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.