Simmons library science alumna played key role in saving Fenway Park from demolition
Members of Save Fenway Park! rally on Lansdowne Street in 1999. Photo courtesy of Erika Tarlin '85LS.
On the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, it's hard to believe that America's most beloved ballpark was almost destroyed due to a stadium proposal in the late 1990s that sought to demolish the park and build a new, larger stadium adjacent to the old one. At the time of the proposal, the Fenway neighborhood was concerned about how a larger stadium would affect the community.
To save the ballpark, members of the Fenway neighborhood rallied behind a small nonprofit group, Save Fenway Park!, and Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) alumna Erika Tarlin '85 was a key member of the group who petitioned for Simmons College to host a design symposium that would allow members of the community to share alternative ideas for saving the stadium. Other local organizations were hesitant to support the symposium for fear of angering city officials who supported replacing Fenway.
In August 2000, Simmons agreed to do its part to help save the neighborhood landmark by donating the necessary event space to host the week-long design symposium that gave the opportunity for architects, urban planners, and a group of 20 passionate locals to come together and brainstorm ways to save historic Fenway.
"When no other institution in town would help, Simmons stepped up and accommodated our needs from phone and computer lines, to tables and late access to the building," says Erika. "We were desperate and Simmons came through in every way."
The symposium ultimately played a pivotal role in the ballpark's survival. Fenway Park is now listed and protected on the National Register of Historic Places.
With the skills Erika developed through Simmons' GSLIS program, it's only fitting that she took on the role of archiving all the paper being generated by the organization. She continues to manage the archives for Save Fenway Park!, and pieces from the archives are currently on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Erika is still actively involved in Save Fenway Park! and currently works as a historic preservation consultant, or as what she calls, a "mobile librarian."
As we enjoy the start of a brand new baseball season, and wear our Red Sox gear with pride, lets remember the important role Simmons and a fellow alumna played in helping to save our beloved Fenway Park!