Neponset/Port Norfolk is one of the southernmost neighborhoods of Boston, just across the Neponset River from Milton and Quincy. It is a historic fishing port with several distinct sections, including a more isolated peninsula.
The neighborhood is bisected by both the train tracks and Route 93. Port Norfolk is a coastal section largely east of the highway, and is known for its Greek Revival and Italianate dwellings as well as a mid-1800s industrial complex. This part of the neighborhood is relatively isolated from Boston and Dorchester, which contributes to its charm. In early 2017, a hotel and 100-unit condo development were proposed for this section of the neighborhood, according to Curbed Boston. Meanwhile, Neponset and Pope's Hill are the inland sections of the neighborhood.
Beach neighborhood – but water quality affected by pollution. Neponset-Port Norfolk is one of the beach neighborhoods of Boston. The neighborhood contains Tenean Beach. However, water quality has been an issue, with the beach closed far more frequently than other local beaches because of high bacteria counts, according to Dorchester News. Some believe this may be from illegal sewer hook-ups from private property dumping into the Neponset River next to the beach. According to an independent study by Save the Harbor, the water quality at Teanean Beach has consistently been at the bottom of their list, according to Charlestown Bridge. That said, recent investments by Boston Water and Sewer and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority have begun to reduce pollution at Tenean Beach. The beach was also used as a burial site for mobster Whitey Bulger's victims, according to the Boston Globe
Toxic waste site along Neponset River to be cleaned, become park. The state Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), which owns land in Port Norfolk, along the Neponset River. The site is contaminated by heavy metals and PCBs in both the soil and sediment along the Neponset shoreline. The DCR will restore the natural ecology and habitat of the waterfront parcel, with a walkway for public access but no recreational facilities, according to the Neponset Watershed Association.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fire risk. The massive LNG storage facility nearby at Commercial Point poses risk of a devastating fire in case of an accident or incident. Within a quarter mile, the fire would be hot enough to melt steel, and buildings would burn within a mile radius. Almost all of Pope's Hill, Port Norfolk, and about half of Neponset are within the one-mile radius, with the northernmost section of the neighborhood at greatest exposure.
The neighborhood is broadly divided into three sections, Neponset, Pope's Hill, and Port Norfolk.
Neponset is the inland section of the neighborhood, and contains Pope's Hill.
Pope's Hill is in the northwest corner of Neponset section, and among the streets included in the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association are Houghton Street, Neponset Avenue, Pope's Hill Street, and Victory Road.
Port Norfolk is a coastal neighborhood with a collection of Greek Revival and Italianate houses as well as a mid-1800s industrial complex. Port Norfolk is located in the Neponset section of Dorchester, about six miles south of downtown Boston. It is an isolated neighborhood, almost completely surrounded by the Southeast Expressway to the west and the mouth of the Neponset River to the north and east. Its 250-odd houses are almost all one and two family structures, most of them were built before 1900. Collectively, they display the full variety
of 19th century architectural styles.
Walnut Street between Franklin and Water Streets contains some of the oldest houses in Port Norfolk.
Luther Briggs, Jr. House (20 Water St.). In the 1850s, Luther Briggs, Jr. was the architect retained by the Neponset Wharf Company to survey and lay out lots along Pine Neck Road, now Walnut Street. Briggs is credited with the construction of several houses at Port Norfolk including his own Greek Revival house. Briggs worked for his uncle Alexander Parris, a leading architect and engineer of Boston. Brigg's architectural drawings are in the collection of Historic New England and the Metropolitan Museum.
C. A. Southworth House (83 Walnut St.), built c.1874 for a purveyor of "patent medicines."
Pratt House (102 Walnut St.) is an Italianate house built c.1874 as a residence for lumber merchant Laban Pratt.
20 Franklin St., an Italianate/Mansard house built c. 1874 for Laban Pratt.
86-88 Walnut St. built c.1884-1894, a double brick Queen Anne apartment building built by Laban Pratt.
Blanchard House (5 Rice St.) is a substantial Greek Revival residence built before 1850, owned by physician Henry Blanchard in the 1870s and 80s.
98 Taylor St. is a brick, Greek Revival office building erected in the 1850s for the Albert T. Stearns Lumber Company.
There are no subway stops within the neighborhood, even though the Red Line and Commuter Rail train tracks pass through the neighborhood, the closest stops are either north in Savin Hill, or across the river to North Quincy.
Neponset-Port Norfolk is at the southeastern edge of Dorchester, within Boston. To the north are, from inland east: Fields Corner, Clam Point/Harrison Square, and Commercial Point. To the west are Ashmont and Cedar Grove. And the southern edge is the Neponset River, across which are the Montclair and North Quincy neighborhoods of the city of Quincy, and the town of Milton.
In the 1600s, Port Norfolk was known as Pine Neck, for its dominant feature, a pine-covered hill surrounded by marsh.
For the next 150 years it along with adjacent Commercial Point attracted fishermen and mariners.
Port Norfolk's documented history in the seventeenth century is minimal largely because there were few, if any families living there. The Minot, Pierce and Tolman families all owned pasture lands on Pine Neck (Port Norfolk), maintaining their house lots in the Neponset area (the Minot family also owned an estate in the then-town of Roxbury (now Jamaica Plain) which would become Woodbourne.
The Edmund J. Baker Map of Dorchester and Milton of 1831 shows Port Norfolk devoid of housing. The coming of the Old Colony Railroad to Dorchester in 1844 opened Port Norfolk up to residential and commercial development.
The Hurricane of 1938 destroyed nearly all of Port Norfolk's old trees, natural features which complimented and enhanced the picturesque qualities of Luther Brigg's mid 19th century housing. During World War II LCI landing craft, rather than Bermuda racers were produced at Lawley's Boatyard in three shifts a day.