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 Boston.com.

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.