Monday, December 30, 2013

Celebrating the Roxbury Russet

This fall Discover Roxbury hosted a talk by apple authority John Bunker, founder of Fedco, a Maine seed, tree, and garden supply company with a focus on organic growing.  The topic of the evening was America’s oldest apple variety, the Roxbury Russet, which was developed right here in Roxbury by Joseph Warren, father of patriot Dr. Joseph Warren.  The elder Warren was a successful farmer in Roxbury until he fell from a tree in his orchard, receiving injuries that resulted in his death.

John Bunker seems to know everything there is to know about apples – far too much to repeat here. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

APTNE 2014 Annual Meeting and Symposium: Innovative Adaptive Reuse of Historic Structures

 This coming year on Friday, February 7, 2014, APTNE will be holding our Annual Meeting and Symposium at New Old South Church in Boston's Back Bay.  The symposium will focus on the topic of Innovative Adaptive Reuse of Historic Structures.  The symposium will begin with longtime preservation engineer Robert Silman as our keynote, along with nine additional lecture presentations on diverse aspects of adaptive reuse in preservation. APTNE, the Northeast Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology, encompasses the areas of New England, New York State, and Northern New Jersey.  As the local chapter, APTNE North East is committed to supporting professional engagement within this large geographic community with regional and local preservation events.

Register for the event here.

Winter Conditions No Matter for Hyde Park Project Team

After many months of planning, we are pleased to announce that the Vertullo Building storefront rehabilitation has at last begun.  Try as we might to have all of the pieces into place so that we could begin the work in the warm weather,  it didn’t work out that way and our contractor, MJ Mawn and his team had to bundle up to begin demolition this week in the snow.  Fortunately, we anticipate the work to only take a couple of months, barring any unforeseen complications.

The attached rendering shows the storefronts returning to an appearance similar to their original 19th century look.  More glass, restored transoms, and elegant lighting and hardware are all part of the plan, as well as improved heating and air conditioning.  We look forward to sharing our progress in the weeks to come and a final unveiling for all, perhaps in the spring after exterior painting can be completed.  Three of the five “new” storefronts will be available to rent in March.  Please contact us if you or a business you know might be interested in moving in!

Friday, December 13, 2013

HBI Welcomes Elizabeth Bronshteyn

I’d like to say hello to all the readers of the HBI blog.  My name is Elizabeth Bronshteyn. I’m a resident of Brighton and  I am a new intern at the HBI. I am working on ways to quantify the social and economic impacts of HBI’s pipeline of ongoing and completed projects.

My background is in history of architecture. I recently graduated Harvard and wanted to gain experience in urban planning before embarking on a journey towards graduate school. An internship with HBI is a dream coming true. Not only do I get to employ my research skills and education in art history, but I also get to be a part of a vital revitalization process in Boston.

The first week at HBI was full of exciting experiences. Kathy Kottaridis invited me to the December Board meeting, where I met many passionate members of the Board and its Advisory Council. I have also invited to meetings with architects and contractors, and had a tour of the Alvah Kittredge House in construction.

I’m looking forward to working at HBI. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Video Tour of the Kittredge House!

The Kittredge House is now 25% complete, and the apartments are getting framed out, which is an exciting step in the construction process.  The renovated Kittredge House will have five apartments. There will be two on the first floor, two on the second floor, and a garden apartment on the bottom floor. On this video tour, we took a look at one of the second floor apartments (the apartment in yellow on the plan). I am filming from the center hall on the second floor, and then panning from the entry way into the apartment (see the red indicator on the plans). Towards the end of the video, take note of the woodwork around the windows. That woodwork is original, and has been stripped of paint. The original shutters that folded up on the sides of the windows, as well as many other wooden details are being stripped down offsite, and will be returned to the Kittredge House soon.

Those who have been by the Kittredge house recently might have noticed some other changes to the exterior of the house. Notably, the columns are gone! Don't worry. They will return. Two of the columns are being restored, and four new replica columns are being created to replace the columns that had deteriorated too much to be used.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eastern Bank Approves Partnership Grant to HBI’s Trilogy Fund

HBI is pleased to announce that the Eastern Bank Charitable Fund presented Historic Boston Inc. with a generous $20,000 grant toward rehabilitation of the historic Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury for five mixed income housing units. 

