Amrheins bar and restaurant is threatened with demolition. This iconic corner building and legacy business, operating since 1890 and the oldest restaurant and bar in South Boston, touts itself as having the oldest hand carved bar in America and the first draft beer pump in Boston. It is a destination for Bostonians and visitors alike, and one of the few historic buildings to survive intense, ongoing development pressure on West Broadway. It is a gateway to the South Boston neighborhood, steps from the Broadway T station, and a marker of the roots of the neighborhood as Southie evolves.
Like many other neighborhoods in Boston, insensitive development has compromised the character, history, and streetscapes of South Boston. While the Alliance supports scaled, contextual new construction, we strongly believe that a balance of old and new architecture creates vibrant neighborhoods with a strong sense of place. When the Alliance first became aware of the pending sale of Amrheins (in 2018), we reached out to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to urge preservation of the building (and hopefully restaurant) in a new project. Thankfully, we got a clear signal that the BPDA and elected officials agreed that preservation was important. We were pleased when the proposal for the project that was filed did not threaten these historic resources. A new building is proposed for the surface parking lot abutting Amrheins, with the historic building given a new, collaborative life with the old. New and old together - perfect!
However, the Alliance learned in early February 2021 of influential voices that are calling for the demolition of the historic building in order to widen the sidewalk at the corner of A Street and Broadway. Pedestrian circulation is always important, but in this case we feel the historic building and its iconic presence on this prominent corner add more value to the neighborhood than a slightly wider sidewalk (which only narrows further down the block). We hope that the City will work with the proponent to find other solutions for the public realm and traffic flow that do not result in the loss of this important place.
In February of 2020, the Alliance’s Young Advisors gathered at Amrheins for their annual Heart Bombing event where they made valentines to show love and support for this special building, restaurant, and bar.
We urge those we agree with our position to write to the BPDA in support of saving Amrheins for future generations.
Find project documents and contact information at the BPDA website.
Highlights from our activity log:
- February 12, 2021
The Alliance submits a letter to the BPDA urging preservation of the Amrheins building in the new project. The letter is attached below.
- February 9, 2021
The Alliance becomes aware of voices in the South Boston community calling for the demolition of the historic Amrheins building. The Alliance issues an AllianceALERT encouraging followers to write to the BPDA in support of saving the building.
- November 4, 2020
Alliance staff attends a public Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting to learn more about the proposed project, which incorporates the historic building. Though the Alliance is pleased with the proposal’s preservation approach, there are some voices on the IAG who feel the building is not significant to the neighborhood and should be demolished.
- August 9, 2018
The Alliance becomes aware that Amrheins is up for sale and corresponds with BPDA staff to urge preservation, who assure the Alliance that neighborhood and historic context will be a part of the conversation.