Friday, July 31, 2015

(Re)discovering Roxbury Moderns

Boston Society of Architects’ Guide to Boston,
dated 1970: Map of Roxbury/Washington Park
(above)List of distinct Properties in Roxbury/
Washington Park (below)
Guest Blogger Jennifer Gilbert is a Boston area development consultant as part of VIVA Consulting and has taught Historic Preservation Law and Finance at the Boston Architectural College.

Dusting off a shelf one afternoon, I happened on a neglected copy of the Boston Society of Architects’ Guide to Boston, dated 1970.  The yellowing pages fell open to a chapter entitled “Roxbury/Washington Park,” and I flipped through photos of rubble-strewn lots, walls spray-painted with “All Power to the People,” and a host of then-new mid-century architecture, all still-standing buildings I’d walked or driven by scores of times.  With only a little digging into the history and a morning touring a few of the sites, I have come to believe these are overlooked pieces not only of Boston’s architectural heritage but also its complex urban history.  As the buildings approach the 50-year mark and Boston considers extension of the Urban Renewal Plan which created them, it’s time to consider both architecture and history more closely.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Digging into the Past: The Fowler Clark Farm

Back in December, guest blogger Dr. John Steinberg of the Fiske Center for Archeological Research at UMass Boston wrote about his survey work at the Fowler Clark Farm in Mattapan which HBI recently acquired.  Using ground penetrating radar (GPR), the UMass team surveyed all of the open space at the farm to determine if there were any likely areas that had been undisturbed since the house was built (circa 1786) where archaeological artifacts might be found.  Today Dr. Steinberg reports on his team’s findings. 

After dragging two geophysical instruments across all the open space at the Fowler-Clark farm in Mattapan last year and analyzing the resulting data, we determined that most of the front and back yards at the Fowler-Clark lot were very disturbed by earlier occupants of the site. Upon a detailed analysis of the data, two areas stood out as having potential preservation, so our team from UMass Boston Fiske Center for Archaeological Research returned to the site this spring to excavate two shovel test pits.  The shovel test pits revealed that there are, in fact, two small, very deep layers that are preserved, potentially from the earliest occupations. 

The first targeted excavation (TE#2) is right in the front of the barn/Carriage house.  The cobblestone driveway actually goes over part of it.  The area is just at the end of the GPR line that the UMass Boston graduate students are about to traverse in Figure 1. In the raw data you can see the outline of the stone driveway (blue box in Figure 2) over the preserved surface in both A-A’ and B-B’.  The preserved surface in TE#2  (Figure 4) turned out to be an ash layer with the top of that ash layer about 70 cm (25 in) below the ground surface (Figure 5).   There was almost nothing of interest in the fill layer above the ash layer.  
Figure 1) UMass Boston graduate students pulling the GPR with 500 MHz antenna.  At the end of thiS transect (A=A’) they will be on top of TE #2.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Places to Go, People to See in Hyde Park This Weekend

All hail the weather gods. The humidity has finally broken and it is safe to venture away from the comfort of our fans and AC units and head outside. This weekend is shaping up to be ideal to get out of the house and attend events happening throughout the Boston neighborhoods. 

We at Historic Boston wanted to highlight the 6th Annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival which will be taking place this Saturday, July 25th from 4-9 pm at the DCR Martini Shell, Truman Parkway. If you find yourself in the Hyde Park neighborhood we encourage folks to check it out, hear some great jazz, and explore the neighborhood. Of course, on your way to the concert stop on by HBI’s project at the VertulloBuilding to see Gregg Bernstein’s postcard-style “Greetings from Hyde Park” mural. Have a wonderful weekend!