Committed to contributing meaningfully to the health and vitality of Massachusetts communities, the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation’s grant to HBI helps to advance the organization’s Trilogy Fund, HBI’s $1 million capital campaign for three buildings, and specifically helps to complete the Kittredge House’s preservation and its conversion to mixed-income housing.

“We are delighted to have the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation’s support for our work.” said HBI Executive Director Kathy Kottaridis.  “This is a financial institution that understands the needs of Boston’s neighborhoods and makes investments that make a difference there.”

The Kittredge House’s rehabilitation will be completed in June 2014.  The third of three “Trilogy Fund” projects, the 1868 Vertullo Building in Hyde Park, begins construction this month.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Celebrity Visit to the Kittredge House

Bronson Pinchot pays a visit to Kittredge House
November 25, 2013

Fan conventions like the one held over the weekend at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center make Bronson Pinchot feel a little sad. The actor best remembered for playing Balki on “Perfect Strangers” (or perhaps Serge in “Beverly Hills Cop”) says the experience of meeting his devoted following in a too-bright hotel ballroom “is not psychically enhancing.” What does that mean? “You sit there like the last muffin and people go by and decide if they want you,” he said. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eustis Street Fire House Earns LEED Silver Rating

HBI recently learned that the Eustis Street Fire House has earned a LEED Silver Certification from the United States Green Building Council. LEED is a rating system that  quantifies the efficiency and environmental impact of a building. For New Construction/Major Renovations, a project has to earn between 50 and 59 LEED points to be certified as LEED Silver. We are very proud that the Fire House has achieved this level of certification and grateful to our team of designers, contractors and engineers who worked hard to earn this honor. This news comes on the heels of our learning that the Hayden Building achieved LEED Platinum, the highest rating awarded by the USGBC, which just goes to show that the reuse of existing buildings is not only a culturally important act, but a sustainable one as well.

To learn more about the Fire House and how it achieved LEED Silver, read the article below from

Eustis Street Fire House recognized for energy efficiency
By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent
November 25, 2013

The Eustis Street Fire House, the oldest remaining firehouse in Boston, recently earned a LEED Silver certification, which recognizes the structure’s energy efficiency and environmental impact.

HBI Gets Behind the Scenes Tour of the Parish of All Saints, Ashmont

Last Friday, November 8th, the staff of Historic Boston Inc. received a behind the scenes tour of the work being done on the Parish of All Saints in Dorchester. The Parish is in the middle of a huge restoration project, which you can learn more about by reading this recent HBI blog post on the restoration. The post is by former HBI staff member, Jeffrey Gonyeau. Jeff is currently running the Parish's Capitol Campaign, and was our extremely knowledgeable tour guide for the afternoon. We all donned hard hats, and followed Jeff from basement rec room to lofty bell tower, and everywhere in between.

The Parish of All Saints was the first church designed by noteworthy American architect, Ralph Adams Cram. Beyond getting to see the work in progress, we all very much enjoyed the opportunity just to take a closer look at the building itself. We were taken by the intricacy of the carvings that decorate both the inside and outside of the building. Inside, finely detailed angels are carved into every nook and cranny, and outside a eccentric gaggle ofgargoyles stand guard. These gargoyles were especially visible when we were perched on the roof of the tower, which was certainly a highlight of the tour. After entering through a secret door, we hiked up turn after turn of a narrow circular staircase, to emerge on the soaring roof of the All Saints bell tower. From our roost we were able to see for miles across the autumnal expanse of the city. From our perspective, downtown Boston’s distant skyline emerged from a sea of autumnal oranges, reds and yellows.

It is certainly a changed view from the one that Cram would have taken in during the tower's construction. However, with the current restoration work being done, the way we were experiencing the building would not be so far from the way that Cram would have. Every aspect of the restoration has been meticulous. From the care taken to replicate the color of the grout being used, to the delicate releading of the stained glass windows. Great pains are being taken to ensure that the result of this work will align with the vision that Cram had for the building over one hundred years ago.

