Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Corner

Neighborhood Preservation Committees – Architecture Committee

The Architecture Committee’s mission is to help maintain the architectural integrity of our National Historical Landmark District by reviewing applications that have been submitted to the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission (BHAC).  The BHAC holds monthly hearings on applications for Certificates of Appropriateness which are submitted for exterior construction visible from a public way and reviews architectural violations to the guidelines.  Ahead of each BHAC meeting, the committee reviews the applications and provides neighborhood input to the Commission.

Charlotte B. Thibodeau, BHCA Director and Architecture Committee Co-Chair.

Because the BHAC has recently made the agendas, submitted plans and accompanying documentation for its monthly hearings available online (, the committee’s monthly reviews and meetings have become more interactive. The committee is able to review each application online and then visit each property in advance to examine the specifics of the application and its potential impact on the Historic District.  The Architectural Commission meets the third Thursday of each month, and our committee typically meets the Monday prior to the hearing.  Our meetings are open to all residents, and we welcome potential new committee members.  During its meetings the committee then reviews the online submitted applications and materials, discusses the issues presented, prepares comments and submits them to the BHAC. One or two committee members attend the BHAC hearing at City Hall to monitor the hearing and offer our comments.

James Ewing, BHCA Director and Co-Chair of the Architecture Committee.
Frank McGuire, Co-Chair of the Architecture Committee.

This year the committee has continued to be actively involved in reviewing the applications of residents for alterations to the facades of their buildings, small or larger scale, and conversions of several buildings into luxury condominiums throughout the Historic District:

We have seen a slight creeping increase in changes to design, some not fitting in the historic district, to rear elevations and properties along private ways and not or minimally visible from a public way, which has raised the question as to why the guidelines limits to visibility from a public way.

We have been actively involved in the exterior changes to the old carriage house at 55-57 Brimmer by Park Street School.

We have also reviewed proposals to alter the fenestration at the Beacon Hotel and Bistro as part of their interior redesign.

With the advent of new technologies and increased data usage, mobile phone operators have continued to propose new towers and nodes for better coverage in the area, and we have attempted to assist them to find locations that are minimally obtrusive, both in visual impact and in proximity to residential units.

We have continued to monitor the sidewalk/access ramp projects throughout the Hill. The negotiated agreement under which the work is proceeding is as follows:

Installation of cast iron tactile pads in place of the plastic pads proposed. While bright when new, they will soften and ultimately blend better with the brick.

Use of wire cut brick to achieve smoother slopes and transitions to the pads in place of the large concrete aprons originally proposed.

Minimal concrete frame/setting bed around the pads.

Raising the street paving level to meet the new slopes. Note that the generator for the ramp project initially was the ADA requirement attached to Federal funds for re-paving the streets on the Hill, which are in deplorable condition, and now can and will happen.

It’s Membership Season at the BHCA

We’d like thank all our new and renewing members for your interest and support. If you haven’t renewed or joined the BHCA yet, please go to our website at to find out more.

BHCA Committee Updates

Over the next several weeks, we will publish the BHCA’s 2019 committee reports which highlight work accomplished over this past year.

Upcoming BHCA Meetings

Monday, June 10: Board of Directors Meeting. 74 Joy Street. 7pm.

Other upcoming BHCA Events

Summer Evening at Otis House – Thursday, June 20th

Evening on the Esplanade – Wednesday, July 17th

District 8 City Councilor Candidates Forum – Tuesday, September 10th

BHCA Fall HillFest – Sunday, September 22nd

Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website or call the office (617-227-1922) for further details on any of these events, and for information about joining the BHCA.

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