Friday, August 29, 2014

Substantial Restoration Scheduled for Roxbury’s Eliot Burying Ground

HBI was very pleased to receive the news that the Eliot Burying Ground which lies next door to our headquarters at the Eustis Street Fire House, will receive a substantial grant from Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to improve public access and amenities for the 1630 cemetery.  Kelly Thomas, who directs the City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department’s Historic Burying Ground program, is our guest blogger with the full story on what is coming at the burying ground.

The Historic Burying Grounds Initiative, part of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, has received a grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Signature Urban Parks Program which will enable us to do some much need renovations at Eliot Burying Ground.

The current asphalt pathways are cracked and uneven, with vegetation growing through the gaps. We will replace the asphalt with concrete pavers, such as are used in the burying grounds on the Freedom Trail. The picket fence around the front perimeter of the site is in very poor condition with significant amounts of rust. We will restore this fence by removing the rust and repainting it. The areas of the fence that are too corroded to repair will be replaced by new parts. The front puddingstone wall is in good condition, but it will be repointed in order to ensure its continued structural stability. We will also be adding four interpretive signs which will provide historical information about the site and the people buried there.

The firm of Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture, Inc., is currently working on the design of this project. The construction will begin this fall and last for several months. This renovation work will nicely complement all the exciting work taking place in Dudley Square.

Embracing Historic Architecture in Building for the Future

We have enjoyed watching construction progress on the City of Boston’s new Boston Municipal Center in Dudley Square, led by Sasaki in conjunction with Mecanoo Architecten.  The project echoes many of the findings of a recent study completed by Victor Vizgaitis and Sasaki that underscores the meaning of historic architecture to Americans and, as Victor states, particularly to Bostonians. 

Recently, we at Sasaki Associates fielded a nationwide study of 1,000 people living in six major American cities to understand the state of their city experiences. Respondents hailed from San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. With Boston’s plentitude of significant and beautiful, historic architecture, it is no surprise that Bostonians were the most interested, of any regional group, in historic buildings – 63% of Bostonians acknowledged that they “stop to admire buildings that are historic.” Given the local interest, it is especially important to give attention to planning, designing, and building in ways that preserve existing neighborhoods and buildings but also add to the future landscape. To do this, we must design in the context of the historical trajectory of Boston building. We must ask, how does this new construction extend the conversation and create a new history that builds on what came before?

Answering this question requires dialoguing with people who live in this city. We conducted this survey as part of a broader Sasaki effort to understand how people actually experience their environments. We design and build not just for the benefit of building owners or landlords, but also – and importantly – for the people who are going to use, experience, and inhabit these spaces every day.  It is not just about how much real estate value one can squeeze out of a parcel of land. It is this process of questioning and answering with all involved parties that makes for great environments that serve people and communities.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Roslindale Substation Development to Break Ground September 6th

On Saturday September 6th at 11:00 a.m. Mayor Martin J. Walsh will join HBI, Roslindale Village Main Street and project developer, Peregrine Group LLC for a public groundbreaking for Parkside on Adams, the new development in Roslindale that includes 43 new residential units, anchored by the restoration of the 1911 Roslindale Substation

When built in 1911 the Roslindale Substation functioned as part of the Boston Elevated Railway Company's then-revolutionary alternating electric current power system.  Designed by Robert S. Peabody of the Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, and built by the Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation, the Substation converted alternating electric current (AC) transmitted from a new South Boston Power Station via underground cables into direct current (DC) for use by local trolley cars.  Placement of a substation in Roslindale Square in 1911 reflects the area's growth as an urban neighborhood after annexation by the City of Boston in 1873.   Electric trolleys expanded to Roslindale in the 1890s, and construction of elevated railway stations at Dudley Square in 1901 and Forest Hills in 1906 only made this neighborhood more accessible to thicker settlement.

