What is it like to live in West Roxbury?

Location, Location, Location Boston West Roxbury
Poppies grace a field outside Brook Farm.
Poppies grace a field outside Brook Farm. john tlmacki/globe staff

He’s not just the mayor of West Roxbury. Nope. Richard “Richie’’ Gormley will tell you he’s the Lord Mayor, thanks very much.

“I’m the only Lord Mayor in the city of Boston, or even Greater Boston, to be honest with you,’’ said Gormley. “But it comes with no pay.’’

You may have thought that Marty Walsh was the mayor of Boston — and he is — but Gormley says Walsh refers to him as “the other mayor.’’

“On the day of my inauguration, not only did I get a congratulatory call from (then) Governor Deval Patrick, but he also had the president of the United States, Barack Obama, call me,’’ said Gormley.

It all started with an election conducted four years ago by Patch, an online news site. Where it will end is anyone’s guess. “There’s no set term,’’ said Gormley, the owner of Gormley Funeral Home on Centre Street.

Which is fine, because Gormley, who grew up in West Roxbury, doesn’t plan to leave the neighborhood he’s so actively involved with and fond of.

“You’re still in the city of Boston, but you have a suburban feeling here,’’ Gormley said. “And it’s convenient to downtown. I can get downtown in about 18 minutes.’’

But change is coming. More than 90,000 square feet of new residential development — mostly apartments and condos — is either proposed or already approved, according to Michael Iceland, executive director of West Roxbury Main Streets.

A public forum titled “Imagine West Roxbury, a Vision for Centre Street,’’ is scheduled for next Saturday at the Parkway YMCA, starting at 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got an issue for the Lord Mayor, he doesn’t hold official office hours. But you can usually find him having his morning coffee — and probably a homemade donut — at Anna’s Hand Cut Donuts on Centre Street.



Percentage of West Roxbury’s 5,900 households that include married couples — the highest in Boston. At 63.7 percent, it also has the highest percentage of owner-occupied homes in the city.


Average price of the 49 single-family homes listed recently on the MLS Property Information Network.


Price of a 16-inch cheese pizza at Comella’s on Centre Street. On Fridays, customers start calling in orders as soon as the store opens at 11:30 a.m. During Lent, it’s even busier. That’s amore.


Number of girls who play in the Parkway Girls Softball League. The brother organization, Parkway Little League, has even higher numbers.




Another man’s treasure

Millennium Park, a 100-acre park that includes trails, playgrounds, and a canoe launch, was created on the site of a landfill. You have to love the fact that a portion along the Charles River is known as Dump Shoreline.


Stop and go, then stop some more

The two main thoroughfares, Centre Street and the VFW Parkway, weren’t built to handle today’s volume of commuter traffic. It’s a familiar story across the state.


Suburbia in the city

With an abundance of single-family homes, backyards, and tree-lined streets, it feels more suburban than a typical city neighborhood.

Sugar bakery
Theodore Parker Church
The large Tiffany window along the side of the Unitarian Church
Buttercups at the Westerly Burial Ground
The statue of Theodore Parker in front of a stained glass window of the Unitarian Church
Dog walkers chat on one of the paths at Millennium Park.

Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to [email protected].