December 7, 2021 Thanks to Mayor Janey, Boston will see more protected Landmarks
Although only in office for a few months, Mayor Kim Janey’s administration made a significant mark advancing the designation of historic places as Boston Landmarks.
The designation of Boston Landmark is the most effective way to protect an historic building or landscape or an historic district in Boston. Once designated, any changes to the designated building or landscape, or building within a Landmarked District must be reviewed by the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) and cannot be demolished. Generally, Landmarks are places with high significance for their architecture, historical associations, or craftsmanship.
The Landmarks Commission sits within Mayor’s Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space. Ten voting residents of Boston can nominate a place for Boston Landmark consideration. Those petitions are considered by the BLC staff and the full commission and, if accepted, are placed on a list for “further study” until the Commission’s budget allows for a full historical study and determination of whether it should be designated. The list of accepted petitions is long and continues to grow as more development threatens buildings important to Bostonians.
Full Boston Landmarks designation requires a second public hearing on the written study report and a vote of the Boston Landmarks Commission before the recommendation is forwarded to the Mayor for review and approval, followed by a vote of the City Council.
Among the more well-known Boston Landmarks are Boston Common and the Public Garden, the Arlington Street Church, the Wilbur Theater, Franklin Park, the Boston Public Library, the former Filene’s building, and the Ames Building. However, there are many others located throughout the neighborhoods including the Donald McKay House in East Boston, the William Monroe Trotter House in Dorchester, the Cox Building in Roxbury, and James Michael Curley House in Jamaica Plain.
Several HBI project sites are also Boston Landmarks: The Hayden Building in Chinatown, Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury, and St. James African Orthodox Church in Roxbury
Under Mayor Janey’s administration, the Landmarks Commission hired The Public Archaeology Laboratory, of Pawtucket, RI, to assess all the properties on the “further study” list in order to prioritize them. Fifteen sites rose to the top, and first hearings have been held on all but four, according to online records. Second hearings were held on Shirley-Eustis Place, a collection of three historically significant buildings from mid-1700s through early 1800s in Roxbury. It was designated a Landmark in August 2021.
Soon to follow is the Warren House, a 19th century memorial building that marks the former home site of Dr. Joseph Warren, the first high-ranking American officer killed during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.
Some of the buildings awaiting second hearings are First Church Roxbury, Horticultural Hall, the South Market Building at Quincy Market, the Jeweler’s Building, the Parker House, and Tremont Temple. Among HBI properties, the Old Corner Bookstore (where our offices are, and the first building HBI preserved, back in 1960) is also on the pending list.
Our thanks to former Mayor Kim Janey, the members of the Landmarks Commission and its staff, led by Rosanne Foley and Cabinet Chief Mariama White Hammond. They’ve set a pace for celebrating and protecting Boston’s historic places that we hope continues into the new Wu administration.