Friday, September 23, 2011

HBI Acquires Historic Hyde Park Building

Current photo of facade

1965 Bostonian Society photo showing early storefronts;
note Baptist Church in the background



Historic Boston is pleased to announce the acquisition of the historic Vertullo building in Hyde Park’s Logan Square for a planned rehabilitation next year.

Located at 74-84 Fairmount Avenue in Logan Square, the Vertullo Building is thought to be one of the few surviving commercial structures from the period of Hyde Park’s early commercial development in the 1850s and 1860s. Built in the late 1860s and then expanded with new storefronts in about 1895, this is one of the priority properties that HBI and its Historic Neighborhood Centers program partners identified together in a 2008 work plan for the program in that district.


It has been our genuine pleasure getting to know building owner Carmela (Vertullo) Pearce during the course of our discussions to purchase the property.  Carmela’s father, Pasquale “Patsy” Vertullo, bought the building in 1932 and operated a cobbler shop and shoe store there for almost four decades. Carmela has lived in the building most of her life, and is a walking treasure trove of neighborhood history.  While Carmela makes plans her own future, she is happy to be shedding her property management duties, which have been her responsibility for quite some time.



Historic post card of view down Fairmount Avenue
Current view of Farimount Avenue
Architecturally, the building represents a once-common style of wooden, Second Empire style buildings that lined Hyde Park’s major commercial corridors, including Fairmount Avenue, River Street, and Hyde Park Avenue. Its mansard roof is perhaps the most recognizable architectural feature of this style. Many of the houses built by the neighborhood’s original settlers were built in this style, and several survive today on Fairmount Hill and elsewhere.  However, only two commercial structures of this type remain in Cleary and Logan Squares, making this building a rare survivor from Hyde Park’s past.

Glimpses of the building in historic photos that HBI found in the collection of the Hyde Park Historical Society and at the Bostonian Society tell us that it originally featured a slate roof, clapboard siding, and two-over-two windows with operable shutters. The photos also shed light on the original appearance of the storefront additions. Historical evidence such as this will help to guide HBI’s eventual restoration of the building, planning for which is beginning this fall.

Not a lot will change immediately at the building, which has five commercial and four residential tenants.  HBI will undertake improvements to the building over the course of a few years and will most likely begin with rehabbing the storefronts next summer after a planning period this fall and winter. Our ultimate goal is to restore the architectural features of this historically significant local structure and to demonstrate the economic value of sensitive building improvements and sound real estate management. 

We are looking forward to this exciting challenge, and to putting down deeper roots in Hyde Park—a neighborhood rich with historic resources and many opportunities for historic preservation related investments.

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