Friday, January 31, 2014

Construction at the Kittredge House: Tour Number 2

The garden level apartment,
taking shape at the Kittredge House 
A lot has happened at the Kittredge House since our last update. Today I stopped by to see some of the changes. One of the most notable additions is the work that has been done on the garden apartment, which will be on the lower level of the Kittredge House. This apartment features a bedroom in a newly rebuilt bay that extends into the backyard. A substantial amount of the interior framing has been completed, where it had just begun to be mapped out before.  Now you can walk through the apartments and see how the spaces are going to flow together.

By this point much of the original material that had been compromised by rot has been taken out. Metric has replaced a beam, as well as a lot of the structural framing on the rear of the building. The roof is being rebuilt as well. The rear area of the roof has been redesigned to accommodate the new mechanical systems. This new section is in place, which allows for the removal of part of the big blue tarp that has been covering it for so long. Finally you can see out of the cupola! Work on the cupola has also uncovered relics of the significant fire damage that the building sustained in the past.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Kittredge House coming soon, and watch the video tour of the cupola below.
-Gillian Lang, HBI Office Manager

Friday, January 24, 2014

The IRS responds to Boardwalk at long last, but is it enough to jumpstart the historic tax credit market?

Former HBI Legal Fellow, and now Associate at Kopelman and Paige, PC, Matthew Welch, has returned to update us on the state of the Boardwalk case. 

June 2013 was the last time HBI’s blog covered the Boardwalk case, in which the IRS denied the allocation of federal historic tax credits to the corporate member of a partnership associated with the rehabilitation of the Historic Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey. The June post examined the chill that had descended over the federal historic tax credit market as a result of the Boardwalk decision.  Corporate investors that developers traditionally relied upon to help finance historic rehabilitation projects stayed on the sidelines, unwilling to commit to a project without a clear understanding from the IRS on what type of partnership structure would leave a rehabilitation partnership immune from IRS challenge. HBI became acutely aware of the depth of the problem when it solicited project investors for the Alvah Kittredge House rehabilitation and received a very tepid response. In response to this market turmoil, the IRS and US Treasury promised to issue guidance that would respond to the fallout from Boardwalk and the uncertainty pervading the market.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Results Are In: The Color of the Kittredge House Is...

In last week's blog, Alice Gilmore of Building Conservation Associates (BCA) described the process of testing historic paint to determine the original colors of the Alvah Kittredge House. As promised, BCA has determined the original color of the house, which Alice unveils below.

The results are in! We found very thick accretions of exterior paint while we were on site, so we were able to get great cross-sections. The cross sections not only tell us what the original color was, but they also give us an idea how the house has been painted throughout its nearly 200 years of existence.

As I mentioned in our previous post, we viewed the cross sections under reflected (visible) light and under ultraviolet light. Normally we photograph samples at 125x, however, the accretions on our samples were so thick that we had to photograph them at 40x in order to capture the full sequence in one photograph.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Parthenons Done in Molasses Candy; What Color Was the Kittredge House?

Alice Gilmore and Brian Powell of Building Conservation Associates (BCA) recently volunteered to solve an important mystery for HBI:  what were the original paint colors of the 1836 Alvah Kittredge House?   The question came up when actor and philhellene Bronson Pinchot came to Roxbury in November and quoted Mark Twain’s nostalgic look-back to to the Greek Revival Houses of his boyhood as “….Parthenons done in molasses candy.…” Molasses?  Not the pure temple white that we typically see? BCA’s analysis will help HBI decide final colors after completion of the $3.8 million rehabilitation currently underway.  But, BCA is keeping us all in suspense on the final results; first, Alice tells us how they analyze the many layers of paint on a 178-year-old house.  The mystery will be revealed next week.