That being said, the church is to house a modern congregation, with needs that Cram could not have anticipated. Certain changes have to be made to the building in order to ensure that it keeps pace with modern regulations, and programmatic demands. For example, to ensure accessibility to all visitors, the front entry to the parish has been redesigned. However, this redesign was done in the same stone as the rest of the building, which makes the transition from old to new construction smooth and seamless. As with any redesign of an existing building, it is necessary to balance the old with the new. A building has to evolve with its inhabitants, but it should still celebrate it's past. It is always tricky to balance that equation. However, it is clear that they are doing it successfully at All Saints.

We recommend following the progress at the All Saints Restoration Photo Blog.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Kittredge house in the 20th Century

We are pleased to present the second installment of Kittredge architect, David Amory's blog post on the history of the Alvah Kittredge House. This post highlights the life of the house from the 1890's to the present. 

Roxbury Action Program
With continued development in Roxbury, rising real estate values in the 1890s led to the sale of the Alvah Kittredge House property and the relocation of the house. Bradlee’s wings were removed, the landscape gardens erased, and the main building - with its colossal portico intact –lifted, rotated, and squeezed down next to Linwood Street between new row houses where it stands today.

In 1969 RAP purchased AKH as the headquarters for its mission to build a model black community and pick up the pace of Roxbury’s community development. As reported by the Center for Community Economic Development (1978), AKH became RAP’s center of revitalization for the house and, more so, the neighborhood. RAP’s mural, “Modeling a Black Community” by artist James Reuben Reed, a collage of Highland Park with images of community activists, a freshly painted AKH cheek-by-jowl with boarded-up row houses, and a bright green park, filled one wall of the AKH stair hall; it was recently removed and relocated to Roxbury’s National Center for Afro-American Artists.

The Many Architects of the Kittredge House

This week, we are pleased to have David Amory, architect of the restoration of the Kittredge House, as our guest blogger. As current architect of the building, he has an interesting vantage point from which to view the decisions made by previous designers.

The restoration and redevelopment of the Alvah Kittredge House – so what’s the big deal? Why not tear it down and start over, and for a lot less money? Well, it is a big deal - not just preserving and reinventing this remarkable house in Roxbury’s Highland Park, but preserving the vision of its stewards over nearly two centuries. In 1836 Alvah Kittredge realized his “Grecian” dream; in the 1880s Nathaniel Bradlee fashioned a gracious home in the Victorian age and opened his lushly planted grounds to the neighborhood; years later AKH became the home of RAP (Roxbury Action Program) reflecting a new vision for a black community; and now, after years of vacancy and deterioration, Historic Boston is channeling resurgent development into Alvah Kittredge House for 21st century living.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

BE Local: Waterworks Museum Stewardship Charrette Workshop

When: Friday, November 8, 2013 from 8:30am-5:00pm 
Where: The Waterworks Museum, 2450 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02467 
Cost: FREE!
Join Jean Carroon of Goody Clancy, James Petersen of Petersen Engineering, Inc., and William Rose of the University of Illinois for a full-day workshop on developing a long-term stewardship plan for an irreplaceable Boston landmark: the Waterworks Museum. Among other issues, this trio of building energy experts will discuss:
Architectural preservation
Energy efficiency
Mechanical system design in historical buildings
New ways of thinking about how water interacts with masonry exteriors
This workshop is targeted at architects, general and specialty contractors, engineers, preservation consultants, energy-efficiency consultants, and executive directors and board members of non-profits who own historic buildings. Workshop attendees will earn AIA CEUs.
Learn more here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Community Photograph Honors National Register Listing for Roslindale Substation

More than 250 people joined HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street on Saturday, October  19th for an open house and community photograph to honor the listing of the 1911 former MBTA switching station on the National Register of Historic Places

Led by Mayor Thomas Menino, the photo memorialized another important benchmark for this project’s revitalization through the development team of Roslindale Main Street, HBI and Peregrine Group LLC.  With this designation, the Substation’s rehabilitation qualifies for Massachusetts and Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

On Tuesday, October 22nd, Peregrine LLC received zoning approvals from the City of Boston for construction of 40 new apartments on the Higgins Funeral Home parcels around the Substation. That portion of the project is expected to begin in early 2014.  The development team of HBI, Roslindale Main Street and Peregrine are currently negotiating with local restaurants for use of the substation as a .  We hope to have an announcement about that soon.

