Plagued by the demons of alcohol abuse, the community of Allston/Brighton established the “Allston/Brighton Advisory Council on Alcoholism” on November 8th, 1974.
Tom Gorman, a long-time resident of the Allston/Brighton area and a member of the Council, approached Peter McGrath, an Administrator of St. John of God Hospital in Brighton (and a current member of the Granada House Board of Director). Tom proposed the idea of establishing a residential alcohol treatment program for both women and men. He suggested using the vacant old nurses’ dormitory on Corey Road (located on the grounds of the St. John of God Hospital). Mr. McGrath quickly formulated a proposal, and along with the SJGH Board of Directors, he approached Cardinal Medeiros (Humberto Sousa Medeiros) for his blessings. Described by Mr. McGrath as a stately, gentle, and compassionate man, the Cardinal wasted no time in saying ‘yes’ to the project, even though ‘alcohol’ and ‘recovery’ were ‘dirty’ words at that time.
A Certificate of Need was filed and approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The project of renovating the old nurses’ dormitory began – Mr. Gorman was extremely hands-on, and did much of the construction work himself. Following the remodel, the first Granada House Board of Directors was established (with Mr. McGrath being the founding director), and members began raising funds for the program. The location fell on the border of Brighton and Brookline, and, as expected, neighbors began their opposition to the project.
Fall of 1979
The dormitory was completely destroyed by a fire – Boston police eventually confirmed that the cause was arson. This left the founders of Granada house without a building and with very little funding.
A movement in Washington DC had begun which suggested that all United States Public Health Services be shut down as they were deemed “not needed”, the thinking being that the programs only served Merchant Marines, Native Americans, and Vietnamese refugees. In an effort to show the necessity in the area, Brighton Marine (a local USPHS hospital) opened several community service initiatives, one of which was an inpatient alcohol treatment program with the Granada House Board of Directors. In October of 1980, Granada House, now a 22-bed facility positioned in a wing of East Hall on Warren Street, began accepting its first patients.
The closure of USPHS hospitals was publicly confirmed. Immediately, community action mounted to save Brighton Marine Hospital. Congressman Tim O’Neill intervened and four USPHS facilities across the country were saved from closure – one of them being Brighton Marine.
Fall of 1981
The property and management rights of the Brighton Marine compound are transferred to the ABAHG (Allston Brighton Aid and Health Group). This process was painstakingly long, and didn’t wrap up until the summer of 1982. The management of ABHAG made it very clear that they wanted nothing to do with the Granada House. Tip O’Neil, then Speaker of the US House of Representative, stepped in and protected Granada House’s right to stay on the property. The program was able to stay afloat thanks to private donations and expense forgiveness by the department of Public Health.
January 11, 1982
Founding Granada members Edward Hanely, Charles Brassil and Peter McGrath formed a corporation under the MGL Ch 180 and established the house as a nonprofit organization. Mr. Hanely became the first Chairman, with Mr. McGrath as the first Treasurer and Hope Podell as the first Clerk of the Board of Directors.
Granada House was awarded a contract with the Massachusetts Division of Alcoholism to provide residential rehabilitation services to women and men suffering from alcohol addiction.
Tom Reardon grabbed the helm of Granada House and became the program’s first CEO. Tom retired in 1984 and was succeeded by Deb Larson, who was with Granada until 2019.
The relationship between ABAHG and Granada goes from bad to worse – Granada’s rent escalated to a completely unsustainable amount given the available funds.
The Granada community began the search for a new location. This involved another painful process with multiple problems including the denial of permits, multiple lawsuits, negative press reports, and extreme opposition thanks to the stigma surrounding addiction which was extremely prevalent time period. . With the help of many well-wishers, volunteers, Granada House successfully relocated to its current location in 1997.
Granada stands, tall and firm, as a sanctuary for those seeking recovery, those recovered, and everyone in between.