January 26, 2017 HISTORIC BOSTON INC. BEGINS WORK ON BARN AT FOWLER CLARK EPSTEIN FARM
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HISTORIC BOSTON INC. BEGINS WORK ON BARN AT FOWLER CLARK EPSTEIN FARM
18TH-Century Mattapan Site Will Become Home to Urban Farm Institute
BOSTON: Historic Boston Inc. has begun rehabilitation and redevelopment of the 1860s-era barn at the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan, the first phase of eight months of work that will bring the historic property back for use as the home of the nonprofit Urban Farming Institute of Boston.
A contractor this month began replacing the roof, repairing the barn’s structure, and inserting steel structure so that it can withstand winter weather and be ready for the next phase of work. The barn’s new uses will be as a classroom, demonstration kitchen, and offices for the Urban Farming Institute.
The barn associated with the property, the oldest remaining farm in the City of Boston, has deteriorated further than the adjacent house and will undergo about three months of work before its interior build-out for training and administration, and before work begins on the house.
“The barn is less stable than the house,” said Lisa Lewis, Project Manager for Historic Boston Inc., a nonprofit real estate organization that rehabilitates and repurposes historic and culturally significant properties. “There is more urgency to do structural and envelope repairs before proceeding with the full fit-out of the barn as offices and classroom.”
In September 2015, the project partners — Historic Boston Inc., the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, The Trust for Public Land, and North Bennet Street School — were joined by Mayor Martin J. Walsh to celebrate plans to transform the historic farm house, barn, and land into an urban farm and education/training center. The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development is contributing $150,000 to the $3.4 million total cost of the project, with Historic Boston raising the rest of the money from about a dozen generous donors.
M.J. Mawn, Inc. of East Walpole is doing the construction. The farm site is recognized as a City of Boston Landmark and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Zoning Board of Appeals voted in the fall to grant variances for the new uses on the property and to allow construction of a greenhouse. Boston’s relatively new Article 89 zoning ordinance encourages and regulates farming in the City of Boston, but agriculture was already an allowed use on the property.
The Fowler Clark Epstein farm, named for a succession of family owners, is located on a 30,000-square-foot site at 487 Norfolk St. in Mattapan. The barn, which served as a stable, is about 40 by 25 feet in size with two floors and a basement. The clapboards on the barn are thought to be original.
In addition to becoming Urban Farm Institute headquarters, the property will be a training hub and demonstration farming center. The institute is devoted to advancing commercial urban farming in Boston through land development, technical training, and education of urban farming professionals.
Rehabilitation plans include land and open areas cultivated for local food; classrooms for educational programs and a residence for an on-site farm manager in the historic house; an education/training center that will promote urban farming knowledge with classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and offices in the carriage barn for both farmers in training and public programs about farming and food production; a greenhouse to extend the New England growing season; and a farm stand with fresh produce.
The project will be funded partially through state historic tax credit and federal historic tax credit proceeds. Several area foundations and public agencies have committed $1.45 million to the project to date. These include the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, The Trust for Public Land, the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund, the George B. Henderson Foundation, The 1772 Foundation, the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust, the Clipper Ship Foundation, the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, and the Paul and Edith Babson Foundation.
Built sometime between 1786 and 1806, the original farmhouse was once part of a large Dorchester farm encompassing more than 330 acres dating back into the 17th century. It is Mattapan’s oldest structure. Although five families have passed through the house across its 200-year history, it has primarily been owned by three families, beginning with Samuel Fowler, a Dorchester yeoman in the late 18th century.
In 1837, the property was sold to the Clark family. It was eventually subdivided into parcels, as advancements in transportation hastened the development of Mattapan as a street-car suburb of Boston. However, more than half an acre of land was preserved within the densely developed residential neighborhood, and the original house and barn were sold to Jorge Epstein in 1941, remaining in the family’s possession until falling vacant in 2013.
Historic Boston Inc. will be developer of the property, assembling and structuring all financing sources and managing the rehabilitation of the buildings.
The Trust for Public Land will build the farm’s planting beds and prepare the site for farming.
The Urban Farming Institute will be the primary tenant and operator of the property and urban farming center after rehabilitation.
Students and instructors from North Bennet Street School?s Preservation Carpentry program have provided important assessment and recommendations for restoring the 18th century fabric of the house and barn.
ABOUT THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. For more information, please go to www.tpl.org .
ABOUT THE URBAN FARMING INSTITUTE OF BOSTON
The Urban Farming Institute of Boston was founded in 2012 to support the development of urban farming (the growing of agricultural products for income) in Boston and in other urban areas of Massachusetts. Building a healthier, more locally based food system is at the heart of UFI’s mission. As the momentum around greening cities, increasing health outcomes, and developing more sustainable solutions for urban economic development, urban farming is quickly emerging into a viable industry solution. This emerging industry can help to promote and support innovative approaches that address economic disparity, particularly in lower income neighborhoods. For more information, please go to www.urbanfarminginstitute.wordpress.com .
ABOUT NORTH BENNET STREET SCHOOL
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, North Bennet Street School offers intensive, hands-on training in traditional trades and fine craftsmanship, helping students to achieve meaningful lives and livelihoods. For more than a century, the exceptional programs, master faculty and inspiring community have encouraged individual growth, curiosity, technical mastery and commitment to excellence. The school’s reputation for excellence and value attracts students from around the world. For more information, please go to www.nbss.edu .
ABOUT HISTORIC BOSTON INC.
Historic Boston Inc. is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they can become useable parts of the city’s present and future. HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose re-use will be catalysts for 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 functioning assets in a community. For more information, please go to www.historicboston.org .
For more information, please contact:
Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston, Inc.
Tom Palmer Communication