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.