop, an original vendor in Faneuil Hall
Set up shop in: 1961
This lively 84-year-old was in his early 20s when he became one of the premier meat vendors at Quincy Market. While his shop has since closed, you’d think it was still around by his vivid retellings of customer interactions.
What is the best thing about your years at Faneuil Hall?
“It was an education. I learned to get along with so many different types of people…How to get the most out of life is to befriend somebody. And then it’s not a business, it’s a friendship—all my customers were my friends.”
Name: Dottie Albert
Role: Former owner of The Cookie Tree pushcart, one of the first pushcarts in Quincy Market
Set up shop in: 1977
Dottie Albert is amazed that the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds she encountered when she first started feeding Bostonians her cookies still haven’t died down. At age 72, she keeps returning to see them.
How have you seen Faneuil Hall change since you started here?
“It was better (in the beginning) in the sense that there were more artists and more craftspeople who made their own products. It was more of those things we hope to bring back. I would like to see it come back to that.”
Name: Luke Prevost
Role: Owner of the Salty Dog Seafood Grille & Bar
Set up shop in: 1972
You could say Luke Prevost is a member of the Faneuil Hall family. He’s a fourth-generation member of the marketplace, which started when his great-grandfather opened one of the largest produce dealerships in Quincy Market. Prevost’s father transitioned to selling fish, and eventually rented space to expand in the pre-renovated market. Salty Dog Seafood Grille & Bar opened in 1972, and Prevost has been running it for the past 19 years.
What’s it like to have Faneuil Hall be a part of your family?
“It was amazing to have the transformation happen all around us and to have my parents talk about it.”
Name: Carol Troxell
Role: President of the Faneuil Hall Merchants Association
Set up shop in: 1987
Carol Troxell has served as president of the Faneuil Hall Merchants Association for the past decade, but started there 30 years ago in 1987. She says the association has always been concerned about developers turning it into a mall-like area that could be found in Anywhere, USA, and continues to champion the market’s one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants.
Throughout the years of changes, what’s stayed the same that continues to make this place special?
“It’s our visitors…What we love most is serving not only Bostonians but all of our visitors and meeting all the people that come to the marketplace throughout the year.”