Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020
Photos are available upon request.
Boston’s Oldest Farm Wins National Trust’s Driehaus Foundation Commendation

BOSTON – The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, the oldest farm still in existence in
Boston, restored and revived by Historic Boston Inc. 2017, is a winner of The National
Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National
Preservation Award, recognizing one of the best preservation projects in the United

The award, announced this week and to be presented at a virtual event at 6 p.m. on
Thursday, is “the nation’s most coveted and prestigious awards bestowed on historic
preservation efforts that demonstrate excellence in preservation practice and
partnerships, as well as a transformative impact on the vitality of their communities,”
the National Trust said in a media release.

“The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm’s turnaround is a victory for the Mattapan neighborhood and demonstrates the value of historic preservation to our city’s neighborhoods,” said Kathy Kottaridis, HBI’s Executive Director. “The leadership of the Mayor, the partnership of non-profit organizations, and the massive contributions of contractors and donors transformed this place into a neighborhood anchor.” The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm was honored for its innovative adaptive re-use and partnerships and is a rare surviving Federal period farmstead, now serving as a
residence, greenhouse, space for educational courses, and productive urban farmland.
Historic Boston Inc. purchased the property in 2015 after it was the subject of litigation between the Epstein estate and the City of Boston over “demolition by neglect.”

“To develop a natural re-use for the site that satisfied both historic building preservation and contemporary needs for agricultural uses, a partnership among four non-profit organizations evolved that brought the best of each’s expertise to the development and construction of this unique enterprise in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston,” the National Trust said.

Historic Boston partnered with the Urban Farming Institute, the Trust for Public Land, and North Bennet Street School, working together to carry out the transformation of the distressed 18th century farmstead property, located at 487 Norfolk St. “The result is a creative urban farming solution that proves the preservation field’s value to important community initiatives, such as reducing unemployment, increasing food access, and building new green space,” the National Trust said. Fowler Clark farm has been managing the pandemic period successfully by creating
and operating the UFI Virtual Farm Stand, which offers fall salad mix, parsley, chives,
scallions and about 20 other fresh items grown at its farms in Mattapan, Dorchester
and Roxbury. Orders submitted by the end of a weekday may be picked up in the morning of the second day after order is made. Orders may be made at https://farmstandufi.company.site/.

Other recipients of the prestigious award this year were a New Deal era health center
updated into a state-of-the art medical facility and the Egyptian Revival-style headquarters of one of the largest Black-owned insurance firms, continuing its legacy of economic development.
The Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards are presented annually following a juried competition process. This year’s recipients will be honored at the virtual National Preservation Awards ceremony, hosted by television host and preservationist Bob Vila, on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, as part of PastForward Online 2020. The program will be streamed for free from SavingPlaces.org/Conference; online registration is required.

“We are excited to be able to support these National Trust awards, especially during a year that has presented unpredicted challenges for many of us,” said Anne Lazar, Executive Director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. “This year’s winners show the brilliance and breadth of architectural excellence and the deep commitment each winner has to preserving historical spaces, so they may be appreciated for generations to come.”

In addition to the Fowler Clark farm, this year’s winners included the Chelsea District Health Center in New York City. Honored for its reimagining of a crucial community medical center, it is was one of 14 New Deal era district health centers formed to bring care to underserved communities, and it now serves the same mission in an improved space.

A third winner is the Universal Life Insurance Company Building in Memphis, Tennessee, honored for its restoration of an architecturally unique site with a long tradition of community empowerment. The 1947 building was once home to the largest Black-owned business in Memphis and continues this legacy as an economic development resource for its diverse community. It was designed by the renowned African American architecture firm McKissack and McKissack.

“We are deeply honored to partner with the Driehaus Foundation to recognize outstanding projects that demonstrate historic preservation’s potent combination of architectural innovation, economic power, and cultural enrichment,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s recipients vividly demonstrate that activating historic places through partnerships and creativity supports the health and vitality of individuals and their
communities across the country.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. For more information, please go to www.savingplaces.org.

HBI is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they are a useable part of the city’s present and future.

HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose reuse will catalyze neighborhood renewal. HBI acquires and redevelops historic structures and provides technical expertise, planning services and financing for rehabilitation projects. HBI
projects demonstrate that preserving historic properties is economically viable and that they can be useable and functioning assets in a community. For more information, please go to www.historicboston.org.

For more information, please contact:
Tom Palmer, Tom Palmer Communication
617.755.7250, tom@tompalmercommunication.com