Life in the Massachusetts Boston Mission Home

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“Life in the Massachusetts Boston Mission Home,” New Era, May 1975, 30

Participatory Journalism:
Life in the Massachusetts Boston Mission Home

Living in the Massachusetts Boston Mission Home is a very different experience. There are moments when very moving and spiritual things happen, and then there are moments of sadness and concern. But all in all, it is a tremendous blessing and part of my life; I’ll hate to leave.

The mission home was purchased by the Church from the Henry W. Longfellow estate. It stood where our chapel now stands in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and had to be cut in half to be moved down Hawthorne Street to its present location. The home has three stories and a full basement, about 30 rooms, eight fireplaces, and five bathrooms. In the basement the missionaries have been working on an open-house display to go on the road. All day we can hear the hammering and sawing and smell the paint and wood as their ideas develop and unfold into a fabulous display. Also in the basement there is a laundry room where our dear Sister Doe keeps the linens and clothes cleaned and pressed.

On the first floor you will find our living room, dining room, and library—all with big spacious fireplaces. I like the library, and when I get a moment, I open those big, heavy history books about the mission, look at the pictures, and read such names as Richard Bushman, missionary and district president in the New England Mission; Chase Peterson, high-ranking graduate from Harvard; Alberta Baker, cherished Relief Society officer working long hours preparing for a meeting; Bessie Gillette, housekeeper at the mission home; LuAnne Van Uitert, playing for a concert at the Chapel of the Pines; Ann Hinckley (Romish), being called as a missionary; Betty Manderino, riding the subway with her children to attend Sunday School. There are so many others, too.

Our kitchen is spacious. It is interesting to note that President John Romish redesigned and reconstructed the beautiful kitchen about four years ago. In it are three stoves, a dishwasher, two freezers, two refrigerators, and many lovely cabinets and drawers all done in formica.

When you go up the back spiral staircase, you come to the second floor where you find five bedrooms and a sewing room. These rooms are used by our family, General Authorities, and visitors. (I have to always keep my room clean, for it is like living in a fish bowl!) Going up the central staircase to the third floor brings you to where the missionaries stay. Here are six bedrooms, and we’ve given them names: Washington Room, Hawthorne Room, Longfellow Room, Whittier Room, Harvard Suite, and the ‘Coop’ (like a chicken coop where we put elders to roost). On this floor we have bed space for 17 missionaries.

In the mission home we have the opportunity to see new elders coming from Salt Lake for the first time. Most of them are pretty scared, and they stay for about three days before receiving their first assignments. We also get to see all the missionaries who are returning to their homes after having served for two years.

The two assistants to my father, President John L. Clarke, live with us in the mission home. Presently they are Elder Ron Buhrley from Huntsville, Utah, and Elder Ted Nyman from Logan, Utah. Many meetings are held at the mission home with the missionaries, such as get-acquainted sessions, farewells, testimony meetings, and firesides, plus special leadership and instructional meetings for zone leaders, district leaders, sisters, and the mission presidency. With these meetings there are always beds to be found and meals to be prepared and served. It is my responsibility to help my mother see that these tasks are completed and everything runs smoothly. Frequently, we will have over 30 people at our dining room table. And on several occasions, every bed in the house (27 of them) has been occupied.

In 1943 President David O. McKay dedicated our mission home, and in the dedicatory prayer, he said this:

“Wilt Thou, O God, sanctify every nook and corner, every room in this building from the basement to the roof. May every room be hallowed and cleansed from all impurities and evil that thy Spirit may permeate this building that those who enter may feel something that has never been here before; that it may radiate to the world, and when visitors come to see the place of world-renown, they may see and wonder what is over this house; that their hatred may be supplanted by goodwill, prejudice by open-mindedness, indifference be supplanted by faith, and honest investigation be turned to worship. …

Cause the hearts of all who enter to be free from strife that we may be at home in Thy presence.”

Note: Since this article was written we have been released from our mission in New England. Now we are living in Rexburg, Idaho. The three precious years that I spent in New England will always be with me as a guide and inspiration to continue living and loving the gospel!

Illustrated by Ralph Reynolds