Urban renewal in the United States started with the Housing Act of 1949, part of President Harry Truman's Fair Deal. In Boston, almost a third of the old city was demolished, including the historic West End, to make way for a new highway, low- and moderate-income high-rises, and new government and commercial buildings. The Boston Landmarks Commission was created by legislation in 1975 as a response to the mass demolitions, particularly the demolition of the Jordan Marsh Building on Washington Street. Built in the 1860s, the ornate building featured a well-known corner clock tower designed by Nathaniel J. Bradlee. Along with an entire row of annex buildings, the building was torn down in 1975 and replaced by a new building. Public outrage and grass roots protests influenced preservation legislation and sparked preservation action. There are now over 8000 landmarked properties in Boston.
The chief responsibilities of the Landmark Commission include identifying historic resources through preservation surveys, protecting and recognizing historic properties through designation, and preserving designated Landmarks through the design review process.
The BLC also administers Article 85 Demolition Delay for the entire city of Boston. Whenever a building proposed to be demolished is determined by BLC staff to be significant, the public is invited to testify at a public hearing. If the BLC invokes a 90-day Demolition Delay as a result, there is an opportunity for the community to participate in discussions with the developer and explore alternatives to demolition.
The Commission meets twice a month on second and fourth Tuesdays - Design Review starts a few hours prior to the business portion at every fourth Tuesday hearing. Applicants propose changes to a Landmark by presenting at the hearing, and the public is invited to comment.
Commissioners are nominated by professional and neighborhood organizations, and appointed by the Mayor. Most are also confirmed by City Council. All commissioner positions are voluntary. There are 85 commissioner slots among the Boston Landmarks Commission and the 9 local historic commissions, although BLC commissioners also hold slots on local commissions.
There are currently 7 historic designated districts and 2 architectural districts. Each district has its own commission staffed by a preservation planner within the Boston Landmarks Commission. The commissioners assure that the architectural and historical integrity of the district is not compromised. The districts include:
Fort Point was most recently designated in 2008 after the Boston Wharf Co.-owned 55-acre industrial area was sold to several buyers.
The Alvah Kittredge House is an historic house at 12 Linwood Street in the highlands of the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The 2-1/2 story Greek Revival mansion was built in 1836 for Alvah Kittredge, a leading real estate developer of the time. It was originally located at the site of the Roxbury Low Fort, a defensive earthworks of the American Revolutionary War, and was moved to its present site after 1896. It was the home of noted Boston architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee for 30 years.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 2016.Armory of the First Corps of Cadets
The Armory of the First Corps of Cadets is an historic armory at 97–105 Arlington Street and 130 Columbus Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. The four-story granite structure was designed by William Gibbons Preston and built beginning in 1891 and finished in 1897. Due to political unrest during the period, the building was designed to withstand mob violence. Its most prominent feature is its six-story tower. It is built in the Romanesque Revival style. The buildings staircases are built by the Guastavino system, as are some tower vaults.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1977. It was known as the Park Plaza Castle and owned by the adjacent Boston Park Plaza, which used it as a banquet facility up until 2014. Currently managed by another company, the venue space is now referred to as the "Castle at Park Plaza."Boston Citgo sign
The Boston Citgo sign is a large, double-faced sign featuring the logo of the oil company Citgo that overlooks Kenmore Square in Boston. The sign was installed in 1940 and updated with Citgo's present logo in 1965. The sign has become a landmark of Boston through its appearance in the background of Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park.Boston Common
Boston Common (also known as the Common) is a central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as the Boston Commons. Dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. The Boston Common consists of 50 acres (20 ha) of land bounded by Tremont Street (139 Tremont St.), Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street. The Common is part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways that extend from the Common south to Franklin Park in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester. A visitors' center for all of Boston is located on the Tremont Street side of the park.
