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About AllianceViews

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.

We want to hear from you — so start a conversation, share a thought or comment, and let us know what you think.

Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

2017 Preservation Achievement Award Winner: Terminal Storage Building

In anticipation of our 29th annual Preservation Achievement Awards ceremony on September 19, 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.

July 12th, 2017  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

Built in 1912, the Terminal Storage Building is both one of the oldest and one of the few remaining structures from this industrial moment in Boston’s history. It represents the era during which railroads and ships served the city as predominantly as cars and the T do today. Situated amid the Mystic River, Boston Harbor, and the Boston & Lowell railyard, this building and a few like it attracted other industries to create a hub of productivity around them. Originally constructed as a wool warehouse, it soon became a distribution point for Boston during the era of railroad and ship transport.

Boston Public Library, Aero Scenic Airviews, 1929

By the 1940s, the area had begun to evolve, and a carnival toy manufacturer called Nancy Sales Company occupied the building. When Nancy Sales moved its production elsewhere in the early 1980s, the building begun an era of idleness that would last over thirty years. What was once a bustling, invigorating center of industry slowly diminished into a symbol of deterioration.

It took nineteen years, six lawsuits, and the tremendously admirable determination of the owner to assemble the permitting required to revive the building. The building itself had decayed to such an extent that a tremendous amount of preparatory work had to be done so that construction could ensue safely. Despite these setbacks, the work began and, in the end, 112 apartments and two commercial spaces emerged from the abandoned structure. The team was even able to recycle thousands of feet of original Heart Pine decking for flooring and paneling as a nod to the building’s past. As life was brought back into the Terminal Storage Building, it also infiltrated the surrounding area of Charlestown and once again sparked a trend of advancement in the neighborhood.

BEFORE: Terminal Building at 270 Medford Street

AFTER: Terminal Building at 270 Medford Street

As an additional outcome of this lengthy process, the area was designated as the Terminal Storage Warehouse Historic District and granted historical status by the National Park Service. As Longleaf Lumber, the team that expertly re-used the original decking, stated, “preserved as a testament to Charlestown’s historic working-class waterfront, the building’s imposing industrial character ties Boston’s techier generation of residents to the area’s tradition of heavy-duty American industry and culture.” Because of his exemplary dedication, the owner has represented that moment in Boston’s narrative within a modernized environment. Although the path to such a success was neither clear nor simple, the result exemplifies the value of persistence in the balancing act of restoration and evolution.

Project Details: 271 Medford Street, Charlestown
Owner/Developer: Suffolk Companies
Architect: bargmann hendrie + archetype
Project Team: Matrix Enterprises; People’s United Bank; Stateside Construction; Suffolk Companies; Tremont Preservation Services

Written and researched by Jessica Saunders.

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