A Mission meeting of the board of directors, including founders Hattie Fickett and Jacob Fritz, seated in the center.
One of the original buildings of the Mission on Merrimac Street
An "outdoor meeting" of the Mission in Merrimac Square circa 1910s.
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From its founding in 1899, the Boston Rescue Mission has fed the hungry and housed the homeless. Originally its name was Merrimac Mission, as its first address was at 128 Merrimac Street in Boston. The Mission was started by five men and women from Boston who were called to serve the men they saw living on the streets--living in poverty and addicted to alcohol. It was one of many that formed in the United States beginning in the 1870s.
Within five months, the Mission relocated a few doors down the street to 134 Merrimac Street (near Boston's North Station today) and volunteers promoted it as “a bar-room transformed into a life-saving station.” By 1904, the Mission had incorporated and four years after that, it moved again to 105 Staniford Street. The new location was much better situated to serve the homeless men who congregated in the area. Jacob Fritz led the Merrimac Mission during this time and his tenure lasted 15 years.
Superintendent Fritz was succeeded by George Eddy who led the mission for 35 years. In the mid-1960s, redevelopment taking place in the West End forced the Mission to relocate to Massachusetts Avenue. In 1978 the Mission purchased property on Kingston Street, and its headquarters remains there today.
In 1993, the Rev. John Samaan succeeded Harold Milner as the Mission’s new director. The following year, the name of the organization was changed to the Boston Rescue Mission to more precisely convey the breadth of its work and services offered. Throughout the 1990s, the Mission expanded its work by offering daily meals, longer-term transitional shelter programs for women and men, and job training skills. In 1995, the city of Boston asked the Mission to participate in a pilot program to accommodate growing population of people in shelter during the winter months. That same year, the Boston Rescue Mission joined the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) to more formally advocate for the policies and public funding needed to assist people who are homeless to stabilize their lives.
In the 2000s, the Boston Rescue Mission added international work to its portfolio by organizing trips to Haiti, India, and Kenya to serve people who are desperately poor, homeless, sick, hungry, and victims of natural disasters. The service work puts our staff and volunteers in challenging situations that force them to re-examine previously held beliefs, build confidence in their abilities, and equip them to better serve those in who need help here at home.
Today, we provide emergency overnight shelter with hot meals, toiletries, and bathroom and shower facilities to those in need in the Greater Boston area. We also provide residential recovery programs for women and men transitioning from homelessness to independent living; for adult men who have been sober for at least 30 days; and veterans who have been continuously homeless for more than a year. We are honored to be a source of inspiration and hope throughout the city to women and men in need.