The Central Burying Ground is located on the Boylston Street side of Boston Common and contains the burial sites of the artist Gilbert Stuart and the composer William Billings. Also buried there are Samuel Sprague and his son, Charles Sprague, one of America's earliest poets. Samuel Sprague was a participant in the Boston Tea Party and fought in the Revolutionary War. The Common was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1977.Boston Landmark
A Boston Landmark is a designation by the Boston Landmarks Commission for historic buildings and sites based on the grounds that it has historical, social, cultural, architectural or aesthetic significance to New England or the United States. While National Landmark or National Register status can provide tax incentives for the owner of an income-producing property, local landmark status provides more control over modifications to a designated historic structure or place.Christian Science Center
The Christian Science Center is a 14.5-acre (5.9 ha) site on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. A popular tourist attraction, the center is owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist (the Christian Science church), which refers to it as Christian Science Plaza. The complex, including most of the landscape was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 2011.
The site houses the religion's administrative center and its Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist.Dorchester North Burying Ground
The Dorchester North Burying Ground (or "First Burying Ground in Dorchester") is a historic graveyard at Stoughton Street and Columbia Road in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.
The burial ground was established in 1634, as the front sign reads and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1981. The burying Ground is surrounded by a wall of concrete, with cut-out sections containing iron fencing along Columbia Road, which replaced a 19th-century decorative iron and granite fence. The original gates still provide entrance and are signified by large commemorative bronze tablets placed by the city in 1883. The site contains over 1200 markers, many of early Dorchester settlers.Ella Little-Collins
Ella Little-Collins (1914 – 1996) was an American civil rights activist and the half-sister of Malcolm X. She was born in Butler, Georgia, to Earl Little and Daisy Mason-Little; her paternal grandparents were John (Big Pa) Lee Little and Ella Gray-Little, and her siblings, including half-siblings, were Mary, Earl Lee Jr., Wilfred, Philbert, Hilda, Reginald, Malcolm, Wesley, and Evonne. She worked as congressman Adam Clayton Powell's secretary, the manager of her mother's grocery store, and an investor in house property, which she let out as rooming houses. She joined the Nation of Islam in the mid-1950s and helped establish its mosque in Boston and a day-care center attached to it, although she left the Nation in 1959 to become a Sunni Muslim. She supported black and ethnic studies programs in universities across the United States and founded the Sarah A. Little School of Preparatory Arts in Boston.In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote about the impact his first meeting with his half-sister had on him. She came to visit when he was in seventh grade, and he described her as "the first really proud black woman I had ever seen" and wrote "I had never been so impressed with anybody." At the end of the school year, he moved to Roxbury to live with her, and she was his guardian until he turned 21. Her home, the Malcolm X – Ella Little-Collins House, is the last known surviving childhood home of Malcolm X. Its exterior was designated a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1998.
When Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam in 1964, Little-Collins paid for him to make the Hajj. She also paid his funeral and business expenses after his assassination, and took over his Organization of Afro-American Unity, including his project of giving 35 scholarships from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, and from the University of Ghana to students wishing to study overseas.In 1988, both of Little-Collins' legs were amputated due to gangrene. She died in 1996.The Ella Collins Institute at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center is named after her; its goal is "to establish a vibrant community by joining a classical understanding of Islam with modern scholarship and a healthy understanding of the current cultural context."Emerald Necklace
The Emerald Necklace consists of a 1,100-acre (4.5 km2; 450 ha) chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts. It gets its name from the way the planned chain appears to hang from the "neck" of the Boston peninsula; to this day it is not fully constructed. In 1989 the Emerald Necklace Parks was designated as Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission.Fort Point, Boston
Fort Point is a neighborhood or district of Boston, Massachusetts, and where a fort stood which guarded the city in colonial times.Franklin Park (Boston)
Franklin Park, a partially wooded 527-acre (2.13 km2) parkland in the Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts, is maintained by the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department. It is Boston's biggest park and the site of Franklin Park Zoo. It was designated a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1980.Gibson House Museum
The Gibson House Museum is an historic house museum located at 137 Beacon Street in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It preserves the 1860 Victorian rowhouse occupied by three generations of the Gibson family. The house was one of the first to be built in Back Bay, and has an unparalleled state of preservation that includes wallpaper, textiles, furnishings, and family artifacts and collections. Both the public and service areas of the house exhibit a high degree of preservation, and are viewable on tours. The property was designated a Boston Landmark in 1989 by the Boston Landmarks Commission and a National Historic Landmark in 2001.Massachusetts Historical Society
The Massachusetts Historical Society is a major historical archive specializing in early American, Massachusetts, and New England history. It is located at 1154 Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts and is the oldest historical society in the United States, having been established in 1791.
