Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Video Highlights Historic Boston's Mission

Before and after photographs help tell HBI’s story, but it’s not the whole story.  They don’t always explain why historic places and preservation are important to communities.  Watch this innovative video, created by Boston University student Angela Owens, to see some of Historic Boston’s most recent projects across the city and learn why they make a difference to our neighborhoods.

Historic Boston from angela owens on Vimeo.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Sweet Lease

If the lines are any indication, the cupcake company Sweet is a new
Downtown Crossing hit. Historic Boston Inc. welcomes this very saavy home-grown Boston business as our new retail tenant at 9 School Street. They’ve been expanding rapidly with stores on Newbury Street, in Harvard Square and now Downtown. And they produce these luscious sweets daily in Hyde Park, a neighborhood within which HBI’s has some very focused preservation projects underway.
About six months ago, CEO Courtney Forrester came in to pitch her business for a space we had available after long time business Copley Flair departed. Wisely, she brought a big box of product with her (see photo) and she took the time to print up our logo on the top of each one. We all sat seriously through the meeting, negotiating square footage costs, tenant fit outs and utility payments, but after one bite of Sweet cupcakes, we were (secretly) sold.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bricks, Mortar, and Memory at Fenway Park

HBI went to Fenway Park’s EMC club recently to help launch the Red Sox organization’s 2012 celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. No other baseball park exudes the rich tradition of America’s Favorite Pastime or better embodies the exultations and heartbreaks of the sport. Bostonians are very fortunate to have a beloved, original, urban baseball park filled with our collective hopes and dreams.

Red Sox by Boston Public Library
Circa 1934 photo courtesy
of Boston Public Library
So, as a preservation organization that rehabs historic buildings, Historic Boston Inc. is delighted to put the spotlight on the enormous investment the Boston Red Sox have made in Fenway Park over the last 10 years. They did the miraculous – restored the historic elements of the building, expanded facilities and seating, all without disrupting a season. Not only do we have the historic, beautiful and intimate Fenway Park with its Green Monster; we have one of the most modern, economically efficient ballparks in the world. The Red Sox exemplified the best of historic preservation while making this great gathering place home to two (hopefully three) world championship teams.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Historic Roxbury Graveyard Conservation Underway

The graveyard next to the Eustis Street Fire House, the building that will soon be Historic Boston’s new headquarters, is undergoing an extensive conservation effort to restore and preserve its remarkable and historically significant markers. Initial conservation efforts were made in 1989 through a project that Historic Boston helped fund to restore about 100 broken tombstones. This current project is a more involved in effort. In this guest post, Josh Craine, conservator of sculpture and co-president of Daedalus Inc., explains the work.

The Eliot Burying Ground, also known as the Old Roxbury Burying Ground, was founded in 1630, and is one of the oldest burying grounds in Boston. Hundreds of slate grave markers as well as a number of table top and vaulted tombs, small monuments and obelisks adorn the burying ground with images of angels, hourglasses, floral and geometric patterns, intricate lettering and unique prose. These hand carved markers are some of the earliest pieces of art that people of European descent produced in the new world.

We are currently in the process of conserving and restoring the table top tombs, the vaulted tombs and the small obelisks and monuments that mark the graves of some Roxbury’s most prominent citizens of the 17th and 18th century.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Dot Tour Returns to Fields Corner in August

My Dot Tour is now recruiting teen guides for the second year of an innovative project to explore the past, present and future of Fields Corner in Dorchester. Starting in August, these guides will offer a unique perspective on this neighborhood story that has been developing for more than 200 years.

The tour is going high tech with a new website and interactive site markers to improve access and expand the audience.

The project originally came out of Historic Boston’s Historic Neighborhood Centers program work in Fields Corner as a way to give people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds a vehicle by which to understand the history and development of their neighborhood. My Dot Tour is now being led by the Fields Corner Collaborative , a group of non-profit organizations that want to celebrate the history and architecture of Fields Corner as a way to improve social capital and economic development while supporting and strengthening youth leadership skills.

The collaborative includes the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, Dorchester Historical Society, Fields Corner Main Street, SCI Dorchester/Dotwell, and Historic Boston. The open source technical components of My Dot Tour are being developed in collaboration with and support from MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media.

Last year’s My Dot Tour pilot project established a guided walking tour created and presented by teen guides. My Dot Tour 2011 will continue the tours this August, presenting narratives of not only the past but also the present and future of Fields Corner. The guides will develop a story to be performed during the walking tours, weaving archival materials, their own memories, and their ideas for the neighborhood.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Paint Restores Anna Clapp Harris Smith House Facade

With rain in the forecast, more than a dozen students hurried to finish painting old and newly installed clapboards on the Anna Clapp Harris Smith house, a Federal period home thought to be built on an earlier 17th century foundation at 65 Pleasant Street in Dorchester.

The students from the North Bennet Street School and Historic Boston marked completion of the project with a picnic for participants and supporters in the side yard of the stately, restored building.  

The house is much closer to its original appearance as windows have been replaced with handmade sashes – 12 panes over 12 panes – like those shown in a 100-year-old photograph. On a rear portion of the house, which perhaps predates even the main 1804 structure, actual original windows were restored with handmade wood muntons.