Skip to content

Historic Resources: A South End Institution—The League of Women for Community Service

Jan 2021 HRC

Image: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

  • COST

    Free and open to the public.

  • TYPE





    1.5 LU AIA credits available

For our January HRC meeting, we welcome past and present leaders of the League of Women for Community Service (LWCS) – a storied South End institution – and other professionals supporting the League’s efforts to restore its historic home at 558 Massachusetts Avenue. Purchased from sea captain Nathaniel Farwell, the 1857 brownstone at “39 Chester Square” served as headquarters, a hub for community work and a communal meeting space for the League; then Governor and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge and many of Boston’s elite attended the formal opening in March 1920.
Founded in 1918, the LWCS emerged from the social reformist spirit of the late-19th century black women’s club movement of the ‘Women’s Era’ (1880-1920), serving as a community and soldiers’ comfort group during the First World War, and the organization then diversified to assist Blacks in the quest to achieve social uplift and public engagement. During the 1940s-50s, the League housed dozens of African-American women, including student resident Coretta Scott during the time she was courted by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
League of Women for Community Service Executive Director Gina Gomes-Cruz earned a degree in Art with a concentration in Architecture from Northeastern University. She worked for a number of Boston architectural firms, focusing on higher-education projects; her management skills led to a specialization in Owner's Project Management (OPM). In 2018, Ms. Gomes-Cruz was persuaded by the LWCS President to become the organization’s Executive Director. Since then, she has secured for the League a number of grants for repair and rehabilitation of 558 Massachusetts Avenue and she continues to notch fundraising successes.
Jacquelyne Arrington has been a member of LWCS since 1978. A semi-retired pediatric nurse practitioner, Mrs. Arrington worked in both public- and private schools as a nurse and, for 20 years, as a Director of Health Services. A Roxbury neighborhood resident for over forty years, Mrs. Arrington has a natural affinity for and understanding of the needs of the children who attend elementary schools near her home; following her formal retirement, she plans to accelerate her volunteer efforts with these schools and with the LWCS.
Curtis Maxwell Perrin maintains a career focus on preservation advocacy, design and historical research. An adjunct professor at Wentworth’s School of Architecture, he is also employed as a Project Manager for the historic preservation architecture practice of Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt in Boston, where he managed the Feasibility Study for the restoration of 558 Massachusetts Avenue. One of Mr. Perrin’s recent initiatives resulted in Landmark designation for Roxbury’s African Orthodox Church. Mr. Perrin received formative professional training at Lacaton & Vassal’s office in Paris and at César Pelli’s office in New Haven, and he also worked for Elkus Manfredi in Boston. Following his undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College, Mr. Perrin earned an M.Arch. with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Ph.D. from Yale University.