Monday, June 10th, 2019, the Charlestown Preservation Society met at their new headquarters: 14 Green Street in Charlestown – the building known in the community as Memorial Hall to conduct an annual review. The meeting was open to membership and the invitation was advertised in the Patriot Bridge Newspaper and on the CPS website.
A new board of directors was installed as well as a new President and Vice President. Secretary and Treasurer remained in place. The 2019-2020 board of directors of the Charlestown Preservation Society is as follows:
Amanda Zettel, President
Chris Remmes, Vice President
Richie Banerji, Secretary
John Lee, Treasurer
Jeff Abramson Design Review Committee Chair
Pippa Nava Special Events Chair
Ellen Kitzis, Past President
Kent Edwards, Member
Joe Foresi, Member
David Hennessey, Member
Marley Kanda, Member
Ellen McLaughlin, Member
Darrel Villaruz, Member
Majorie Wallens, Member
Charlestown Preservation Society: Projects
Restoration of Memorial Hall: The Samuel Dexter House, home to the Abraham Lincoln Post 11 is known in the community as Memorial Hall. It exemplifies Charlestown’s unique historic character, culture and architecture. Built in 1791 by Samuel Dexter, the Hall needs significant repair. CPS has helped raise over $735,000 from CPS-hosted fundraiser parties and grant awards from the George B. Henderson Foundation, Browne Fund, and the City of Boston’s Community Preservation Act. This brings Memorial Hall about halfway to its overall fundraising goal. CPS board members and membership volunteers assisted the Friends of Memorial Hall with their grant applications and on May 22, 2019 CPS hosted a community kick-off celebration for the construction and restoration of the building with a Shingle Shucking. The celebration was attended by Boston City Councilors and State of Massachusetts representative.
Historic Marker Program: As you walk around Charlestown you will notice Historic Markers on many houses and buildings. We work with residents to document the specific history of their homes through research of historical material including deeds and tax records. Residents are proud of their homes and its recognition as a historic property. This program is not only critical to CPS’s mission of preserving our historic character and educating the public on the neighborhoods history and wealth of historic buildings and sites but it is a valuable funding source. We added twenty new properties in 2018 and will add an equal number this year. This will yield a total of over two hundred fifty makers installed.
CPS Historic House Tour 2018: Last fall we ran our much beloved Historic House; the next one is scheduled for the fall of 2020. Once again, we exceeded our attendance and fundraising goals. We added a pre-event cocktail and private tour fundraiser hosted by one of the house tour homeowners through a generous matching grant yielded an additional $10,000 for the tour. In total we yielded over $31k – a 38% increase over the prior tour!
The Charlestown Mobile Walking App: As part of the Freedom Trail, two of Charlestown’s historic resource sites host over four million visitors a year, but those visitors only go to the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument touching a tiny portion of Charlestown’s history. With the combination of membership support and Wynn Mitigation grants we launched our Self-Guided Historic Mobile Walking Tour of Charlestown last Spring. Our walking tour introduces visitors to another 15 historic locations with a self-guided mobile tour with interior photography and thoroughly researched historical descriptions. It also guides visitors to our neighborhood businesses like restaurants and retail stores. Visit https://cps-ris.org/walking-tours/historic-charlestown/ to view the walking tour.
Charlestown Preservation Society: Community Advocacy
Ongoing Efforts: As Boston’s oldest neighborhood we have a responsibility to ensure sensible development. As such we attend many public hearings, meet with public officials and developers. This past year we attended meeting regarding the OneCharlestown Project, Hood Plant, and the Sullivan Square Redevelopment project as well as having a representative on the Charlestown Neighborhood Council.
A Master Plan for Charlestown: Construction in Charlestown and nearby communities is booming! Charlestown will grow from the current population of 18,901 to 25,000 by 2029, an increase of 35% which does not include the added business population at Hood Park and 40 Warren St, and additional vehicle trips to the Encore casino and Assembly Square. This growth will only compound Charlestown’s already strained infrastructure and public safety resources.
In April we launched our petition to create a Master Plan for Charlestown. A Master Plan is a document that guides the future growth of a community. It presents a vision for the future, with long-range goals and objectives that help determine the strategies and tactics used in defining transportation, public safety, housing, schools and infrastructure capacity.
