Thursday, August 27, 2015

Save the Date! Join HBI and Mayor Walsh to Announce New Direction for the Historic Fowler Clark Farm on Monday, September 28, 2015, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM

Please join Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, The Trust for Public Land, North Bennet Street School, Historic Boston Inc. and the Mattapan Community at a special celebration on  Monday, September 28, 2015 5:00 PM-7:00 PM at the historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm at 487 Norfolk Street in Mattapan. We will be announcing exciting plans to transform the 18th century farmhouse and barn into an urban farming education training center.

Join local residents and friends for a behind the scenes look at Mattapan’s oldest property, and at 6:15 p.m. everyone will join in a Community Photograph with Mayor Walsh in front of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. Locally sourced refreshments will be served. We’ll meet rain or shine.

Refreshments, hard-hat tours, and an open house -- don’t miss out! We hope to see you there!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A More Resilient Fowler Clark: Preparing a Historic Farmhouse for Climate Change

Photo: HBI 201412
Photo: HBI 201412
Boston architect Susan Pranger has been blogging with HBI over the last month with focus on climate change and its effects on the maintenance and materials of historic buildings.  The buildings at HBI’s prospective project at 1786 Fowler Clark Farm in Mattapan were among those Susan used in her capstone project at the Boston Architectural College to model some of her recommendations for preparing historic structures to withstand the impacts of new weather associated with temperature changes.

The biggest threat from climate change to buildings like the historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is the projected increase in rain and humidity, aggravated by higher winds, temperature and UVB rays.  After discussing how climate change will threaten wood structures, the question remains:  What can we do to make historic buildings more durable in the face of climate change?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mattapan Neighbors Gather at the Fowler Clark Farm Cookout

Last week Historic Boston Inc., along with The Urban Farming Institute (UFI) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) invited friends and neighbors of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm to a community cookout and conversation in Mattapan. It was a gorgeous summer evening and an atmosphere of excitement and curiosity about the property paired with the familiar aroma of a summer barbecue wafting down Norfolk Street helped to draw a crowd of over 100 neighbors and friends.

Food was provided by the Urban Farming Institute, whose mission is to “contribute to healthy people and sustainable cities by promoting and creating self-sustaining urban farming enterprises and farming jobs.” Beyond the staples of hot dogs and hamburgers (and veggie burgers), UFI provided farm fresh salads and side dishes from potatoes, beets, greens and other produce from their urban farm sites.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Alvah Kittredge House to be Awarded BPA Award in October

HBI is proud to learn that its rehabilitation of Roxbury’s Alvah Kittredge House (1836) will received a Boston Preservation Alliance Award in October. 
The $3.8 million project, completed in August 2014, transformed the long-blighted Greek Revival mansion into five residential units, two of which are designated affordable housing.  Built in 1836 for Roxbury businessman Alvah Kittredge, it was later owned by prominent Boston architect Nathaniel Bradlee and the 1970s-1980s headquarters of Roxbury Action Program.  Vacant since the early 1990s, the building was very nearly lost to severe deterioration.
Nevertheless, HBI was able to gain control of the property in 2011 with the help of the City of Boston and community leaders, and raise more than $1.3 million in charitable contributions through its Trilogy Fund capital campaign in 2012-2013.

HBI has already been honored by the Massachusetts Historical Commission this year with one of its Massachusetts Preservation Awards, and Preservation Massachusetts also awarded HBI and the Kittredge House a Paul E. Tsongas Award at its May 2015 awards ceremony.

HBI is grateful to the Boston Preservation Alliance for its support and for the honor of receiving one of its distinguished preservation awards. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

HBI Visits Newton Community Farm

Last week, HBI joined staff from the Urban Farming Institute to visit Newton Community Farm (NCF). Located on the historic Angino farmstead in Newton, MA, the city-owned site spans nearly 2 ¼ acres. Newton Community Farm is a nonprofit organization that strives to educate the community on sustainable agriculture and provide fresh, locally-grown produce through a CSA program and farm-stand. The tour helped inform planning of the Fowler-Clark-Epstein farmstead in Mattapan, recently acquired by HBI, which will be rehabilitated as a working urban farm site.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Climate Change and the Historic Fowler Clark Farm

In June guest blogger/architect/Boston resident Susan Pranger wrote about the potential future impacts of climate change on historicbuildings.  In part two of her blog, Sue discusses possible climate-related damage to wood at the 1786 Fowler Clark Farm in Mattapan, which was recently acquired by HBI.  Her next installment will discuss possible strategies to mitigate future damage to historic fabric at the Farm.

To limit future damage to the c. 1800 Fowler Clark Farmhouse, it is helpful to understand how changes in temperature, solar intensity (UVB), humidity and rain patterns can increase the rate of weathering and deterioration of wood structures from moisture, rot, fungus and insects.

The 2013 structural inspection by Structures North indicates that the original c.1800 hybrid timber framing is softwood and has extensive damage from powder post beetles, some recent. The increase in temperature and humidity projected in New England can make wood more attractive to microorganisms that are capable of biodegrading the wood and can also create a habitat more favorable to the insect, allowing their numbers to increase or causing the boundaries of their habitat to decrease, enlarge or shift.

Different species of both hardwood and softwoods perform differently due to variations in density and the type of chemical extractive. Old growth wood, as in the c. 1800 timber frame, is denser, and therefore more resistant to moisture damage than new lumber
Diagram of Softwood and Hardwood cells (Timber Construction n.d.)