- Advocacy Information Center
For more than three decades the Alliance as promoted the preservation and celebration of important buildings, open spaces and communities in Boston. While the organization has evolved over time, we take great pride in the breadth of our work through the years.
United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building
160 Federal Street
Architect: Parker, Thomas, & Rice
Widely regarded today as Boston's one of Boston’s best examples of Art Deco architecture, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation building was slated for demolition in 1981. The Alliance moved quickly to successfully petition the building for Boston Landmark status, which was granted in 1982. The petition sent a clear message to city officials and the development community that this exceptional building was worthy of preservation and restoration. Soon after, brokerage firm Meredith & Grew undertook a rigorous restoration program for the building, renovating it for Class A office space. Today, the United Shoe Machinery Company Building still serves as Colliers Meredith & Grew’s headquarters, boasts some of Boston’s most important commercial tenants, and stands as a remarkable example of how a high-quality preservation project can allow for successful long-term use.
Old Exchange Building (1889)
53 State Street
Architect: Peabody & Stearns
The Old Exchange Building was slated for demolition in 1979. While the Alliance sued the Landmarks Commission unsuccessfully, the State Street façade, and key interior elements of the building were preserved. The historic portions of the building were integrated into a new sleek office tower. Today, the building stands as a stark reminder of the challenges that the preservation movement faced in these formative years.
Kennedy’s Department Store (1874)
26-38 Summer Street, 101 Arch Street
Architect: William Ralph Emerson & Carl Fehmer
In 1982, Kennedy’s was threatened with demolition to make way for new development. The Alliance took action by filing a petition to landmark the building. The petition did not succeed. Through a series of negotiations, however, the three top floors of the building's façade were preserved and integrated into the new building. Like with the Old Exchange Building, Kennedy's can best be described as a partial success. The compromise set the tone, however, for future negotiations, making clear that creative solutions were possible through deliberation and commitment to seeking compromises.
Charles Street Jail (1851)
215 Charles Street
Architect: Gridley J. F. Bryant
The Charles Street Jail, a prime example of Boston Granite style from the mid-nineteenth century, closed its doors in 1978. Several years later, expansion of Massachusetts General Hospital threatened the jail with demolition. The Alliance, working with community partners, successfully advocated for preservation of the building, which was converted to the extraordinary Liberty Hotel by Carpenter & Company. The project team was led by Cambridge Seven and Ann Beha Architects, in 2007.
Paramount Theatre (1932)
549 Washington Street
Architect: Arthur Bowditch
The Paramount, which has both and interior and an exterior Boston Landmark designation, was one of three theatres that were the subjects of a 1996 theatre charrette, sponsored by Mayor Menino, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alliance. The charrette had the goal of inspiring renewed interest in the buildings’ restoration and renovation. The Paramount’s façade and marquee were restored by Millennium Partners-Boston in 2002. In 2005, Emerson College acquired the theatre and began planning for a comprehensive interior restoration and redevelopment in conjunction with construction of a new student dormitory and an adjacent building’s façade restoration. The Paramount Center project, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, was completed in 2009 and involves two new theatre spaces and a student residence hall, in addition to the restoration of key elements of the theatre’s interior murals, furniture and details.
Sears Roebuck (1928)
201 Brookline Avenue
Architect: George C. Nimmons
In 1989, the former Sears Roebuck and Company Building was designated as a Boston Landmark. However, in 1995 the building faced having its landmark status rescinded after several development proposals failed and many people believed that the restoration of the building was financially infeasible. The Alliance actively advocated for a preservation-friendly development alternative for this site. Listong the building on the National Register of Historic Places permitted developers to take advantage State and Federal of Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Finally, in 1998, a plan to restore the building and convert the interior into retail and office space was devised and implemented by the Abbey Group with architects Bruner/Cott & Associates. The Landmark Center opened in 2000 as a high quality retail center in a fully restored building.
Chestnut Hill Waterworks (1888 and 1895)
Architects: Arthur Vinal and Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge
After the city stopped using the Chestnut Hill Waterworks in the 1970s, the nineteenth century Romanesque and Beaux Arts pumping stations fell into disrepair. A citizens group urged the city to maintain the buildings and the Alliance's Executive Director, Albert Rex, chaired the committee tasked with creating the guidelines for the Request for Proposals for the building. Several re-use scenarios were considered before a plan was devised that would to convert the historic buildings into condominiums and office space. Diamond/Sinacori Real Estate Development took on the project, turning the Romanesque High Service Station into museum space for its historic engines, a cafe, and several residential units. The Beaux Arts Low Service Station, a former carriage house and a new building feature luxurious condominiums.
