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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

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

Preservation Achievement Award Winner: The Godfrey Hotel

October 22nd, 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.

Few would argue that neighborhoods and buildings within can reach a point where they need a re-boot. But how can that be accomplished without losing the funky, pedestrian-scale character that brings distinctiveness to the various parts of the city? The Godfrey Hotel demonstrates how historic buildings play a central role in revitalizing the modern downtown district while keeping their historic flair and pedestrian scale. By inserting a new use into historic buildings, such as the Amory and Blake buildings constructed in the beginning of the 20th century the Godfrey has transformed tired offices spaces into a desirable boutique hotel and restaurant.

The Godfrey Hotel.

The Godfrey Hotel.

The Godfrey Hotel comprises two historic buildings that are significant examples of early 20th century high style indicative of the evolution of city commercial construction. The average passerby or hotel visitor likely won’t know the terminology or architectural history but will know these buildings just feel right within Boston’s Historic Ladder Block District. The Amory, built in 1904, showcases classical style elements including a finely detailed dentil and bracketed cornice, pedimented windows, and broken architrave at the entrance. In comparison, the Blake building though built only four years later reflects a more experimental style shown through its wide expanses of glass made possible by the development of high-rise steel technologies.

The Godfrey Hotel.

The Godfrey Hotel.

Both the Amory and Blake buildings were designed by Arthur H. Bowditch, the notable Boston Architect who also designed Washington Street essentials such as the Paramount Theater, the Jeweler’s Building, and Old South Building. His impact on today’s Boston extends past Downtown Crossing with the Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay. The construction of these two historic buildings occurred during a period of increasing urban density. This restoration mirrors a similar trend occurring over a century later with more and more people enjoying the benefits of Boston’s downtown area. The Godfrey Hotel is part and parcel of that trend, both responding to the rejuvenation of the neighborhood and spawning greater vibrancy itself, all while reflecting Boston’s historic legacy.

The renovation project designed by Finegold Alexander joins the Amory and Blake buildings into one use while preserving their individual historic features. A building system challenge of the project involved integrating new MEP/FP for the two separate high-rise structures. Structural upgrades to protect the buildings from seismic and wind forces involve the insertion of two massive concrete shear walls that extend throughout all 11 floors. In addition to bringing structural upgrades, the project balanced modernization with retention of character through repair, preservation, and restoration solutions. Interior features designed in collaboration with the Gettys Group include a lobby featuring 16.-ft. ceilings, coffee tasting bar, and restaurant. Most notable interior restorations include the historic elevator lobby and marble stair.

The Godfrey Hotel.

The Godfrey Hotel.

As part of the Downtown Crossing district, the Godfrey Hotel brings additional new life to Washington Street by attracting both visitors and residents in the City of Boston. The 242 room boutique hotel serves a functional purpose while the decorative and historic elements of the buildings weave into the city’s historic visual fabric. This project demonstrates the ability for historic buildings in the downtown context to find new uses so that they can add to the neighborhood’s revitalization efforts.

Do you think the Godfrey Hotel 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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