BHAC Votes To Dismiss Violation for Unapproved Handrail on South Russell St.

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted by a majority to dismiss a violation for an unapproved handrail at 43 South Russell St. during its monthly meeting held virtually on Thursday, June 20.

A representative for the applicant (Church of the Advent) said the vertical handrail, which measures about 1 inch in diameter and is mounted into the masonry, had been installed to help improve access on a steep staircase for a retired foreign clergyman during his six-month stay at the building.

The unapproved vertical handrail at 43 South Russel St.

Chair Mark Kiefer noted that the three-story Joseph Ditson House is one of the oldest buildings on Beacon Hill. “So for that reason we want to make sure we get this right,” said Kiefer, who expressed a preference for a railing with a “more graceful curve” and “delicate profile.”

The motion to dismiss the violation, made by Commissioner Alice Richmond, included a proviso that the applicant work with BHAC staff (Nicholas Armata) to determine if a more-appropriate architectural design for the handrail could be found.

Besides Chair Kiefer and Commissioner Richmond, Vice Chair Arian Allen and Commissioners Edward Fleck and Sandra Steele voted in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Maurice Finegold, who said the handrail was instead a ‘grab-bar’ intended only to improve access and not as an architectural feature, cast the sole dissenting vote on the motion.

In another matter, the commission unanimously approved an application as submitted for 46 Chestnut St., with proposed work including the restoration and replacement of the windows in the existing masonry openings; new windows in new masonry openings; new exterior downlights, a new roofdeck, with black, metal railings; and a new copper-clad head-house.

The motion for this application, submitted by Chair Kiefer, came with stipulations that with respect to the alteration of the dormer on the front mansard, the existing two-over-two windows can be retained; and that the light fixtures above the garage be recessed, with pin-lights attached, to minimize visibility.

At its last month hearing, which was held virtually on May 16, the commission voted unanimously to deny without prejudice an extensive application for 46 Chestnut St.

On an application to rebuild a roofdeck at 77 Revere St., the commission unanimously approved the proposed work as submitted.

Commissioner Richmond commended the applicant for offering to move the existing deck back, which she described as an act of “neighborliness.”

Likewise, the commission voted unanimously to approve as submitted an application for 46 Pinckney St., which entails the removal of the existing woven-wire security grates at the three windows at the street level (including two on the street and one in the alley) and replacing them with wrought-iron security grilles to match the layout of the existing sash sets on the three ground-floor windows. The new grilles would be connected through the wood, rather than through masonry, according to the applicant.

An application for 160 Mt. Vernon St was determined exempt by staff, with proposed work including the repair of the roof and walls; the  addition of a 4.5 square-foot roof over the existing open alcove; adjustment of the slope of the roof; and the raising of the south end by 16 inches (but with  no change to footprint).

Similarly, an application for 40-42 Mount Vernon St.  was withdrawn by staff, with proposed work in Unit 3B, including the replacement of three one-over-one windows with three one-over one, wood, double-hung windows with no low-e glass, as well as the replacement of two double-doors in kind.

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