Wednesday, April 20, 2016

HBI's Weekly Blog Moves to New Website

HBI is proud to announce the launch of our newly redesigned, built by Out of Website, a web design company based in Boston and Seattle. Built for 2016, the new website is mobile responsive and features a modern design that features our weekly blog. Check it out and let us know what you think! Please send feedback to

Monday, March 28, 2016

HBI Comings and Goings

HBI is pleased to announce that Brian Awe, Barbara Boylan, Karilyn Crockett, Marla Curtis, Michael Durand were elected to membership of HBI’s Board of Directors at the organization’s annual meeting on March 23rd.   At the same meeting, HBI bid a sad farewell to outgoing board members Alex Krieger, Drew Leff, Carolyn Osteen, and Jay Wickersham, thanking them for their deep commitment to HBI’s work.  In particular, the Board cited the contributions of long-time board member Carolyn Osteen who completed 37 years of service to HBI.   Alex, Drew, Carolyn and Jay will join HBI’s Council of Advisors. 
HBI is very pleased to have the addition of this talented class of new board members:

Friday, March 18, 2016

North Bennet Street School Begins Exploratory Work at Fowler Clark

Last week, the first year preservation carpentry students from North Bennet Street School paid a visit to the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan to conduct an exploratory investigation of the circa 1786 farmhouse.  Instructor Steven O’Shaughnessy led the effort to carefully peel back the exterior layers of the front façade to learn more about how the house had evolved over time.  While we knew there were clapboards beneath the outer layer of shingles, we did not know how old those clapboards were, or if they might have been original.  Not surprisingly, they were not original; Steve determined that the clapboards likely dated to sometime between the 1940s and 1960s, when the house was owned by the Epstein family.  The clapboards beneath the first floor windows were removed by the students to expose the sheathing, some of which appear to be original based on the appearance of the wood and the wrought nails used to attach. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Boston University to host "The Dynamic City: Futures for the Past" in April

This year the preservation world is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Passed in 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act is a landmark piece of legislation that has served as the guidepost for historic preservation in the United States. It is also responsible for the creation of the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places.

The NHPA was enacted in reaction to urban renewal in the United States Post WWII. As cities grew and flourished, old buildings and neighborhoods were demolished in order to make room for the shiny and new. For the last half century the NHPA has saved countless historic sites and buildings and has cultivated a strong, active preservation community.
Flash forward to today and we continue to face the challenges a post WWII America faced. As cities continue to grow and change, what role does preservation play?

This week HBI would like to highlight an event that will explore this very question. The Dynamic City: Futures for the Past hosted by Boston University Initiative on Cities, Historic New England and Boston University’s American and New England Studies Program is a two day conference that will examine the urban history of New England and its relationships within a global context. It will take place on Friday April 1st and Saturday April 2nd at Boston University. To find out more about the event and to register, click here.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Researching the Agricultural History of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

Rita Walsh, Senior Preservation Planner, with VHB is assisting HBI with state and federal historic tax credit applications to support the rehabilitation of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm property for its new uses. She is also preparing a nomination of the property to the National Register of Historic Places. Although the property is already a Boston Landmark, the property must be officially listed in the National Register to receive the federal historic tax credits.  
1850 Agricultural Schedule, showing the details of Henry Clark’s farming activities
The 2005 Boston Landmarks Commission study report for theFowler Clark Epstein farm (which is the document that presents the reasons for the property’s significance and eligibility as a local landmark) contains an incredible amount of detail about the farm’s ownership history. The house and barn were part of an 11.25-acre parcel bounded by Norfolk Street and Blue Hill Avenue (originally known as Brush Hill Turnpike) that remained the same size from 1806 until 1895, when it was finally subdivided for building parcels by James Clark and his mother, Mary. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Noah Hicks and The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen Featured on BNN

Noah Hicks and The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen wrapped up their Indie Go Go fundraising campaign this week. With over 200 donors, Noah and his team were able to raise $18,732 in start-up capital for the new business in the historic Upham’s Corner Comfort Station.  

Their Indie Go Go campaign not only drew in funders but has generated a great deal of excitement throughout Boston. Noah Hicks and The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen have been featured in The Dorchester Reporter, Boston Biker and Boston Eater to name a few and earlier this month Noah Hicks sat down for an interview with Chris Lovett on local TV station BNN News. During his interview, Noah presented his vision for The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen and highlighted his team’s continued fundraising efforts. Check out his interview here:  

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Colorful Interior: Old North Church Begins Historic Paint Analysis

Steven Ayres, Vicar of the Boston’s venerable Old North Church in the North End, reached out recently to tell HBI about paint analyses that are just beginning inside the sanctuary of the historic building.  The church’s plans, outlined below, could very well change our perception of the colonial interior and shed light on how Bostonians deployed color and decoration in the early 18th century.

If you drop in to visit Old North Church between now and early March, you will notice scaffolding in the rear of the sanctuary.  Brian Powell and Melissa McGrew from Building Conservations Associates, a leading historic preservation consultant, will be crawling all over the sanctuary, taking paint samples and peeling back centuries of paint, in order to determine the history of decorating the interior of the church.

