The Portuguese began arriving in Massachusetts in the late 1800s, many coming from fishing villages in the Azores. They created Portuguese communities in Boston and Cambridge. In the late 1950s, Portuguese immigrants began settling in South Norwood, many finding homes in some of the triple-deckers in the area, but most arrived in the early 1970s. By 1980 there were over 100 Portuguese people living in South Norwood, most coming from small farming communities in Minho a region in Northern Portugal. Apparently, they were welcomed at St. George Roman Catholic Church on St. James Street, as in the 1980s Portuguese hymnals could be found in the pews. Over the years they opened The Portuguese Club on Washington Street, which serves as their social center. In the 1980s they considered taking on the old Lithuanian Hall on St. George Street as their social club, but neighbors had concerns as the social club had a liquor license and they worried that might bring a bad element to the street.
South Norwood’s Portuguese community were a group of hard workers, some took on second jobs. Their hard work paid off, as many Portuguese bought homes here within a few short years of their arrival. Some of these homes had been neglected for many years, and the new Portuguese owners fixed them up, which help to revitalize the neighborhood. Many first generation Norwood Portuguese children recall their parents efforts to teach them their culture –either by teaching the language at home, learning about traditional foods and celebrations, some families sent their children to visit family and friends back in Portugal in the summers. Also in the early 1980s the Balch School offered classes in Portuguese so Portuguese children would not forget their native language. In South Norwood, many Portuguese people stepped up and organized programs to help new arrivals, one couple, Mario & Maria Rodrigues helped new Portuguese arrivals find housing, employment and learn to speak English.