Fenway Park - home of the famous Boston Red Sox - is the enduring symbol of America’s favourite pastime: baseball.
Opened in April 1912, the park has outlasted all other major league baseball parks, becoming a shrine for baseball lovers everywhere.
As with most things in this world, there is a local connection to the famous Boston ball park: the man who built it was a Derry man.
Charles Logue, who was born in Derry in 1858, went on to forge a career as one of the most famous builders of Irish descent in the United States.
Shortly after their marriage at St Eugene’s Cathedral in April 1881, 23-year-old Logue and his new wife, Josephine (nee Wilkins), set sail for Boston to begin a new life.
He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled carpenter and ambitious young man, eventually setting up his own company, the Charles Logue Building Company, in 1890. His timing was also perfect. The Boston Irish had finally begun to wrestle control of the city from the recalcitrant Yankees with the election of Hugh O’Brien, Boston’s first ‘Irish’ mayor, in 1884.
According to Boston historian Dennis Ryan, Charles Logue became a major contractor in the Irish community, building the Boston College campus as well as churches for the city’s Archdiocese.
Mayor Patrick Collins appointed the Derry man to the Schoolhouse Committee in 1904, citing the need for a practical builder, and Mayor John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald - President John F. Kennedy’s grandfather - relied on Logue to build a “busier, better Boston”.
But Fenway Park would become Charles Logue’s enduring landmark.
Ground was broken for the park in September 1911 and the stadium was finished the following spring - a considerable achievement given the harsh New England winters.
The official opening took place on April 20, 1912. The Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders - later known as the Yankees - in front of 27,000 fans.
It’s reported that the event would have made front page news had it not been for the sinking of the Titanic just days before.
Today, the legacy of Charles Logue remains intact. Indeed, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has a framed photograph of Logue in his office, for “a little inspiration”.
Boston’s popular Irish Heritage Trail, which depicts the city’s 300 years of Irish history, includes Fenway Park as one of its twenty stops, along with the Rose Kennedy Garden, the Irish Famine Memorial, Copley Square Park and other local landmarks.
Logue’s descendants have also remained a presence in the Boston area thanks to the Logue Engineering Company Inc, located in the Hingham district. Charles remained president of the company until his death in 1919. His son, A. Emmett Logue, and grandson, A. Emmet Logue Jnr., ran the company until 1972. Great grandson Jim Logue started Logue Engineering in 1975 and his son, Kevin, is now the fifth generation of Logues in the family family.
Jim Logue says the Fenway Park connection has been part of family lore since its opening one hundred years ago.
“When I was a kid, people would say, ‘So your great-grandfather built Fenway Park?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, he did’.”
Jim believes the major reconstructions that have taken place at Fenway over the years hinge on his great grandfather’s original plans which were designed to support a second deck.
“Without that, Fenway would have been torn down years ago,” says Jim.
Ironically, Charles Logue died suddenly while inspecting repair work on a Boston building.
At his funeral, the father of thirteen was described as a man “faithful to his highest impulses and loyal to his fine ideals”.