Mayor Thomas M. Menino returns to City Hall, marking next stage in recovery after illness

Mayor Thomas M. Menino spent the afternoon Monday in his fifth-floor office at City Hall for the first time in recent memory, a milestone that marks the next stage in the recovery of Boston’s five-term chief executive.

Menino has scheduled meetings in his fifth-floor office every day for the rest of the week, with the aim of gradually ramping up his presence at City Hall after an almost four-month absence.

“The process of him getting better and stronger outside the hospital continues,” said his spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. “He’s making significant progress. Everyone is pleased.”

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For the time being, Menino will not return to his house in the Readville section of Hyde Park because he has still has difficulty with stairs, Joyce said. Instead, he will continue to live and conduct city affairs at the Parkman House , the city-owned mansion on Beacon Street that he has called home for the last 44 days.

Parkman House has an elevator and is just a half mile from City Hall, allowing the mayor to balance municipal business and his twice-a-day physical therapy regimen.

Menino left City Hall in mid-October for an Italian cruise with his wife. He fell ill, returned to Boston, and was hospitalized with a severe respiratory infection and a blood clot. He spent eight weeks in the hospital, where he fractured a vertebra and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

After leaving the hospital Dec. 23, Menino initially confined his activities to the Parkman House. He has held at least nine public events in the mansion, including swearing in a new School Committee member, announcing that the Converse shoe company will move its headquarters to Lovejoy Wharf, and conducting a press conference with Senator Elizabeth Warren about gun control proposals.

In recent weeks, Menino has attended more events outside Parkman House, including a groundbreaking last week in East Boston, an event at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, and a North End charity benefit to raise money to fight diabetes.

He has also ventured out to dinner with his wife and attended 7:30 a.m. Mass Sunday at St. John Chrysostom in West Roxbury.

Aides have said that Menino remained in full control of city affairs throughout his illness, but his physical absence has been evident at City Hall. He has been a nearly constant presence in the building since joining the City Council in 1983. In his almost 20-year run as mayor, mid-level city employees have grown accustomed to regular access to the boss.

Menino returned to City Hall Dec. 27 to celebrate his 70th birthday and held an informal press conference in his office Jan 3. He also stopped by the building on at least one other occasion, according to Joyce. Now, trips to City Hall should once again be part of his routine, although the schedule may vary by the day.

On Monday, Menino started at Parkman House with staff time and a meeting with the group Mothers for Justice and Equality . He had an 11 a.m. physical therapy session at the mansion before heading to City Hall for an afternoon meeting about city preservation efforts. At 4 p.m., the mayor had a another physical therapy appointment at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

The next few months will be critical for Menino, who must decide by May 13 whether he will apply for nomination papers, the first in a series of steps in seeking a sixth term.