The Old North Foundation is conducting a historic paint analysis this winter to research the rich colonial color schemes used to decorate the church. Recently featured in the Globe, this project will be the second visit by Building Conservation Associates to Old North.  Twelve years ago, senior analyst Brian Powell, surveyed Old North’s windows prior to their complete restoration.  The buff colored paint now adorning the windows reflects the original color used in 1723.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tracing History through Spoken Word: Brandeis Students Begin Oral History Project on the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

With buildings dating to the early 1800s, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (FCE Farm) itself is testimony to the agrarian history of Mattapan.  The more recent history of Mattapan as an urban neighborhood is no less intriguing.  In the 1960s, the neighborhood surrounding the farm transformed dramatically, as Jewish residents moved out, and African-American families moved in to Mattapan.  Such transitions happened in many US cities during this time; in fact, in the fall of 1971, when Michigan senator Philip Hart convened three days of subcommittee hearings in Boston to investigate the causes and consequences of neighborhood transition in Mattapan, a subcommittee staff member told the New York Times that “We believe that the set of events in Boston illustrates what is going on all over America” (in Gamm 1999:13).   The specifics of neighborhood change in Mattapan have been the subject of remarkable legislative and scholarly attention (Levine and Harmon 1992; Gamm 1999).  However, problematically, very little scholarly attention has been paid to Mattapan in the years since it became a center of the African-American, Haitian, and Caribbean immigrant communities of Boston.  As one community partner commented, there is “almost nothing written” about the history of people of color in the neighborhood.   Related, we have been told that more recent popular narratives about the neighborhood tend to focus much more on its challenges than its many strengths.

Friday, January 29, 2016

HBI Forges Partnerships to Increase Capacity for Neighborhood Revitalization- Preservation Partnering - Part III

This is Part 3 and the last in a series of blogs in which HBI’s Jeffrey Morgan presents preservation partnering scenarios and the opportunities they present to steward historic and long vacant or blighted properties to new economic uses. Part 1 discussed the redevelopment of the Roslindale Substation in partnership with Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) and HBI’s for-profit partner, Peregrine Group, LLC. Part 2 presented the planned redevelopment of the historic Fowler Clark Epstein  farm in Mattapan in partnership with three other non-profits, Urban Farming Institute (UFI), The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and North Bennet Street School (NBSS).

Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen, Upham’s Corner, Dorchester

The preservation of historic buildings is not only about the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the building structure. It also includes the need to find compatible uses and, within the historic tax credit structure, income generating businesses in a rental structure – therefore tenants. In addition, given that many historic buildings in neighborhood business districts have small size retail spaces, the work of preservation often follows the path of small startups or what are often called “micro” businesses which are generally defined as single owner-operator enterprises that typically have less than 10 employees.

Finding the operators of these micro businesses for historic rehabilitation projects can be challenging and their business models are often risky which is why, in part, market driven real estate developers are often not interested in the smaller historic redevelopment projects. So a preservation partnership model that couples non-profit preservation real estate developers with micro-business entrepreneurs through the work of an organization that provides financial support for both the real estate developer and technical assistance for the business owner can leverage the capacity and skills of all partners to maximize the potential for greater success and effectiveness in neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization.      

A big thank you to our supporters in 2015!

Historic Boston is very grateful to everyone who supported the organization’s end-of-the-year fundraising campaign. You – our donors– are also our partners in preserving Boston’s past and building strong neighborhoods.   
All donations to HBI- large and small- helped at year’s end, and launched a healthy new year for HBI with exciting project activity planned or underway in Roslindale, Upham’s Corner, Mattapan and Roxbury  
A few highlights of things to watch for:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Boston Landmarks Commission Names Roxbury’s Kittredge House and Downtown’s Winthrop-Carter Building Boston Landmarks

Historic Boston reported in December that the Boston Landmarks Commission entertained the petition to name the 1834 Alvah Kittredge a Boston Landmark, but we are honored to announce this week that the Commission formally designated the property a Landmark.    At the same time, the Commission also landmarked the Winthrop-Carter Building at One Water Street in downtown Boston, a structure built in 1894. 

Both of these architecturally and historically important buildings will be afforded a high degree of protection, requiring all property owners in the future to seek approvals for exterior improvements or changes to the structures.  By doing so, the architectural integrity of the buildings will be preserved.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen Needs You!

Dorchester entrepreneur Noah Hicks recently launched an Indie Go Go campaign to raise $50,000 of start-up capital for his new business -- The Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen in the historic Upham’s Corner Comfort Station.   
A bike repair and coffee shop, Sip and Spoke Bike Kitchen is located on Columbia Road near the new Fairmount line and will be a transformative project in the Upham’s Corner neighborhood, adding jobs, fostering a local business, and enhancing a blighted building.  In a short time, Sip and Spoke has raised over $8,000 of the $50,000 funding need.   

Friday, January 8, 2016

An Evening with HBI's Friends and Neighbors

HBI held its annual holiday open house this past Tuesday evening at the Eustis Street Firehouse. Friends and neighbors braved the cold to gather for a celebration of 2015’s successes and raise a glass to the promises of 2016. 

Our guests enjoyed food and drink from local businesses in Dudley Square, including Castillo BeerWine & Liquors, Haley House Cafe and Dudley Café

Thank you to all those who attended, and to those who could not, you were missed, but we look forward to seeing everyone in 2016!  Happy New Year!