Saturday’s photo captured the spirit and enthusiasm for community investment and historic preservation in Roslindale.  Stay tuned for more.  

HBI In the News! Redevelopment of Roslindale Substation OK'd By City's Zoning Board

Redevelopment of Roslindale Substation OK'd By City's Zoning Board
Patrick Rosso
Town Correspondent
October 22, 2013

A project by Historic Boston Inc. that proposes converting the Roslindale Substation and surrounding property into a restaurant and housing was approved by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday morning.

Plans call for the conversion of the century-old substation, located at 4228 Washington St., into restaurant space with the adjacent F.J. Higgins Funeral Home property being redeveloped to house 43 units of rental housing.

Vertullo Building Storefront Rehabilitation Underway

Thanks to the continued success of the HBI Trilogy Fund Capital Campaign and a recent ReStore grant from the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, the Vertullo Building in Hyde Park, the third of the HBI Trilogy buildings, will undergo the first phase of a rehabilitation program. 

Beginning in November of this year with anticipated substantial completion by the end of 2013, the entire first floor commercial storefront will go through a complete reconstruction with historically appropriate detailing. 

Along with being reminiscent of the original historic storefront, the new design will increase the display window areas for greater visibility into shops and provide a more pedestrian friendly urban retail shopping experience. In support of continued economic development of the Hyde Park Main Streets District, HBI anticipates three new retail tenants in the spring of 2014. 

Discovering Cousin Anna

This week we are linking you over to the blog "The Handmade House", written by Stacey Cordeiro, the owner of the Anna Clapp Harris Smith House in Dorchester. Stacey bought the house after HBI and the North Bennet Street School worked to stabilize it. Her blog documents the work that she is undertaking to renovate her beautiful old Boston home. In this post, Stacey shares the research that she has done on the house's past owner, Anna Clapp Harris Smith, best known for being the founder of the Animal Rescue League. We hope that you enjoy her post as much as we did, and that you keep checking in on Stacey's amazing work, at

According to Massachusetts Town & Vital Records 1620-1988, Anna Clapp Harris Smith’s given name was Ann Sarah Harris.  She was born on July 23, 1843, and was known as Anna all her life.  Her brother Samuel was 3 years older than she.  The family lived at 65 Pleasant Street in Dorchester MA, the house which her mother, Anna Larkin Clapp, had inherited from her father, Samuel Clapp.  Anna’s father was the printer William Harris, who moved into his wife’s parents’ house with her to start their family.

Read More Here

Monday, October 21, 2013

Insight into the life of Nathaniel Bradlee, a resident of the Kittredge House

Below is an exerpt from “In memoriam, Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee: born June 1, 1829, died Dec. 17, 1888” which was written in 1888, the year of Mr. Bradlee's death. It includes a lovely description of the Kittredge House as it was when Bradlee lived there. Besides being an early resident of the Kittredge House (1870-1888), Nathaniel Bradlee was a prominent Boston architect, as well as the president of the Cochituate Water Board. 

