Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Roxbury: Back to the future of Economic Re-development - Part 2

This is Part 2 in the series of blogs whereby HBI’s Jeff Morgan synthesizes the history of Roxbury Neck to help inform the direction in which new Roxbury developments may shape the future of the neighborhood. Check out Part 1 - Early Roxbury before the Revolutionary War

The Impact of the Revolutionary War on the Industrialization of Roxbury

Prior to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) Roxbury prospered. Agriculture and animal husbandry remained important to the town’s economy. Throughout the century animals were still allowed to graze in common areas. Other economic ventures included textile mills, ropewalks, a piano factory, a clock factory, lumber and stone yards, salt works, tanneries, slaughter houses, grist mills, and a chocolate mill. Following the Revolution, Roxbury Street (present day Washington Street) became a busy thoroughfare moving surplus and merchandise to and from the city.

Following the Battle of Lexington during the Siege of Boston in 1775, the American army constructed a substantial fortification called the “Burying Ground Redoubt” across Roxbury Street (present day Washington Street) just south of the Burying Ground where the Way to Dorchester (present-day Eustis Street) began with its front nearly on the southerly line of the road (Figure 4).

The redoubt provided protection to the town from British soldiers leaving Boston. On June 17 the men of Roxbury marched to the meetinghouse and then to the burying ground. Roxbury suffered considerable damage during the Siege. Under Washington’s command a number of houses were removed along Roxbury Street. Following the Revolution remains of forts and earthworks were evident on the landscape and all buildings between the redoubt and the Boston neck had been destroyed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Join the Roslindale Substation Hard Hat Tour

MAY 20 | WED | 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM ǀ TOUR 

Please join Peregrine Group, Historic Boston and Roslindale Main Streets for a hardhat tour of the Roslindale Substation. The building is being rehabilitated into a restaurant after sitting vacant for over 40 years. Built in 1911 for the Boston Elevated Railway Company, the Roslindale Substation was an electrical power conversion and transmission station. Designed in the Neo-Classical Revival style by Stone and Webster Engineering Company and architect Robert S. Peabody, the Substation converted alternating electric current (AC) transmitted from a South Boston Power Station via underground cables into direct current (DC) for use by local trolley cars. Revolutionary technology for the day, this system generated and distributed power at lower costs. Tour will be on an active construction site– please dress accordingly. 

4228 Washington St., Roslindale. Free and open to the public. 

Presented by: 
Historic Boston Incorporated ǀ www.historicboston.org 
Peregrine Group LLC ǀ www.peregrinegrp.com 
Roslindale Village Main Streets ǀ www.roslindale.net 
Contact: Lisa Lewis | lisa@historicboston.org | (617) 442-1859 (ext. 28)

Learn more about the other Preservation Month activities HERE

Join Mayor Martin Walsh and HBI to Dedicate the Restored Vertullo Building in Hyde Park on Saturday, May 9th!

Please join Historic Boston IncorporatedHyde Park Main Streets, and special guest, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, to dedicate the restored Vertullo Building at 74-84 Fairmount Avenue in Hyde Park on Saturday, May 9th at 12:30 p.m.  The celebration honors Hyde Park's rich history and dedicates the  $1.3 million rehabilitation of this property including the opening of three new small businesses in the Hyde Park Main Street district.

The day’s festivities include dedication of the renewed building, official opening of three new businesses, and a community photograph with Hyde Park neighbors and friends.

CLICK HERE to register

Built in 1868, the Vertullo Building is likely the oldest and only surviving wooden commercial building in this district from the first years of the Town of Hyde Park.  It is a good example of the Second Empire style, popular in the 1860s when Hyde Park was incorporated as a town and new civic and commercial buildings were constructed along River Street and Fairmount Avenue near Hyde Park's two major rail lines.   Located opposite the Riverside Theaterworks and adjacent to the Fairmount Avenue MBTA Commuter station, the Vertullo Building is a highly visible historical anchor to Logan Square. The property has survived largely intact because it has been in the hands of the Vertullo Family and their descendants since 1932.  