It is based on community input, existing development, social and economic conditions, environmental impact and land use. It serves as a basis for zoning and other government decisions that impact the populace.
The petition calls for a comprehensive master plan that would provide a framework for balanced and thoughtful new growth and development at the neighborhood’s bordering commercial districts and waterfront areas, while preserving and enhancing the quality of life in the community’s residential core. To date, we have received 646 signatures online and over 1,200 physical signatures.
In partnership with the Charlestown Historical Society we organized a Master Plan Working Group consisting of over thirty Charlestown neighborhood groups, non-profits and local businesses with the goal of a grant from the BPDA and City of Boston of a Master Plan for Charlestown. We continue to hold regular planning sessions with the 02129 Neighbor Alliance Group as well as with our city councilor Lydia Edwards. Councilor Edwards is a strong ally and has stated that she “will not support development in our neighborhood, including the Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment without a plan for infrastructure for Charlestown.”
For more information please visit www.02129NeighborAlliance.org and please sign the petition at: https://cps-ris.org/petition/
Design Review Committee: Community Advocacy: As Boston’s oldest neighborhood we have a responsibility to ensure sensible development. As such we attend many public hearings, meet with public officials and developers and well as review new projects through our DRC committee. For years Bill Lamb lead this committee along with John Benson, Chris Collier, Jack Glassman, Dan Kovacevic, Mark Spaulding, Heather Taylor, Annette Tecce. The reigns have now been turned over to Jeff Abramson, a CPS board member.
Communication to our Members and the community: We communicate with our members and the community through several sources including our website, Facebook, email and the Press. We’ve had tremendous press coverage this year regarding our Master Plan, events at Memorial Hall Party, the Walking tour, and One Charlestown.
Charlestown Preservation Society: Administration and Infrastructure
Document Migration: This year we took a big step and migrated all our historic and current documents to a free for non-profits Google Gsuite account. This site now a shared site for Board member and member communications, as well as all our documents moving forward. This helped reduce our administrative and operating costs and improve shared access. We also eliminated the landline phone, reducing our admin costs.
Website Development: This year we did a super clean up of our existing site. We worked with a developer to improve pages and develop better linkages with our other forms of communication. We are in the final stages of migrating all the material from the old to the new website format. This includes all our news, ongoing projects, calendars and research, and information on historic houses, markers, walking tours and other data collected over time.
Membership Renewals: As part of the website upgrade, we streamlined our membership fees and options and launched an automatic renewals program. This will go a long way to reducing administrative costs and improving member growth and retention. CPS has not sent out membership renewal letters during the course of this project, so most of our membership has lapsed. We will launch a membership drive in the coming months.
Charlestown Preservation Society Goals and priorities for 2019-20
Our newly elected executive committee will work together with the newly appointed committee chairs on the following goals and projects:
Protect our historic architecture and landscape
- Establish Historic Protections
- 1 year – Strengthen Historic Zoning Overlay
- 3 year – Achieve a Historic District for portion of the neighborhood, to be defined
- Obtain Landmark designations for buildings in Charlestown
- Advocate for preservation
- Community Preservation Act funds for Charlestown
- 1 year – create and organize a grant program for architectural surveys, the foundational requirement for an invitation to the CPA application process.
- 3 year – fund 2 architectural studies in Charlestown
- How do we increase visibility and influence?
Guide responsible development
- Design Review Committee
- 1 year – new committee members
- 3 year – strengthen power and influence of committee on new development in Charlestown.
- Obtain Master Plan / Planning initiative for Charlestown – 1 year
- Implement and enforce Master Plan findings – 3 years
Educate about the character and history of our community
- 1 year – advertise / publicize ‘Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour’
- 1 year – develop a Preservation award with marker for outstanding historically preserved homes.
- 3 year – develop 2 additional tours: Navy Yard and Kids walking tours
Today we ask that you continue to support The Charlestown Preservation Society with your membership and donations.
Our new website makes this quick and easy! Please visit the ‘Join Us’ page to renew your membership or make a donation.
We value and need your support to continue our mission.
Charlestown Preservation Society
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