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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

2017 Preservation Achievement Award Winner: 101 Beacon Street

In conjunction with our 29th Annual Preservation Achievement Awards, we are profiling each of the 2017 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.

June 28th, 2017  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

Until recently, when drivers exited Storrow Drive and approached the corner of Beacon and Arlington Streets, they were met by 101 Beacon Street’s 1959 remodeled façade, an entry point that failed to preview the grandeur of the Back Bay neighborhood. The new restoration represents a return to the elegance of the original 1862 home and a reversal of the insensitive previous renovation. Now 101 Beacon Street once again contributes to the character of the neighborhood and greets visitors with a welcome worthy of the Back Bay Architectural District.

Not long after the marshy Back Bay area had been filled and developed, 101 Beacon Street became an heirloom for a few fortunate families. The first residents of 101 Beacon Street were Rev. William and Elizabeth Mountford, who lived in the building for the first seventeen years of its life before they sold it to Percival Lowell Everett- a trade merchant, founder of the Third National Bank of Boston, widower, and father to three daughters. When his daughters were grown, Everett sold the home to Mary Edmondson Thorndike whose husband and son were an extremely successful attorney and doctor, respectively. Once Mary’s son married, he and his wife lived in 101 Beacon Street until 1898, when it was passed between a few owners before settling in the hands of Dr. Howard Augustus Lothrop. The home became the residence and offices of Dr. Lathrop, who would become a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and the surgeon-in-chief at Boston City Hospital. After Lathrop’s death, his son Oliver and his family kept possession of the home for another thirty years. In all, a lawyer, a banker, three young sisters, a grocery merchant, a clergyman, a widow, a tailor, a surgeon, and a pair of newlyweds are bound in history by their lives lived at 101 Beacon Street. The house then entered a new phase of its life and become home to a modern era of Bostonians.

In 1958, Benjamin Booker purchased the building from younger generations of the Lothrop family. Under his direction the following year, an extensive remodel converted the home into apartments, lowered the front entrance below street level, removed the elegant front staircase, painted the brownstone white, flattened the Mansard roof, and added a starkly incongruous floor to the top of the building. Its original elegance muffled, its details covered, the building was no longer in harmony with the historic character of the Back Bay.

AFTER-Entrance

BEFORE-Entrance

The project team tackled the challenges of reversing the damage of the previous renovation, honoring the original architecture where possible, and satisfying the expectations of modern luxury apartments. In many cases, the original craftsmanship was hidden beneath the 1959 additions, itching to be restored. The flat plaster of a new ceiling concealed elaborate ornamentation and moldings of the original ceilings. Like an archeological dig, the project team carefully uncovered the building’s history layer by layer, thoughtfully reassessing their plans whenever they found structural or ornamental elements beneath the layers.

The team was able to restore the ceiling details that remained and use molds to recreate the areas that had deteriorated. They also created a porch resonant of the original entrance using the original framing. Hidden by stark white paint, the framing also revealed the original brownstone of the façade, which the team used to expertly recreate the color. Despite the shift from a single family home to apartments, the elegant flow of the rounded entryway and staircase today mirror the procession of the original home. These resurrections restore the original grace of the building, but they do not attempt to reconstruct lost features. The sub-street level entrance remains below the liberated terrace and the top floor, with its new Mansard roof, echoes the earlier attic rather than the incompatible rectangle that occupied the space during the time between them.

The original ceiling ornamentation and molding was unveiled in the 2017 remodel.

There are examples throughout the city of insensitive renovations, speedy upgrades, and unfortunate demolitions. Too often, owners are not able to see the diamond in the rough resulting in partial or even complete loss of historic fabric. Thankfully, the devoted project team at 101 Beacon Street not only knew the treasure in their care, but they took the time to carefully polish this gem and restore its proud face as it welcomes us all to the iconic Back Bay.

101 Beacon, 1867

101 Beacon, 1959-2013

101 Beacon, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Details: 101 Beacon Street, Back Bay
Owner/Developer: One-O-One Beacon LLC. Andrew Constantine
Architect: The Office of Michael J. Scanlon; Choo & Company
Project Team: Zade Associates LLC; The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Drago; The Law Offices of Russo & Scolnick; Katz, Rudnick & Sullivan PC; Brookline Bank; William Young, former director of Boston Landmarks Commission; Boston Ornament Company, Inc.; Mott Iron Works

1867 photo courtesy of Boston Athenaeum. 2013 and 2017 exterior and historic information of past residents courtesy of BackBayHouses.orgWritten and researched by Jessica Saunders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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