Bay Village


The Bay Village area consisted of mudflats caused by Back Bay tides until 1825, when a City ordinance was passed that authorized the construction of a dam to be built from Baldwin Mills to Fayette Street. Once the area was dammed and drained, the land was suitable for the construction of houses, which began almost immediately.

Regulations often limited early construction in Bay Village in terms of height and construction materials and, as a result, the major streets tend to be very visually similar; red brick was the building material of choice, often with a granite foundation.  Structures constructed between 1825 and 1899 are representative of a variety of architectural styles, ranging from Federal to late Victorian.

20th century structures in Bay Village tend to deviate from the patterns set by these older structures, and include examples of adaptive reuse or new commercial buildings in the Art Deco and Moderne styles.

Bay Village was built by and home to many of Boston’s chief carpenter-builders and artisans, including stair builders, masons, paperhangers, printers, piano makers, and a variety of other tradesmen. It was also the center of the movie industry in Boston for much of the 20th century.


The Bay Village Historic District was designated in 1983 by City of Boston Ordinance Title 7, under Mass. General Laws, Chapter 40C, as amended.

Scope of Review

All exterior work (including work at rooftops) that is, or will be, visible from any public way requires the review of the Bay Village Architectural Commission.  A Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, or Exemption Application must be submitted to and approved by the Commission prior to beginning any exterior work that is visible from a public way. 

See the Bay Village Regulatory Guidelines for further information.

Applications, application instructions, and a schedule of filing deadlines and hearing dates are available below.  To save time and costs, property owners and developers are encouraged to contact staff early on in the project planning process, in order to obtain information on compliance with guidelines.

A preservation planner for the Bay Village Architectural Commission may be reached at or at 617-635-3850.

  • Please note that Commission staff is not available to review applications for completeness immediately upon submittal. 

  • Please review all instructions and documentation requirements carefully before submitting your application. 

  • It is your responsibility to ensure the application is complete before submittal.  Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Bay Village Information

Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, and Exemption Application


  • BVHDC Agenda July 2016

    The Bay Village Historic District Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. in Room 709 of City Hall.

    BVHDC Agenda July 2016

Bay Village Historic District Commission Agenda Archive

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