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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

Preservation Achievement Award Winner: The Carriage House at 31 Ocean Street

October 21st, 2016  |  Posted by: Greg Galer

In anticipation of our 28th annual Preservation Achievement Awards ceremony on October 24, we are profiling each of the eleven winning projects over the next several weeks. Follow this series to get a special look at projects that honor and update the character of Boston.


A relic of an automobile-free time long past, the carriage house (and like it other outbuildings like barns and early automobile garages) has posed a particular preservation challenge. Because these buildings’ original purpose is now obsolete, these structures are prone particularly to neglect, misuse, ill-guided repairs from well-meaning homeowners, or demolition through neglect.  We are losing these idiosyncratic, funky and viable resources at a rapid rate, many already gone. Such challenges to adaptive reuse make successful preservation of carriage houses, such as the one at 31 Ocean Street in Dorchester, all the more significant and exciting and a great example of creating much-needed housing without negatively impacting neighborhoods.

The Carriage House at 31 Ocean Street.

The Carriage House at 31 Ocean Street.

Constructed in 1894 as a carriage house for the property next door, the building at 31 Ocean Street suffered extensive damage from pests, including termites, and root growth into the original foundation, and crumbling wood and iron work. When Nancy Anderson purchased the property, she says her friends and family thought she was “crazy,” but she had a vision to turn this neglected property into a home.

The Carriage House before.

The Carriage House before.

 

The Carriage House before.

The Carriage House before.

31-ocean-street-interior-before-3

The Carriage House before.

Anderson quickly set to work with the team from Castlemaine Construction to create a single-family home from what was used in recent decades as a garage with minimal (and barely acceptable) modifications for living on the second floor . With the scent of horse urine still in the air, Anderson and her teams created an open floor plan that kept the original sliding barn door and “magnificent” beadboard intact. They created custom door openings in order to use the building’s original doors (fit for a horse). They replaced original, unsalvageable trim with meticulous reproductions. Upstairs they removed 1970s-era wood paneling to uncover the building’s original walls. When she had finished her work, Anderson had highlighted the unique character of this historic structure for a modern city lifestyle with a vision all her own.

The Carriage House after.

The Carriage House after.

With an open mind and imaginative vision, Anderson was able to adapt an outmoded structure into a chic living space. She worked collaboratively with teams from preservation and construction companies, as well as the Dorchester Historical Society, to realize this vision. With tenacity and diligent work, historic structures such as carriage houses may be re-imagined for the 21st century. The Carriage House at 31 Ocean Street is a testament to the fact that if there’s a will, there is a way to creatively preserve buildings and create housing in buildings currently underutilized and being lost.

The Carriage House after.

The Carriage House after.

Do you think the Carriage House at 31 Ocean Street is the best of the best? Then vote for it for this year’s Fan Favorite! Vote once per day until October 24. Join us that evening at the Paramount Theater to find out if your favorite won, and to celebrate the preservation of Boston’s vibrant built environment. Tickets on sale now!

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