"The home in the early years of married life was on Tremont Street in Boston, adjoining the house of his father, Mr. Samuel Bradlee; but for the last eighteen years it has been in Roxbury in what was known as the Kittredge place, on Highland Street. This is one of the historic spots in Roxbury. On the summit of the rocky terrace where rises now Mr. Bradlee's observatory, there stood in Revolutionary days the "Lower Fort," the earliest built by the colonists. With its neighbor, the "Upper Fort," which crowned the height where the Cochituate stand-pipe now is on Fort Avenue, it commanded Boston Neck and the road to Dedham, and these two strongholds were considered very important strategic points by Lee and Washington. In the early years of the present century, when the sound of the minute-man's pick and spade had long since ceased on this rocky height, the place lapsed into its former peaceful condition, and was known as "Dr. Porter's cow-pasture." As late, however, as 1826, the ramparts had not been injured, and the embrasures were still shown where the cannon had opened fire upon the royal forces. When Deacon Kittredge, in 1836, built his house, he found that the breastwork of the old fort obstructed the light on the west, and it was removed. At present, only slight traces of this ancient fortification are to be seen.

It was this estate which Mr. Bradlee bought in 1870, and by rebuilding, improving, and decorating made it the attractive place it is. Here he delighted to welcome his friends, whether in the informal visit or the larger and more ceremonious gathering. Few homes bore so fully the impress of its master's thought and taste and care in its interior decoration and furnishing, or its exterior surroundings. Almost every object, painting, vase, bronze, or marble, had for him a special interest or history, and so was a real pleasure to him; and this pleasure he liked to share with friends. Indeed, there never was a selfish keeping to himself or his family of the pleasant things which had fallen to his lot; the flowers, fruit, and vegetables of his well cultivated garden were often distributed, and Thanksgiving and Christmas were made the occasions for a generous remembrance of neighbors and friends.

The happy inspiration occurred to him one summer of a series of open-air concerts in the observatory. This "music in the air," ninety feet above the audience, was heartily enjoyed, not only by the specially invited guests grouped on the piazza, but by the thousand or more listeners who lived or had gathered in the vicinity, and for whose pleasure it had been quite as much planned.

But nothing, perhaps, better illustrated this kindly spirit of Mr. Bradlee than the wide-open gates, which thus invited visitors, day after day, year after year, into the pleasant grounds, where, as in a public park, little children were free to play, tired invalids to rest, and the passer-by to make it a convenient thoroughfare. A consideration for others, quite as unusual, perhaps, was that which characterized his dealings with those in his employ; and when feeble health or advancing years unfitted them for their former active service, he still took care that their needs were supplied".

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hayden Building Achieves LEED Platinum

Historic Boston is excited to announce that our recent rehabilitation of H.H. Richardson's Hayden Building has achieved LEED Platinum certification in the LEED for Homes category. Developed and implemented by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a standard that rates the energy and resource efficiency of a building.  Platinum is the highest rating awarded, and very few historic rehabilitations have achieved this honor.  The oldest LEED Platinum building in the world is right here in Lowell, Massachusetts – the 2006 rehabilitation of the 1839 St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, now the United Teen Equality Center.

Many who work in historic preservation make the case that saving old buildings is the most environmentally responsible building practice there is in that it is less wasteful - materials are retained rather than thrown out, and the "embodied energy" that went into original construction is not entirely lost by tearing down and starting anew.  But there are times when preservation is thought to be in conflict with modern energy goals.  Old windows and walls tend to leak, and insulating effectively can be a real challenge.  Such was the case with the Hayden Building, where our original goal was to achieve LEED Silver rating.  With the help of our talented design team lead by Cube design + research, our builder, Marc Truant & Associates, and Conservation Services Group, our LEED consultants, we were able to far exceed our expectations (Read a December 2012 blog post by Gabe Baldwin of Conservation Services Group about the LEED process at the Hayden Building). Thank you to all who helped us accomplish this proud achievement. Find out about other LEED certified historic buildings at

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Art of the Hayden Building

With the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of H. H. Richardson’s Hayden Building now complete, Chris Johns, Partner at CUBE design+ research, would like to share more on how their research informed elements of project design and inspired CUBE’s art and interpretive installations throughout the building’s public spaces.

CUBE set out with the premise that not only were we rehabilitating this historically significant structure but we were also preserving the ideas and time periods that shaped it.  We began the project with extensive research on the evolution of the neighborhood over the last 140 years and even traced the building's commercial occupants as seen here.

