Friday, April 30, 2010

Giving Credit

We at HBI are very excited and grateful to have been chosen by Secretary of State William Galvin and the Massachusetts Historical Commission to receive a generous allocation of Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits for the preservation of the Eustis Street Fire House. State and Federal Historic Tax Credits are a critical source of funding for historic preservation, and competition can be fierce – many worthy projects apply. HBI competed in two funding rounds and received at total of $247,000 in State Credits for the Fire House. Combined with Federal Historic Tax Credits we will receive, historic tax credits will contribute close to 40% of our construction costs there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rehabilitation vs Demolition: Looking for the Cold, Hard (Green) Facts

Preservationists boldly claim “the greenest building is the one that is already built.” While there are good qualitative arguments to that position, the field continues to search for proof in scientifically collected performance data that differentiates new construction from existing buildings.

Last week, we hosted the 1772 Foundation here at our headquarters on School Street. While the main focus of the day was to review the status of the foundation’s recent grant to HBI and the North Bennet Street School’s Handmade Houses program, MIT's Sustainability Lab was also on hand to update the foundation and HBI on a student research project that models objective criteria for measuring the carbon use of new green construction and energy retrofits on older buildings.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breaking Ground at the Eustis Street Fire House

Please join us as we launch the rehabilitation of the Eustis Street Fire House on Saturday, May 15, 2010 – rain or shine – at 20 Eustis Street in Roxbury. Festivities begin at 12:00 noon and include remarks by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and local dignitaries followed by a neighborhood barbeque and tours of the historic Eliot Burying Ground.

After 50 years at the Old Corner Bookstore at Downtown Crossing, HBI will also make the Eustis Street Fire House its new home. This project re-affirms HBI’s belief that the preservation and redevelopment of historic places can meet current needs, restore neighborhood pride, and help urban neighborhoods thrive. Built in 1859, the Eustis Street Fire House is Boston’s oldest remaining firehouse structure, predating Roxbury’s merger with Boston in 1868. Its preservation and re-use is a testimony to HBI’s city-wide commitment to preserving at-risk historic places. It is also a practical demonstration of HBI’s desire to be closer to the neighborhoods it serves.

This day is our chance to thank many partners, supporters and funders whose generosities of time and spirit have made this project possible. It is also an opportunity to honor neighbors and friends of Dudley Square as they celebrate many years of advocacy for the Fire House’s preservation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Revealing Roxbury

Preserving an historic site like the Eustis Street Fire House may be as much about what you cannot see as what you can, particularly when that building was, in 1859, inserted into one of the earliest burying grounds in the country. Special care has been taken to survey, analyze and document both the building and the site on which it sits.

Last Saturday, an enthusiastic group of volunteers turned up at the 1630 Eliot Burying Ground behind the Eustis Street Fire House in Roxbury to begin sifting through a significant pile of dirt. It was a gloriously warm and sunny spring day – a sharp contrast to the brutally cold week in December when a team of UMass archaeologists first generated the pile. The UMass team was there to create a detailed survey of land behind the building, where HBI will reconstruct an addition to the building as part of its 2010 rehabilitation of Boston’s oldest remaining fire house. Back in December, all of the soil that was excavated was stockpiled in a corner of the burying ground where it would wait until the warmer weather, so it could be sifted and examined for important small materials that might be significant to the history of the site. With spring’s arrival, City of Boston Archaeologist Ellen Berkland rounded up archaeology students and history enthusiasts to scour the dirt pile in search of artifacts.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crossing a New Threshold in Dorchester

Those who work with old buildings know that they are always full of hidden messages and surprises. But, on a visit to North Bennet Street School’s Arlington campus last month, none of the HBI staff or board members expected to find a new finely-crafted Federal period doorway for the 1804 Anna Clapp Harris Smith House at 65 Pleasant Street in Dorchester.

HBI was there to inspect the Preservation Carpentry program’s restoration work on the windows of the 1859 Eustis Street Fire House – an HBI project in Roxbury’s Dudley Square – but were delightfully distracted by the brand new doorway, built from scratch by student Matt Diana.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Historic Boston Incorporated redevelops historic properties to help urban neighborhoods thrive.

For 50 years we have revitalized countless historic places in Boston with the belief that their preservation will meet current needs, enrich the city of Boston and restore neighborhood pride.

Look here for updates on current HBI projects, events and activities. We will share with you news that affects our mission, technical aspects of projects underway, and questions for which we may need your feedback. With time, we want this blog to be a dynamic online community that reflects the value of historic places in Boston’s ever-changing neighborhoods. Join us!