Brian Davidson

Tile image

We received the following information from Charles Bahne. If you have any further information, or if you would like to share a memory of Brian to be posted on this page, please send an email to contactatdavissquaretilesproject [dot] com.

Brian's tile was a picture of an MBTA bus, which was chosen by the T as the primary image for one of the official posters that they issued in 1984 to commemorate the opening of the Davis station.

Brian was a mentally-challenged young man who grew up in the projects off of Mystic Avenue. He lived with his mother; I don't recall ever hearing anything about his father, and I'm not sure if he had any brothers or sisters.

Brian loved buses and trains, which is clearly why he chose to portray a bus on his tile. I knew him because of his regular attendance at monthly meetings of the Boston Street Railway Association, a club which is devoted to the history and current operations of transit in Boston and elsewhere. (I was Vice President of the BSRA for many years, and am now its Treasurer.)

As a young adult, Brian crafted many finely detailed models of MBTA and other transit vehicles out of cardboard, and regularly brought his models to display at our meetings. He was a big guy who always seemed happy to see me when I ran into him on the subway, or at one of our meetings. I still remember his smile. I wasn't really a close friend of his, but our paths seemed to cross often, both along the Red Line and at our BSRA meetings.

Brian was survived by his mother, but she died in May 2005. I never knew any of his other relatives, nor did I hear him mention any.

From Phillip Bassett, Brian's teacher at Somerville High School's Vocational Education program:
I had the pleasure of having Brian Davidson as a student for four years at Somerville High School in the Vocational Education program. Brian was a Special Education student with a special personality as well as some special talents. He was totally involved with his MBTA model making skills which were nurtured in my Drafting shop. He carefully crafted many models of trains, busses and buildings and could recite dates when each train came into service.. He visited me a year after he graduated and insisted on showing the students his technique which I have on video. I also have a video of Brian doing both characters in the “Who’s on First” routine which he was know to do in the cafeteria or in any class. We at SHS were all blessed to have known Brian. He died in 2000 in the Harvard Square T station while coming home from work. When I went to his wake, all of his models were on display in the funeral home. His brother Henry gave me all of his work which I have kept on display in my office at Somerville High School.

A message from Leslie and Henry Davidson:
Hello and thank you for recognizing this wonderful project! Brian Davidson was our brother and we were so proud that Brian's tile was selected for the Davis Square Tile Project. They even chose Brian's tile as the program cover at the official opening of the Davis Square T Station.

We lost Brian 10 years ago but are very proud of his legacy. He touched so many people in his all too short 33 years. Brian was a huge fan of the MBTA since he was a child and took great pride in his models.

His final model was of North Hampton Station. The model was placed on display in the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse after his death. This is where Brian worked, making great friends along the way.

Yes, Brian did have a family, most of whom we lost over the past 10 years.

Thank you to Charles Bahne and Phil Bassett for your contributions to this page. We are just thrilled to have these memories of Brian.

Photos on this page are of Brian's models. For more photos, click here.

This is a video of Brian presenting his models to Phillip Bassett's drafting class at Somerville High.

Brian Davidson - Talking about MBTA models on Vimeo.

This is a video of Brian doing his version of the "Who's on first?" routine.

Brian Davidson - Who's on First routine on Vimeo.

(Videos provided by Phillip Bassett.)