BHAC Approves Application for Otis House Museum Mailbox

At its July 21 monthly public hearing, which took place virtually, the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission unanimously approved as submitted Historic New England’s application for the installation of a mailbox outside its headquarters, the Otis House Museum at 141 Cambridge St.

The motion made by Commissioner Alice Richmond specified that the first of two options for the mailbox presented to staff is used, and that it is installed atop a simple wooden post, which would be stained a dark color in consultation with staff (Nick Armata). Both Chair Mark Kiefer, Historic New England’s representative on the commission, and Commissioner Edward Fleck recused themselves from this matter, with Commissioner Arian Allen serving as commission chair for just this application.

The Otis House Museum – Historic New England’s headquarters at 141
Cambridge St.

Also, the commission unanimously accepted a  motion made by Commissioner Kiefer to dismiss a standing violation, and to approve as submitted an application to relocate two condensers on the roof of 21 Branch St., with the proviso that any fencing around the condensers is not visible from a public way. (The applicant, Timothy Burke, said earlier he would look into Commissioner Kiefer’s request to install fencing around the backside of the condensers in an effort to mitigate their noise impact.)

In another matter, the commission approved as submitted an application for the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro at 25 Charles St., which was previously reviewed at the May 19 hearing, regarding the installation of a new window decal. A subcommittee comprising Chair Kiefer, along with Commissioners Fleck and Ralph Jackson, had reviewed a mockup of the window decal and given its recommendation to approve the application to the committee.

Brett Bentson, the project architect, said the future restaurant at this location is still unnamed, and that no opening date has been set for it yet. “We’re excited to open it to the community,” he added.

Likewise, the commission unanimously accepted a motion to approve an application for 44 Phillips St., which was previously reviewed at the June 16 hearing, to rebuild the transom light, as well as to rebuild the garden-level openings. The accepted motion came with a proviso that the 12-light window option, instead of the six-light option, be used for the transom.

The commission also unanimously approved as submitted an application for 81 Pinckney St. to install deck rails at the rear of the property. The new railing would be 42 inches above the decking height – a 6-inch reduction in height from what was previously there, according to the applicant.

Moreover, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 71 Mount Vernon St., with proposed work including replacing existing vinyl and wood windows with similar windows on the front façade; rebuilding the rear third-floor roofdeck in kind; rebuilding the rear side of the gable roof for a new roofdeck and elevator overrun; rebuilding the fifth-floor façade to be “coplanar” with the face of the wall below and replacing the “mismatched” brick veneer with slate tiles; and rebuilding the existing balcony roof on the front-bay in kind.

The accepted motion made by Chair Kiefer for this application came with several provisos, including that no portion of the front roof plane on the front façade is removed, demolished, or rebuilt; and that a French door design, with five lights on either side, is used on the Juliet balcony on the upper story of the front façade pending prior approval by staff, among other stipulations.

Regarding 7 Louisburg Square, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application to replace the front dormer windows and rear ell windows/Juliet balconies, as well as to enlarge one window at the rear ell. Chair Kiefer said the accepted motion, which he put forward, came “particularly with respect to changes to fenestration on rear ell,” while Commissioner Richmond thanked the applicant specifically for the work they did on the front of the building. “I really think it’s very special, and I, for one, appreciate the effort that you made,” said Commissioner Richmond.

An application for 114 Mount Vernon St. to remove the existing unapproved sconces and replace them with pendant light appeared on the agenda but ultimately not heard due to the applicant’s failure to appear at the hearing.

Meanwhile, the commission heard an advisory review for 86 Chestnut St., with proposed work including the replacement of a two-door configuration with a single, custom-made panel door with sidelights and a fan light.

Chair Kiefer, who said the building had been home to an antiques store for many years before the previous owner subdivided it into apartments, advised the would-be applicant that the commission would need evidence of a single-door configuration previously at this location.

“The unusual features are often as important to a neighborhood as the ones that all look the same, and I think what you’re proposing here is to make it look the same,” said Chair Kiefer. “You would need to make an argument to convince us that this would be appropriate.” In attendance for the hearing were Chair Kiefer, along with Commissioners Allen, Fleck, and Jackson, while Commissioner Richmond wasn’t on hand for the first two applications (21 Branch St. and 25 Charles St., respectively)  and joined for the third application (44 Phillips St.) onward.

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