Since 1892, the Home for Aged Couples has stood stately over Franklin Park near Egleston Square. Once serving as the Elizabeth Carleton House, the Home for Aged Couples, and the offices of the Council of Elders, the site was vacated in the mid-1990s and sat vacant until a new vision was launched in 2004. It took over a decade to restore the three structures on the site into one community, now serving as 44 affordable apartments with no age limit in the Carleton House, 34 units of affordable apartments for mental health tenants in the Walnut House, and 37 elderly affordable apartments in the Cooper House.
The three Houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, together with a fourth building constructed on the site, form a cohesive, historic setting for residents and visitors. Creating affordable housing in Boston can be challenging on its own, but doing so within historic buildings, without relocating the tenants offsite, while restoring the historic fabric of the buildings, is quite an accomplishment. Furthermore, the new additions are sensitively designed to blend with the character of the setting, rather than overwhelm or distract from it. A formerly blighted site now contributes to the neighborhood once again and in multiple ways.
“Recognizing the value and adaptability of this campus of buildings serves as a model for creative ways to bring new life to all corners of our city–filling a residential need without overwhelming a neighborhood, introducing new construction in harmony with the historic character of the neighborhood,” said Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance.
“Combining historic preservation with affordable housing presents one of the most beneficial outcomes for the city. Residents become part of a continuum of the life of these structures while connecting to their neighborhood’s past. These can be challenging projects financially, but if the Community Preservation Act is passed at the fall ballot we are likely to see more of these great projects.”