Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A New View Down Washington Street

For nearly 10 years now, the blighted and boarded-up Ferdinand Building (1895) and the hole in the ground behind it were Dudley Square’s equivalent to downtown Boston’s Filenes site. Many plans have repeatedly raised and dashed this community’s hope that a long-vacant building in the very heart of Dudley Square would have a new use, new jobs and a new profile.  Well, let there be no doubt:  change is here. 

The cranes have arrived, the site cordoned off, and construction is well underway on the mixed use office/retail structure that will be home to the Boston School Department and several first-floor retail spaces. For preservationists, there is great delight and some chagrin (more the former than the latter, for sure). The industry’s debate over façadectomies -- where the historic facades of buildings are preserved but all other floor and structures removed for new construction – comes into play here.  The city’s project is subsuming the entire portion of this block north of Dudley Station, a footprint that takes in the Landmark Ferdinand building at the Corner of Warren and Washington Streets, and two 19th century historic buildings on Washington Street. Today, these three buildings have been demolished except for their facades which will be incorporated into the new building.  This may not be ideal, but the forthcoming complex will be the most substantial investment in Dudley Square in the last 40 years – visually and economically.  The new building, designed by Sasaki and Associates with Mecanoo Architects of the Netherlands, mixes contemporary design with historic details.  In size, this project will bring new density and a new profile to Warren Street and Dudley Station. And it will bring 500 plus people each day to Dudley Square who will use retail storefronts, and new restaurants and will be a real catalyst for broader district activity. The City is to be commended for real leadership and risk on this project – in conception and execution. 

But these days, the construction has created an awesome sight down Washington Street: the historic Ferdinand building –stark against the sky with no windows, doors etc.  appears like a classical ruin against the sky. Combined with the construction activities, this is good energy for Dudley Square and positive things to come. 

The project will be completed in early 2015.  HBI’s offices look out toward Ferdinand, so we will occasionally update readers on activity there. You can see project renderings here. And to follow construction, bookmark this live web cam

The Alvah Kittredge House in the Boston Herald

On Friday, October 19, 2012, Ira Kantor of the Boston Herald reported on the BRA approval of funding for the Alvah Kittredge house in Roxbury. Read the article here; The BRA Grants $200G for Historic Roxbury Home Conversion

Friday, October 19, 2012

HBI Welcomes Green Paws Pet Supplies to the Vertullo Building in Hyde Park

HBI is happy to announce the arrival of a new tenant in the Vertullo Building on Fairmount Avenue in Hyde Park. In mid-November, Green Paws—an independent pet supply store that will sell pet food and accessories that are healthy for pets and the environment—will open at 80 Fairmount Avenue, in the location of a former flower shop. Owner Amber Amado, a Milton resident, is excited to open this new business in Hyde Park. She plans to be up and running by mid-November, and is planning a grand opening for the day after Thanksgiving on “Black Friday,” to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. Says Amber, “If you’re a fashionista like me, and so are your furry family members, we’ll be bringing a little downtown uptown at Green Paws. All paws welcome!”

Stay tuned for more news about the big opening.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Festive Roxtober in in Dudley Square

Mr. E. Barry Gaither and  Ms. Dayenne Walters Smith reading
poetry in the Eliot Burial Ground for Roxtoberfest.

Last week was a big week in Dudley Square. Here is a quick recap of some of the festive events.

 Last week, October 2-8, Roxbury celebrated Roxtoberfest! Roxtoberfest is a restaurant and cultural week organized by Discover Roxbury. HBI worked with the National Museum of African American Art to sponsor a tour through the historic Eliot Burial Ground. This was only one of many events that took place last week, as part of Roxtoberfest. However, we were so pleased with how it went, we hope to make it an annual production.

Last Friday, October 5, a small group gathered in the Eliot Burial Ground to get to know the space, and to experience a series of poetic readings by E. Barry Gaither and Dayenne Walters Smith. The readings were also accompanied by musical performances by Judge Milton Wright Jr., accomplished local musician and his son and grand son. The readings were chosen by Mr. Gaither and Ms. Smith, and dealt with changing perspectives on death. It was a truly beautiful event held on a beautiful fall day. We are looking forward to many more events like this in the Eliot Burial Ground. The Burial Ground is the home of many of Roxbury's early settlers, as well as some famous historical figures, and it is an important piece of the Roxbury landscape. 

