Located at the southernmost edge of Boston, Hyde Park was the last town to be merged with Boston in 1912. Cleary and Logan Squares are remarkable in the way that they evoke the feeling of a small town center. Focused at the intersection of River Street, Fairmount Avenue, and Hyde Park Avenue, the district is a mix of civic buildings, commercial structures, houses of worship, historic theaters, and noteworthy 19th-century residences. Hyde Park Main Streets has completed a number of attractive storefront improvements over the years, particularly in the center of the district.
2011 marked two important milestones in HBI’s work in Cleary and Logan Squares.
First, in September 2011, HBI acquired the historic Vertullo Building at 74-84 Fairmount Avenue from Carmela Vertullo Pearce. This ca. 1865 building (with a sizable addition in about 1875, and an expansion of its storefronts in about 1895) is a rare survivor from the period of the district’s early commercial development in the 1860s. HBI is planning a complete exterior rehabilitation of the property with a particular focus on its five storefronts, as well as undertaking upgrades to building systems and interior spaces. The project is being positioned to qualify for both federal and state historic tax credits, and construction is expected to begin in 2012.
Also in the fall of 2011, HBI worked with building owner Pat Tierney and Hyde Park Main Streets to install a recreation of the 1915 Broadway-style theatre sign on the historic Everett Square Theatre. This sign was carefully reproduced based on historic photos of the original, and was conceived as a way to build interest in the eventual full rehabilitation of the theatre. This project, funded in part by the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund, also involved the renovation of the original box office area, which has been opened to public view for the first time in decades and will serve as a space for neighborhood events.
In the course of its work in Hyde Park, HBI has completed extensive research into the historic development of Cleary and Logan Squares, and has developed a thorough understanding of the opportunities for preservation focused rehabilitation and development projects there. HBI created slideshow presentations that compare historic photos and maps to current conditions in the district, demonstrating how much the neighborhood has changed since the 1930s and 1940s—the period by which the Squares became most densely developed.
Most of the historic images that informed this work were discovered as part of a digital scanning initiative that the Hyde Park Historical Society and the Hyde Park Branch Library allowed HBI to undertake during the summer of 2009 using materials from the Society’s collections.
As part of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s consultant team that worked through a two-year community process to create a strategic plan for the neighborhood leading to a revised zoning code for Hyde Park, HBI identified several areas that should be—and were—designated as Neighborhood Design Overlay Districts as a tool to help manage rehabilitation and development projects in ways that protects the historic character of the neighborhood.
For a more detailed introduction the district and an overview of the preservation and redevelopment priorities identified there, take a look at the district work plan HBI developed with the assistance of a local Advisory Committee set up for this purpose.