The character of a place is established by the people that inhabit it regardless of the building, which for the Hayden Building shifted radically. Because the neighborhood centered on the production of textiles during the end of the 19th century, its occupants were mostly clothing and hat shops. After a mixture of businesses during the 20th century, the Hayden Building became a focal point of adult entertainment in the 1960’s as the neighborhood turned into the Combat Zone, Boston’s red-light district.On the edge of Chinatown and the Theater district, this Nationally Registered Historic Landmark was gutted by fire in 1985 and remained vacant until its reuse today.

Preview the Upcoming Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference

We are excited to present our guest blogger for this week, Mary Cirbus. Mary is graduate student at Boston University in the Preservation Studies Department, and she has played a large role in the planning of this years Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference, which this year will be held in Lexington. She has agreed to give us an insiders view of what we can expect to experience at that conference. 

 On October 18th, the Massachusetts Preservation Coalition will present the 2013 Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference in Lexington, Massachusetts. This conference will be the first preservation conference hosted by the Massachusetts Preservation Coalition and the first state preservation conference in 6 years. As a final-semester graduate student in Preservation Studies at Boston University, it is fitting and fortunate that my time as a student will culminate in a gathering of preservation professionals, educators, advocates, and volunteers from across the state. As a student in transition to a (hopefully!) professional, it is an exciting endeavor of which to be a part.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Join Us for an Open House and Community-Wide Photograph at the Roslindale Substation

To celebrate the Roslindale Substation’s listing on theNational Register, Historic Boston, Roslindale Village Main Street and Peregrine LLC will host an Open House and Community-Wide Photograph at the Roslindale Substation on Saturday, October 19th –rain or shine. The Substation will be open from 10 a.m. until 12 noon and the Community Photograph with Mayor Menino and local officials will be taken at 11 a.m. in front of the Substation at 4228 Washington Street in Roslindale Village.  

Everyone is welcome

Visit for more information.

Friday, September 27, 2013

All Saints, Ashmont, Restoration Charges Forward

This guest blog post was written by former long-time HBI staffer Jeffrey Gonyeau who, since last March, has been working on the All Saints restoration project providing fundraising services and other project support. Please feel free to contact him at if you have any questions about the project.

Early this summer, the comprehensive restoration project at All Saints, Ashmont, in Dorchester shifted into high gear as Consigli Construction began the first phase of work.

Phase I of the project focuses primarily on roof replacement on the church and roof repair on the adjoining Parish House, complete masonry repointing, stained glass window restoration and other window repairs, the creation of a new accessible ramp and landing at the primary tower entry to the church, and the installation of new, larger bathrooms in the Parish House.

This work has required the complete scaffolding of both the exterior and interior of the church and Parish House. What seems like acres of green, protective scrim netting almost completely obscures the building, creating a new “Green Monster” in Peabody Square.  The bright green scrim is actually visible in the distance on the southern horizon from inside tall buildings in the Back Bay, some 6 miles away.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Old Filene’s Building to Get New Life

On Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 Millennium Partners broke ground on their next big project in Boston. The project, called Millennium Tower, is located at Downtown Crossing and will be part restoration and part new construction, as it fuses the old and much loved Filene’s Building in with a stunning sixty-story glass tower. The reactivation of the Filene’s building has been a dream since the store closed in 2006. The structure holds a special place in the hearts of many Bostonians who remember holiday trips to Filene’s or the deals found in the inimitable Basement store.

Filene’s was started in Boston in 1851, and grew to become the “World’s Largest Specialty Store”, and to revolutionize the way that people shop. The landmark Filene’s store on the corner of Washington and Summer Streets was opened with much fanfare in 1912. Placed prominently in the heart of Boston’s downtown shopping district, Filene’s hired one of the most famous American architects of his day, Daniel Hudson Burnham who was known for his design of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Union Station in Washington DC, and the Flatiron Building in New York City. However, he had also become the premiere architect in the emerging field of department store design. As a result, the Filene building was created specifically for the modern shopper.

