Dorchester has several sites on ‘great places’ listing

A number of Dorchester-area locations made the list of about 1,000 great places to visit in Massachusetts released this week.

The Great Places in Massachusetts Commission, created by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick in January 2009, pared down more than 13,000 e-mail nominations from the public and suggestions from commission members over the past year and a half before releasing the final list.

Dorchester locations listed include the Erie Pub, First Parish Church, the Franklin Park Zoo, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, the Commonwealth Museum and Archives, and the Neponset Greenway. The commission attempted to include at least one great place from each of the state’s 351 cities and towns. Boston claimed more than 80 of the noteworthy destinations.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Tourism Committee and was a member of the commission, said that the list will hopefully increase out-of-state tourism during the current economic recession and provide state residents with low-cost ideas for their summer vacations.

Chang-Diaz and Dorchester Historical Society member Earl Taylor noted that a few of Dorchester’s historical and cultural assets were omitted from the list. Chang-Diaz said that Dorchester’s cultural festivals were not included on the list because the legislation creating the commission called for more permanent sites.

Taylor noted that two exceptional notable Dorchester landmarks—the Keyspan tank, which is the world’s largest copyrighted piece of artwork, and All Saints Church in Ashmont—were missing from the list. “I was really shocked that [they] weren’t on the list,” said Taylor. “The gas tank is one of the reasons people driving down the highway know they’re in Dorchester, and the church is a piece of architectural history.”

Former state Rep. Eric Turkington, co-chair of the commission, called the list “a boost not only in terms of tourism and the economy but also in terms of pride and knowing that the world knows how special they are.”

Approaching its fiftieth year in business, the Erie Pub, viewed locally as a political bellwether bar, has served not only local residents, but also Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. The latter also bartended there for a half an hour, according to owner John Stenson.

“The Eire is a great place where people can drink a beer and watch a game in their neighborhood,” Stenson said, adding that he was excited that the Adams Corner pub was named to the list.

First Parish Church was established by the city’s founding Puritans in 1630 with its first meeting house built in 1631. The building has been reconstructed five times in the past 379 years.

Dorchester’s Franklin Park Zoo, which Sen. Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) described as an “urban gem,” provides Boston area residents the opportunity to observe wildlife without traveling far.

Overlooking the harbor, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum contains exhibits documenting the life and leadership of the thirty-fifth president. A center focused on the U.S. Senate, named after JFK’s brother Edward, is being built in between the museum and the UMass-Boston campus next door.

The Commonwealth Museum and Archives on Morrissey Boulevard houses original historical documents and artifacts. An exhibit tracing the development of rights in Massachusetts from 1600 to the present day through historical documents is now on display there.

The Neponset River Greenway is a strand of existing and proposed parkland stretching across Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, Milton. When completed, the Greenway will be a ten-mile trail beginning at the mouth of the Neponset River and ending at the 894-acre Fowl Meadows at the city limits. It will also connect to the Blue Hills Reservation.

Separately, a State House News Service review found that some of the entries on the list were duplicates, and the list actually consisted of 990 places. “I’m sure that out of the 12,000 entries we’ll be able to pull a few more,” Turkington told the wire service.

The full list is available at

Material from State House News Service was used in this article.