BHAC Approves Three New Windows on Side Façade of 48 Beacon Street

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted unanimously to approve as submitted an application to add three new windows on the side façade of a 12-story building at 48 Beacon St. during the commission’s monthly public hearing held virtually on Thursday, Jan. 18.

Allison Curran, the applicant and a Beacon Hill resident since 2000, said the three new proposed windows would match and mimic a “stack” of existing windows “to make it look proper,” adding that the facade where they would go already has windows on some planes. She said adding the new windows would improve the aesthetics of the “monolithic, block-like” side façade.

Petunia, a shop specializing in women’s accessories and clothing located
at 131 Charles St.

In making the motion on this application, Commission Chair Mark Kiefer noted that the building is the tallest in the Beacon Hill Historic District by a “considerable height.” He also noted the unique circumstances and history surrounding the building, since the “secondary facades” were left unpenetrated, presumably so that the adjacent lots could later be infilled with buildings. Therefore, the secondary facades were “never meant to be visible,” said Chair Kiefer, who added that the proposed new window openings also wouldn’t result in the loss of any significant historic fabric or architectural history.  Chair Kiefer said interpretation of the Beacon Hill Historic District Architectural Guideline A 7, which mandates ‘no new openings in facades shall be allowed, and no changes shall be made to existing window and door openings (unless they involve restoration of original features),’ is “wide, varied, and mixed.”

             Additionally, Chair Kiefer commented on the building’s “modernity,” since it was built more recently than neighboring structures.

In another matter, the commission voted by a majority to approve the relocation of an existing, wood-paneled door to the side façade at 9 Spruce Place, with Chair Kiefer and Commissioners Maurice Finegold, Ed Fleck, Annette Given, and Ralph Jackson supporting the motion. Vice Chair Arian Allen voted against the motion, while Commissioner Alice Richmond recused herself on this application.

Nick Landry, founding principal of Boston-based DRT (design/resource/team), outlined the proposal to relocate the existing door, now on the corner of the Spruce Place façade, to between Spruce Place and Spruce Place – a small, private way.

Landry said that he, together with Tony King, DRT director of operations, own the property at 9 Spruce Court, and that due to a legal agreement put in place two years ago between the previous property owner and the Spruce Place Association, the current property owner is required to relocate the door before the end of the month. (Chair Kiefer advised Landry that the BHAC can’t be required to adjudicate a matter based on a third-party agreement.)

Once the door has been relocated, the building’s address would then be changed from Spruce Place to Spruce Court, said Landry, who added that they also planned to create a new granite landing for the relocated door.

This determination came with provisos that a light fixture now located the Spruce Place façade be affixed above the proposed new door in a manner that obscures it from sight from a public way, or that is approved by staff (Nicholas Armata); that the new landing be made of granite; and that details of the landing and a railing be submitted to staff prior to the commencement of construction.

The commission also voted by a majority to approve an application for a new hanging sign for Petunia, a shop specializing in women’s accessories and clothing located at 131Charles St.

The round, metal sign, measuring 24-by-24 inches, would have painted lettering and use an existing bracket, according to the applicant.

The motion for this application, put forward by Chair Kiefer, came with provisos that the applicant submit drawings detailing the dimensions, materials, and colors proposed for the sign; that lettering be painted on, rather than applied, to the sign; and that the sign be hung from an existing bracket using chains, which are black in color.

Commissioner Richmond, who cast the sole dissenting vote on the motion for this application, said she doesn’t think it’s fair to applicants to not notify them of the commission’s typical request for drawings ahead of time.  “We owe it to the applicants to tell them exactly what they’re expected to do, and I don’t think we have,” she said.

On a violation for 53 Grove St., the commission voted unanimously to ratify the unapproved windows at the basement level, and to approve the installation of new windows in their place.

This determination came with provisos that the new windows be six-over-three and made of wood, and that they have Low-e glass and true divided-light, as well as muttons measuring no more than 7/8 inches. Further provisos mandate that a dark spacer-bar is used in the configuration of the double-pane glass; that the final color for the new windows match those above it on the building facade; and that the security gates be reinstalled with existing brackets and hardware and in the mortar joints, rather than in the brick. The applicant is also required to submit shop drawing to staff prior to the commencement of construction.

The commission also voted unanimously to approve an application for 88 Chestnut St., with proposed work including changing the color of the door and installing a new light fixture.

The door is currently painted a red-orange shade, with s black surround, according to the applicant, who proposed painting the door black and the surrounding transom and sidelights white for contrast.

Chair Kiefer advised the applicant against painting the door black, adding that this stretch of Chestnut Street is a “wonderful, eclectic block,” with a wide palette of paint colors on the buildings. “It’s a shame to lose these pops of color,” he said.

The motion on this application, put forward by Chair Kiefer, came with provisos that the final color for the door and surrounds, including paint chips, be submitted to staff in advance for approval; that the new light fixture be located in the recessed door-entryway and attached to the existing electrical connections on the ceiling; and that the light fixture be an appropriately sized pendant or surface-mounted light fixture to be submitted to staff for final approval.

An application for 36 Beacon St. to repair the coal-chute cover and surrounding sidewalk was listed on the agenda but ultimately not heard by the commission due to the applicant’s failure to appear at the hearing. (As a direct abutter, Chair Kiefer had recused himself on this application.)

Moreover, an application for 76 Revere St. to change the color of the back door from black to Codman Claret was withdrawn by the applicant.

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