The Society's building was constructed in 1899 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 2016, The Boston Landmarks Commission designated it a Boston Landmark.Second Brazer Building
The Second Brazer Building is an historic office building at 25-29 State Street in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a locally significant early Beaux Arts design.The eleven-story skycraper was designed by Cass Gilbert and built in 1897. It is the only work of Gilbert's in Boston, and was built in the same year he won the commission for the Minnesota State Capitol. The building is an early local example of a steel frame structure with curtain walls. It has a trapezoidal plan and is 125 feet in height, with identical fenestration patterns on the northern, eastern, and southern facades. The exterior walls are made of limestone for the first three stories and terra cotta for the upper floors.The tower occupies the site of the first meeting house in Boston, erected in 1632; a plaque on the north facade of the building marks its former location. The land was subsequently acquired in the early nineteenth century by John Brazer, a local merchant, and in 1842 his heirs constructed the first Brazer Building, a three-story Greek Revival structure designed by Isaiah Rogers. The original Brazer building stood on the site until 1896, when it was removed to make way for the current tower.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission on July 9, 1985.South End Historical Society
The South End Historical Society or SEHS, is a non-profit community organization founded in 1966, and dedicated to the preservation of the built environment and revitalization of the South End neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. In 1972, the South End neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the largest extant Victorian rowhouse district in the United States. In 1983, the district achieved designation as a Boston Landmark District, by the Boston Landmarks Commission, bringing with it legal protection and public review of alterations to buildings within the district.
Over the course of its existence the SEHS has worked to retain and restore architectural integrity of the South End. The SEHS supports research, conservation, and education to protect and promote interest in the local historic buildings, monuments, and public squares of the South End.Tremont Temple
The Tremont Temple on 88 Tremont Street is a Baptist church in Boston, affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. The existing multi-storey structure was designed by architect Clarence Blackall of Boston, and opened in May 1896. It replaced a much smaller, 1827 structure that had repeatedly suffered damage by fires.
The new facility was designed with a large auditorium, ground-floor retail shops, and upper-story offices, all of which could be leased commercially so that the congregation could welcome all worshippers for free.
The building is currently under study for landmark status by the Boston Landmarks Commission.United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building
The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building is a historic office building at 160 Federal Street in the Financial District of Boston, Massachusetts. The steel-frame skyscraper has 24 stories and a penthouse, and was built in 1929–1930 to a design by George W. Fuller and Parker, Thomas & Rice for the United Shoe Machinery Corporation. It is one of Boston's finest Art Deco buildings, including an elaborately decorated lobby. It was built for the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, which at the time controlled 98% of the nation's shoe machinery business.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and in 1983 it was designated a Boston Landmark with rare interior (lobby) as well as exterior protection by the Boston Landmarks Commission.Wang Theatre
The Wang Theatre is a theatre in Boston. It originally opened in 1925 as the Metropolitan Theatre and was later renamed the Music Hall. It was designed by Clarence Blackall and is located at 252–272 Tremont Street in the Boston Theatre District. The theatre is operated as part of the Boch Center. The theatre was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1990.Winthrop Building
The Winthrop Building is an historic skyscraper at 7 Water Street (intersection with Washington Street) in Boston, Massachusetts.
The nine story brick and terracotta building was designed by Clarence H. Blackall in the Renaissance Revival style, and has the distinction of being the first skyscraper in the city to have been constructed with a steel frame. Completed in 1894, it was originally known as the Carter Building, but was renamed the Winthrop Building in 1899 after the Puritan Governor John Winthrop, whose second house was located adjacent to the site. Prominent past tenants include Landscape Architect Fletcher Steele in the 1920s and the Boston offices of the Associated Press.The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and was designated a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 2016.