24 April
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The Legacy of The Commonwealth Avenue Magnolias | By

In the early 1960s, above the bustling streets and life of Boston, Laura Dwight sat in the window of her apartment on Commonwealth Avenue. She observed the once-elegant Back Bay section of Boston deteriorating all around her, and in that moment, had a vision for the future. She imagined the entire avenue blossoming simultaneously with magnolia trees. Their vibrant flowers, painted in hues of rich pink at the core and creamy white at the edges, filled her with a vision of beauty for the neighborhood.

Laura Dwight, a dedicated civic activist, noted this vision as an opportunity to revitalize the beauty of her beloved neighborhood. With a passion for improving the urban landscape, Dwight formed The Garden Club of Back Bay, of which she became the first president. Armed with a dedicated group of volunteers by her side, they embarked on a mission to bring her dream to life: planting the magnolia trees along Commonwealth Avenue.

What followed was a remarkable community-wide effort that captured the spirit of collaboration and civic engagement. Through fundraising initiatives, outreach campaigns, and sheer determination, Dwight and her fellow activists rallied support for their cause. They personally rang doorbells and convinced owners to plant one or several magnolia trees in their front yards. Their hard work paid off as the first magnolia trees were planted, marking the beginning of a transformation that would shape the landscape for generations to come. Many of the magnolia trees that grace Commonwealth Avenue today are a testament to Dwight’s enduring legacy.

But the story doesn’t end there. The magnolia trees of Commonwealth Avenue continue to beautify the streets and foster a sense of community pride in Back Bay. Each spring, as the city awakens to the sight and scent of these blossoms, residents and visitors alike are reminded of the beauty that surrounds them and the rich history that brought it to life. 

So as you stroll beneath the blooming branches of these historic magnolia trees, pause to reflect on the perseverance that brought them here and the community that continues to nurture them. 


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