Thursday, May 27, 2010

MyDotTour: Connecting Fields Corner Youth—and Us!—with their Neighborhood’s Past

Historic Boston is excited to be partnering with mytown, Inc. and several Dorchester-based organizations to develop MyDotTour—a program of youth-led historic walking tours of Fields Corner, one of HBI’s Historic Neighborhood Centers program districts.

MyDotTour’s local partners also include the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, the Dorchester Historical Society, Dotwell, Fields Corner Main Street, Inc., and the Vietnamese-American Civic Association. MyDotTour represents the first time that such a variety of organizations in Fields Corner with varying missions has come together to work on a project, and it will be the first successful attempt to develop a tour program like this in Dorchester.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Block Party Kicks off Rehabilitation of New HBI Home in Roxbury

Historic Boston Incorporated kicked off construction at the Eustis Street Fire House last Saturday with a festive “Revival” for 200 neighbors and friends on Eustis Street in Roxbury. It was a long awaited celebration of local history and Dudley Square’s revitalization. By most estimates, it was also a triumph of patience and dedication.

The distinctive brick building on Eustis Street in Roxbury, built in 1859, was in peril from years of neglect. Twenty years ago, HBI was instrumental in installing large wooden supports to keep the walls from falling down. Over the years, many have hoped that the building would be redeveloped with a new use, but no one was sure what to do with the small building.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Vision Thing: 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue Project

If we’ve learned anything from HBI’s Historic Neighborhood Centers program so far, it is that commercial property owners often need some special convincing before embarking on a preservation-based improvement project.

By late summer, HBI will begin construction at 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue in Fields Corner, and the building’s unattractive bronze-color corrugated metal siding is at the top of the list of things to go.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


HBI’s paper and electronic files for the Eustis Street Fire House are thick with 31 years of efforts to save the building: a 1981 Boston Landmarks Commission study report that placed the fire house in the Eustis Architectural Conservation District; the 1979 HBI Casebook calling the Fire House one the most threatened places in the city; a 1991 letter that pleads with the City’s Public Facilities Department (PFD) to remove a half-fallen ell so as not to destabilize the whole building; a 1992 proposal to PFD from HBI with elaborate architectural drawings to restore the building with three housing units and a retail space that was never acted upon; and there’s a whole set of engineering specs and drawings from HBI to PFD for a wooden bracing system meant to arrest the building’s precarious lean toward the Eliot Burying Ground which, this time, was acted upon by the City (click on slideshow below for letters, casebook entries, old photographs, and more).

No matter. In the world of historic preservation, patience is a virtue. In their incremental ways, these efforts – along with many others from Roxbury’s concerned neighbors and friends – are culminating with victory. We launch the rehabilitation of the Eustis Street Fire House on Saturday, May 15th at noon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May is Preservation Month!

What makes a place important to you? A personal experience? A family memory? An interesting story? A place of beauty or familiarity?

If you take a look at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, you can see images of people holding white signs in front of places from across the country, all of them telling that world that “This Place Matters." The photographs, individually and collectively, are poignant reminders of the range of places and stories that make up the human experience. In this industry, too often we honor photos of historic buildings --the “before” and “after” shots – as static representations of architecture and style. This campaign does something different: it spotlights places through the eyes of the people who care about them.