Friday, August 31, 2012

What's written in stone

An example of a cherub design. This stone from the
Eliot Burial Ground  dates to 1712

HBI’s Office Manager Gillian Lang follows a fascination with the next door Eliot Burying Ground and discovers more about early Roxbury society through the imagery carved on centuries-old slate gravemarkers there.   

August first marks the one year anniversary of HBI’s move to the Eustis Street Fire House. In that time, we have gotten to know our neighbors in Dudley Square, and have frequented all the nearby businesses. We have had veritable tons of Haley House’s delicious ginger slaw, and way too many coconut cookies from Tropical Foods. However, we know comparatively little about our closest next door neighbors, the long time inhabitants of the Eliot Burial Ground. Although, the hundreds of ancient Roxbury residents buried there do not say a lot, their burial stones do. As a result we have had the opportunity, more recently, to learn a little more about who it was that lived in the area that is now Dudley Square.

In 1630 the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony created seven small villages, among them being Boston and Roxbury. That same year, the Eliot Burial Ground, then referred to as the First Burying Place, was established, making it the oldest burial ground in Roxbury, and one of the three oldest in Boston. It was in active use for over two hundred years, the last interments taking place in the mid 1800s.  Since then the Burial Grounds have served as a valuable tool for understanding the lives of Roxbury’s early inhabitants.

A Tale of Two Churches

Historic Boston Inc. is conducting physical assessments of Boston’s two oldest frame church buildings: the 1804 First Church Roxbury in Roxbury’s Highland Park and the 1806 Second Congregational Church in Dorchester’s Codman Square. 

While these two sites have deep historical connections to their neighborhoods and share the quintessentially New England meetinghouse style, today they also exemplify a growing problem for older religious buildings:  no one meets there anymore.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kittredge House Asbestos Abatement

Image of raw asbestos, courtesy of Envirotest Labs 

For all the romance of historic building preservation, one always has to face the reality that, in old buildings, there’s always the potential for finding hazardous materials which will need to be removed by a qualified contractor.  We recently hired Envirotest Laboratories, Inc. to test suspect materials at the Alvah Kittredge House for asbestos and to assist us through the abatement process.  For those unfamiliar with this process, here is a primer.

The first step entailed collecting samples of any materials that might contain 1% or more of asbestos, which were many, as the house contains a jumble of finishes that had been installed in its over 150 years of use.  Typical materials to test include floor and ceiling tiles, pipe and furnace insulation, window putty and flooring mastic, but even plaster from the late 1800s sometimes contained asbestos. 

Regulations controlling asbestos were enacted in 1985, but at that time laws allowed up to 5% of the substance to be added to materials, so manufacturers continued to use it as an inexpensive bonding and strengthening material.  In 1992 regulations were modified to lower the permissible amount to less than 1%, and manufacturers finally stopped using it as an additive.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Bank Block in Hyde Park's Logan Square

This summer, HBI was lucky enough to enlist the assistance of Haley Wilcox, a Boston University Preservation grad student, to intern with us. Among other helpful tasks, Haley spent part of the summer compiling a commercial case book of Cleary and Logan Squares in Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood. She agreed to share some of what she learned about historic neighborhood centers here in her guest blog post. Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hayden Building on LOEBlog

The Hayden Building is once more, making its presence known in the blogosphere. On July 31, Barbara Epstein, of the LoeBlog, (the blog that chronicles the work being done by past and present Loeb Fellows) just posted on it and the preservation of the building. The Loeb Fellowship is a prestigious program run  through Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Fellows are accomplished professionals in fields dealing with the built or natural environment. HBI is lucky enough to have two Loeb Fellows assisting with the Hayden Building project. Matthew Kiefer, the President of the Board of Directors for HBI, and Ronald Druker, co-chair of the Trilogy Fund, with Mayor Menino, both graduated the program.

Check out the Article here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Touring the Old and the New in Roslindale Village

RoslindaleVillage Main Streets hosted HBI Board and Staff for a behind the scenes tour of the 1911 RoslindaleSubstation and an evening stroll around the village on July 26th.  Both organizations were designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to identify a feasible re-use of the historic substation and are moving forward with plans to convert the building into a function hall and year-round farmers market on the upper floor and a restaurant/lounge on the lower floor.

It’s easy to underestimate an empty historic building from the exterior, so our group was struck by the soaring 3-story interior.  Once a space that held large transformers for electrical services to the streetcar network of Boston, the building has been closed and boarded up since 1971. The HBI-Roslindale Village Main Street team believes any development of this building should have publicly accessible uses so that this stunning interior can be experienced by many more people in a burgeoning Roslindale Village.

If there was any question about a viable market that can support new cultural or business uses in the Roslindale substation, they were put to rest by the palpable vibrancy of Roslindale Village.  High quality shops and restaurants have made this neighborhood a destination for shopping and dining.  That was obvious as we visited many locally owned shops for gourmet cheese, wine, and handmade gifts.  But, as we learned, Roslindale is a lot more.  The district supports a good size grocery store, the region’s largest independent pharmacy and a busy paint and hardware store.  A brand new 3-story office and retail building has recently been built.  Roslindale Village also has a busy commuter rail stop, a constant flow of buses, and plenty of parking around the square for visitors and commuters. 

After touring the Substation and the business district, we retreated to Napper Tandy’s for good food, drink, and conversations about the historic Roslindale we want to restore, and the contemporary Roslindale that’s perfectly ready to experience it.

State Tax Credit Allocations for Two HBI Projects

Historic Boston Inc. is pleased to announce allocations of Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits for two HBI projects, each for $300,000.   The 1836 Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury received its second allocation of credits, bringing that project’s total to $600,000 of the $814,000 for which it is eligible.  The 1875 Hayden Building in Chinatown received its third historic tax credit allocation, raising its total allocation to date to $900,000 of the $1.2 million for which it is eligible. 

The Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit is a very valuable tool for historic preservation, particularly for at-risk properties where project expenses are high.  HBI is grateful to Secretary of State William Galvin and the Massachusetts Historical Commission for their confidence in HBI and their support for these two projects.

Save the Date-Common Thread's SummerFeast 2012- August 18th

SummerFeast 2012, a gospel jamboree and jerk chicken cook-off, is almost upon us, and it is going to be a summer celebration to remember!
Join in the Festivities August 18th, 2012 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at HBI's neighbor in Dudley Square, Haley House Cafe-12 Dade Street, Roxbury, MA. Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased at:
A Nubian Notion (146 Dudley Street, Roxbury, MA)
Haley House Bakery Cafe (12 Dade Street, Roxbury)
Vaughan Fish & Chips (1 Erie Street, Dorchester)
Online at

See you there!