We hope to see you on May 9th!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Roxbury: Back to the Future of Economic Re-development - Part 1

HBI’s Jeff Morgan synthesizes the history of Roxbury Neck to help inform the direction in which new Roxbury developments may shape the future of the neighborhood.

Since HBI redeveloped the Eustis Street Fire House in Roxbury for its new home in 2011, there has been increased attention on the overall redevelopment interests in the Dudley Square, Roxbury area. The redevelopment of the Ferdinand Building as part of the recently dedicated Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, now home and headquarters for the Boston Public Schools, and the recently opened new Tropical Foods grocery store are just part of the recent cycle of development activity in Dudley Square and the Eustis Street Area with much more anticipated in the near future.

The history of Roxbury Neck and the evolution of Lower Roxbury will inform new development in Dudley Square and Roxbury. As HBI monitors the future potential for additional redevelopment including the Owen Nawn Factory and Parcel 8, we would be remiss in not pausing to consider the history of the Eustis Street Area and the many periods in Roxbury’s economic and land development history. Much has been written about this history which is rich, extensive, and significant. The following background will set the context and will be posted to the HBI blog in three parts over the course of the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Eustis Street Architectural Conservation District and Protection Area

By way of context, the Eustis Street Area of Roxbury is a designated Architectural Conservation District. It is centered around the Old Roxbury Burying Ground (present day John Eliot Burying Ground) and includes the Josiah Cunningham House, the Jesse Doggett House, the Eustis Street Fire House, and the Owen Nawn Factory (Figure 1). The boundaries of the District are roughly Washington and Eustis Streets, Harrison Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

The District is a unique collection of sites and structures which represents the post-Revolutionary history of Roxbury's commercial and industrial development -- a continuous history of Roxbury from its origins as a farming village through nineteenth century industrialization.

To understand that significance let us glimpse back into a bit of the history of is development.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

HBI Receives Tsongas Award for Alvah Kittredge House

Historic Boston Inc. (HBI) is honored to be recipient of a 2015 Paul E. Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts Inc. for rehabilitation of the 1836 Alvah Kittredge House.

Named for the late US Senator Paul Tsongas, whose leadership pioneered the renewal the city of Lowell through investments in its historic core and factory buildings, the award is presented annually to people or projects that advance preservation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This year 30 projects from across the state will be honored at a gala event on May 6th at the Copley Plaza hotel.

The Alvah Kittredge House’s $2.5 million rehabilitation was completed in 2014 by HBI, transforming a rare Greek Revival period mansion from a severely deteriorated structure to five two bedroom apartments, two of which are designated Affordable.
Founded in 1985, Preservation Massachusetts is the statewide non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to actively promoting the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes as a positive force for economic development, tourism and the retention of community character.

HBI is grateful to Preservation Massachusetts, and honored by this award.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Boston’s Old Corner Bookstore Anchors New Literary Cultural District

A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; -- not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”
Henry David Thoreau,

Boston’s new Literary Cultural District highlights Boston’s rich tradition as a literary, writing and publishing mecca. And while there are gobs of stories to tell and great authors to highlight from over 400 years of history, we think it’s time to revisit the history of our own flagship property, the Old Corner Bookstore, and the many great works published there.

Built in 1718, the Old Corner Bookstore’s colonial appearance is deceiving. While it is downtown Boston’s oldest commercial building – built as an apothecary shop and house – it is most significant for having been the headquarters of the great publishing house Ticknor and Fields from 1832 to 1865. From this place, great works of literature were launched from some of the greatest and most distinctive American voices of that period: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne were also launched here. The firm published the Atlantic Monthly from here, and they were also was among the first American publishers of Charles Dickens’ work, and the author enjoyed two visits to Boston during his long career.