In a ceremony last week at 60 State St. with stunning bird's-eye views of the built environment, the Alliance recognized six projects and their teams. The awards represent public, private, residential, commercial and open space projects.
The Boston Preservation Alliance is more than an umbrella organization formed to save unique architectural and historical buildings throughout the city. It’s an organization that works to influence positively development projects that affect historic neighborhoods, keeping in mind that Boston continues to evolve as a vibrant, world-class city.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of its founding and the 30th year of its award ceremonies, recognizing projects that celebrate compatible new construction, adaptive reuse and historic preservation.
This year also is the 10th anniversary of the creation of its Young Advisors, an advocacy group of young professionals who participate in all aspects of the city’s growth and quality of life.
In a ceremony last week at 60 State St. with stunning bird’s-eye views of the built environment, the Alliance recognized six projects and their teams. The awards represent public, private, residential, commercial and open space projects.
The Friends of the Public Garden and the city’s Park and Recreation Department were honored for the restoration of the George Robert White Memorial Fountain at the corner of Beacon and Arlington streets.
The distinctive fountain comprises a circular stone basin centered by an angel holding a basket in one hand and scattering seed in the other. At the base is an inscription from Ecclesiastes: “Cast thy bread on the waters; for thou shall find it after many days.”
Designed by Daniel Chester French with collaborator Henry Bacon, the symbolic sculpture was dedicated in 1924 in memory of White, who had bequeathed $5 million to the city for public art.
Working with Zen Associates Inc., Weston & Sampson and the city, the Friends raised more than $700,000 to install new plumbing, electrical upgrades and enhanced landscaping for the fountain and to set aside funds for its future care. Now, water flows again from the ram’s head cornucopias.
This corner of the garden is once again a serene, accessible and inviting space for all visitors, thanks to the Friends of the Public Garden, noted Greg Galer, executive director of the Alliance.
The new six-story mixed-use building at 10 Farnsworth off Congress Street posed unique challenges for developers TCR and JB Ventures who were seeking to build within a Landmark district. (The BPA helped secure this designation for the Fort Point area in 2009 after nearly 10 years’ work.)
The result is a six-story boutique building of nine condominiums and retail space that reflects the scale of the surrounding mid-19th century buildings. Yet, it is distinctively modern with its curtain wall of glass, aluminum and stone with a dark brick base, designed by CBT Architects.
Included were flood-proofing elements, hidden from view, which can address the threat of rising waters.
“This project is a great example of an innovative, sustainable design that is appropriate in its context,” said Galer. It “takes a pensive yet bold approach in an eclectic landmarked warehouse neighborhood, all while addressing resiliency challenges where dumpsters were literally floating down the street this past winter.”
SOUTH END SHOWPIECE
This mixed-use project at 316 Shawmut Ave., which lies within the South End Landmark District, is a combination of the restoration of a Greek Revival brick rowhouse built in the 1860s and the construction of a contemporary addition behind it, adjacent to the St. John the Baptist Greek Church on Union Park Street. The addition, set back from the street, reflects a modern aesthetic that compliments the existing corner building and houses three residences whose entrance is an old, revitalized carriage house.
The existing bayfront building facing Shawmut Avenue now contains a vibrant retail space. Embarc Studio designed the project, developed by Boston Property Ventures. This project represents a successful partnership between the developer and the landmark district commission, said Galer.
JAMAICA PLAIN LIBRARY
The new glass addition to the Jamaica Plain branch library was recognized, too.
Jamaica Plain’s first branch library was a reading room in Curtis Hall in 1876. A new building along Sedgewick Street was constructed in 1909, with an addition built 25 years later.
But this new structure, designed by Utile, is striking, not only reorienting its entrance toward South Street and Curtis Hall, but also expanding and modernizing the interior spaces of the old library. Its new address is 30 South St.
The historic features – schoolhouse-size windows, wooden bookshelves wood trim and fireplaces – were preserved, blending old and new. Dedicated spaces are earmarked for teens and for children, where walls depict characters from local authors. Unused space in the basement is now a community room.
“Public buildings play a critical role in neighborhood success, and this is nowhere more apparent [than] in a library,” said Galer. “Here, the historic train station-like library has been sensitively rehabilitated and joined with a sympathetic, modern new partner, a duo that will serve the city well for future generations.”
The renovation of a 19th century industrial building at 152 Hampden St. in Roxbury is an example of community-based preservation at its highest level, according to Galer.
Once home to the Boston Piano Company, the brick building was the site of successive machine shops.
By 2016, when Michael Feldman acquired the property, it was used as storage. He developed this historic property for the headquarters of his business, Feldman Land Surveyors, saving the exposed beams and metal doors, now restored, as appealing elements of the upper-level office space designed by McMahon Architects.
The first floor now is home to a local brewery, Backlash Beer Company, with a taproom.
In addition, the firm has created jobs within the community and internship opportunities to nearby students.
The Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, which owns Ohabei Shalom Cemetery Chapel at 147 Wordsworth St. in East Boston, received the annual stewardship award in recognition of its long-term commitment to preserve an historic treasure.
Although founded in 1844 as the state’s first legally established Jewish cemetery, the Neo-Gothic fieldstone chapel was not built until 1903. However, as the Jewish population moved away from East Boston to places such as Brookline, burial services became less frequent and the chapel fell into disrepair. A major restoration effort began after students at the Boston Architectural College researched the property and discovered its rich heritage.
Inspired by their findings, JCAM, working with the architectural firm of Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt, salvaged the chapel’s envelope to protect it from the elements.
The work was encompassing. The entire structure was reinforced, the stonework repointed, the slate roof repaired and the wooden entry doors, window lintels, gutters and downspouts replaced. In addition, the stained glass was restored.
The interior has yet to be rehabbed, but a fundraising campaign is underway to complete that work and to create the East Boston Immigration Center.
The center will chronicle the immigration history of Jews of greater Boston, especially in communities along the Mystic River. It also will serve as a community space for the immigrant populations who live in these cities and towns today and offer lessons of the past to help shape the future. Ohabei Shalom translates as lovers of peace.