Fort Point Channel

History

The Fort Point Channel Landmark District (FPCLD) encompasses roughly 55 acres across the Fort Point Channel from downtown Boston. Developed in the 1830s by the Boston Wharf Company and owned by the company until the early 2000s, the Fort Point Channel area is Boston’s largest, most cohesive, and most significant collection of late 19th and early 20th century industrial loft buildings.

Development of the Fort Point Channel area began in 1836 and continued until 1882.  The Boston Wharf Company was entirely responsible for the development of the area; they laid out and constructed streets (which they named for company officers and prominent tenants), parceled out lots, and erected nearly all of the buildings in the FPCLD from the designs of their own staff architects. The primary purposes for the buildings were manufacturing and warehousing, with a variety of goods being produced and stored there.  The Boston Wharf Company initially specialized in the storage of sugar and molasses, and gradually expanded its interests to become a major developer of industrial and warehouse properties served by ships docking in Boston Harbor, and by the railroad.  Among the chief industries located in the Fort Point Channel area was the wool trade.  During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Boston was the principal marketplace for wool for apparel and fabrics in the United States.  After warehousing and manufacturing uses declined in the 20th century, artists moved into the abandoned lofts and created what is now New England’s largest artist enclave.

The Fort Point Channel district is marked by an exceptional degree of visual uniformity.  The buildings in the area are, with few exceptions, loft structures built between the 1880s and 1920s by the Boston Wharf Company, and represent an unusually coherent and well-preserved collection of late 19th and early 20th century lofts that reflect a critical period of social, economic, and physical development in the City and the region.  The loft buildings are generally masonry, with simple volumes and flat roofs.  Buildings are elegantly proportioned, with classically inspired details concentrated at entrances and cornices.

Designation

The Fort Point Channel Landmark District was designated by a vote by Boston Landmarks Commission on December 9, 2008, then confirmed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and approved by a vote of City Council on January 28, 2009.

Scope of Review

All exterior work that is visible from any existing or proposed street or way open to public travel requires the review of the Fort Point Channel Landmark District 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 is visible from any existing or proposed street or way open to public travel.

See the Standards and Criteria for the Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission 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.

  • 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.

Fort Point Channel Information

Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, and Exemption Application

Announcements

  • FPCLDC Agenda November 2014

    The Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 5:30PM in the Piemonte Room, 5th Floor, Boston City Hall.

    FPCLDC Agenda November 2014

Fort Point Channel Landmark District Commission Agenda Archive

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