Friday, October 28, 2011

Archaeology at the Eustis Street Fire House

One of the biggest challenges HBI encountered during construction at the Eustis Street Fire House was excavating next to a historic cemetery that contains many unmarked graves.  Although we made every effort to minimize digging, there was no way of avoiding it altogether, since we were building a new addition behind the fire house on the footprint of the earlier stable addition, which collapsed 20 years ago.   Our new addition would not include a basement, but it needed a foundation and footings, so some excavation was unavoidable.   

Historical research revealed that the land beneath the fire house had once been part of the Eliot Burying Ground.    Further, town records stated that when the fire house was built in 1859, a “large number of human remains were thrown out in excavating for the cellar.”   It was a little shocking to learn that our predecessors would simply “throw out” the remains they encountered, and it was not clear where they would have put them – but hopefully not where we needed to excavate. 

Success Has Many Fathers….

HBI congratulates the City of Boston and Mayor Menino, Boston’s preservation community, Emerson College and Suffolk University on receipt of a National Honor Award for revitalization of the historic theaters on Washington Street at the National Preservation Conference in Buffalo last week. 

It was 15 years ago that Boston’s preservation community gathered together in a charette that would change the course of the theater district.  In a testimony to confidence and tenacity, the public and private partnership of organizations and agencies set about advocacy and technical measures that would set the stage for the excellent work of Suffolk University and Emerson College at the Modern and Paramount Theatres. 

HBI is proud to have played an active role in that effort, intervening with the BRA in the condemnation of the Modern Theatre in 2003. Then-director Stanley Smith conducted a structural assessment of the building  and secured an agreement with the BRA for removal and preservation of the Modern’s parapet masonry.  We’re recycling a blog post from 2010 that tells the story:

BIG Difference.  BIG change. Congratulations everyone!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Painting by History: Choosing Historically Accurate Paint Colors for The Anna Clapp Harris Smith House

Article written by Historic Boston's 1772 Foundation Fellow and Project Manager, Peter Erhartic

Many changes have been occurring at Historic Boston’s Anna Clapp Harris Smith House in Dorchester. Over the past year the façade as been restored back to its federal roots after a 100 year detour into Victorian detailing. But, perhaps most notable, is the progression of paint colors on the buildings front façade. When Historic Boston began work at the property, the house was shingled and brown. After the shingles were peeled back, grey clapboards were revealed. A peach primer coat was soon added, followed by a second coat of its current yellow color. In the coming year the house will be painted its final color which will be (drum roll please)…. Mannered Gold. What is Mannered Gold and how did Historic Boston choose this color? We chose the color by careful historical paint analysis, of course.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Upcoming Preservation Alliance Workshop For Religious Properties

“Before the Snow Flies….”

Preparing Your House of Worship for Winter:
A Workshop by the Boston Preservation Alliance
Saturday, October 29th, at 10 am
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 14 Cushing Ave. Dorchester

What can you do to protect your historic religious building from the rigors of the winter ahead? LOTS! Come hear Jeff Shaw of Donham & Sweeney, Architects, and Tom Nutt-Powell from Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light (MIP&L) discuss quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to minimize weather-related damage and save energy and money at the same time! Topics to be covered will include protecting foundations, walls and roofs, windows and doors; the different challenges facing masonry, wood, and metal; and how thermostats, interior "storm" windows, and added insulation can cut your energy costs and make your congregation and other users more comfortable.

Light refreshments will be served. This event is free but space is limited so advance registration is required. Please RSVP to

Thursday, October 13, 2011

100th post on our Blog

We launched the blog on April Fool’s Day in 2010 with a brief note that it would be the place to find HBI news. We followed that with a behind-the-scenes look at preservation of the Anna Clapp Harris Smith House at 65 Pleasant Street in Dorchester.

The blog has become a forum for highlighting our mission. We want to

• show that we are having a positive impact on our communities by preserving the historic places that enhance Boston’s neighborhoods.

• create a stronger future for this city by performing quality work and re-deploying historic buildings in a way that meets current market needs.

• our work to be meaningful to the communities in which they are located and for that we work closely with community partners to plan priority investments.

Monday, October 10, 2011

HBI's Dudley Square Headquarters featured in the Boston Globe

New life for city’s oldest firehouse

Dudley Square building undergoes $2.5m renovation

October 03, 2011|By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff

  • Kathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston executive director, showed old photos of the part of the building that the nonprofit is now using for its offices. A partnership between the group and the city led to the rehab.
Kathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston executive director, showed old photos… (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
Abandoned for half a century, Boston’s oldest firehouse spent decades sliding into decay: boarded-up, overgrown, and listing in the direction of Dudley Square’s Eliot Burying Ground.
Fans of history protected it from the wrecking ball in 1969 and propped it up in 1993 to prevent collapse, but the hollowed-out Eustis Street station remained too daunting for public or private rescue

Read article

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Historic Boston Dedicates New Dudley Square Headquarters

The large crowd attending the ribbon cutting of Historic Boston Inc.’s new Dudley Square headquarters was an indication of just how important this project is to the community.

More than 150 people came to tour the building, hear from Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other dignitaries and have lunch. It was a festive blending of new neighbors and long-time HBI supporters.

Dudley Square is one of the oldest commercial districts in the city and has a large  concentration of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Speakers said yesterday they look forward to a strong future for this area as these buildings are once again put to use.