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Globe Magazine

Change on the Mystic

For decades, African-Americans forged their own middle-class neighborhood called The Ville, creating an enclave of self-sufficiency and high ambition. Now its survival is being put to the test.

THE CELLAR DOOR OPENS to a winding staircase, descending into darkness. Cortland Dugger leads me past the water heater, past the boiler, past a bicycle, and into a separate room with two tables holding scales, plastic spoons bound by a rubber band, stacks of small containers, and a bottle marked “H2O.” He switches on an old light fixture and a bare bulb glows.

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