The Roslindale Substation, vacant since 1971, will become a destination restaurant by Chris Douglas of the Ashmont Grille and Tavolo in Dorchester.  The combined residential and commercial project, estimated to represent a $17 million investment, will transform the eastern edge of Roslindale Village.  HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street were designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2011 to examine feasible re-use scenarios for the former MBTA building.  The two non-profits pursued several re-use scenarios but the Higgins family’s decision to sell its funeral home and related land next door, changed their planning.  Roslindale Village Main Street and HBI pursued development partners to take on both the new construction and historic rehabilitation of the Substation and identified Rhode Island-based Peregrine Group.  

We hope you’ll join us on Saturday September 6th at 11 a.m. at 4236 Washington Street in Roslindale for a long-awaited celebration of renewal for the Substation and the Roslindale community

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Joyful Evening on Linwood Street

Mayor Walsh said it best: “I’m proud of the Alvah Kittredge House because this iconic but long vacant property is an investment that creates housing for the future while respecting the building’s storied past.”

While the past was clearly present on the evening of August 11th at 10 Linwood Street, the dedication, open house and picnic in Alvah Kittredge Square Park were festive reminders of how important the newly restored house is to the Highland Park community today.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Things are Heating up in Roslindale

Whoever said “patience pays off in the end” must have been thinking of the redevelopment of the Roslindale Substation. The stars are finally aligning for historic preservation work to begin on the Substation with the final designation from the BRA anticipated to occur this month paving the way for work to begin this autumn. Along with masonry restoration, the monumental copper clad doors facing Adams Park will be restored and new windows will once again open the building interior to light and views to Adams Park; making it a perfect location for the destination restaurant being planned by Chris Douglass known for the Ashmont Grille and Tavolo in Dorchester

Redeveloping the Roslindale Substation was made possible in great part, by purchasing the adjacent Higgins Funeral Home site and leveraging it to attract Peregrine Group as a development partner along with HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street. Both the Substation and the adjacent Higgins’s site are being developed in tandem with construction of the Parkside on Adams, the residential component, beginning soon.  To that end, demolition of the adjacent Higgins Funeral Home is currently underway to make way for the residential piece of the development. It’s great to see work on the site finally happening -- another “patient preservation project” moving forward. 

The official ground breaking for the development is scheduled for 11 AM Saturday, September 6th. Stay tuned for further development news as construction progresses.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mayor Walsh Signs onto National Petition to save the Federal Historic Tax Credit

BOSTON – Mayor Martin J. Walsh has signed the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s petition to save the federal historic tax credit. This tax incentive is responsible for encouraging billions of private dollars to be invested into historic, income producing properties and has long been a proactive tool for developers and individuals who wish to restore historic structures throughout the city. 

Read the Rest of the Press Release

Dress With Confidence Opens in the Vertullo Building

Mayor Martin J. Walsh was on hand Saturday to cut the ribbon on Dress With Confidence, a new shop at the historic Vertullo Building at 84 Fairmount Avenue in Hyde Park.   Owner Yolanda John, a native of Barbados, has training in fashion design and accounting and has been tailoring and making custom clothing from her home in Dorchester.  At this shop, she’ll sell handmade clothing and custom designs, and jewelry made with semi-precious stones. 

There is new momentum in the Hyde Park Main Street district and that was underscored Saturday by Mayor Walsh’s stops-in at several new businesses including a ribbon cutting at the Briar Rose on Hyde Park Avenue.  He even got a preview of a new restaurant-to-be-named-later, under construction at 11 Fairmount Avenue in the space formerly occupied by The Hyde and Dottie’s. 
HBI is embarking on Phase 2 of the Vertullo Building rehabilitation, but we are both happy and grateful that entrepreneurs like Yolanda are our partners in activating one of Hyde Park’s earliest commercial structures.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Governor and Mrs. Dukakis Preview the Kittredge House

HBI hosted a special visitor to the Alvah Kittredge House this week.  Former Massachusetts Governor and Northeastern University Distinguished Professor Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty stopped in to visit HBI at the 1859 Eustis Street Fire House.  Boosters for Dudley Square and supporters of HBI, Governor and Mrs. Dukakis got a first-hand look at HBI’s preservation work at the fire house, and a sneak preview of the nearby Alvah Kittredge House with construction superintendent Kevin Keesey of Metric ConstructionCompany.