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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

2017 Preservation Achievement Award Winner: Paul Revere House

In conjunction with our 29th Annual Preservation Achievement Awards, we are profiling each of this year's winning projects. Follow this series to get a special look at projects that honor and update the character of Boston.

August 9th, 2017  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

5 and 6 Lathrop Place

So much has happened here

Unique in its ability to give visitors a glimpse into 17th and 18th  century life—and a hero’s life at that! —the Paul Revere House (1680) is the oldest building in downtown Boston and, as the only house on the Freedom Trail, a main attraction for visitors. Paul Revere bought the house in 1770. He and his family lived there off and on from 1770-1800, when Revere sold it.  Shortly after the Revere family moved, the house served as a sailor’s boarding house; in the second half of the 19th century the downstairs was also variously converted into a candy store, Italian bank, cigar factory, and vegetable and fruit business. Eventually, beginning with Paul Revere’s grandson purchasing the building in 1902, the house was turned into a historic house museum, saving it from demolition. Soon the house was not suited to accommodate all those who wanted to visit, which has been a challenge for many decades…until now!

In order to install necessary accommodations, ensure accessibility, and capitalize on its educational potential, the stewards of the site, the Paul Revere Memorial Association, purchased two adjacent row houses built in the 183os. The row houses at 5 and 6 Lathrop Place were originally built on land that was once owned by Paul Revere himself but over the years had deteriorated at the rear of the Paul Revere House complex. In addition to providing room to grow, these two structures stand as rare survivors of their era, serving as a model of the row house architectural style and as a representation of its use as a boarding house and then two-family home.

Restoration + Excavation

Restored twin 1835 fireplaces

The project wasn’t just about expansion, however. Over the years, the row houses had been incrementally renovated and enlarged, making the project not only a restoration but also somewhat of an archaeological excavation. The team meticulously discovered and retained significant characteristics of the home and adjacent courtyard area during the process of rehabilitation. In addition, the team sought to represent the choices that the different owners made to improve their half of the two-family home. On the exterior, designers highlighted the 19th century windows, exterior masonry walls showing evidence of the building’s evolution from a two-story to three-story structure, decorative roofline trim, and two generations of clapboards. On the interior, the floor plan and spatial relationships, twin 1835 fireplaces, and color palette were the inspiration of the respectful design. In addition, balusters, paneling, posts and railings (which were removed during a previous renovation and stored in the home), patiently awaited reinstallation. Each of these thoughtful decisions represents different periods and facets of the building’s history and use.

One of the primary considerations of the project was the dynamic relationship among the Paul Revere House, the renovated building, the private way, and the conjoining courtyard. The almost 175-year-old connection among the structures influences the character of the 19th century streetscape legacy as well as the views from the perspective of the central Paul Revere House. The project included an extensive renovation of the courtyard located between the Paul Revere House and the new education and visitor center placed within the row houses. The team was able to simultaneously and seamlessly redesign the courtyard as an open gathering space and create accessible entrances to the Revere House. The new space even exhibits part of a cobble path uncovered by archaeologists during construction.

After: Renovated Courtyard


Project Details: 19 North Square, North End
Owner/Developer: Paul Revere Memorial Association
Architect: Mills Whitaker Architects
Project Team: Acentech Incorporated; Andre Frosch and Sons Painting; Atlantic Hardwoods; Available Light Inc.; Beacon Hill Lock & Key; C.D. Plastering; Critchfield and Company; Ebacher Plumbing & Heating, Inc.; Elcon, LLC; Feldman Land Surveyors; Forte Engineering; Garaventa USA, Inc.; Gilbert and Becker; H.W. Moore Associates Inc.; Home Co Remodeling LLC; Independent HVAC; Instant Signal and Alarm Company, Inc.; Internet & Telephone LLC; Johnson Engineering & Design, Inc.; Koetteritz Land Design Inc.; Mystic Scenic Studios; Pelch Marble and Tile; PJ O’Connell Mechanical; Richard Irosn Restoration Mason; RSI Metal Fabrication, LLC; Stone Surface; Structures North Consulting Engineers Inc.

Written and researched by Jessica Saunders

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