Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Vessel for Joyful Singing; All Saints Ashmont Nears Complete Restoration

On Sunday, December 21st at 4 p.m. the Parish of All Saints Ashmont holds its annual Service of Nine Lessons & Carols for the Christmas season, an opportunity to hear the beautiful music of the parish’s 125-year-old Choir of Men & Boys. Guest blogger Jeffrey Gonyeau, former HBI staffer, member of the Men and Boys Choir, manager of All Saints’ preservation project and resident of the Ashmont neighborhood, updates us on the restoration of Ralph Adams Cram’s 1892 masterpiece.

The 18-month construction project at All Saints, Ashmont, in Dorchester is hurtling toward completion. The frenzy of activity by the Consigli Construction team working toward the goal of completing as much work as possible by Christmas juxtaposes elements of work as diverse as touch-up painting, light-aiming, and kneeler reupholstering in the church, with installing bathroom fixtures, laying new quarry tile and reclaimed wood flooring in the Parish House addition, and striping the reconfigured parking lot.

On the one hand, it is easy at this point in a project to get bogged down with punchlists, last-minute problems, and delays caused by uncooperative weather—not to mention the fatigue induced by 18 months of noise, dust, and disruption.

UMass Boston archaeologists look below the surface at the oldest farmsteads in Mattapan and Iceland

The Fiske Center for Archeological Research at UMass Boston is performing a geophysical survey to identify any hidden and buried archaeological remains on the Fowler-Clark farmstead in Mattapan, potentially the oldest surviving farmstead in Boston. Our guest blogger is Dr. John Steinberg, who is leading the survey team.

Historic Boston Inc. commissioned the Mattapan geophysical survey as part of their vision to restore the two historic structures and maintain the pastoral setting of the Fowler-Clark farm. Today the 200-year-old farmstead sits on half an acre at Hosmer and Norfolk streets. It is not known exactly when the main farmhouse was built, but it appears on maps drawn between 1786 & 1806. The current stable dates from 1860, but there were potentially earlier versions. The UMass Boston team is hoping to find evidence of earlier stables and other outbuildings. We are using both ground penetrating radar and conductivity to attempt to identify any preserved deposits from the earlier phases of the farm, helping Historic Boston plan for preservation of the property.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

HBI Featured in Documentary on Preservation Revolving Funds

HBI was featured in a new documentary on non profit preservation revolving funds that premiered in November at the National Preservation Conference in Savannah.

Prepared in 2014 by graduate students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, for the 1772 Foundation and the National Trustfor Historic Preservation, the documentary flows from an economic impact study of twenty of the nation’s revolving funds. Click here to learn more.

New Pathways and Public Amenities in 1630 Eliot Burying Ground

Even as the cold sets in, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s Historic Burying Grounds Initiative has been proceeding with a important upgrades to the 17th century Eliot Burying Ground. Over the last several days, workers have been pulling up slabs and pieces of asphalt that are as much as forty years old.

This effort comes from a significant grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Signature Urban Parks Program to the City of Boston to make the historic site more accessible to the public. With these funds, the walkways will be replaced, the perimeter fence restored, and the puddingstone wall surrounding the site re-pointed.

The project also includes interpretive signage that will tell visitors the story of this site, its monuments and gravestone carvings, and the Roxbury families represented there since 1630. Both the pathways and signage designs are the work of KyleZick Landscape Architecture Inc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Historic Boston Thanksgiving Recipe

For this year’s Thanksgiving week blog post, we thought it would be fun to offer a recipe or two. Historians tell us that wild turkey was indeed one of the many meats served at the first Thanksgiving (in addition to shellfish, venison, duck, goose, passenger pigeon, and possibly even swan). Research into historically accurate Thanksgiving dishes yields lots of recipes that are influenced by the feast of the early settlers, but adapted for modern cooks. But isn’t it more interesting to read about how the authentic dishes were cooked and served? While smaller birds were likely spit roasted, it’s believed that turkey was cut into pieces and boiled:

Place a turkey (cut up into pieces) in a large pot filled with cold water and some salt. Simmer for about an hour, skimming away the froth that rises to the top. Remove the turkey and let it cool, then boil the water until it’s reduced by half. Add to the stock some sliced onion, a bundle of herbs (sage, parsley, savory, thyme, etc.), some cider vinegar, some butter, sugar, and pepper. Cut up the turkey into smaller pieces and add it back to the stock. Serve with “sippets” (toasted bread).

If you are not inspired to boil your Thanksgiving turkey, perhaps you’ll consider roasting the bird with a traditional New England oyster stuffing. Take a pint or two (for a large bird) of fresh oysters and their liquor and chop them finely (or put them through a meat grinder as my mother did – not an appetizing sight). Tear up stuffing bread of your choice, add salt and pepper and some old bay seasoning mix and mix in the oysters with your hands until it feels like a good stuffing consistency. Add a little water if needed and stuff it in the bird (this is best done on Thanksgiving day – don’t make it and stuff it the day before or it can go terribly wrong and make you sick) or bake it in a separate dish (safer option and will result in some nice crusty bits).

Happy Thanksgiving!

HBI Teams up on Proposal to Redevelop Upham’s Corner Comfort Station

HBI and The American City Coalition (TACC) have teamed up on a proposal to the City of Boston Department of NeighborhoodDevelopment (DND) for a community-oriented redevelopment and reuse plan for the historic Comfort Station at 611 Columbia Road in Upham’s Corner -- adjacent to the Dorchester NorthBurying Ground, a Designated Boston Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While preserving this important piece of historic architecture, HBI and TACC will partner with entrepreneur Noah Hicks, founder of Bowdoin Bike School in Dorchester, to undertake the repurposing of the Upham’s Corner Comfort Station as a full-service bicycle shop and café. Our proposal achieves three important objectives: it enhances the Upham’s Corner Main Street district by reactivating a long-abandoned building; it supports a new commercial venture for a local entrepreneur; and it expands employment opportunities, with an emphasis on skills training for neighborhood residents.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Archeology Part of Roxbury’s Parcel 8 Planning

In July, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 4363 which prepares the State-owned Parcel 8 in Roxbury for transfer to the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the city of Boston for disposition for development.  Among other things, the bill requires that an archeological survey be completed of the southeastern portion of Parcel 8 (once an edge to the colonial period Roxbury Neck) in order to understand what historical material lies beneath this area so transformed in the 1960s and 70s by the unsuccessful Inner City Belt Highway project.

That archeological work began and will end this week. It was commissioned by the property owner, the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, and is being conducted by an archeological team from DCR and the University of Massachusetts’ Archeological Services program.  The team had done considerable base research using historic maps of the area over several periods of time, and designed a methodology for digging that would give them the most comprehensive subsurface views of the site.