Friday, February 5, 2016

Tracing History through Spoken Word: Brandeis Students Begin Oral History Project on the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

With buildings dating to the early 1800s, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (FCE Farm) itself is testimony to the agrarian history of Mattapan.  The more recent history of Mattapan as an urban neighborhood is no less intriguing.  In the 1960s, the neighborhood surrounding the farm transformed dramatically, as Jewish residents moved out, and African-American families moved in to Mattapan.  Such transitions happened in many US cities during this time; in fact, in the fall of 1971, when Michigan senator Philip Hart convened three days of subcommittee hearings in Boston to investigate the causes and consequences of neighborhood transition in Mattapan, a subcommittee staff member told the New York Times that “We believe that the set of events in Boston illustrates what is going on all over America” (in Gamm 1999:13).   The specifics of neighborhood change in Mattapan have been the subject of remarkable legislative and scholarly attention (Levine and Harmon 1992; Gamm 1999).  However, problematically, very little scholarly attention has been paid to Mattapan in the years since it became a center of the African-American, Haitian, and Caribbean immigrant communities of Boston.  As one community partner commented, there is “almost nothing written” about the history of people of color in the neighborhood.   Related, we have been told that more recent popular narratives about the neighborhood tend to focus much more on its challenges than its many strengths.

Friday, January 29, 2016

HBI Forges Partnerships to Increase Capacity for Neighborhood Revitalization- Preservation Partnering - Part III

This is Part 3 and the last in a series of blogs in which HBI’s Jeffrey Morgan presents preservation partnering scenarios and the opportunities they present to steward historic and long vacant or blighted properties to new economic uses. Part 1 discussed the redevelopment of the Roslindale Substation in partnership with Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) and HBI’s for-profit partner, Peregrine Group, LLC. Part 2 presented the planned redevelopment of the historic Fowler Clark Epstein  farm in Mattapan in partnership with three other non-profits, Urban Farming Institute (UFI), The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and North Bennet Street School (NBSS).

Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen, Upham’s Corner, Dorchester

The preservation of historic buildings is not only about the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the building structure. It also includes the need to find compatible uses and, within the historic tax credit structure, income generating businesses in a rental structure – therefore tenants. In addition, given that many historic buildings in neighborhood business districts have small size retail spaces, the work of preservation often follows the path of small startups or what are often called “micro” businesses which are generally defined as single owner-operator enterprises that typically have less than 10 employees.

Finding the operators of these micro businesses for historic rehabilitation projects can be challenging and their business models are often risky which is why, in part, market driven real estate developers are often not interested in the smaller historic redevelopment projects. So a preservation partnership model that couples non-profit preservation real estate developers with micro-business entrepreneurs through the work of an organization that provides financial support for both the real estate developer and technical assistance for the business owner can leverage the capacity and skills of all partners to maximize the potential for greater success and effectiveness in neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization.      

A big thank you to our supporters in 2015!

Historic Boston is very grateful to everyone who supported the organization’s end-of-the-year fundraising campaign. You – our donors– are also our partners in preserving Boston’s past and building strong neighborhoods.   
All donations to HBI- large and small- helped at year’s end, and launched a healthy new year for HBI with exciting project activity planned or underway in Roslindale, Upham’s Corner, Mattapan and Roxbury  
A few highlights of things to watch for:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Boston Landmarks Commission Names Roxbury’s Kittredge House and Downtown’s Winthrop-Carter Building Boston Landmarks

Historic Boston reported in December that the Boston Landmarks Commission entertained the petition to name the 1834 Alvah Kittredge a Boston Landmark, but we are honored to announce this week that the Commission formally designated the property a Landmark.    At the same time, the Commission also landmarked the Winthrop-Carter Building at One Water Street in downtown Boston, a structure built in 1894. 

Both of these architecturally and historically important buildings will be afforded a high degree of protection, requiring all property owners in the future to seek approvals for exterior improvements or changes to the structures.  By doing so, the architectural integrity of the buildings will be preserved.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen Needs You!

Dorchester entrepreneur Noah Hicks recently launched an Indie Go Go campaign to raise $50,000 of start-up capital for his new business -- The Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen in the historic Upham’s Corner Comfort Station.   
A bike repair and coffee shop, Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen is located on Columbia Road near the new Fairmount line and will be a transformative project in the Upham’s Corner neighborhood, adding jobs, fostering a local business, and enhancing a blighted building.  In a short time, Sip and Spoke has raised over $8,000 of the $50,000 funding need.   

Friday, January 8, 2016

An Evening with HBI's Friends and Neighbors

HBI held its annual holiday open house this past Tuesday evening at the Eustis Street Firehouse. Friends and neighbors braved the cold to gather for a celebration of 2015’s successes and raise a glass to the promises of 2016. 

Our guests enjoyed food and drink from local businesses in Dudley Square, including Castillo BeerWine & Liquors, Haley House Cafe and Dudley Café

Thank you to all those who attended, and to those who could not, you were missed, but we look forward to seeing everyone in 2016!  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

HBI's Top 10 Achievements in 2015

HBI is looking forward to an exciting 2016, but we're taking a moment to reflect on 2015 and a year of great accomplishment. Here's our list of HBI's top ten successes of 2015:
  1. Wine Gallery opened for business at the 1875 Hayden Building in Chinatown
  2. Mayor Walsh and the Hyde Park community gathered in May to celebrate the completion of the Vertullo Building, now home to five small businesses and four housing units
  3. After 12 years as HBI's president, Matthew Kiefer passed the torch to Kathleen MacNeil