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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

GREG GALER
Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

A new chapter for the Collins Mansion

November 4th, 2015  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

928 E. Broadway, South Boston

In 2013, the Alliance became extensively involved in lobbying for the fate of the James Collins Mansion in South Boston’s City Point area, after the developer who had recently purchased the property announced plans to demolish the home. The proposed demolition outraged the surrounding community and initiated efforts to Landmark the building.

The imposing Second Empire mansion with a mansard roof was constructed in 1867, at a time when even the wealthiest of Irishmen were barred from living in Brookline or Newton. Not only is the home an architectural gem, it’s a physical manifestation of the struggles of the upwardly mobile working class of the city at that time.

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Details from the interior.

We worked extensively with the South Boston community in opposing demolition of the house and ensuring that the home received Landmark protection. At the same time, we met frequently with the home’s owner to develop a more viable solution that would ultimately preserve the Collins Mansion. We collaborated with the Boston Landmarks Commission on getting the house and proposed project through the design review process. Though we came very close to losing the building entirely, the mansion’s Landmark status was approved in 2014.

Now, under the ownership of a new developer, three-story additions will be added to each side of the mansion, and the interior of the mansion will be renovated to include nine condos. While not the most traditional instance of historic preservation, the project is a great example of a positive compromise born of passionate community engagement and thoughtful design review.

We understand that times change, but we want the change to be historically and architecturally appropriate. More frequently we see developers purchasing homes on large parcels of land with plans to tear down the house and replace it with condos whose design is insensitive to the neighborhood. In this case, that was avoided. The Collins Mansion was saved. At the Alliance, we’re proud to have been a part of it.

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