In its new incarnation, Burnham’s famed building will once again serve the tailored commercial needs of the people of Boston. This is not the first development project that Millennium Partners has undertaken in the Hub. They are currently putting the finishing touches on Millennium Place, an upscale condominium building further down Washington Street. They were also developers of the new Ritz Carlton hotel and residences on Avery Street, completed in 2001, so they know first-hand that the woes of the Combat Zone are over, and that Downtown Boston is, in fact, an attractive and centrally located place to live. With this in mind, Millennium is trying to outfit the Burnham building, and its connected tower with the needs of a modern apartment dweller. They just finalized a deal with local grocery company, Roche Bros., which will be tenants in the remodeled building and the first full-service grocery store downtown. So, once again the building will be supplying every day needs to the hustle and bustle of a growing downtown residential neighborhood.

Historic Boston is so pleased to see that Millennium Partners has taken on another catalytic restoration project in the heart of Boston. HBI holds an easement on the Albany Building, a preservation project completed by Millennium in 2007.  They have a proven track record of devoting themselves to the revitalization of urban downtowns through thoughtful development, and their work in Boston is no exception. In yet another act of support for Preservation in the Hub, Millennium Partners also made a significant contribution to HBI’s Trilogy Fund last week, for which we are very honored and grateful.

We look forward to seeing Burnham’s famous Filene’s Building returned to its original splendor.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Boston’s Next Mayor and Historic Resources – Surveying the Candidates

As Boston's mayoral candidates sprint towards the primary, they are constantly finding themselves in neighborhoods whose very character is defined by historic buildings and landscapes.  A recent survey by the Boston Preservation Alliance shows that the candidates universally acknowledge the positive role of historic buildings and preservation efforts on the city's growth and success.  With 9 of the 12 candidates responding, most state that preservation is important to the city's character and an important part of the role of the mayor, though there is not a consensus on how to fund, regulate and promote preservation efforts going forward.

Every candidate responding to the survey (see below for a full list) indicates that historic preservation plays a positive role in Boston's success andenhances the city's desirability as a place to work and play. The majority of the candidates believe that historic preservation has “enhanced a great deal” the city's desirability as a place to work, operate a business and invest in real estate, echoing a common theme of the Alliance.  Only candidates Michael Ross and Robert Consalvo believe that preservation plays only “some role” in enhancing Boston as a good place to work/operate a business and Ross sees only “ little” impact of preservation as a good place to invest in real estate and development.  Others feel that preservation has a “great deal” of influence in those investments.

The candidates were almost evenly split on the question of whether Boston's historic resources have been adequately protected in the past decade (Conley, Consalvo, Ross, Richie – yes) (Arroyo, Barros, Walsh, Connolly, Walczak – no) -- possibly reflecting the dichotomy between the current Mayor's many preservation successes and the simultaneous limitations of the current system with respect to analysis, planning and funding. All but one candidate would strive for greater protection of Boston's historic resources (Walsh choosing “no opinion”)  and additional funding (Consalvochoosing “no opinion”).

Friday, September 13, 2013

The IRS vs. South End Homeowners, Round 2

Boston's Historic South End
In part one of this story, the IRS was not successful before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in disproving the validity of the preservation easement created by a South End couple. While the appeals court acknowledged that the couple arguably failed to conform to the letter of the law in the Internal Revenue Code, the court found the IRS’s interpretation of the code to be unduly rigid. In the court’s eyes, the IRS’s expectations stifled Congress’s intent in creating the preservation easement tax deduction. Much to the chagrin of the South End couple, however, the story did not end there. The appeals court sent the parties back to tax court to resolve another issue; not only did the IRS believe the preservation easement that the couple donated to the Trust for Architectural Easements was invalid, it also argued that the true value of the donated easement was zero.

A homeowner that grants a valid preservation easement receives an income tax deduction equal to the value of the easement, essentially the difference in fair market value of the property with and without the restrictions placed on the property by the easement. In essence, the IRS’s argument is that because the South End couple’s 19th-century row house was already subject to the South End Landmark District preservation restrictions imposed by the Boston Landmarks Commission, the preservation easement the couple donated to the Trust placed no additional restrictions upon façade changes to the row house’s Venetian Gothic exterior. In other words, the IRS contends, the difference between the row house’s fair market value with and without the easement is zero since the restrictions imposed by the easement already existed due the home’s location in a designated landmark district.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Roslindale Substation Listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

HBI  is pleased to report that the Roslindale Substation has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

"The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources".

