“Both my grandfather and great-grandfather were Malden firemen,” said Mark Lawhorne, an operations manager for the city of Somerville who also runs a publication relations business out of his home. “My side of the tracks was different than my wife’s. I was born in Melrose but lived on the Cape with my mother after my parents divorced. At 18, I moved to Malden to live with my father before heading off to the Air Force. After serving, I moved back. Something in Malden said ‘roots.’ ”
His wife, Patricia, is a lawyer who practices in the family firm her father started (out of the Lawhornes’ current house) in the ’50s. Mark Lawhorne finds the West End, the neighborhood of Victorian homes where they live with their three children, to be picturesque, but says other Malden neighborhoods are equally beautiful.
“When you look at the ethnicity that went to certain neighborhoods, like Edgeworth, it’s still predominantly Italian, but nowadays, a blended mix of people are moving in,” he said. “One of the things I like about Malden is the traditions that have been here for generations, but also the diversity that’s moving in. I love being in a community that can bridge the old with the new.
“Now you see the old Irish, Swedish, and Italian families dining in places they would’ve never seen themselves in years ago, eating sushi and Korean food. And visa versa,” Lawhorne said.
“Friends from Boston come here to eat. They’ll say, ‘I can’t believe I’m in Malden!’ I don’t know whether to feel offended or complimented.”
One thing in Malden that has been consistent is its tradition of social responsibility.
“Other communities might sweep it under the rug, but in Malden, we know we need to help each other,” said Lawhorne, who is vice chairman of the Malden YMCA and also serves on the Malden Rotary Road Race Committee. “I think back to my time on the Cape and wonder, how different would my life be if people had reached out?”
By the numbers
Number of cemeteries in about 5 square miles. Living in Malden must be good. It seems people don’t want to leave. Among the cemeteries: Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground, the state’s second oldest Jewish cemetery (established in 1851 for poor Jewish immigrants), and Holy Cross Cemetery, the final resting place of Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro.
Number of model train-related items in stock--from N scale to G scale and scenery and accessories--at Charles Ro Supply Co., America’s largest Lionel train dealer. In business for 42 years, Charles Ro was voted one of the “coolest toy stores in the world” by Reader’s Digest Canada.
When the Converse Memorial Building, home to Malden’s library, opened. The city’s first mayor, Elisha S. Converse, and his wife, Mary D., donated the funds in memory of their son Frank, who was shot and killed while working in his father’s bank. The building was designed by famed Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson (designer of Back Bay’s Trinity Church), the gardens by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Year that cousin Marquis Mills Converse opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. in Malden. Think of him the next time you slip on those Chuck Taylors.
PROS AND CONS
Among the many nonprofits in the city, the Malden Teen Enrichment Center opened two years ago, providing kids (residents and/or students who attend high schools in the city) a safe, fun place to gather after school and drawing, on average, more than 125 daily. Bread of Life distributes food through a network of evening meal programs, two pantries, and groceries delivered to seniors and homeless families in shelters. In 2013 alone, it distributed the equivalent of 1.03 million free meals.
Before 1976, old-timers will tell you, Malden’s downtown was the place to be, with two movie theaters, several restaurants, a 30-lane bowling alley, and shopping, including Jordan Marsh. Then planners plopped City Hall on Pleasant Street as an anchor to Jordan Marsh on the other end, blocking the retail corridor from the view of riders at the Malden Center MBTA Station -- well, anyone coming from the west. In mid-December, the City Council finally approved a proposal to demolish the building and construct a mixed-use development that will improve access.
Boston is less than 15 minutes away by T, a perk that has attracted new high-end mixed-use developments, some through partnerships with neighboring cities, and all within walking distance to T stops. There’s also MBTA bus and commuter rail service and easy access to routes 1 and 128 and Interstate 93, as well as to Logan International Airport.