Fixing broken bones: a structural engineer’s approach to preserving historic structures

Historic Boston is working with structural engineers John Wathne and Stephanie Davis of Structures North Consulting Engineers on the rehabilitation of the Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury.  Specialists in historic structures, we asked Structures North to write about their approach to identifying the structural repairs necessary in an existing building that has suffered from years of neglect and weather exposure. Here’s what Stephanie had to say:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New to the Old Corner Bookstore!

HBI is pleased to welcome Fro.Zen.Yo to the Old Corner Bookstore, replacing long-time tenant, The Body Shop. Fro.Zen.Yo is a self serve frozen yogurt store with a plethora of options. There are healthy options like Non Fat Frozen Yogurt, No Sugar Added Frozen Yogurt or Non Dairy Sorbet. However, they also have a lot of great flavor options from traditional to Maple Bacon Doughnut. Currently, Fro.Zen.Yo is only in the Washington DC area. However, you can learn more about them on their website, and look forward to eating delicious frozen yogurt in the Old Corner by next summer! The added benefit to HBI and historic preservation in Boston is the net revenue from Fro.Zen.Yo (and all the tenants at the Old Corner Bookstore building) help to support HBI operations and projects all over the city. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

HBI’s Projects in Fields Corner Contribute to District’s Blossoming, Reports The Boston Herald

Evelyn Darling, executive director for Fields Corner Main Street,
in front of the Golden Building. Photo courtesy of
The Boston Herald and photographer Dominick Reuter

On Sunday, October 7, The Boston Herald featured a lengthy story about the revitalization of Dorchester’s Fields Corner, one of Historic Boston’s Historic Neighborhood Centers program districts.  Two HBI-led projects—at the Golden Building and the Lenox Building—were singled out for their positive impact on the neighborhood not only aesthetically, but in their providing improved commercial spaces for two popular new businesses.

This is great evidence to support the idea that historic preservation can play a pivotal role in good real estate development projects that improve the economic health of neighborhoods as well as the way they look. The story rightly lauds the continuous hard work of HBI’s partners on the ground—Fields Corner Main Street, Inc. and Viet-AID—noting the many effective ways those organizations have helped drive the positive changes described in the piece. So—here’s to more good things to come for Fields Corner!

Read the article here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Boston Preservation Achievement Awards

The annual Boston Preservation Alliance, Preservation Achievement Awards were held this past Wednesday at the beautifully restored Paramount Center in downtown Boston. This year HBI was proud to be among the winners. HBI projects were recognized in two categories. The Eustis Street Fire House won in the category of Rehabilitation/Restoration Preserving Boston's Architectural or Cultural Heritage, and the Everett Square Theatre Sign won for Lighting Design in Harmony with Boston's Built Environment. For a complete list of the nights winners, click here. We are so thankful to everyone who helped in the completion of these two projects, and so appreciative of this honor!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two Views from the Scaffolds of the Hayden Building

Chris Johns on the scaffold 
Pam Bailey with HBI Board President Matthew Kiefer 

HBI is in the midst of rehabilitating the H.H. Richardson’s landmark Hayden Building into four residential apartments and one ground floor retail space.   Our architect is CUBE design + research and our contractor is Marc Truant & Associates.   HBI asked team members Chris Johns of CUBE and Pam Bailey of Truant to talk about some of the challenges of converting an existing, historic building into a contemporary use.  Here’s what they had to say.

Monday, October 1, 2012

HBI Board Member, Alex Krieger appointed by President Obama to Commission of Fine Arts

Alex Krieger, a member of Historic Boston's Board of Directors was nominated to the Commission of Fine Arts, by President Barack Obama. Among many accomplishments, Mr. Krieger is a long time professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, as well as being a founding principal of the architecture and urban design firm Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, which is now part of Chan Krieger NBBJ. 

For more about Mr. Krieger and the Commission of Fine Arts, click here

For the Official White House press release, click here.