For Immediate Release
May 15, 2010
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Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI), and Roxbury community members today marked the beginning of a $2 million renovation of the historic Eustis Street Fire House at 20 Eustis Street in Roxbury with a groundbreaking ceremony, community block party, and tours of the adjacent historic Eliot Burying Ground.
“Today we are celebrating another step in the revitalization of Dudley Square, one of our City’s most historic retail districts,” said Mayor Menino. “The rehabilitation of this storied building is an investment in the past – and the future – of the Roxbury community. I want to thank Historic Boston for their vision and commitment to this important project.”
Today’s groundbreaking marks the latest milestone for the City’s Dudley Vision planning process, first announced by Mayor Menino in the summer of 2007. The City appointed the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force one year later to work with city officials and consultant teams on key real estate and programmatic components for enhancing Dudley Square. The task force is composed of representatives of various community and business groups, as well as members of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee.
HBI plans to rehabilitate and restore the existing fire house to its original footprint, which includes exterior restoration and reconstruction of a two-story wood-framed addition in the building’s rear. At completion, it will become HBI’s headquarters. The building will also house an additional non-profit partner, and provide non-profit commercial space for retail tenant or use as a satellite location for a non-profit organization. HBI will also tell the history of the building through installation of public art and interpretive panels.
Built in 1859 by what was then the “Town of Roxbury,” the building is the oldest standing firehouse structure in Boston, and is located on the original portion of the adjacent Eliot Burying Ground, which was established in 1633.
“Historic Boston’s work at the Eustis Street Fire House preserves an important early building for the future and supports Dudley Square’s growth,” said Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston. “We are also thrilled that this will be HBI’s new headquarters, bringing us closer to our mission of preserving historic places that matter to Boston’s neighborhoods.”
After Roxbury’s annexation to Boston in 1868, the Eustis Street Firehouse served the City as the “Hook & Ladder Co. No. 4” until 1881, and later as “Chemical Wagon No. 10” from 1889 until 1916. Between 1926 and 1954, the City leased the building as a post for veterans of the Spanish-American War. The building has remained vacant since.
The firehouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Eliot Burying Ground District in 1974, and subsequently added to the Boston Landmarks Commission’s Eustis Architectural Conservation District in 1982.
In August of 2006, the Eustis Street building was added to the City’s inventory of surplus property for which the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) is responsible. Following a public bidding process in 2008, the Public Facilities Commission granted tentative designation to HBI, in the form of a 99-year lease with the City.
HBI’s renovation project has been made possible, in part, by a $485,000 contribution from the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development, as well as New Market and Historic Tax Credits made available through the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC). HBI expects to move into the building following a 6-month construction period, and plans to complete the total renovation in 2012.
Historic Boston Incorporated is a non-profit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they are a useable part of the city’s present and future. HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose re-use will catalyze neighborhood renewal.