October 6, 2021 Historic Buildings at Center of Fields Corner Development Proposal
Historic Boston was pleased to learn that developer Travis Lee plans to purchase and redevelop the O’Hearn Storage Building and the 18th century Isaac Newcomb Field house in Fields Corner for affordable housing.
The site’s buildings – the O’Hearn Storage Building, the Dorchester Music Hall and the Field family House – are two of three structures that comprise the site today. Together they reflect the evolution of Fields Corner over more than 200 years. The Storage Building is currently home to the US Post office and several other small businesses at the retail level. The southernmost portion of the building was the Dorchester Music Hall, designed by Dorchester architect Edwin Lewis, and served as a performance and meeting space until the 1890s when it was sold, along with the rest of the property, to the O’Hearn storage company. At that time, the Dorchester Music Hall was bricked up and used for storage and new multi-story storage space was added to the street face on Dorchester Avenue.
The Isaac Newcomb Field House is located today at the rear of the buildings at 1444 Dorchester Avenue and can be viewed from the parking lot. The neighborhood became the namesake of the Field family which occupied this site for more than 100 years. Isaac Newcomb Field built the house circa 1795. It was moved to the rear of the parcel in the 1890s to accommodate the O’Hearn Storage Building’s expansion and is likely Fields Corner’s oldest building.
Both buildings were studied by HBI and Fields Corner Main Street between 2009 and 2011 for their restoration potential along with 1510 Dorchester Avenue. From that work, HBI determined that the Field House, which appears as a brick structure today, was once been sheathed in clapboard and retains interior features like paneled wall and fire places.
Developer Travis Lee is pursuing development of 45 affordable home ownership units on the site, along with retaining the US Post Office and retail level services. It includes the historic rehabilitation of the Music Hall portion of the building at Adams and Leonard Streets, including the restoration of its beautiful arched windows.
The Field House is a greater challenge, however. It has been vacant for many year and its location at the rear of the site impedes the site’s development prospects. As the historic house has been moved before, Lee is evaluating opportunities to move it once again, either on site or to a nearby location, in order to maximize development opportunity on the site.
Both structures mark an important physical and symbolic crossroads at the intersection of Adams Street and Dorchester Avenue. Housing creation, accompanied by restoration of two important historic assets, have the potential to bring important investment and vitality to Fields Corner.