Monday, June 28, 2010

Rounding out Roslindale Village

Last week, we shared a few of the buildings that had been selected for HBI's Commercial Casebook in Roslindale Village (the week before, we told you a bit about the history of Roslindale Village). Today we have the balance of the Roslindale Casebook Chapter. HBI believes that  if the following buildings were rehabilitated or rethought, that they could could strengthen the economic viability of the commercial district.

Through conversations with neighborhood stakeholders, tours of the district, and a lot of research into the history of Roslindale’s built environment, Historic Boston identified the following properties to list in our Commercial Casebook, along with some information about the buildings’ significance.

Parkway Building: The Parkway Building is a two story building located on the corner of Washington and Poplar Streets, with the primary fa├žade facing on Washington Street. The distinctive parapet features decorative panels separated by bold piers topped by ziggurats. Building permits show that the Parkway Building replaced a 1 ½ story wood stable building that was razed after two horses fell through the floor in the middle of the night. The building was developed by John Basile of Basile Realty Company, a local contractor that developed several commercial and residential parcels in Roslindale (including the commercial building at 4196 Washington Street, on the corner of Basile Street). He hired Maurice Levy, a relatively unknown Boston architect who also designed residential homes in Jamaica Plain’s Woodbourne neighborhood. Levy designed an underground extension in the rear to accommodate plans to build bowling alleys in the basement of the building. The first floor has always contained commercial retail uses, such as pizza shops, bakeries and hair salons, while the second floor was used for office space. The attractive Art Deco commercial block is a significant character defining feature for the commercial district.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Party at 65 Pleasant Street!


There was a party at the Anna Harris Smith house on Wednesday night. Over 60 neighbors, friends, and representatives of the North Bennet Street School, the Animal Rescue League, the Dorchester Historical Society and Historic Boston Incorporated mingled on the lawn of 65 Pleasant Street on a balmy summer evening. Many explored the house, peaking into its several rooms and examining period details like Federal style mantles and fireplaces, all while experiencing the tilting floors and those lovely crooked walls.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Selected Properties from the Roslindale Village Commercial Casebook

Last week, we told you a bit about the history of Roslindale Village and introduced Historic Boston’s Commercial Casebook. This week we’re presenting a summary of Roslindale Village’s most historic buildings that, if rehabilitated or rethought, could strengthen the economic viability of the commercial district.

Through conversations with neighborhood stakeholders, tours of the district, and a lot of research into the history of Roslindale’s built environment, Historic Boston identified the following properties to list in our Commercial Casebook, along with some information about the buildings’ significance.
Roslindale Substation: Located in the middle of Roslindale Square, the Roslindale Substation is an electrical power conversion and transmission station, constructed as part of the Boston Elevated Railway's rapid transit system in 1911. Designed in the Neo-Classical style by architect Robert S. Peabody, the Substation converted alternating electric current (AC) transmitted from a new South Boston Power Station via underground cables into direct current (DC) for use by local trolley cars. The construction of the substation in 1911 also marks a time when Roslindale was expanding and becoming a very popular residential and commercial neighborhood. The electric trolley car system helped to spur on that development and settlement. Today, the Substation is owned by the City of Boston and is awaiting redevelopment. Once rehabilitated and with the establishment of a new use, the Substation will be an anchor for the district and activate this section of Washington Street across from Adams Park.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Historic Boston's Commercial Casebook: Profile on Roslindale Village

While Historic Boston’s Jeffrey Gonyeau is currently working on projects in the Fields Corner and Hyde Park commercial districts with HBI’s Historic Neighborhood Centers program, Shelby Graham is working her way around the city as the project manager for Neighborhood Field Services, compiling information about historic resources in 17 other neighborhood commercial districts.  With the goal of identifying places whose preservation will contribute to their neighborhood’s economic strength, Shelby also seeks to build relationships with neighborhood representatives and property owners, giving them a link to HBI should they wish to pursue a redevelopment project or need technical support. After a year of this work, HBI has built a lot of good will and support for preservation as a part of Main Street activity in Boston, while creating a valuable database of pivotal historic commercial buildings in Boston’s neighborhood commercial centers. This will be useful to policy makers, property owners, local organizations and city-wide preservation leaders going forward.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Behind the Scenes at the Anna Clapp Harris Smith House


How often do you get to see the inside of many privately held historic houses, particularly before they’ve been restored? Here’s your chance. The public is welcome to join us at 6:30 PM on June 23rd as Historic Boston Incorporated and the North Bennet Street School host an open house at the Anna Clapp Harris Smith home at 65 Pleasant Street to present the history or the site, preservation plans underway, and a sneak peak inside the house to see building elements that mark the earliest period of house (1804).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Anticipating the Future in Allston

HBI received several calls last week from neighbors to the Palestinian Cultural Center for Peace and Yousef Mosque at 41 Quint Avenue in Allston. The newest owner of the property, Anwar Faisal, has been making significant landscape changes to the south side of the property with dirt and fill meant to re-grade the sloping landscape for parking. Wasn’t there something that could be done to stop it? Known historically as the Allston Congregational Church, this beautiful 1891 Richardsonian Romanesque church building was home to a vibrant congregation for more than 100 years until 2003 when its shrinking membership decided to sell the church to another religious denomination.