Letter to the Editor

Protect what we have

To the Editor,

Thank you Beacon Hill Times (the Times) for your expansive, top-of-the-fold coverage of last week’s Beacon Hill Architectural Commission’s hearings regarding proposals for 82 Mount Vernon Street and 40 Beacon Street (40 Beacon). The large crowd of attendees attests to the fact that residents are increasingly concerned about the burgeoning development on the Hill, and on retaining and maintaining its unique architectural character. As an abutter, I address below 40 Beacon’s proposal.

The 40 Beacon Street condo conversion of the old Women’s City Club of Boston, a classic townhouse and connecting carriage house, has been a multi-year concern of neighbors who have attempted to attend hearings that the developer has frequently cancelled at the last minute, making it difficult to attend. This unacceptable pattern of behavior apparently has no penalty and ultimately penalizes residents who alter work and vacation plans accordingly.

As noted in the Times article, the Commission denied 40 Beacon’s request for approval of a fourth floor addition that would be “visible from the public way,” in this case Walnut St. Special thanks is due to the many residents and institutions who addressed the Commission personally or in writing to oppose granting this proposal: Sue Lester for emailing and organizing residents, former Commissioners Frank McGuire and Martha McNamara for speaking to the architectural value of the building and its importance to the community, Commissioner Miguel Rosales for his comments and observations, organizations such as BHCA and neighboring American Meteorological Society, and many others.

Quality of life and its preservation is an ongoing task. Vigilance is necessary to protect what we have, and the uniqueness it possesses. The lyrics of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” seem particularly prescient and apt:


Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot


Katherine Kimball

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