Located in one of Boston’s most beautiful and historically Significant 19th Century Squares (renamed Union Park at the end of the Civil war) this circa 1855 townhouse, converted into a rooming house in the 1920s and located in the largest Landmarked district in the US, had many historical and architectural constraints. The front façade had to remain either unchanged or returned to its original state, and any rear façade changes had to be approved by the South End Landmark District Commission. Floor area ratio and zoning restrictions governed the size and location of the new garage. Architecturally, although the original house consisted of gracious and well-proportioned rooms, the fates of urban and economic history lead to years of neglect and the last renovation in the 1970’s left only fragments of the original architecture. The rear yard and concrete parking lot reflected the building’s level of abandon.
In restoring the building to a one family house we entertained a ‘fictive history’. The question we asked was what might have been possible as opposed to recreating what was probable. The attitude allowed us to incorporate many modern physical and spatial amenities, from the kitchen appliances to the two-story sky lit shaft above the master bath, without awkward juxtaposition of style and detail. Several design cues were taken from the shell of the building, principally the aligned longitudinal axes of the fenestration. This allowed for a ‘porosity’ that guides the development of the connection from room to room as well as giving each floor an orientation to the garden, and sometimes the sky, as much as the street.
My Role: Principal Architect
Additional Credits: Architecture; Pamela Butz, Jeff Klug
Interiors: Pamela Butz, Jeff Klug, Jude LeBlanc