Read more about the substation, it's history, and what it means to be on the National Register here.

Connect Historic Boston Wins $15.5 million Federal Grant

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the City of Boston has been selected as a recipient of a $15.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER discretionary grant, to fund alternative transportation projects under the “Connect Historic Boston” initiative.
“Connect Historic Boston” will create safe, attractive, and easy-to-navigate pedestrian and bicycle connections between two of Boston’s most prominent assets: the public transit system and the City’s historic treasures. TIGER grant funding has the potential to generate a sea of change in the use of alternative transportation modes by residents and visitors to experience Boston’s rich history. The projects will reinvigorate local businesses and generate a new slate of tourism-related jobs. Funding from the TIGER grant will be used for the reconstruction of a decades-old and inadequate system of paths and sidewalks that bring people to and from Boston’s historic sites.  Designs are ready for four major projects: The Blackstone Block, Constitution Road, Joy Street and a Connect Historic Boston Bike trail.

More information can be found here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

IRS Loses Challenge to South End Homeowners’ Preservation Easement

Much like the historic rehabilitation tax credit, private donations of historic preservation easements have been an effective federal-level historic preservation initiative. The Internal Revenue Service, however, launched a broad investigation into perceived abuses of the easement program over the last few years. One such investigation led the IRS to challenge deductions claimed by a Boston couple that donated a façade preservation easement—restricting exterior changes to their mid-19th-century row house in the South End, notable for its Venetian Gothic-style façade—to the Trust for Architectural Easements.

The Internal Revenue Code provides an incentive in the form of an income tax deduction to taxpayers who donate a property interest for conservation purposes to a nonprofit or government entity. Owners of historic homes often take advantage of this tax benefit by granting a preservation easement in their property, which restricts their right to modify the exterior of their historic home. To be eligible for the tax deduction, the preservation easement must be in perpetuity. This means that the nonprofit or government entity to which the homeowner grants the easement can enforce the easement’s restriction against modifications of the home’s exterior against not only the owner who grants the easement but also against all future owners of the historic property. In return, the homeowner that grants the easement receives an income tax deduction equal to the value of the easement, essentially the difference in fair market value of the property with and without the restrictions placed on the property by the easement.  

Some historic preservation nonprofits assist homeowners in qualifying for this tax deduction, and HBI is a good example of one. In fact, HBI currently holds seven preservation easements in its portfolio. In return for assisting a homeowner qualify for the deduction, HBI serves as the recipient of the preservation easement and manages the enforcement of the restrictions that the easement places on the historic property. Similar to other nonprofits, HBI typically also requests a contribution from the homeowner to compensate HBI for both assisting the homeowner in creating the easement and for HBI’s ongoing enforcement of the easement. The contribution is usually a percentage of the value of the ultimate tax deduction the homeowner receives for donating the easement to HBI. HBI also places easements on its own projects in order to monitor its investments after the properties are sold to willing buyers. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kittredge Mural in the News!

Historic Roxbury Mural Relocated

Patrick Rosso
Town Correspondent
August 26, 2013

The mural that adorned the foyer of the Alvah Kittredge House will now call the National Center for Afro-American Artists home, after it was relocated so it wouldn’t be damaged during the restoration of the historic house.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Boston Business Journal Features Frozenyo and the Old Corner Bookstore

Frozenyo Expands into Boston with High-Profile Downtown Crossing Space
August 26, 2013
By Jon Chesto
Managing Editor
Boston Business Journal

When Matt Coombs started looking for a space in Boston to open a Frozenyo franchise two years ago, the concept of self-serve frozen yogurt was still a relatively new one here.

Coombs finally found his space and opened his store earlier this month. By now a number of out-of-state self-serve chains have entered the market, led by the fast-growing Orange Leaf.

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