Letter: Apartment project should preserve, not demolish

April 27, 2012
By

We read with alarm the announcement of plans to demolish the New England Home for Little Wanderers to make way for a new apartment building described as “huge” and “high-end” (“Apartment project plan is filed,” March 30). For over 100 years, the west side of S. Huntington Avenue has been home to a group of nonprofit charitable institutions that have contributed greatly to the city’s quality of life. With their backs to Frederick Law Olmsted’s leafy Jamaicaway, these four- to five-story brick buildings were designed in a dignified Colonial Revival style to complement each other and provide a graceful transition to the denser settlement of central Jamaica Plain. Most of these buildings are still intact or have been adaptively repurposed to serve new uses, as in the case of the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center that attractively incorporates the 1907 Vincent Memorial Hospital into its new facility.

The New England Home for Little Wanderers was constructed even more recently, in 1914, to designs by the architects Brainerd and Leeds of Boston. The Home for Little Wanderers is a sturdy brick building of human scale that should be eminently adaptable for residential use, but nonetheless the developer has applied for a demolition permit to raze it and put forward no plans to modify and reuse the existing structures. Buildings constructed a hundred years ago were made to last, and the adaptation of existing structures is far better for the environment. According to the EPA, 49 percent of our natural resources are used for new building materials to erect buildings such as the one proposed here. JP has many fine examples of creative reuse, like the Brewery Complex, that have been embraced by the neighborhood. Surely a more imaginative solution could be found here as well.

Judy Neiswander, Advocacy Coordinator

Boston Preservation Alliance, Jamaica Plain

 

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