Opera House (1928)
537 Washington Street
Architect: Thomas Lamb
The Opera House was home to the Opera Company of Boston when it was closed in 1991. Four years later, at the nomination of Mayor Menino, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Opera house as one of the most endangered historic places in the United States. In 1996, a charrette sponsored by Mayor Menino, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alliance generated renewed interest in the theatre. Purchased and immaculately restored by Clear Channel Entertainment, the Opera House reopened in 2004.
Fenway Park (1912)
4 Yawkey Way
Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark in operation, was threatened in 1999 when plans were announced to construct a new, larger park for the Boston Red Sox. The Alliance and concerned citizens formed Save Fenway Park! to advocate for preservation and restoration of the park for twenty-first century use. In 2002, new ownership committed to a renovation and improvement plan for the ballpark. Each year for the past six years, the Red Sox ownership has made substantial improvements and renovations to this beloved icon. In 2008, the ballpark celebrated the longest stretch of consecutive sold out games in Major League Baseball history, a remarkable achievement for a facility once deemed to be unworthy of preservation and long-term use.
426 Washington Street
Architect: Daniel Burnham
The Alliance strongly supported the petition to designate two historic buildings on the proposed development site, one of which was Daniel Burnam’s only commercial property in Boston, as Boston Landmarks. The buildings were designated in July 2007. Developers Gale International and Vornado Realty Trust and project architects Elkus Manfredi have devised a twenty-first century response to the historic buildings on the site that is elegant, thoughtful, and respectful of its historic context. The Alliance has been an active participant in consultations regarding how to integrate contemporary new construction with the historic buildings. The Alliance supports plans for the Filene’s complex redevelopment and its many historic preservation and economic development benefits.
Vilna Shul (1919)
18 Phillips Street
Architect: David Kalman
The Vilna Shul, a simple yet elegant building on Beacon Hill, was modeled after the medieval synagogues of Europe, but also draws inspiration from the architecture of the neighborhood. After the Vilna Shul shut its doors in the 1980s, the Alliance joined as a vocal member of a movement to see the building restored and reopened. Following a three million dollar restoration that secured the building envelope the building was reopened as an historical site, cultural center and spiritual haven for tours, exhibits, programs and events.
Northern Avenue Bridge (1908)
Architect: William Jackson
The Northern Avenue Bridge stretches across the Fort Point Channel, connecting Downtown Boston with the South Boston waterfront. It is a triple barreled through-truss bridge, and one of the oldest swing bridges of its kind in the world. It is an icon in the nineteenth century industrial warehouse district. After it was slated for demolition in the 1990s, the Alliance joined forces with the Coalition to Save the Northern Avenue Bridge and launched a campaign to see this unique resource preserved and rehabilitated. In November 2008, the Boston Redevelopment Authority announced that $9.5 million in federal funding has been allocated to the restoration of the bridge and that the city is moving forward with plans for its stabilization. The Alliance will continue to be involved as the design and community process progress.
Boston’s Archdiocese Properties
In May 2003, the Alliance received an emergency grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to conduct a comprehensive, city-wide survey of the buildings in Boston associated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The Archdiocese had entered a period of rapid contraction, including the closing of schools and consolidation of parishes. The survey identified historic resources under Archdiocese ownership and helped set priorities for long-range planning and preservation efforts. The survey has proven to be an invaluable tool for raising awareness about redevelopment alternatives for closed parishes and associated buildings. It has inspired the protection, long-term maintenance and use of many properties throughout Boston’s neighborhoods.
Historic Resources in all of Boston’s Neighborhoods
Beyond the Alliance’s impact on high profile buildings in and around Boston’s downtown, our advocacy over the past thirty years is felt in virtually every neighborhood of the city. Since 1978, the Alliance has stayed true to its belief that no property is too small or unimportant for attention. Whether it is farmhouse in Jamaica Plain, a historic park in Roxbury, or a commercial property in East Boston, the Alliance has worked hand-in-hand with neighborhood residents and community organizations to help see neighborhood historic resources preserved and restored.