St. Gabriel's Monastery is a Boston Landmark, surrounded by historic structures and landscape features. In 2016, Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes proposed redevelopment of the site and has diligently collaborated with the Alliance and the Brighton community to find solutions that preserve the historic features of the site and create new housing opportunities for the neighborhood.
St. Gabriel's Monastery, built in the Mission style in 1909, anchors the complex that contains many other historic features including landscaping designed by the Olmsted Brothers as well as St. Gabriel's Church. From our earliest conversations with the project proponent, we reiterated the site's significance and urged for preservation of the context and features. We feel that the most historically significant resources on the site will be successfully preserved and rehabilitated by this project and we have expressed our support for the plan. Throughout the review process we have had close dialogue with the Brighton Allston Historical Society and helped them achieve some of their goals. We feel that the proposal meets both historic preservation and housing needs while giving this abandoned property a new life, and we encourage the proponent to continue to work with the community as the project comes into fruition.
Highlights from our Activity Log:
• May 2018
The Alliance continues to advocate for National Park Service approval of the project. We see the loss of the retreat house as a reasonable compromise given the many benefits and preservation aspects of the larger project. We have been in dialog with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), the National Park Service, the proponent as well as their preservation consultant to try and break the logjam. We are concerned that lack of NPS tax credit approval may threaten the preservation aspects of the project.
• April 30, 2018
Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes provides Alliance with update on project. Federal tax credits for the project have not been approved by the National Park Service who is urging them to keep the retreat house, a building neither the Alliance nor local or state officials consider significant. Alliance offered assistance.
• December 13, 2017
Alliance staff attends Zoning Commission and speaks in support of the project. The Commission votes unanimously in favor.
• June 14, 2017
Alliance staff attends Zoning Commission hearing and speaks in favor of zoning changes to allow for a Planned Development Area. The vote was postponed but later approved.
• April 25, 2017
Alliance staff attends Boston Landmarks Commission for Article 85 hearing. The demolition delay is ultimately not imposed on the retreat house but the Commission urges proponent to try and save the carriage house on Washington Street.
• March 27, 2017
Alliance submits comment letter in support of zoning changes and the creation of a Planned Development Area to facilitate the project.
• February 28, 2017
Alliance staff attends Boston Civic Design Commission hearing and speaks positively of the project.
• February 27, 2017
Alliance staff attends public meeting and speaks in support of the project because it preserves the historic monastery, church, shrine, house, cemetery, rosary walk, and landscaping.
• February 15, 2017
Alliance submits comment letter to BRA in full support of the project.
• January/February 2017
Dialogue continues with proponent and Brighton Allston Historical Society.
• October 12, 2016
The Alliance submits comment letter to BRA expressing appreciation for the proponent's efforts to work with the community and support for saving the church building.
• October 2016
Alliance staff continues dialogue with the proponent and the community as changes are made to the project.
• September 26, 2016
Alliance staff and Board members meet again with proponent to hear updates to the project. They continue to study rehabilitation of the church as well as redesign of the new construction.
• September 16, 2016
Alliance submits comment letter.
• September 2016
Alliance staff gets update from proponent. Secretary Galvin has toured the site and asks the team to keep the church building, so they are reevaluating. Alliance staff reiterates the importance of the church on the site- it communicates with the Landmarked monastery building and anchors the historic context and sense of place.
• August 2016
Alliance staff and two architects from the Alliance Board meet with several members of the project team. The most recent plans are presented and discussed. Alliance feels the new designs are too generic and urges the team to pull more inspiration from the historic architecture. The team explained that the structural report did not conclude that the church building could not be saved, but that it would be expensive to rehabilitate it and could make the project infeasible or might necessitate another building on the site. The Alliance urged the team to fully evaluate all options, including saving the church.
• July/August 2016
Alliance Board reviews design plans for new construction and provides feedback and recommendations to staff. Alliance staff continues dialogue with proponent and Brighton Allston Historical Society.
• June 2016
Alliance hosts a meeting with Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes and representatives from the Brighton Allston Historical Society. The proposal is discussed, particularly the historic church on the site. Alliance staff urge the proponent to conduct a structural report to support their decision to demolish, and to explore alternatives to demolition. The proponent is urged to rehabilitate the Pierce House on the property. Alliance staff feels the project is overall beneficial to the historic resources on the site and the neighborhood.
• May 2016
Alliance staff attends Boston Landmarks Commission hearing with a presentation from Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes about their proposal. Staff asks for a site plan and speaks with the proponent after the hearing to set up a meeting.
• January 2016
The Alliance becomes aware of the proposal through an update from the Brighton Allston Historical Society. The group expresses concern about the historic resources on the site like the church and landscaped grounds.