BHCA Approves Application for Old West Church Toolshed

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission unanimously approved an application from Old West Church to erect a garden toolshed at 131 Cambridge St. during the commission’s monthly public hearing, which was held virtually on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Michael Moehring, a church trustee, previously told the commission that the proposed shed would be used to store shovels, long-handle cultivators, and a wheelbarrow, among other tools, for the church’s Food Forest.

The shed would measure 7-feet wide by a height of no greater than 6 feet, 9 inches – down slightly from the 7-foot height of a mockup now in place on the church grounds. The reduced height comes per an agreement with Historic New England, which has an easement on the church property, said Moehring.

Also in accordance with the wishes of Historic New England, the shed will be constructed of solid wood instead of the previously proposed engineered wood product, added Moehring.

(The commission had unanimously denied without prejudice an application to construct the storage shed at its June 16 hearing before reviewing the details of a revised proposal for the shed at the Sept. 16 hearing, when Old South Church was given the green light to file their application for this month’s hearing.)

The shed will be painted Quincy Gray and outfitted with architectural shingles as opposed to the previously proposed slate shingles, added Moehring.

The commission’s determination on this application came with the proviso that construction would be consistent with the stipulations for the project laid out by Historic New England.

In another matter, the commission voted 4-1 to approve as submitted an application for 7 Louisburg Square to change the muntin width to 7/8 inches from a width of ¾ inches, which had been approved unanimously by the commission at the July 21 hearing as part of an application to replace all front windows on levels G through 5 with wood windows.

Alexander Sassaroli of New York-based Steven Harris Architects said the reason for the wider proposed muntin width is that the applicant has selected a new window fabricator for the project who can’t produce a 3/4 -inch muntin.

“We did a lot of due diligence on this, trying to do our best by the district with these details,” said Sassaroli, who added that the applicant “spoke with half a  dozen window fabricators with experience building historic windows in Boston and they all said ‘no.’”

At the suggestion of staff (Nick Armata), a subcommittee comprising Chair Mark Kiefer and Commissioners Alice Richmond and Ed Fleck was formed, which will be charged with reviewing window samples for the project, both with and without low-e glazing.

The commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 68 Pinckney St. to paint the front door using Benjamin Moore Louisburg Green HC-113, as well as unanimously approving an application for 44 Chestnut St. to replace a roofdeck in kind.

Likewise, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 1 Strong Place to replace the deteriorated wooden window-sills, to replace the cement window well with a granite well, and to paint the front door black.

The applicant didn’t file an application to redress an unapproved ring doorbell at 1 Strong Place, however, said Chair Kiefer.

Regarding a violation for the installation of an unapproved door intercom system at 87 Beacon St.,  the applicant, Alleen Benson, agreed to Chair Kiefer’s suggestion to fabricate a brass cover, which would effectively render the system “invisible” when it’s not in use. Kiefer instructed Benson to file an application for the cover, including its specifics (i.e. what it would look like, etc.) and added that if the application were appropriate, the matter could likely be approved by the commission at the next monthly hearing on Nov. 17.

The commission unanimously approved an application for 28-30 Mount Vernon St., which proposed work to the front entrance, including changing the paint color from brown to a shade of historic white for the columns and the door framing; refreshing the black paint on the front doors; and replacing the current modern overhead lights with vintage 18-inch hanging lanterns similar to those found on other homes in the neighborhood.

The applicant withdrew part of the application that proposed stripping the painted brick next to the side lights to match 32-34 Mount Vernon St.

The commission unanimously approved the application as submitted except for the proposed addition of fascia boards to match 32-34 Mount Vernon St., unless the applicant can provide documentation that these are an original or longstanding feature of the building.

Also, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 67 West Cedar St., with proposed work including the installation of a new intercom, door hardware, brass kick plates, and a new light fixture, and to repair and repaint existing wood panels at basement level window openings, as well as to repaint masonry and refinish the front doors. (Commissioner Ed Fleck recused himself for this application.)

In another matter, the commission reviewed and discussed its policy regarding a citywide proposal to install plaques denoting properties that have received funding from the city’s Community Preservation Act (CPA). The CPA is financed in part by a 1-percent property tax-based surcharge on residential and business property tax bills to fund qualifying projects related to affordable housing, historic preservation, open space, and public recreation.

Armata said the plaques would measure approximately 9 or 10 inches by 6 inches, with the hardware installed through mortar joints in brick facades.

The plaques would be limited to large institutional buildings, like the Old West Church façade and the Charles Street Meeting House, added Armata, who recommended remanding these applications to him, since “we’d be getting them very infrequently.”

Moreover, Armata said the plaques “would never go to a private residence, but for a public resource” instead.

“It’s designed to show residents of Boston where their CPA money is going,” added Armata.

Chair Kiefer said the commission has “a standing plaque policy in response to proliferation of plaques, which is pretty specific and provides a pretty high standard.”

Subsequently, Kiefer asked that the commission review every application for each proposed CPA plaque on a case-by-case basis to review their specific circumstances.

“We really need to retain it among the commission like we would with any other plaque,” said Kiefer.

           Two applications that appeared on the agenda were denied without prejudice by the commission due to the respective applicant’s failure to appear at the hearing: one for 94 Beacon St., #1, with proposed work including the installation of a new stone garage-door header at the rear façade, as well as the installation of a new light fixture above the garage door; and another application for 20 Mount Vernon St., which proposed the installation of a new copper chimney-cap.

An application for 72 West Cedar St. to replace all the historic, front façade, two-over-two, wood windows with wood, two-over-two, double-hung replacement windows, was withdrawn by the applicant.

In addition to Chair Kiefer, Commissioners Annette Given, Alice Richmond, Arian Allen, and Ed Fleck were also on hand for the hearing.

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