There are some beautiful old houses in the hilly neighborhoods bordered by Lincoln and Belmont streets, but the Draper Ruggles House, which always stood out with its grand columns, is now a centerpiece.
The warm, buttery yellow exterior contrasts with gleaming white accents, and the circa 1845 home of a long-ago city industrialist is just as nice inside after a substantial renovation undertaken by Advocates, a Framingham-based social service provider that runs a program at the 21 Catharine Street home for men in the early stages of recovery from addiction.
Residents, city officials, and local leaders packed the living room of Channing House Thursday afternoon for a ribbon cutting in front of an exquisitely detailed fireplace. Artwork on the walls was done by Jesse Ouellet, a resident of the house. Diane Gould, Advocates president and chief executive officer, said Advocates took over operations at the house in 2013; by then, many years of transitional living had taken its toll, she added.
Using funding secured from several foundations, Advocates undertook the renovations to bring the house more in line with its mission of offering hope and the promise that recovery is possible for everyone, Ms. Gould said.
“It’s good to renovate and restore a historic property, but people who come here for help deserve a nice place to live,” Ms. Gould said.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where it is referred to as an extremely important example of Greek Revival architecture, and is described in its register filing as a rare survivor of a style popularized by Elias Carter, an early local architect.
Draper Ruggles was a member of the manufacturing firm of Ruggles, Nourse & Mason, a maker of various agricultural implements, including more than 20 kinds of plows.
For Joel Ramos, his own personal history got him into trouble with addiction, eventually landing him at Channing House. He said he stood in the living room yesterday as proof of the value of continuing treatment. It created an opportunity to look at himself, and said the structure of the program, which uses a peer-based model, helps residents hold each other accountable and keep expectations high.
“It helped, but it humbled me a bit,” Mr. Ramos said. “It helped me become able to ask for help if I need it.”
For Andy Martin, graduating from the program at Channing House didn’t mean he stopped hanging around. He said he enjoys talking with residents about shared experiences, and said that for the first time in his life, he’s surrounded himself with positive people.
“I was told these doors will always be open,” he said.