There’s something new on the Boulevard, sprouting under the Rotary clock and next to the tall fresh Christmas tree, that may just catch your eye as you walk by. It’s shiny and elegant and commemorates the man with a vision some 90 years ago to create Larchmont Village: Julius LaBonte.
LaBonte, born in 1879, was a transplant from the midwest who settled into a house here in the 1920s and saw the benefits of bringing a business district to the community. He built the stretch of stores on the east side of the street (beginning with Lipson Plumbing and stretching south past Chevalier’s Books) and then added a movie theater where the former Blockbuster store now stands.
LaBonte’s daughter, Charlotte Lipson, still owns the string of shops under the green awning and has been a friend and landlord to many independent shopkeepers who have come and gone over the years.
The plaque was unveiled yesterday, December 6th in a morning event that was coordinated by the Larchmont Business Improvement District and drew local business owners, Larchmont Boulevard Assn. (LBA) members and Councilman Tom LaBonge and his staff. “This is what people want – a village within a neighborhood,” Councilman LaBonge said during the event. “The quality houses in the area are key, but the village is the heart of this area. A place where people can meet and spend time together. The history of this fine neighborhood should be shared with the children and residents of the neighborhood, and this plaque is a historic focal point that does that.”
Jane Gilman, Editor of the Larchmont Chronicle and local historian, gave a brief history of the early developer Julius LaBonte. Realtor Shar Penfold was thanked for her efforts in making the plaque a reality, and was assisted by Heather Boylston and Rebecca Hutchinson, PR reps for the Larchmont BID.