Fields Corner is a bustling commercial district centered on the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street. Home to shops and other civic amenities since the late-18th century, commercial activity remains strong in this highly diverse neighborhood, which is now a center of Boston’s Vietnamese community. A significant amount of new development has bolstered the district, as has the recent reconstruction of the MBTA’s Red Line subway station. Many structures, however, need rehabilitation, from simple storefront improvements to the total redevelopment of some buildings. Architecturally, the district is particularly notable for its fine collection of early 20th-century cast stone commercial buildings.
The completion in 2011 of the Golden Building façade rehabilitation marked HBI’s first bricks and mortar project in Fields Corner, which dramatically transformed a highly altered eyesore into a showpiece for the neighborhood. The $320,000 project removed several layers of unsympathetic alterations and restored some missing architectural features of this ca. 1895 building.
In addition, the Golden Building’s ground floor retail tenants worked with the City of Boston’s ReStore Program to develop new logos and signage, and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative on the second floor received a new and efficient HVAC system with help from the City’s Partners with Non-Profits Program. HBI provided a low-interest loan to the property’s owners, Stephen and Deborah Golden, and managed most aspects of the project, from planning and design through construction.
This project was quickly followed by the rehabilitation of the façade of the Lenox Building, just a block away. This two-story brick and cast stone building from 1920 received substantial masonry repairs, along with the complete rehab of the storefront of the large corner retail space and two other retail spaces. These two successes have generated interest from other property owners along Dorchester Avenue, and two additional property owners are now working with HBI to plan similar substantial rehabilitations.
In the realm of community education initiatives, two very successful years of running MyDotTour have increased the neighborhood’s awareness and appreciation of its history and historic architecture, and have engaged local youth in learning about and celebrating their diverse neighborhood.
A major local priority project—for both HBI and the community—remains the rehabilitation and reactivation of the vacant portions of the former O’Hearn Storage Building in the heart of the district. This complex also contains the ca. 1795 Isaac Newcomb Field House, from whose family the district takes its name. More than any other property, restoring these buildings to active use would be transformational to Fields Corner. HBI is in discussions with the property’s owner about developing a project that would help preserve and reactivate one of the neighborhood’s most significant and underused historic resources.
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.