Monday, November 30, 2015

The Gift that Makes History

In this season of giving, we are grateful for your support and hope you will join us before the end of 2015 with a tax deductible contribution to Historic Boston (HBI). 

Thanks to you, 2015 was a banner year of achievement for us. In addition to announcing the plans to convert the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm for farming and food-related education, HBI has completed transformational projects throughout the city, including:

  • The $1.9 million renewal of Hyde Park’s Vertullo Building (1868), restoring the exterior of the building to its 1890s appearance and upgrading systems and interiors for four residences and five new retail spaces.  
  • Designation to restore the long vacant Upham’s Corner Comfort Station in Dorchester (1912), a rare surviving arts and crafts style building associated with expansion of the streetcar system in Boston for a bike repair shop operated by local Dorchester entrepreneur Noah Hicks. 
  • Start of construction on the 1911 Roslindale Substation, repositioned as a new destination restaurant by Dorchester entrepreneur Chris Douglass, surrounded by 43 new apartments in Roslindale Village.

Perkins + Will to Lead the Design Team in Redeveloping the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

It is with great pleasure that HBI announces the addition of Perkins + Will (P+W) to the design team for the renovation and redevelopment of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm to become the home and headquarters for the Urban Farming Institute (UFI).

P+W approached HBI through UFI and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), two of our development partners, with the purpose of committing the resources of their pro bono program and Social Responsibility Initiative (SRI) to the important work of renovating and repurposing of the historic Fowler Clark Epstein house and barn and designing of the landscape around the ¾ acre Mattapan site for urban farming.

5 Reasons to Give to HBI on #GivingTuesday December 1st, 2015

1. HBI Strengthens Boston's Main Streets
In 2015, HBI completed restoration of the 1868 Vertullo Building in Hyde Park, one of the few surviving commercial buildings dating from the year in which Hyde Park was established as an independent town. HBI acquired the mixed use building and restored it to its 1890s appearance with Victorian decoration and system and utility upgrades. Four upper story residences were upgraded and five new small businesses have opened on the first floor.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bricks and Mortar 2015 has arrived!

HBI’s newest print newsletter Bricks and Mortar is available now on our website. Highlights include stories on the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, HBI’s strategic plans for the future, and updates on the Bike Kitchen at the Upham’s Corner Comfort Station. Download a copy or, for a hard copy, email us at  And if you’d like to be on our snail mail list, please email us your mailing address.  Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving from Historic Boston!

Each year at Thanksgiving, staff at Historic Boston share their favorite Thanksgiving recipes. But this year we changed it up a little; we asked our new friend Phyllis Tobin of Newton to share one of her favorites.

Mrs. Tobin showing off her Epstein original jewlery

Mrs. Tobin grew up in Mattapan just down the street from the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. When she saw the announcement of HBI’s plans for the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm she reached out to us and we invited her to join us for lunch at the Eustis Street Firehouse, along with members of TPL and UFI, so she could tell us her stories of growing up in Mattapan.  She was an enormous font of memory. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Apple Pie Surprise!

Last Friday, Jamaica Plain’s Historical Society’s Michael Reiskind stopped by HBI to deliver an apple pie. This was no ordinary pie, but a Roxbury Russet apple pie. The Roxbury Russet Apple is the oldest named apple in America , dating back to the 1600s. While they are no longer widely grown, Michael was able to find some at an orchard in New Hampshire. To create his master(pie)ce he used 5lbs of the russet and infused the pie crust with lemon. It was delicious! Thank you, Michael! 

If you would like to read more about the Roxbury Russet Click Here

Friday, November 13, 2015

Preservation Partnering Part 2: HBI Forges Partnerships to Increase Capacity for Neighborhood Revitalization

This is Part 2 of a series of blogs whereby HBI’s Jeffrey Morgan discusses various preservation partnering scenarios and the opportunities they present to steward long vacant and blighted properties to new uses that add new life to their communities thereby contributing to the economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Part 1 discussed the redevelopment of the Roslindale Substation in partnership with Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) and our for-profit partner, Peregrine Group, LLC.

Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, Mattapan

HBI recently closed on the purchase of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, what is likely Mattapan’s oldest building. Partnering with the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and North Bennet Street School (NBSS) redevelopment of the farmstead will couple the mission of preserving a significant historic Boston Landmark with the mission of farmer training and creating and promoting urban farming enterprises. The redeveloped farmstead will become the home and headquarters for UFI.
The farmstead consists of a historic house (c. 1786-1806) and detached barn (1860) on about two-thirds of an acre and represents one of the earliest, intact vernacular examples of agricultural properties in Boston. With its history of agriculture and its location in an urban neighborhood sorely lacking =access to fresh produce, Fowler Clark Epstein Farm presents incredible opportunity to connect city residents to the history and modern day opportunities of farming providing experience-based education for youth, adults and families; and encouraging visitors to be informed and active in their local food system. 

Fowler Clark Farm Design:  Studio G Architects
Rendering: Jeff Stikeman Architectural Art

Coupling preservation with urban farming builds capacity for social impact
As a “preservation partnering” approach to real estate redevelopment, bringing together four nonprofit organizations is both a compelling idea and a challenging undertaking, and offers great potential for preserving a significant property, maximizing social impact, and helping to revitalize an inner-city neighborhood. The alignment of missions, the sharing of resources, and determining fundraising strategies are all layered on top of the other more typical aspects of partnering such as defining roles and responsibilities of the partners and working through the communication and personality aspects of a business partner relationship.

Friday, November 6, 2015

HBI Receives PRI from the 1772 Foundation

HBI is honored to be the recipient of a program-related investment (PRI) from the 1772 Foundation of Rhode Island that will be used to support pre-development work on HBI projects.  The 1772 Foundation will give HBI a $400,000 low-interest loan at a fixed rate of 2% for a five-year term.