BHCA Community Corner

200 Holiday Decorators needed this weekend

Come for as long or little as you can to help decorate 1100 gas lamps with garlands of green cedar and red bows.

Holiday  Decorating Days
on Saturday, December 3:

9 a.m.: Come to the Harrison Gray Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street. Those working outdoors will cut all 2800 yards of western cedar garland into 7 1/2 foot lengths and attaching wires. Those indoors will prepare and bag over 2000 red bows. Then the group will load the supplies in the vans to distribute throughout the neighborhood, demonstrate how to hang the garlands, and begin decorating. Sign up at

2 p.m.: Gather outside Tatte Bakery to decorate Charles and Mt. Vernon streets.

Sunday, December 4:

12 noon: “Meet at the BHCA tent in the parking lot next to Savenor’s anytime after noon. Watch gas lamp wrapping demonstrations. Decorate your own or join small groups to decorate other neighborhood streets. Text Ivy Turner 617-308-4897 to find out where help is most needed.
5 pm:  Pizza Party for all volunteers at a place to be announced


The Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) has been actively engaged in the public process for the redevelopment of 45 Temple Street, the conversion of the former Archer and Donahue Buildings of Suffolk University into 71 luxury condominium units.  Having received approvals from both the Boston Planning and Development Agency and Zoning Board of Appeals, the project is now before the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission (BHAC).

The developer’s approach has been to largely preserve the 1920 Archer Building while completely replacing the façade of the Donahue Building, built in 1966. “The proposal reflects significant departures from the BHAC’s guidelines, and would entirely remove a rare example of midcentury modern architecture in Beacon Hill,” said Board Chairman Mark Kiefer. “The project thus raises significant questions about how “newer” buildings should be treated in the historic district, and particularly so given that this property previously enjoyed a statutory exemption from the historic district law by virtue of its ownership by Suffolk.”

 The BHCA will continue to be engaged in the process when the developer returns to the BHAC next month. Interested residents are encouraged to attend the hearing at City Hall on December 15.


By the late 1920s candle lighting on Beacon Hill had become a Christmas Eve tradition. The candles placed in every window lit the way for groups of singers as they walked from door to door singing traditional carols, occasionally stopping at open houses along the way for refreshments.

There are many different explanations for tradition’s origin. Descendants of a Mrs. Thomas Dwight of 70 Beacon Street believed she was the first to light candles on her windowsill. Others believed a Unitarian clergyman innocently started the tradition in 1893 when, as a child, he lived at 9 West Cedar Street. In the years to follow candles occasionally appeared in other windows until 1908, when an invitation sent around the neighborhood made candle lighting a community event.[Source: The Life & Times of a Neighborhood]


Beacon Hill Civic Association committees and special events comprise volunteers
working together from all over the neighborhood to assure a good quality of life here. All residents are welcome to jump aboard.

Upcoming Special Events

Holiday Undecorating Day
Saturday, January 7 and Sunday, January 8.
Sunday Brunch at Hampshire House for volunteers

45th annual Beacon Hill Gala Saturday, February 4

. Dinner & Dancing at the Four Seasons

Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website and/or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information on how to get involved.

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