Historic Boston Incorporated 1999 Preservation Revolving Fund Casebook : Property Entries Online
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Highland Spring Brewery/Oliver Ditson Co.

Mission Hill

• Large-scale industrial buildings associated with two important Stony Brook Valley companies: the Highland Spring Brewery and the Oliver Ditson Publishing Co.

• Long vacant, these buildings stand as a prominent visual landmark from Columbus Avenue

• Most recent plan for redevelopment proposed a four-story rooftop addition and a nine-story adjacent tower for artists housing

highlandspring.jpg (74228 bytes)

Name: Highland Spring Brewery / Oliver Ditson Co. Bldg SqFt:
Brewery + adjacent building: 36,000
Oliver Ditson Co.: 40,392
Lot SqFt:
Brewery + adjacent building: 14,871
Oliver Ditson Co.: 10,107
Address: 148-168 Terrace Street Ward: 10 Parcel: 358, 359, 360
Neighborhood: Mission Hill Zoning: Local Industrial Subdistrict (LI)
Year Built: 1892-1912 Use: Vacant
Style: Late Victorian Industrial / Georgian Revival Condition: Poor

J. Williams Beal / Monks and Johnson

Stephen V. Miller Trust
c/o 166 Terrace St. Realty Trust
40 Saddle Ridge Road
Milton, MA 02186

Peter R. Fenn Trust
491-497 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

Historic Certification: National Register eligible
FY99 Building Assessment:
Brewery: $259,000
Brewery bldg2: $35,000
Oliver Ditson: $763,500

FY02 Building Assessment:
Brewery: $245,400
Brewery bldg2: $16,700
Oliver Ditson: $826,700

FY99 Tax:
Brewery: $12,186
Brewery bldg2: $3,056
Oliver Ditson: $31,540

FY02 Tax:
Brewery: $10,737
Brewery bldg2: $2,684
Oliver Ditson: $29,223

FY99 Land Assessment:
Brewery: $70,000
Brewerey bldg2: $47,500
Oliver Ditson: $88,000

FY02 Land Assessment:
Brewery: $108,600
Brewery bldg2: $71,800
Oliver Ditson: $136,800

Tax Status: Current

Preservation Strategy:

Conduct pre-development feasibility study to sort out options for financing, re-development, and preservation.


Henry A. Reuter and John R. Alley, brewers from Germany and Ireland respectively, opened the Highland Spring Brewery in 1867. By 1872 it was the largest brewery in the United States that produced only ale and porter. Although the brewery itself is no longer extant, this large complex of two distinct, yet interconnected buildings remains a prominent landmark at the foot of Mission Hill in the Stony Brook Valley. The late Victorian building, built in 1892, at 158-164 Terrace Street housed the firm's bottling plant. The massive Georgian Revival addition at 31 New Heath Street, built by Reuter’s sons in 1912, was a storehouse for the casks and tanks of ale and porter. The Oliver Ditson Co., Boston’s largest publisher of sheet music, purchased 31 New Heath Street during prohibition and used the building into the 1950s for printing and storage purposes.

Preservation Challenges:

The Highland Spring Brewery has been vacant for nearly twenty years. Many windows are broken out and the interior is exposed to the elements. The extreme size of the buildings and the deteriorated condition will make rehabilitation difficult. The current owner has recently proposed to convert the property into an enormous complex of artists' housing. This proposal included a great deal of new construction, including an additional four stories onto the roof of the buildings and an adjacent nine story tower. the City and BRA have not approved new construction which are out of scale with the site and its surroundings.

Neighborhood Context:

Highland Brewery is located at the southwestern slope of Mission Hill, in a location that is visually isolated by MBTA's Orange line corridor to the east and a large parking lot owned by New England Baptist Hospital across Terrace Street to the west. The former refrigeration plant of the Highland Brewery is located on the hospital property. Directly to the south of the property stand two buildings: one is a concrete block maintenance facility of the Metropolitan District Commission and the other is the historic Roxbury Brewing Co., which Family Service of Boston is presently converting into office space.

Other Sources of Information:

BLC Building Information Form; Parker Hill/Mission Hill Preservation Study, BLC, 1984

Entry Completed: 05/07/1999

Summer 2002 Update:

Global Ventures Ltd. has withdrawn its proposal for a $15 million redevelopment of this property as its zoning relief expired in December 2001. The proposal included approximately 167 residential units in a rehabilitated and expanded Oliver Ditson Building and a new seven-story tower. Neighborhood concerns over building height, development density, increased traffic, parking, noise, and preservation prompted the developer to withdraw the proposal at the request of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The BRA expects Global Ventures to submit a new Project Notification Form that addresses the community's concerns in September 2002.

Update Entry Completed: 08/12/2002

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