Cambridge Builders: Efforts renewed to honor Billy Ruane in Central Square



Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.

In November 2015, when Boston music scene icon Billy Ruane would have turned 58 years old, efforts were launched to erect a statue in his honor. With those plans still in development, and as Ruane’s 60th birthday approaches this November, the group behind the statue has re-dedicated itself with a new mission: To have Ruane honored posthumously with the renaming of a square around the Cambridge neighborhood where he infamously held court.


An online petition titled WE WANT A “BILLY RUANE SQUARE” IN CENTRAL SQUARE (CAMBRIDGE)! has been launched, and it targets the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Green Street for Ruane’s dedication. Ruane died on October 26, 2010, and to this day his ashes remain on display inside Central Square rock club The Middle East, near its Upstairs room, to which he is credited with bringing live music.

The proposed square dedication is where Sonia, an extension of the Middle East, and the former site of T.T. The Bear’s Place, currently sits. The busier intersection of Brookline Street and Massachusetts Avenue, which hosts the Middle East’s front entrances, is named after the late Mark Sandman of Morphine.

“November seems like a long time off, but it’ll creep up quickly,” writes the Billy Ruane Forever Facebook group. “This November 10th would have been Billy Ruane’s 60th birthday, and we want to make a more concerted effort to keep his memory alive this year. One of the ways we propose doing this is to get a Square named in his honor, in Central Square… [P]ass it along to anyone you know who loved Billy, or who just loves live music and musician. We need as many people to sign this as possible. If you are in Central Square in the next couple weeks, there is a physical version of this petition that you can sign. Just ask Joseph, Nabil or anyone else there.”


Two years ago, a local group led by music writer and Good Road founder Brian Coleman began efforts to immortalize Ruane in his old Cambridge neighborhood.

“Billy Ruane was a friend, and someone whose energy about and passion for music and the arts made a big impact on me,” Coleman told Vanyaland back in 2015. “He was truly unique, and you could never forget him after he crossed your path for the first time… The hope is that people always keep Billy’s passion and selflessness in mind — he really was a saint in many ways.”

Here is the full text of the petition. Featured Ruane photo by Wayne Valdez.


We, the undersigned, enthusiastically support the designation of an official square named in the City of Cambridge as a tribute to longtime resident and arts patron William “Billy” Ruane, who passed away in 2010.

Billy was an integral, enthusiastic – and vociferous – fixture in Boston’s music and arts scene for several decades, and was especially important to the growth of Cambridge’s nightlife in the 1990s and 2000s. Starting in the late 1980s, he was a driving force in booking music performances at the Middle East Café and TT The Bear’s Place, among many other venues. He was a generous and energetic supporter of up-and-coming artists in the rock, jazz and world music scenes. And he was beloved by hundreds of friends for his fierce and unwavering support of the musicians he loved and respected.

We feel strongly that the corner of Brookline Avenue and Green Street – where he could frequently be seen exhorting friends and strangers alike to attend shows at the Middle East, TTs, or many other venues in the city on any given night – would be a perfect place for Billy Ruane Square.

November 10, 2017 would have been Billy’s 60th birthday and is also the 30th anniversary of his first “blow-out” music booking (a 30th birthday bash in 1987, at TT The Bear’s, The Middle East and the Green Street Grill).